Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Vigil Homily.

Flowers on the Altar at St. Thomas' Church, Whitemarsh, Easter Vigil, 2016
In the beginning there was a Garden. And in the Garden, God placed our first parents.  But Satan came in and led us astray, and the stole of immortality worn by our first ancestors was lost, and death and sin entered the world.  We were cast out of Eden, cast out of the presence of God.  We sought to be like God, to know good and evil, to sit in judgement, and brought about all manner of other sins.  

Cain slew able. 

In Babel we strove to supplant God by building a tower into heaven.  

In Egypt, we enslaved the Hebrews. 

After the deliverance from the Red Sea, we rejected the God who brought us through the waters, building an idol of our wealth for worship.  

In Sodom and Gomorra, we failed to welcome the stranger in our midst, we threatened the alien in our lands, and sought to punish the newcomer.
When the Lord set Judges over us, we rejected them and demanded a King, so that we could be like the other nations, like the profane and unholy tribes.  

Time after time after time after time we rejected God’s laws and God’s love, and turned aside to follow our own desires and wishes.  

Time after time after time after time we made ourselves to be greater and more important than God. 

Time after time after time after time we succumbed to sin, and death ruled the world. 

It was into this world that Christ was Born. 

Christ came to what was his own, and his own people rejected him. 
And yet the light shineth out in the darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not. 

God came into the world in the person of Christ. He lived a perfect life, free from the stain of disobedience that marks us all.  He lived as one of us, but without sin.  He lived free from the power death had over us. 

And yet when the hour of judgement came, there he stood, offering up himself to death willingly, offering up his body so that we might be redeemed.  Though death had no claim on him, he went for us to the cross, to satisfy the ancient law, to pay the wages of sin in our stead. 

Death, who had won its victory in Eden and forced its way into the world, took hold of its greatest prize; death took the spotless lamb, the sinless Christ.

O what pain death must have felt.  O the shock it must have received, to have grabbed that which it could not hold.  

So come, all of you and rejoice!  Come and celebrate the resurrection of the lamb!  

Come, all ye who have carried the flame of faith since your childhood, and come all ye who have just arrived!  Come ye of much faith and ye of little.  Come young and old, strong and weak, come and see that the Gates of Hell have been trampled down and stand no more. Come join with saints and angels and sing at the throne of our risen savior!  Come rejoice that death has been vanquished!

For “Hell took a body, and discovered God.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took what it saw, and was overcome by what it did not see.

O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!
Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down!
Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is Risen, and life is liberated!

Christ is Risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead;
for Christ having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!”*

Quotation from the conclusion of St. John Chrysostom's Easter Vigil Homily c. 400AD

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