Easter Vigil, April 3, 2010

Easter Vigil, 2010
April 3, 2010
The Rev. Natasha Brubaker Garrison

While we’re asleep
The Paschal moon is shining
High above the trees

And high above the trees
Even while we are sleeping
Easter is growing
In the Paschal moon
Like a child in its mother.
(Anne Porter)

This night is the culmination of all things. Darkness weaves into light and light dances with darkness. Life and death are married into a divine union and seen as part of eternity. We, who seek and yearn to be part of this union, hear the story of Resurrection that tells us to put our trust in that union, not the separateness we experience in this mortal body. On Easter, we are asked to let go of fear. On Easter, we are asked to not cling to death. On Easter, we are asked to believe that eternal life beyond biological life is at the heart of God and at the heart of our being. On Easter, we are asked to let go of what we think is the end, the final abyss, and surrender to the great tide of life.

We find this night an empty tomb. It is not that death has escaped. It is that death is not the end; it is part of life in ways large and small each and every day. Death can be where we stop, encased in tombs, and where we linger, what we try to avoid or paradoxically what we embrace because we are so afraid. But the angel, the messenger says, do not be afraid. The one who showed you life, who embodied the wholeness of life, died a mortal death but has been raised. His life is greater than that death and it has been drawn into eternal life. He has broken the barrier between our biological life and our spiritual life. We are to see that one resides within the other, with the life of our spirit called ever forward.

Epicurius and the angel spoke the same language. Epicurius wrote: “Why are you afraid of death? Where you are death is not. Where death is, you are not. What is it that you fear?” Perhaps what we fear is not death but life, eternal life, a life that invites us ever to dissolve the self to join the great tide of life. Life, like death, is something we try to cling to, but in doing so we turn it into death. We make it our own possession, we reduce it to our wants and needs and body and thoughts. We segregate it out as something we have. We use it to try to control our world and others. In our fear we grab and cling and take advantage of others and try to bend them to our will and desires, rather than creating space to free their souls and ours to be a part of this eternal tide of life. And in so doing life becomes the mirror of death.

We cannot claim life, we can not own it, we can not see it as ours. It is something we are invited into, given a moment to share in. We can open to it and ride its waves aware that it does not belong to us, but rather that we belong to it. This is what Jesus the Christ reveals. He is raised by God, by that eternal life. He does not raise himself. He does not beat death into non-existence. Instead, he surrenders so fully to the current of life that he absorbs and passes through death, unafraid of it for he knows it is part of life and not that life is part of death. His body’s death is but a key to revelation; he dies fully so that we can discover that eternal life encompasses and surpasses that bodily demise.

Death is but life waiting to emerge. The tomb is not a preserver of death; it is a womb that gives birth. A womb holds for a while, nourishes, sustains and protects life and then lets it go, out into the world—from seamless life within greater life, to a new form a life that must seek it’s place in that great stream until it is called home again into another tomb and another womb. And yet this truth remains: we can not grasp it; we can only surrender and open up to the coursing of life through our veins, through our hearts, through the wind, through the water, through the music of the stars, through the dance of sunlight, through the faces of others seen as part of our life not another life separate from ours.

For our life is part of that eternal life of Christ. Death is but a place, a moment, along the journey that calls us forward into life. We can put death first; we can give it the power to be the final solution and the answer, but that is not the revelation of the Resurrected One. That revelation is life—the new heaven and the new earth—the victory of life as love, as part of the great Lover and the Beloved.

As those who believe in the resurrection and the eternal life it reveals, we are called to enter fully into that life and that light. We are to rejoice with our whole being! We are part of life, eternal and always. Whatever in our world kills bodies, kills souls, reduces people to categories or names or something to be acted on by us, whatever stifles the song and dance of another, that is where death is. But we, we are called to see that and bring in life, by surrendering our own life to this great rhythm, this great joy, this great truth of God revealed this day by Jesus’ triumph over death. He gives us the gift; he rejoices to share this glorious hope with us. And we, we are to sing in this life, pray in this life and to dance, dance with joy and abandon and love for this life and in this life. For when the deepest truth is a life-giving love that enfolds and embraces all, dancing is what our hearts and our feet must do. So dance, this day, and every day, in thanksgiving for the love of God that dies and rises for us, to free us, to hold us, to call us ever more into union with the divinity at the heart of all things. Alleluia!