Easter Vigil — Rev. Karen Barfield

Romans 6:3-11
Luke 24:1-12

In the name of the one, holy and living God:
Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifying Spirit. Amen.

Two weeks ago at our Wednesday night Eucharist, I had finished distributing the bread and was standing behind the altar waiting for James to finish with the chalice.

As I looked around, I saw a young boy with a beaming face turn to his mother and say:
“It is good.”

As I smiled to myself, I let what he said sink in.

It is good.

It is good that we should gather together to celebrate our life in Christ,
to be nourished by his Body and Blood,
to receive strength for our journeys.

Those words “it is good” then immediately took me back to the whole of creation…the true beginning of our story this evening.

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’: and there was light.

“And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.” (Gen 1:1-4)

God created the earth and the seas and saw that it was good.

And when God saw the earth put forth plants and fruit trees, God saw that it was good.

God made the two great lights: the sun and the moon, and it was good.

And God created the creatures of the sea and the winged birds, and it was good.

The earth brought forth living creatures of every kind, and it was good.

And God created humankind in God’s own image, and iit was good.

“God saw everything that [God] had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Gen 1:31)

Tonight the story we retell reminds us of God’s redeeming Grace throughout the span of history…a history that begins with creation and ends with a call to proclaim and live into a new life, a new creation, through Jesus’ resurrection.

Paul says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

“Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised form the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:3-5)

Tonight we tell the story of the dawning of that first day of the week…the dawning of a day of continued mourning when Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women who were with them, came to Jesus’ tomb, bearing their grief and spices.

They came seeking Jesus’ body and found a gaping hole… an empty tomb.

There was nothing there for them.

Even the men at the tomb asked, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”

When the men reminded the women of the story…reminded them that Jesus had told them that he was to be handed over, crucified and raised on the third day, then they remembered and understood.

They returned and told the disciples, but the disciples considered their story an idle tale.

At least all but Peter.

Peter, believing it could be true, leapt up and ran to the tomb to see for himself.

But, seeing that it was true, he went home.

The women went and shared the good news!
Peter went home.

What about us?

This amazing story we hear tonight:
reminding us of our creation,
and promise of new life…
do we believe it to be an idle tale?

Or, do we choose to live into resurrection, knowing that just as we were buried with Christ in his death, that we are also raised with him to walk in newness of life?

Living a life of resurrection is not easy, for it calls us first to die.

Jesus chose life,
and because he chose life,
he was crucified.

Jesus chose life by eating with sinners and touching the unclean.

Jesus chose life by healing on the Sabbath because restoring a person to wholeness was more important than following the letter of the law.

Jesus chose life by confronting the power structures that oppressed God’s children.

Jesus chose to be crucified rather than fight back with violence.

What is our witness?
How do our lives tell of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection?
In what ways do we choose life?

We soon will gather at the Table,
offering our hands and our lives to be nourished by God’s Grace.

May we, too, respond with beaming faces: It is good.

It is very good.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1, 3-5)

Alleluia! Alleluia! Christ is risen.
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia. Alleluia.