April 11, 2009
The Rev. Tasha Brubaker Garrison
Easter Vigil, Year B
The light of Christ is burning at the heart of the world. Through the darkness and the emptiness a spark has been kindled. A new light has been born to shine into our lives and into our hearts. We see this light. We hold this light in our hands. We guard and guide this light into our hearts and our world. This light is the symbol of our rejoicing. Rejoice and be glad now for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King!
The light of God that burned fully and completely in the person of Jesus was thought to be snuffed out. Done. Ended. But as the prophet Isaiah says, a dimly burning flame he will not quench. The life of God, the love of God revealed in Jesus, could not be destroyed, could not be triumphed over by death. Through death, through emptiness, the power of God, the love of God still rises. The light of the holy flame is marvelous to our eyes and in it is the truth of God revealed and hidden in all its mystery.
We have heard the story, our story, this night. The story tells of a God that constantly, persistently, relentlessly seeks his people and delivers them again and again. We belong to God and no matter what God does not cut free of us. We bound to each other and God goes with us wherever we go and also stands outside of our lives to offer healing and transformation, forgiveness and freedom from sin and death. This night we are, as those who trust in Jesus, delivered from the gloom of sin and restored to grace and holiness. Our life is part of Christ’s life and that life has broken the bonds of death and hell. It is not that biological death is done away with, but that death as a spiritual reality larger than our physical one is not the final power. For as the wisest know, all reality is spiritual. And it is the journey of the spirit, of the soul, that is the heart of our time in this world. And if we grasped and lived this most fully how much more peace and life there would be! How much less death and violence and sin we would commit! The wholeness of our spirit is intricately tied to the wholeness of the world.
The light is coming into the world. We see it coming, but see too the shadows still around us. We are in the realm of the spirit, the realm of change, the realm of new birth and in the middle burns the flame of the heart of God. God goes with us and we with God. For our lives are full of the holy and mysterious spiral of birth and death and resurrection into new life physically and spiritually. We place our life within the life of Jesus for him, who is God revealed to us in human form, to shape it, guide it, mould it and impart its fullest meaning to us. And baptism is where we see this most clearly. For in baptism we are not only symbolically washed of all that draws us away from God, not only dedicated to life seeking God, not only naming the eternal truth that we are God’s from forever and for always and deeply loved, not only claiming that in the life of Jesus we see a truth worth following, BUT we enter into Jesus’ very death and resurrection, into his very being and he into our very selves utterly and completely. We become part of that saving mystery we celebrate this night. We die to be reborn.
Mia, tonight you are joining your life to this holy mystery. You are claiming the truth that God has loved you from before you were born and will be with you and love you every single second of your life. When we were talking about baptism you said that Church is like family. And you were right. It is. You are part of God’s family, of Jesus’ family, and nothing you can ever say or do will kick you out of this family. It is your home for ever. By being baptized you say yes to God in your life and that in Jesus you see God’s reflection and image—not only or exclusively here, but very clearly here. You continue and begin the journey of the soul this night. You become part of that holy light of Christ burning at the center of the world. You see yourself now as part of Christ, someone who shows God’s love and meaning in the world. What a sacred gift! What a marvelous thing! What a powerful act! Tonight the Mia you are and were becomes all that and yet a new Mia that has been bathed in God’s love and sealed in God’s power. You have opened up your heart even further to God. You are on that journey, the most important journey of your life—to know your soul and to live a deeply spiritual life, a truly real life.
And for all of us who are celebrating with her we too remember and renew that same movement within our lives. And we commit to join with Mia and each other to discover ever more fully our life in God through prayers, through sharing the story of Jesus, through the bread and the wine, and through acts of mercy and compassion and justice to continue the journey into the fullest and realest of lives. Let us now enter with joy and hope into the mystery of being the light burning at the center of the world, small but unquenchable, flickering through the darkness and growing in strength, drawing us and all creation from death in to life and ever knowing that resurrection is happening now, yesterday, tomorrow, for Jesus has been raised and is alive. And his voice is calling us into being and into that joy. Amen.