Homily: Easter Vigil, April 4, 2015
EASTER VIGIL, YEAR B; Rev. Phil Boelter
Fire and water.
These two elements of tonight’s service
stand in uneasy coexistence.
Fire warms us and cooks our food
but fire can also burn us.
we can only live a few days or weeks without it
but we can also drown in it.
In our first lesson
both fire and water make cameo appearances.
A FIERY spirit dove
Broods over the primordial WATER of Creation
And the result is light.
Later God keeps declaring all creation good,
And indeed it is good.
But sometimes I do wonder-
does God keep calling the creation good
because it is good-
Or because He desperately wants it to be?
That beginning at least,
with its word “brood” is ambivalent.
In her brooding might God be contemplating her options?
Asking herself, “Should I bother with creating this world?”
Her answer was yes-
or you and I wouldn’t be here.
Later in our Exodus reading
fire and water reappear
again in destructive and creative power.
God leads the children of Israel to freedom
By means of a FIERY pillar that draws them
through a WATERY Red Sea pathway
on dry ground.
A few moments later
that place becomes a water logged Egyptian graveyard
when Pharoah’s armies are drowned.
In the Hebrew tradition
fire and water
bring in their wake both liberation and fear.
So it is not really too much of a surprise
to find that tonight’s gospel reading ends Mark’s entire gospel,
on a very curious note:
Upon hearing the good news of Christ’s resurrection
“They went out and said nothing to any one
For they were afraid.”
The message for us tonight is this:
tonight’s gospel and its resurrection message
are tailor made for we who doubt and we who fear.
In some circles
Christ’s bodily resurrection
is proof certain that God is real.
Back in high school,
I was involved in one such Evangelical group
called Campus Crusade for Christ.
We spent a lot of time
sharing factoids about Jesus
in the hope of convincing folk to accept Christ
as their personal Savior.
We even had a book by a man named Josh McDowell
Called “Evidence that demands a verdict.”
But I am more comforted in my waning years
by a gospel which
knows that Jesus rose,
but also acknowledges
the struggles and fears and doubts
that this strange factoid brings with it.
I hope, I believe, I confess with you
that in the waters of baptism
I have died and risen with Christ
And been given the gift of Spirit’s fire,
as the Apostle Paul says
in our second reading tonight.
But I also know this:
because we have the fire of the Spirit
burning within us
that burning will not let us rest.
We will go on fearing,
We will go on questioning,
our faith more like a flickering candle
than a powerful flashlight.
The waters of baptism
ARE powerfully cleansing.
Baptism both kills our old selfish ways
and raises us up to surf on waves of new life.
But even that washing
Doesn’t scrub away all our fear and doubt.
So, we will leave this place tonight
walking wet in the renewal of our baptism.
We will leave having been nourished at our Easter Table
as our elder brothers and sisters in the faith
are also at their Passover tables this night.
We will go on
Doubting and Believing,
Wandering and wondering,
Groaning and Growing.
As it was in the beginning
with our Father/ Mother God at the Creation,
And as it was
in the Liberation of God’s People at the Exodus.
So it is now
in our Watery Dying and Rising with Christ,
And ever shall be,
In the Holy Spirit’s Fire burning within,
World without end,