Sermon for Easter Vigil

Proper C  ~  April3-4, 2010

Holy Trinity & St. Anskar

 

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+ In the Name of God, the Holy and Undivided Trinity

 

he drops of water you just felt are the foam of the Red  Sea falling on you from the walls of water through which you pass as you escape the dominion of Pharaoh. Think of the first Pascha, when the Holy Prophet Moses stretched out his rod over the waters and the Red Sea parted, driven by the Lord’s wind, and stood like walls to the right and to the left of the escaping slaves. Remember how they passed over it on dry land, as the pillar of fire barred the way to Pharaoh’s hosts.   

 

            Notice how all the primal elements of the cosmos co-operate with the liberating God:  water, air, fire and earth help to free the Hebrew slaves. See how the armies of captivity to Death are barred by the pillar of fire, and then how the wheels of their war- machines are mired in the moist earth – the very earth that had been the pathway of the slaves –  and then how the pursuers are annihilated as the Lord withdraws the wind and the waters of the sea flood back over them.

            This was more than the action of a tribal Warlord jealous of His reputation, “getting glory over Pharaoh”: this was a sign of a whole New Creation, that was to come and now is come. God orders all the matter of the cosmos and sets it to the work of liberation.  The Pascha is the victory of order over chaos, vitality over decay, life over death.

            The Ultimate Reality of the universe is Intelligent, Powerful, and Benign . God is Philanthropos – the Lover of humanity, and the Lover of all that He has made.  Love is stronger than death and deathis swallowed up in Victory.

            Is there anyone who is a devout lover of God? Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!  Is there anyone who is a grateful servant?  Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord! Are there any weary with fasting?  Let them now receive their wages! If any have toiled from the first hour,  let them receive their due reward; If any have come after the third hour,  let him with gratitude join in the Feast! And he that arrived after the sixth hour, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. And if any delayed until the ninth hour, let him not hesitate; but let him come too. And he who arrived only at the eleventh hour, let him not be afraid by reason of his delay.

            For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to him that toiled from the first. To this one He gives, and upon another He bestows. He accepts the works as He greets the endeavor. The deed He honors and the intention He commends.

            Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!  First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day!

            You that have kept the fast, and you that have not,  rejoice today for the Table is richly laden! Feast royally on it, the calf is a fatted one. Let no one go away hungry. Partake, all, of the cup of faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

            Let no one grieve at his poverty,  for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.
            He has destroyed it by enduring it.

            He destroyed Hades when He descended into it. He put it into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below."

            Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with.

            It was in an uproar because it is mocked.

            It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated.

            It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

 

            Hell took a body, and discovered God. 

            It took earth, and encountered Heaven.

            It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

 

            O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?

 

            Christ is Risen, and you, O death, are annihilated!

            Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!

            Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

            Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;

 

for Christ having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

 

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!