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Holy Triduum: The Great Vigil of Easter
03 April 2021
“First Day’s Story”
St. Mark 16.1-8; OT Narratives Read in Vigil
Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor
+ In the Name of Jesus +
And in the early morning, on the first day after Sabbath, they came upon the tomb, while the sun was rising. (Mk 16:2; my translation)
The pervasive darkness that attended the death of Jesus now gives way to the rising sun upon the earth, hinting at a more than ordinary dawn, ripe with the promise of a renewed creation.
Whether they were ready or not, that is what the women find at Jesus’ tomb. The heavy stone over the grave stands rolled back, the seal of the grave has been broken. By morning’s light, they see that there is no dead body in that tomb to anoint. And heavenly messengers are present to say, “Do not be alarmed. Jesus you are seeking, the Nazarene, the one who was and is the crucified one, He has been raised, He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him.”
It is the first day of the week, the first day of creation. The Lord has rested on the Sabbath day after His redeeming work on the cross on the sixth day, and now that night has fallen on the Sabbath, we come with the women to this new first day of the week, and find that Jesus has moved the heavens and the earth, and arose from His entombed rest to be the glorious first budding of the new heavens and the new earth. He will bring that new creation to a wondrous completion at His Word on that grand eternal day, some call this day and through to that day to come the “eighth” day. Then our Lord will bring forth all His brothers and sisters glorious and alive, to follow Him into the eternal paradise He has prepared.
Tonight we glimpse with the women into the new creation springing forth out of a place where death once reigned but no more does, and we realize that the dawning of a new creation in Christ is the fulfillment of the entire story of God’s people in Holy Scripture.
This night, the new Adam has arisen forth to bring light and immortality to light, fallen humanity has been given the right to be called children of God once again, to know anew the image of Him who shares our humanity, and has raised it on high for all eternity.
This night, the ark of Christ’s body delivers us safely through the raging flood of this world, until that day when we come to rest in Him upon the fullness of a new heavens and a new earth.
This night the greater Prophet, greater than Moses, arises to lead us out of bondage to sin, out of old Egypt and the past that seeks to enslave us, through the cleansing waters, through the wilderness of this life, and into the new land He has made ready for us.
This night, there are no dead, dry bones slain by sin and death in that grave. He is the firstborn of Ezekiel’s vision, first of those slain by sin and death to breathe again in the resurrection air of His Holy Spirit.
This night, the faithful, never reluctant Jonah has come up out of the depths of the sea, out of the belly of the grave, alive to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in Himself to the world, through His Church.
This night, a Son of Man has come forth from hell’s fiery furnace, unsinged, smelling like sweet incense and the costliest perfume ever, like heaven itself, innocent, holy, glorious, victorious over every idol, leading us out of hell’s exile in sin and death to the home He has prepared for us.
Around font and altar, we remember these stories and know that in Christ, this is your salvation story, you have been joined to the new creation in Christ through Holy Baptism and Holy Supper. That story of the new creation in Christ has been bestowed this night on Ruby Jean Haas in the life-giving waters of Holy Baptism, a new birth of water and the Spirit which has forever joined her to the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. It’s the dawn of a new day for her leading to eternal life.
This night, celebrating the new creation in Christ, we sing Glory be to God on high, peace on earth, good will toward men. All the sons and daughters of Adam are true brothers once again, all curses stand defeated, all debts forgiven, all failures forgotten, wickedness is put to flight, sin is washed away, jubilee has been declared, there is peace with God and with each other, for the seal of the grave has been broken, and the morning of the new creation in Jesus Christ has broken forth out of the night.
Did you hear the heavenly call go out? Hear it again: rejoice now, all creation… rejoice, all the earth, in the radiance of the light now poured upon you and made brilliant by the brightness of the everlasting King! Let this house of God ever ring out with the Easter praises of God’s faithful people, body and soul created anew in the Lord Jesus Christ!
Alleluia! Christ is risen! R: He is risen indeed! Alleluia!