Homily: March 26, 2016

March 26, 2016 - Easter Vigil, YEAR C; Rev. Phil Boelter, Vicar

Tonight is the holiest night of our year,

in some ways more important than even Christmas,

with all its lights

and unwrapped presents

and festive joy.

 

For on this night is kindled a fresh light

shining toward a new day of resurrection,

a day which knows no end.

 

On this night we are given the greatest gift

a human being can ever receive,

life eternal,

life abundant,

life everlasting.

 

Tonight our joy is made complete

because in rising from death

Christ has destroyed the power of death once and for all.

 

But wait a minute, you might say.

 

People still die.

WE still die.

 

In fact we are surrounded by death.

 

We can walk out of here and travel through our neighborhoods.

there we see signs of death all around….

 

broken families arguing loudly,

homeless people huddled under a bridge for warmth,

people who fall ill and never find the health they seek.

 

In the midst of our lives

We are often fractured by sickness, sin and neglect.

 

These are the deaths we die every day,

the little deaths of disappointment and denial.

 

But in the midst of all that death,

Paul writes,

We are raised up with Christ to walk in newness of life.

 

As our Book of Common Prayer funeral service itself says,

 

All we go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make

our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

 

 

The good news of the Easter Vigil is that

new light has been kindled,

liberating love has been let loose in the world.

 

Christ,

Freed from the bonds of death himself,

leads us out into new life with him.

 

In a few moments you, MacKenzie, will be baptized,

and God will rejoice over you.

 

As you are baptized,

we also all will recall our own baptisms.

 

We are marked with the cross of Christ,

And passing through the waters of baptism,

we turn from death to new life.

 

The symbolism is somewhat hard to see,

because instead of a big lake or flowing river

we have this relatively small baptismal font.

 

Instead of immersing MacKenzie

as the Christians of old did,

I will simply pour water on her head three times.

 

Maybe she will get a little in her eyes,

But on the surface

It doesn’t look much like dying and rising again,

at least not as much as the ancient way of immersion.

 

But the power of baptism remains the same,

A few drops of water,

or a river full.

 

Submersion or simply pouring over the head.

 

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is this.

 

These are the defining moments

when God claims us as God’s own,

when our lives shine a little brighter,

when we experience the new possibilities,

the new future which comes

at the end of a very long and difficult time.

 

Remember, MacKenzie,

No matter what may happen in your life,

Even in those more difficult hours that come to us all,

You are still God’s child.

 

As the Easter Exsulstet says

 

“The power of this holy night

dispels all evil,

washes guilt away,

restores lost innocence,

brings mourners joy.

 

Let us rejoice together in the power

Of this holy Easter Vigil night.

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SermonRev. Phil Boelter