The Great Vigil of Easter April 15, 2017
Genesis 1, 1, 26-31 + Genesis 22, 1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18 + Exodus 14, 15-15, 1 + Isaiah 55, 1-11 + Ezekiel 36, 16-28 + Romans 6, 3-11 + Matthew 28, 1-10
St Joseph Church, Union City, OK
There was a first-time ages and ages ago when someone struck two stones together and a spark flew out. I can’t image the wonder of that moment, and what went on in that person’s mind. Then somewhere on this earth at some point in history, someone discovered that if you patiently rub two dry sticks together long enough and add a little human breath a spark would grow into a fire and with that an extraordinary potential was born.
This is the night of the Great Fire-maker, and we have gathered around a fire and a great column of wax to remind one another that Christ is the living spark that springs from dead wood and a stone tomb. Here we are becoming Fire-takers because we want Christ’s life to warm us, and with this light we shall pass this fire to those living in a dark world trapped in tombs of despair, loneliness, fear, and doubt. Above us tonight is the full moon that is faithfully reflecting the light of the sun which we cannot see now, but we know it is there because the moon is bright with the sun’s light. All around us is Christ the Light whom we do not see but know is with us from the light on our faces smiling in hopeful joy.
While this night is complex and rich with more symbols that we can grasp in one evening, there is no missing the simplicity of new fire, new light, a full moon, and new people. This column of wax and light leads us forward into this year of two thousand seventeen which we have carved into the face of this candle. This must be the year when we are made new, re-created, refreshed, and restored to the Garden, the Paradise, the Kingdom for which we were first created. We have reminded ourselves of that place tonight with readings from Genesis. We have remembered how it was that we lost what had been so freely given. We told the story of our escape from slavery and the promises spoken of by the prophets. Great Father Abraham spoke for us all when he said: “Here I am” ready to trust in the Promise Maker himself, because God has a way of keeping God’s promises.
We have just told the story of an earthquake that shook open a tomb which silly unbelievers thought could contain the Son of God. Nothing can keep the Light of Christ in darkness. Nothing can keep the Word of God silent. Nothing can keep the life and the love of God away from the people God has called his own. Like Abraham and Moses, like the prophets of old Israel, and like those women at the tomb, we must stand before the God who is calling. God called Adam and Eve and they hid. Then God called Abraham who said with firm confidence: “Here I am.” Now we stand with the light and the word, and can say with equal confidence, “Here I am”. When we do, an extraordinary potential is upon us again, just like that moment when a spark first jumped from dry sticks and a breath fanned it into fire.