Did you ever want to be there when it all began? Did you ever want to witness that moment when light first shattered darkness? Well tonight we are there. We are at the beginning of this created world that God saw was good. Did you ever want to be present when human beings were created? Well tonight you and I have seen the birth of humanity. We have witnessed our pristine innocence. Tonight we emerge from the dust truly his image and likeness, male and female together. Did you ever wonder what it was like to stand at the moment when a people, a nation was formed? Tonight you and I have been with Abraham, Moses and the prophets as God made and remade his people. Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a slave, oppressed, convicted and have no hope of ever going free? Well tonight the sea has opened and we are a free people. Tonight we have crossed the waters and have passed through safely. Have you ever been a refugee or an exile, living away from home, and wondered if you would ever see home again, if you would ever be connected with all that gave you birth, nourished you and fed you? Well, tonight you and I have heard the good news, and we are on our way back to our own land.
Have you ever been separated from a spouse, a loved one? Have you ever been at a stand off in your relationships an heard the pleading cry, “I still love you”? Well tonight is our wedding night. The one who made us is marrying us. The relationship has endured the test and now it is the time for making love again. Have you ever wondered whether there is a love that is so strong that despite all our wanderings, despite our infidelities, the promise and the commitment is not broken? Well during this night forgiveness was sent into our midst and a bond of peace has been made that can never be broken. All our debts have been canceled and we are as we were on that first day of life, of relationship to God and his son. Tonight we experience unconditional love beyond our imagination.
Tonight we are really at the beginning of creation; we are being born anew. During this night we have become a people bound together by Word and Love; during this night we are touching again the mystery of life in all its fullness. We are proclaiming this life in the face of insurmountable odds. We gathered in the dark, so we thought, but what really kept us together was not the dark night but the light—That attracted. Our first proclamation: The darkness of sin cannot overcome life. Light will win in the end. Light leads us; Christ our Light guides us. The light is not swallowed up by the dark!
As we pass this night together the intensity of this victory over every force of darkness and evil grows and grows. It grows until we hear a young man tell three women: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.” You entered the house of death looking for the dead, but the dead is risen–alive. Death has been defeated. Leave your spices here and tell others that life goes before you. That is what you must seek.
Yes , death has been defeated; the death that surfaces every time we feel our bodies freeze and become rigid out of fear; the death that lurks behind every sense of being abandoned, left alone, far from what is familiar. That death dies tonight. It is the death that hides in political and economic systems that leave human beings without the food and drink the prophet says is free; the death that lies hidden in systems that do not call forth the image and likeness of men and women. Tonight is the death of anything that allows us to grow greater and fatter while somewhere among our fellow human beings some are getting weaker and smaller. There is the death tonight of anything in ourselves that says my race, my age, my sex, my nationality, my customs, my status is greater and better than yours. Tonight we are brought back to the beginning and we go forward from here with a new heart, a new spirit and hope.
Our proclamation that Christ is our Light, that Christ is risen, is a proclamation that we have passed over something. And that something is death, it is sin, it is evil, its darkness. This is the Passover of the Lord. He has passed over from the power of evil, into the power of goodness and peace. And the great wonder of it all is that you and I have been called to join the Lord in that passing over. That is what is hidden in the amazement of the women. “He goes before you” so you too can Passover from all that hinders and restricts the covenant of peace and do so without fear or anxiety over who shall roll back the stone, without wondering who can overcome the violence that leaves us hopeless?
Tonight we don’t just stand at the end of something at the end of a story; we are all standing the beginning of something. This night is to bring us back to our origins in the Creator God, in his son and in His life giving breath of the Holy Spirit. We can begin anew. That is the mystery of this night. We start as newborn, as newly created, clinging to the wisdom that will bring us to life eternal.
Do we shake our heads despondently as we look around us at all the evil and negativity in our world? Do we say inside, it is too much to begin? Then hear again the Lord in the prophet Isaias: “My word does not return to me empty. It will succeed in what it was sent to do.” God will win in the end. That is what we are saying today. God has won. The victory is his. And for those of us who are baptized into that victory, we cannot go back. We can only go forward. For Christ can never die again. Sin has no more power over him. All there is tonight is life in all its purity. Let us wash ourselves in it. And let us give thanks to the Father who will never let go of what is his from the beginning.
Christ is risen, alleluia.
He is truly risen, alleluia.
Prior, Fr. Joel Macul