11 April 2020 St. Athanasius Lutheran Church
Easter Vigil Meditation Vienna, VA
Tonight we hear the Old Testament preach. Some might say that it does not have much to say to us, now that the New Testament has come. They would be wrong. It is important that we hear the Old Testament - how each and every Word spoken by God is perfect and fulfilled, how God uses water to save His people, and how the flames of hell are extinguished for us. It is important that we hear these stories that are not just stories, and not just God’s stories, but our stories. For we have been baptized into these stories. So that makes them ours.
The joy of Adam and Eve in the life and creation they had received is our joy.
The joy of Noah after the flood is our joy.
The joy of Israel safe and secure after crossing the Red Sea is our joy.
The joy of Ezekiel in God’s restoration and new life is our joy.
The joy of suffering Job in His Redeemer is our joy.
The joy of Zephaniah in the gathering together of all God’s people is our joy.
And the joy of the three young men in the fiery furnace in our joy.
Our joy, for this is all the joy of Christ for us. For what the Son of God did of old He is doing now anew. All the Old Testament led to Him and all the New Testament flows from Him. He is the center of it all. Without Him, they are just stories, soon to be forgotten. But with Him, they are His wondrous works, praised for time and eternity.
How blessed is this night when all is accomplished. When past and future come together in one man.
So we’ll hear the Old Testament preach, and then we’ll remember our baptism, when made children of God, all these stories became our stories, in Christ. We don’t relive them, but we live in them and from them. The works begun then continue for us until our resurrection.
So we’ll hear that story too, tonight. Of the resurrection, the empty tomb. He is not here, the angel said. Why would He be? Why seek the living among the dead?
We know where He is, where to find Him. We are not like the saddened and confused women who went to the tomb. He is where He has promised to be for us. In the Font, in the water, where He makes us His children and forgives. In the Absolution and the Gospel, in the Word, where he forgives us and cleanses us. On the Altar, in the bread and wine, where He feeds us and forgives us. He leaves the tomb empty so He may fill our hearts with peace and joy, and give us rest.
So what a glorious night this is. The dawning of a new day that will never end.
You live in that day, now, already, but not yet in fullness. The fullness is still coming. And it will surely come. Just as surely as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity (Small Catechism). But not yet. Now, we continue in the struggle against sin. Now, we continue in the crosshairs of the enemy. Now, we continue in the stories we will hear. But how the story will end, how our stories will end, we know. For those stories, and Christ’s story, is our story. And so it will end in glory.
So rejoice now, all you heavenly choirs of angels.
Rejoice now, all creation.
Rejoice, too, all the earth.
Rejoice, O Church of Christ (from the Exsultet).
This is the night.
Let us hear our story again and ready ourselves for the morning of resurrection.