Easter Vigil 2015 The Rev. Austin K. Rios St. Paul’s Within the Walls April 4, 2015
Deep in the pit of the earth, in the darkest place any human can imagine, a light begins to shine.
It is the light of the resurrection…a flame that starts as a single point, cutting the darkness around it…but which soon grows in power as it is shared, setting the world on fire and causing a new Easter day to shine once more.
We have just finished hearing the story of salvation, a story that highlights God’s good creation, God’s preference for freedom over enslavement, and God’s sincere longing for all things in heaven and earth to be united as one.
It is a story that can often seem cast into the shadows of our world, one that we can too easily dismiss as fanciful or too far-fetched.
But on this night, we gather here as witnesses to the ultimate power of this story, and acclaim that Jesus…the Son of God who was crucified and died, has been raised from the dead.
It is a bold claim, but one that shines with new power and energy this night, especially for those who would deign hold the flame of resurrection in their hearts.
Recently, I had the great privilege of placing my hand on the top of the stone that the church remembers as Golgotha…the place of the skull in Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified alongside two other criminals.
The limestone was cold as the grave, but the chapel built upon it was blazing with the light of thousands of candles lit by the faithful.
Before becoming a site of crucifixion, Golgotha was a quarry, where builders from the 8th to 1st century BC would harvest the stones that built much of the buildings of Jerusalem during that period.
However, there was an earthquake that rendered the remaining stone unusable for building, so it then became the place of public execution.
The words of the psalmist in Psalm 118, which grace Jesus’ mouth in Matthew 21 and Peter’s lips in Acts 4:11 came to mind: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
Our faith is founded upon the rejected rock of Calvary.
All our hopes and dreams and sincerest longings come true tonight, because we have learned definitively, that the rock of Christ is solid.
The resurrection of Jesus turns the world upside down, with a wisdom that shows that what the world rejects, God lifts up.
Whether it be Israelites bound in slavery, a group of ragtag disciples trying to follow the way in Galilee, or God’s own son stood up on a cross set within a skull-shaped stone…God is about raising up that which has been rejected and cast down.
And that means us.
When we think the darkness of our lives couldn’t get any greater…when we feel like we walk alone in the valley of the shadow of death…and when wars and rumors of wars threaten to overwhelm us…
God shines a light and beckons us to get up.
God shines a light and says to us…forward! Build the kingdom upon this firm footing. Trust in the Lord and witness God’s goodness and mercy once more.
This is the night we let the light and its meaning enfold us and shape us.
For like our Savior taught us, we are a people being molded for a new world…for a new reign…that is now coming into the world.
This is the night when rejection becomes resurrection.
And thanks be to God…it is indeed marvelous in our eyes!