Sermons

"The Light Shines Again...and Again...and Again," Great Vigil of Easter, Year B

"The Light Shines Again...and Again...and Again," Great Vigil of Easter, Year B

Mar 31, 2018

Passage:Mark 16:1-8

Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Jill Walters

Series: Easter

Category: Love, Resurrection

Keywords: light, love, resurrection

Summary:

As we emerge from the darkness of Jesus' death and crucifixion, we enter the light that has always been present. This light was present at the beginning of Creation and is always present with us. Mark's version of the resurrection story ends abruptly, but it reminds us that God is still working through the resurrection of Christ even today. God's love shines brightly through the light of Christ.

Detail:

May the Words of my mouth and the meditations of each heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer.  Amen.

​Over the course of these last days, our hearts have carried the heavy weight of grief as we walked through Jesus’ last supper with his beloved friends...his betrayal and abandonment by those same friends...and finally his surrender to the cross. 

We arrived tonight in a state of darkness.  It’s dark outside.  The church is dark inside.  This is the same darkness that was present at Creation. This is the darkness from which God brought forth light and life.  This is the darkness through which God changes everything...for the whole world...and for us.

This is the same darkness that Jesus endured.  The darkness through which he descended to reclaim those who had died. 

But even as we bring our grief with us into the dark of this Easter Vigil, we also came with a sense of expectation and hope.  Unlike the disciples, we know that the darkness does not remain.  We know that Christ has conquered death. We know that the light shines again and that all the earth rejoices at the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

Tonight’s passage from the Gospel of Mark is curious.  Most scholars believe that it’s the original “ending” of the book.  A “shorter” ending and a “longer” ending were later added to Mark to flesh out the resurrection story. 

The other gospels give us stories about women encountering Jesus himself and spreading this good news to the disciples.  The disciples, in turn, have their own meetings with the resurrected Jesus, depending on which gospel you read.  But not Mark, he ends with “they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.”

This passage also leaves us to linger in the reality that the risen Christ brings both “terror and amazement.”  The reality of Jesus’ death and resurrection is terrifying...how can this be the path that is required for the world to be reconciled?  At the same time, the sheer power of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice are astonishing!

What kind of love submits itself to the forces of evil and death in order to save all of humankind?!  It’s a love that is far beyond my imagination.  It would’ve been far easier to conquer those forces through acts of war and violence toward the enemy.  Surely, Jesus is powerful enough to have wiped them all off the face of the planet with one command. 

Yet, Jesus absorbed all that violence and hatred and evil in his fragile, human body.  He placed himself in our service to show us an even more powerful kind of love. 

This is the love that was present at the Creation.  It’s the very essence of love that filled the breath that swept across the waters in the beginning...the love that gave birth to all of creation. 

  • It’s the love that brought forth our universe and all livings things.
  • It’s the love that created humankind in the image of God.
  • It’s the love with which God keeps reaching out to us no matter how lost and alone we feel.

Mark’s version of the resurrection story reminds us that it’s still being written.  The wonderful, beautiful, surprising acts of love that we encounter in God and in God’s creation are a continuation of the resurrection story. 

Jesus is still at work in the world bringing us back to the realization of God’s abundant and powerful love over and over and over again, as many times as we need it. 

The light that symbolizes God’s love and Christ’s presence has permeated the darkness.  Just as this darkness was present in the beginning, light is the first of God’s creation.  Just as darkness is necessary for the transformation of the world, so is the light. 

This light we share tonight is the same light that was first spoken into existence by our Creator in the beginning.  It’s the source of love that produces life.  It signifies our hope in Christ.

 

As the light floods back into our lives, we’ve prepared the altar and returned all the signs of a risen Christ. 

  • We resume our Alleluias and proclaimed that Christ has risen indeed.
  • We let the light of Christ, that sign of God’s never ending, boundless love, wash over us.
  • We’re filled with the understanding that Christ has conquered death for all time.
  • And shortly, we’ll come to the table to share the Body and Blood of Christ with each other.

Because of all of this we aren’t able to resist sharing God’s infinite love with the rest of the world!  The resurrection story hasn’t ended...it continues with us as we walk with Christ and with one another to bring the good news to all people!

 Amen.