Preached on 15 April 2017 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Snohomish, Washington
Great Vigil of Easter, Year A
Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
Lent is over. We have journeyed through Holy Week through the Holy Ground of community, the Holy Ground of the cross, to the Holy Ground of the empty tomb. It seems fitting, that tonight we started at the holy ground of the tombs of those we love who have gone before. Whether they rest here in the memorial garden or in some similar place, we were with them in our hearts. We started with those with whom we hope to one day be reunited, and we end at the empty tomb of Jesus.
We listened once again to the stories of our faith. Stories that are all about God; but always about God in relationship with God’s people. We have heard the lengths God will go to for God’s people.
We journeyed through Lent and especially Holy Week, thinking about God’s gifts to us through Jesus Christ. God’s gift to us of each other, the nourishment of community in the sacraments of the bread and wine and of caring for one another, washing feet.
God’s gift of unfailing presence and of unbounded love and mercy we find at the cross.
God’s gift to us of new life in Christ, we find at the empty tomb.
The empty tomb is not the end of the story, though. It’s the beginning. It’s new life, new hope, new possibilities. It’s the story about binding our own lives to the life of Christ as we did at our baptism.
Georgia, tonight, you get a new birthday. You still have your birthday in December. But tonight, as you are baptized, it is your birthday into new life with Jesus. You see all those people out there? They’re your new sisters and brothers. And they’re gonna promise to do everything they can to help you in your life with Christ – especially to figure out what that means.
But even more important than that promise. Jesus promises to always be with you, no matter what, forever and for always, Jesus loves you. And just so you remember that, I’m going to pour some water on your head and I’m going to draw a cross on your forehead with some oil that smells pretty and say, “You are sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever.” You may be able to wash the oil off, but Jesus will always be able to see it. And I hope that it will help you always remember Jesus’ promises to you.
Are you ready?