April 15 Vigil of Easter Sermon Crazy on fire

Easter Vigil

April 15, 2017

John 20: 1-18

 

Come, true light.

Come, life eternal.

Come, hidden mystery.

Come, treasure without name.

Come, reality beyond all words.

Come, person beyond all understanding.

Come, rejoicing without end.

Come, light that knows no evening.

Come, unfailing expectation of the saved.

Come, raising of the fallen.

Come, resurrection of the death.

–Simeon the New Theologian, Tenth Century

 

Vigil fire 2014

 

Oh, what a bright night!

Oh, what a shining shimmering church!

Wow, are you people glowing!

 

 

The ancients loved fire.  They lit fires in the springtime to announce to the gods that winter had better be over!

 

So Christians stole the idea and built their own bonfires in the spring, like the one we had tonight, but like us inserted the notion that with this light comes the life that God brings.

 

And in the Hebrew Scriptures, fire is all over the place.

 

Moses meets God in a burning bush that does not burn.

 

There is that pillar of fire that led the Israelites from the wilderness into freedom.

 

The giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai is buffeted with cloud and smoke, with the cinders raining down on those waiting word from the glorified face of Moses.

 

Elijah won the extreme games trophy when calling down fire while thumbing his nose at the Ba’al prophets.

 

In just a brief amount of time tonight, in that darkened chapel keeping vigil, we heard “let there be light” at the dawn of creation in the first reading, bracketed by the scorcher of the fiery furnace for the three amigos but who were not harmed, but playing pinochle with an angel, with a mess of other readings declaring that flood is overcome with a rainbow, mourning is clothed with a garment of salvation, water is flowing freely for parched people.

 

And what have we been holding in our hands? Candles!  And what have we been following around like it was Jesus, burning in our hearts? A singular paschal candle, about which we bellowed “Light of Christ!”

 

We must be crazy.  Here at the dead of night, crowing about the dawn of new life.

 

Do you think that Mary was crazy? She came to grieve and there was nothing there to grieve for.  No body at the grave. 

 

She was in the dark about what was going on.  Have you ever been oblivious to what was going on right in front of you until it hit you like a hammer?

 

What happened that made the lights go on in Mary, the flicker of recognition in calling her by name, was it out of love, was the voice itself so life-giving, what was it that brightened her spirit?

 

What is it for you?  We only have this candle, and the stories, and this glimmer of this thing called faith, where hope against hope, what we proclaim, what we wear, what we carry, what we eat, what we are is bigger than we ever imagined? 

 

It’s like we are enlightened.  It’s like we are burning with new imaginations for the world to change.  It’s like at Pentecost, where what was dancing over the heads of the disciples? Flames of fire!

 

We hold the Christ light for each other.  We, the church, singing This is the night.  We, the church, announcing at this Vigil the light of the resurrection.

 

We, tonight and tomorrow and as long as we have breath, are praying and believing in the amazing and splendiferous Easter Proclamation,

 

that this candle burning to the honor of your name, will continue to vanquish the darkness of night and be mingle with the lights of heaven.  May Christ the Morning Star find it burning, that Morning Star who never sets, that Morning Star who, rising from the grave, faithfully sheds light on the who human race.

 

Are we crazy?  Yes, crazy.  Crazy on fire.

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