Easter Vigil

Easter Vigil – April 4, 2015

Mark 16:1-8

Homily preached by the Rev. Canon Linda S. Taylor

I had an interesting perspective of you coming into the building tonight. Usually I follow right behind the choir, but tonight I decided I would stay behind to make sure everybody got safely in. So, I was following, and as I came up the stairs in the dark—in the mostly dark—I could see people wandering—trying to find their place. When you got settled, there was some comfort. It was strange, but there was some comfort. But in the milling around time, it wasn’t very comfortable. There was a searching for light—a wanting light to be there—because we were in the middle. We were in the middle—between the light that was and the light that was to come, and that’s not a comfortable place to be. And that’s what happened with these women when they went to the tomb and found that Jesus wasn’t there and they were told to go out and tell the world, and instead, they went home and hid. They were terrified. They were in the middle. They were between the light that had been and the light that was coming, and they didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know where to step. They didn’t know what was going to happen next—much as we when we came in.

In fact this whole week has been an interesting event of plans made and sometimes working and sometimes not. So we’re here in the middle. It’s not daybreak yet, but we’re celebrating Easter. Why in the world is that? Why in the world are we celebrating Easter when it’s still Saturday?

To answer that question, first I want to tell you an old story that Bishop Mary reminded us of earlier this week. A child went to a bishop—a four year old on Holy Saturday—and said, “Bishop, where was God when he was in the tomb?” Which is a pretty good question for a four year old. And the bishop did not hesitate a moment but said, “God went down to hell to get his good friend Judas.”

We think of Jesus as some of us saw him last night—lying there in the tomb—and his body was there, but in the moment of his death was his resurrection. We don’t see him until Sunday morning, so as far as we’re concerned, he’s not resurrected, because until we see him, it’s not happening. Isn’t that right? Until we see anything, it hasn’t happened. We’ll talk about that next Sunday with Thomas, but we don’t have to see what God is doing to know that God is always doing something—just a little bit wonderful—just a little bit miraculous—just a little bit more than we can ever begin to imagine.

If you look at your order of service, on the front page you’ll see Jesus coming out of the tomb and reaching down. He’s reaching down to Adam and Eve and to Judas. In hell. While we’ve been going through these hours since yesterday, Jesus has been busy. Jesus hasn’t just been lying there in the tomb. Jesus has been working—making things a little bit righter—making things a lot righter—bringing the world and heaven a little bit closer—and we can almost, almost touch that, because we’ve heard the end of this story for so long that it’s part of who we are and what we know and how we live. But those women—those women on that day couldn’t imagine what we know in our heart of hearts. They couldn’t imagine that anything except something horrific had happened, and they were terrified.

But this is the night. This is the night when all things are made right again—when we can see what we couldn’t see before—when we can hear the words we couldn’t hear before. This is the night when we come to seek our faith—to be reminded of our faith—to touch it again. This is the night when we gather while the world is doing all manner of other things, and we come here to be reminded that whether we can see or not, our Lord is with us—is moving in our world—is bringing new things into being. So when we’re told to go out and tell the world the good news, we can maybe take another few steps farther than we did last year. Maybe take time to tell one more person—or to invite them to be with us—because this is the night when all things are possible

Thanks be to God.