SERMON Easter Vigil St. Monica’s 3/31/18

Romans 6:3-11; Psalm; Mark 16:1-8

This night is the first Eucharist of Easter and in the tradition of the church, it is the primary feast appropriate for Holy Baptism. Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church. The first initiates into the Christian faith were prepared for baptism during the long Lenten season, and their preparation culminated in baptism at the Vigil. Within the diversity of Christian denominations today, the Rite of Baptism has changed quite a bit over the centuries, but for mainline churches like us, it has retained much of its original form.

Regardless, we all pass through the waters of baptism, as the rite through which, we enter the great community of believers. We Christians share a common tie with Our Lord and each other, and because of that tie, we share a mutual responsibility to each other. Each of us has a responsibility to help each other grow in a deeper love and commitment to Christ. Walking in newness of life in the household of God is a communal journey. We followers of Jesus gather to strengthen our bonds of affection, so that we may proclaim the Risen Lord, to shout the truth that “the tomb is empty.” Our faith proclamation to the world is “Alleluia, the Lord is Risen, The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia!” All of us gathered here, and Christians throughout the entire world, have made the commitment to one another, that we will do all in our power to support each other.

We promise to bring our Spiritual Gifts to the Kingdom, so that we might together serve the least, lost, and lonely among us and wherever they may be found. We are all gifted by the same Holy Spirit who sealed us in Baptism and marked as Christ’s own forever. That same Spirit equips each of us with gifts of service, leadership, wisdom, giving, and so much more.

On this night, we gathered in darkness into which a new fire, the fire and light of the Crucified one, was once again rekindled and shone brightly in our midst by the Paschal Candle. From it we lit our smaller candles to bring light into the darkness of the church. From the Paschal Candle, our baptismal candles were lit as a sign that we are “Children of Light.”

Our lives are to be illuminated by the light of Christ, and through its brightness, we will change the world. Our faith reflects hope and grace for a world fraught with pain, uncertainty, and despair. Together we are the Church, together we are one Body, and together we are the household of God. Together we are sent out to proclaim the love of God, the reconciliation of creation, the empty tomb, the resurrection of Christ. “Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia.”

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