Saturday, April 7, 2007

I Am With You Always

Easter Vigil 2007 – Matthew 28:1-10

The Reverend Kirk Alan Kubicek, St. Peter’s at Ellicott Mills, MD

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

On this night we move from the cross to the empty tomb to an encounter with our Risen Lord on the road – the road of our journey with Christ. Together we experience the transition from darkness to light, from death to life. This is our Passover – we pass over from enslavement to sin to liberation and the promise of new life.

Most of all on this night we locate ourselves within a story – the story of God’s salvation for the whole world, a story that begins in Creation and extends far into the future, because the story of God’s Creation and Covenant and Redemption and Salvation is not ended. It is only just begun!

Our God creates (Genesis 1:1-2:2), limits darkness (Genesis), delivers us to freedom (Exodus 14:10-15:1), gives us daily bread (Isaiah 55:1-11), forgives our past misdeeds (Zephania 3:12-20), and gathers the lame and the outcast, turning their shame into praise and renown (Zephania)!

Or, as Psalm 115 puts it so eloquently, “Our God is in the heavens, our God does as God pleases. You don’t have to like it, you don’t get to vote on it – What a God!

And it is Paul and all other New Testament writers who go to great pains to assert that God in Christ is the same God as is attested in the Hebrew scriptures. This story of God in Christ finds its place within this long existing story. There is only One God, the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

This Easter Vigil invites us to step back and look at the bigger picture – to experience the convergence of past, present and future. This is the night when we are to suspend our tendencies toward historical literalism and all inclination to analyze events from a distance. These Old Testament texts along with epistle and Gospel invite us to imagine ourselves within the story itself

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

Paul. In his ineffable letter to the Romans (6:3-11) Paul reminds us that since we have now died to sin we are free to live anew! Baptism, writes Paul, means the possibility for new life in every moment that we live. Baptism always means a new beginning.

And this new beginning is made new with each and every Baptism. For we are not those who see Baptism as some sort of cosmic insurance policy for eternal life, but rather we are those people who understand that Baptism is our initiation into a covenantal community and a particular way of life. Baptism does not mark us as individuals, but as members one another of a community – the community of Christ – the Body of Christ!

Baptism is about belonging and participating in the community of Christ. And with each and every new Baptism this Body of Christ, the Church, is made new, is changed, is forever moving into new territory, establishing an ever wider beachhead for the Kingdom of God!

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

We are the women who go to see the tomb. We experience the great earthquake. We see the angel roll back the stone and sit upon it. We hear the words, “Do not be afraid.” Nevertheless, we are. We look into the tomb and see that it is all as the angel has said – it is empty. Jesus is nowhere to be seen. The dead one is on the loose!

So we run back up the road to find the others, to tell the others what we have seen and heard. With fear and great joy we run - with tears of grief and joy mingled with dust in the rising sunlight of the new day, the first day of the week, the first day of a new life, the first day of a new world.

We are running, racing, already with a mission, already with a Gospel, already with Good News for the rest – he is risen, he is on the loose, he is going before us, he will meet us back at home in Galilee, there we will see him….

When all of a sudden, Whoa Nellie!!! All of a sudden in the middle of the road, in the midst of the dust and tears and laughter and fear and joy, in the midst of an angel directed mission, in the middle of the road, He appears and cries out, “Hail!”

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

We fall to the ground, we grab onto his feet, we worship him. We hold onto him as if we have the power and the strength to hold him there, to keep him still, to never let him out of our sight ever again. We hold on for dear life to his feet, the feet of him who just two nights before washed our feet. We whose feet had been racing now had hearts racing, leaping, pounding in the excitement of seeing our Lord Jesus before us, our hands grasping his feet.

Then he repeats the angel’s words, “Do not be afraid.” He calms our racing hearts and minds. All becomes still And he repeats the mission – Go and tell others what you have seen and heard. Worship leads to mission, mission leads to encounters along the road, and instructions that according to the gifts that have been given us, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

Jesus says, “Do not stay here, do not hold onto me, do not simply worship me, you must go ahead and out into the world and tell others what you have seen and heard. Behold, I am making all things new!”

And when they get to Galilee he is there, as he promises. And he says, “Behold, I am with you always to the end of the age!” You do not need to search or to inquire or to carry on all sorts of hocus-pocus, for I am here. That is Jesus. He does not say that he will someday come, nor is he prescribing ways one might get to him. Rather he says quite simply, “I am here.”

Know, my sisters, my brothers, he calls you to be with him.

He calls you to know he is here, even now.

He calls you to do something beautiful with your life and bear much fruit.

The world needs you, The church needs you, Jesus needs you,

They need your love and your light.

There is a hidden place in your heart where Jesus lives,

Where Jesus is always to the end of the age!

This is a deep secret you are called to live, Let Jesus live in you, Go forward with him!

Alleluia, Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

And so are we, so are we!

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