Carolyn’s Sermon for the Vigil of Easter – 3/30/13

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

This is the night. It will be dark soon. Darkness is a time of sleep for us.  We need our rest.  Darkness can also be a time of fear for us.  We stumble and fall. We worry about the things we cannot see.

Darkness is not an obstacle for God the way it is for us. God does not fear the darkness.  God can see in the dark.  God does not need rest as we do.  God never slumbers or sleeps.

St. Mark's font.

St. Mark’s font.

This is the night. There are 12 Old Testament stories that may be read at the Easter Vigil service.  Tonight we read the 4 ancient and traditional stories that are always included. Together these stories tell of God’s action throughout human history. They tell of a God who works in the dark, when we are sleeping and when we are awake at night because we can’t sleep.

The first story is the creation story.  In the beginning, when the earth was a formless void, darkness covered the face of the deep. Then God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light.  God has always been changing darkness into light for us.

The story of the exodus is the story of God working at night.  Last night we heard the story that comes right before the exodus. In the Passover story, the angel of death passes over the homes of the Israelites, sparing the lives of the first born sons because God was working in the darkness, through the night.

In the exodus story, God gave the people a pillar of cloud by day to guide them. God also gave them a pillar of fire by night so that they would not be lost in the darkness.

When they reached the waters, God told Moses to stretch his hand over the sea.  Then the Lord worked all night through the darkness, sending a strong wind.  That night wind parted the waters and turned the sea into dry land. Again, God was working all night, in the darkness while the fearful people tried to sleep.

In our third reading, Isaiah, the prophet, reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. He reminds us that God is always with us and takes care of us, even in the times when we have trouble seeing it.  God is caring for us even when we are in the dark about it.

We have a God who works under cover of darkness. Isaiah says that God has a purpose.  That purpose will be fulfilled. God always succeeds.

Our fourth Old Testament reading tonight is the story of the fiery furnace.  That old tyrant, King Nebuchadnezzar, made the furnace seven times hotter than usual. God made that fiery furnace go dark.  God saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

From the beginning, God has called new life out of darkness, often against great odds.

Yet we are still surprised by the work of God in the darkness. Most of the action in our gospel story today is about people running around in the light of day trying to figure out what God has done under cover of darkness.

God raised Jesus from the dead before the world was awake to figure out what happened. We are caught off guard and we are struggling to catch up.

God calls new life out of darkness.  This is the night. God has called Jesus out of the darkness of the grave. He is risen from the dead.

Because God has always worked in the darkness, we can be confident.  We can be certain that God works in the darkness of our lives, too.  We can sleep well.  We have no need to fear the dark. We have no need to fear the darkness in the valley of the shadow of death.

God said, “Let there be light.”  This is the night. God has worked under cover of darkness.

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

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