“Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said.”
I love the Easter Vigil service of the church. There is no other service quite like it. The lessons we heard at the beginning give us a glimpse at the history of salvation. The lighting of the new fire for the Paschal Candle is like bring the new light into the world. Indeed it is the new light of Christ himself that we are celebrating.
This is the third day of the Liturgy that began on Maundy Thursday. We heard about the institution of the Holy Sacrament of Communion. We heard about Jesus going to a place apart to pray. On Good Friday we heard about his arrest and trial, then his crucifixion, death, and burial on the tomb.
The next day, the first day of the week, or the Day of the Sun, as it was called, the women went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. They arrived only to have an angel open the tomb telling them to not be afraid. The guards actually fainted with fear! The angel told them to tell the disciples that Jesus would meet them in Galilee, but then Jesus meets them on the road where they grabbed his feet to worship him.
The Resurrection of Jesus is one of the central mysteries of the faith. He appeared to the women first, as they had gone to the tomb to anoint the Lord. Jesus met them and said, “Hail.” In English that would be, “Hey!”
Jesus had told them of his resurrection all along, but now many of them really believed it could happen. It was a claim that no other prophet had made, and his disciples knew that if he really did rise from the dead, that their belief was true.
Many people still doubt the Resurrection of Jesus. They would like to find some kind of scientific explanation. They would like to believe that the Resurrection was staged by the disciples. They think of it as fake news.
If it was a fake, and if Jesus was not the Son of God as he claimed, would the Way of Jesus have lasted over 2000 years?
In fact it has lasted because the Spirit of the Lord is alive and well in the hearts of all believers. He motivates us to carry on the worship of God, and in doing the good works that he has laid out for us.
Those works involved the love that we have for one another. On Maundy Thursday, Jesus gave his disciples, and us a new mandate, to love one another has he loves us. He washed their feet in the ultimate act of servitude.
Loving others involves forgiveness. It is easy to carry on a grudge against someone, but who is it hurting really? Us. Jesus taught us to forgive when others wrong us. It should be a way of life.
John the Evangelist told us;
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
If God loves us that much, should we not love others as Jesus loves us?
Love involves caring about others. It involves some sacrifice as well. Love never expects anything in return.
Is someone you know hurting? How can you show them that God loves them? Reach out to them and tell them about the love of Jesus.
Are there homeless and hungry people in your community? Show them the love of God by contributing to their needs in some fashion.
Easter reminds us of the great love and sacrifice that Our Father made for us, and now his Son showed us the way to eternal life.
In gratitude them, let us devote our lives and our labors to the Lord. Amen.