The Rev Cynthia KR Banks: Easter Vigil—Year C; Exodus 13:17-18, 20-22; Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21; Ezekiel 36:24-28; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 6:3-11; Psalm 114; Luke 24:1-12
In the beginning was chaos, and out of the chaos God pulled creation. And it wasn’t long, until we had descended into chaos again, this time enslaved by oppressive forces, and God pulled us out of the waters to our freedom. And it wasn’t long, until we had descended into chaos again, this time, with hearts grown hard, and God promised to do some open heart surgery, taking out our hearts of stone and giving us hearts of flesh so that could love again. And it wasn’t long, until we had descended into chaos again, our spirits as dry and brittle as a valley of dry bones, and God promised that Divine Breath could make those bones live again. Are you getting the sense here that we human beings have a real hard time staying out of chaos? And over and over again, God dives into the depths to pull us toward life. If this past week has shown us anything, if this journey we have made from “Hosanna” to “Crucify him!” has shown us anything, it has shown us that, when it comes to chaos, God is all in.
But if tonight shows us anything, it is this—God can’t resist creating, and when we thought all was lost, that ancient song rings out, “Rejoice…this is the night, this is the night when darkness is vanquished, this is the night when the bonds of death and hell are broken, this is the night when wickedness is put to flight and sin is washed away…This is the night when earth and heaven are joined, and we are reconciled to God.”
We may have a homing device on chaos, but God has a homing device on us, and Jesus drank the dregs of that chaos, so that in his rising, we might find our way home. God dove into the madness and pressed it to the bottom, and just as God pitched a tent in our flesh in the incarnation of Jesus, in Jesus’s death, God pitched a tent in depths of hell, and camped out there, and filled that darkness full of Presence. Chaos has lost its grip; we are consigned to the madness no more. It’s a whole new day, unveiled in the glorious splendor of this night.
This night is “wonderful and beyond our knowing.” And the waters of chaos that would overwhelm us have now become the waters of new birth. Christ is risen, and we are born anew! And our first waking cry in this newborn life can only be, “Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!”
On a night like tonight, the poets say it best. Elizabeth Rooney penned this poem called “Opening.”
Now is the shining fabric of our day
Torn open, flung apart, rent wide by love.
Never again the tight, enclosing sky,
The blue bowl or the star-illumined tent.
We are laid open to infinity
For Easter love has burst His tomb and ours.
Now nothing shelters us from God’s desire—
Not flesh, not sky, not stars, not even sin.
Now glory waits so He can enter in.
Now does the dance begin.
Though chaos still swirls, and though we will probably find our way into it again, it will never have the power to destroy us because, this night, we are laid open to Infinity. Tonight, all creation is made new. Tonight, we cross on dry land and taste our freedom again. Tonight, our hearts of stone grow soft and tender. Tonight, our dry bones live. This is the resurrection of our Lord; we are laid open to Infinity; now nothing shelters us from God’s desire.
So, let us rejoice, and fall in love all over again; after all this time that we have spent in our respective graves, entombed in chaos, or our fear of it, it is time to join the Risen One and dance the night away. Amen.
The Rev. Cynthia K. R. Banks
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Boone, NC
March 30, 2013