Thursday, April 11, 2013

Easter Vigil

Preached by Rev. Dr. Jason Haddox
Genesis 1:  “So Good!”

Noah, the Ark, the Rainbow: “Never Again”

Exodus: The Red Sea, remembrance and liberation, Miriam and the women dancing on the sea shore; “We Remember”
Isaiah 55: Come to the water, be washed and filled, welcomed and restored. 

“My ways are not your ways…my word goes forth and accomplishes what it intends.”   

“Come, get up, come to the waters!” the prophet cries.  Come and be refreshed; eat and drink, food and wine provided by a generous host!  We hear God’s promise to the exiles, the people of Israel in captivity, as the prophet Isaiah calls them to throw themselves into God’s abundance.  We hear an invitation to enter into this richness, this generous place.  “Not for money, not for a price.”  Not earned or deserved by our own cleverness or accomplishments or education, not bought by large bank accounts or inherited in trust funds—but offered freely to all, without condition or qualification.  The exiles have wandered far away; now they are called to turn their wanderings back to the source of Life. 

Back to the one who spoke all things—ALL THINGS—into being in the beginning, and cried out over them: It is “SO GOOD!”  (Let them echo—prompt them if they don’t)  To return and know that it is God whom they seek in their wanderings; and that it is God who has been seeking them and chasing after them and longing for them all along.  That as they walked……in the Garden with Adam and Eve and felt the warm sunshine on their shoulders and the coolness of the grass under their feet; …as they walked with Noah and his companions out of the smelly, creaky Ark and felt that thick gloppy mud between their toes; …as they walked with the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground, and danced on the sand with Moses and Miriam and the mothers and sisters, …that God has walked with them all along the way.  That they were never along in that walking.   

The feet of faith carried Adam and Eve, and Noah and Isaiah, and Miriam and Moses. 

The feet of faith carried Jesus as he fed the hungry, and healed the sick, as he welcomed the outsiders and strangers, forgave sinners, ate and drank with the wrong sort of people and proclaimed God’s kingdom among those who followed him.

The feet of faith even took Jesus to the cross and death itself.    

The feet of faith carried Mary Magdalene and Peter and John, early on the morning of the third day, to the garden where Jesus was buried, to discover that the tomb was empty, the stone rolled back. 
And the feet of faith carried Mary Magdalene, the “apostle to the apostles” to tell the others: I have seen the Lord!” 

And those same feet carry us in the journey of faith here this morning.  We come, O so early!  We come with weary feet, aching feet, calloused and crusty and corn-covered feet; we come with young tiny feet, strong vigorous feet, joyous dancing feet.  We experience the stories of God’s mighty acts, again and again to save, to set free, to restore, to seek and find that which was lost; to make new that which had grown old; to breathe the breath of life into that which was dead and buried and almost forgotten.  We hear these stories and they are OUR stories.  We too come, gathered as the People of God, walking the journey of faith together, carried on the feet of faith (our own or someone else’s) learning again and again what that means to follow the way of Christ and how to do it. 

We come today bringing new travelers on the journey of faith.  Annaliese Raine is old enough to begin the journey by her own say-so, but not without a good deal of help in the rough places;  Liam Holder and Ehlana Orin have yet to take even a first step.  And that is all just as it should be—for none of us can walk this journey of faith by ourselves, or without help.  In baptism we begin the journey; a single event takes place, and we spend the rest of our lives figuring out what that means, and how to live as a result of that event.   

In a moment we will pray for Annaliese and Liam and Ehlana, and for ourselves as well—that the presence and gifts of the Holy Spirit will be bestowed upon us all, for renewal and refreshment, forgiveness and cleansing, nourishment and strength.  “Not for money, not for a price,” as Isaiah says, but because God loves us and will have us for God’s own.  We hear the stories—we tell them again to each other—and we remember.  We remember. We remember.  And it is SO GOOD.


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