Note: These reflections were offered in lieu of a typical homily at the end of all the readings at the Easter Vigil. The rector and I split up the various readings to contextualize to the congregation how they all fit together, and demonstrate God’s constant saving Grace throughout history.
Israel’s Deliverance at the Red Sea — Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21
This story is the climax of the Exodus narrative. This is the moment where God truly frees Israel from bondage. It’s almost comical how little faith the Israelites have in their salvation “Were there not graves enough in Egypt for us?…It would be better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!” This is an archetypal story for God and humanity’s relationship. Humanity out of despair, fatigue, and fear would rather stay enslaved to Sin, Death, and Evil in the world than walk through a pillar of water into the unknown. But God saves. God always saves, He encourages His people and gives them a path to their freedom. Sin, in its own arrogance tries to follow but is overwhelmed by God’s saving grace. In the early church this story was read at every baptism, to remind the newcomers of God’s will to always save His people, and that through crossing water they were being marked as God’s own.
The Gathering of God’s People — Zephaniah 3:14-20
It’s been a few hundred years since God rescued the Israelites from Egypt. They have grown from a weary group of refugees into a mighty nation going toe-to-toe with the superpowers of their day, Egypt and Babylon. But this power has come with a cost. Instead of being God’s representatives on earth, they have lost themselves in kings, wars, wealth, corruption, and power. God raised up for them the prophet Zephaniah. Zephaniah warned the people that they had strayed from loving God, that in doing so they had left themselves vulnerable to evil in the world. He warned that soon they would be made slaves to sin, and carried off from their home, their culture, and their beloved city Jerusalem. They did not heed Zephaniah and became captive to the Babylonians, as all people in all times let themselves become captives to sin. God, however, always saves. This song of hope concludes Zephaniah’s prophecy, that God is working in the world and has laid plans to free all of humanity from their slavery to sin. To free us, make us whole, and become members of God’s family through His saving grace.
The Resurrection — Luke 24:1-12
“Why do you look for the living amongst the dead?” — This question isn’t posed only to the women and Peter. It is an eternal question God poses to us. In light of God walking among us, teaching us, and dying for us, why do we keep living as if there had been no resurrection? We have grown comfortable living in sin, even though it is killing us. We keep looking into tombs and the way of the dead for our salvation. Yet we have been saved! Christ is Risen Allelujah! Christ has overcome our greatest threat and our oldest terror, death itself! Like our forefathers who feared to cross the Red Sea we share the same terror of what being saved means. We know Sin, we know death, but to know God we have to let them go. We have to let go of our own pride and what we think we know about the world. We must empty ourselves so God can fill us. Christ has made the whole world new. In light of his resurrection we are the new Adam and the new Eve. Called to be God’s people, and the stewards of the Earth. God sends us out of the grave to prepare the world for His kingdom. Come out of the tomb! Leave it behind and walk with God in the garden.