Hope conquers fear: Easter Vigil

Hope conquers fear: Easter Vigil

Easter Vigil,  March 31, 2018

Easter Vigil, Year B

There was no recording of this sermon. The text is below:


This is the most blessed and most joyful night of the church year.  We celebrate the first liturgy of Easter and Jesus’ resurrection.  Frankly, I find the Easter Vigil liturgy the most beautiful liturgy of all.

We entered the church on this holy night guided by the light of Christ, the Paschal Candle.  We heard readings of the Word of God that give us an account of the history of salvation – from the moment when God gave birth to all creation, to the time of Christ’s victory over death.

We baptized – one of the most primal and important acts of an Easter liturgy. We renewed our own Baptismal Covenant, one of the things I love most in the 1979 Prayer Book.

The entire liturgy speaks of a God who never forgets us and who has already accompanied and continues to accompany us in our journey throughout our lives.

It’s important for us to remember tonight that we are followers of Jesus Christ. That we have taken promises tonight that we will by our prayers and witness help Corbin grow into the full stature of Christ. I take that promise seriously and I know all of you do as well. We must guide our young people through an increasingly difficult period in our history.

We had to go through Lent and the journey to Jerusalem, to that place of death to come to a new gateway of life itself. New life is paradoxically found in the great chasm of a seemingly empty and abandoned tomb. It doesn’t make sense.

The Resurrection is a radical story. It asks us to suspend our understanding of what we believe is reality. Yet, I am here this Easter knowing assuredly that miracles do occur. The Resurrection is a sign of hope and mystery for Christians. It remains a sign of contradiction and a mystery for Christians and seekers alike.

All four of the gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection just a little differently. Each one tells the story in their own way. It’s like if you and I experience something and then share our story of the experience, more than likely, our stories will vary.

In Matthew’s story, an angel appears at Jesus’ empty tomb and four people react. Two react in paralyzing fear. They were the soldiers guarding Jesus’ tomb.

It was the two women at the tomb who responded with hope. Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were hopeful because they knew Jesus, they trusted him. They witnessed his love and forgiveness, his healing miracles and his embrace of all who would come to him.

Their hope in Jesus made them strong. Their hope couldn’t be paralyzed by fear. Their willingness to hear the angel and receive what some think is the outlandish message, “He is not here, for he has been raised” triumphed over any fear they had.

Think of Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus. They were indeed the first apostles if we look carefully at Matthew’s text. With great joy, they obey Jesus’ command and ran to tell the others. By their witness, they let us know that we must rejoice and share the good news. Let us offer that ministry of love and openness to all and to love all as Christ loves us.

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