Bryan Cones Sermon - Great Vigil

Bryan Cones

Easter Vigil 2014


Where is Lukas Knuth?

Hello, Lukas, my name is Bryan, and in about 20 minutes

you and I are going to be siblings.

Actually, you are about to get a lot of new siblings all at once,

so I hope you’ve enjoyed your brief stint as an only child.


Your mom and dad have asked that you be baptized tonight,

which is how all of the rest of us entered this family.

The rest of our family has asked me to tell you a little bit about us,

in case you might want to change your mind.

I feel very lucky to get to tell you this,

so I promise I’ll try to do my best.


So the first thing:

What makes us all a family is not that we have the same parents;

what makes us a family is that we share the same story,

actually a lot of stories, about God and about us too.

Tonight we have been reading some of those stories.

So maybe I’ll start with them.


The first story is about how we got here.

It’s a story about how God made everything—

the sun and moon, and light and dark, and plants and animals—

and said that everything God made was good, because God is good.

And then God made people, and God said they were very good.

And you are part of that story, too,

because God has made you very good—

in fact God broke the mold with you.

You are very good in your own unique way.


Now it’s not going to take too long for you to realize

that creation doesn’t seem very good all the time.

Sometimes God’s very good people do bad things to each other

and to the earth and the animals.

And sometimes the earth itself is a scary place,

with storms and earthquakes and avalanches.

And so some people say that creation is not good,

and human beings are not good,

and even that God is not good, or doesn’t exist at all.

And sometimes they make good points.


But our story tells us that God and what God has made are good.

So, Lukas, if you ever get confused or wonder if people are bad,

or creation is bad, just come back here to your family,

and we will tell this story and again,

and together we will remember that God is good,

and creation is good, even if sometimes we can’t see it.


The second story is kind of a scary story:

It’s a story about how God went to war.

A powerful king called Pharaoh had made God’s people into slaves

because they were from a different country and looked different.

Being a slave means you have to work for no money

and other people tell you what you can do.

But God doesn’t like people to be slaves,

so God went to war with Pharaoh to free them,

and tonight we heard the story of the last battle when God won

and made the slaves free.


Now that is a very old story,

and you would think that by now people

wouldn’t make some people slaves anymore.

Lukas, I’m very sorry to say that’s not true.

The country you were born in used to allow some people

to make other people slaves

because they came from a different place

and because their skin was dark brown instead of light brown,

and they were treated very badly,

even by members of our Christian family.

But those slaves used to tell this story to help them stay strong

and to remind them that they weren’t really slaves,

that they were God’s people, too,

and eventually they became free.


But still sometimes people treat each other in mean ways

because their skin is a certain color,

or because they come from another country,

or speak a different language.

But our family has all kinds of people in it,

and they are all equally beautiful to God,

so if anyone tries to tell you that some people

should be treated differently or badly

because of what they look like or where they come from,

come back here to your family, and we’ll tell this story again,

and together we’ll remember that our God

wants freedom and justice for all people.


The other two stories are about how God’s people

sometimes make mistakes.

The first one came from a prophet,

someone who brings messages from God.

In the time of the prophet Isaiah,

some of God’s people were saying that they were so special

that God only loved them.

And so through the prophet Isaiah,

God reminded them that God loves all people,

and wants everyone to share water and food and life.

So if anyone tries to convince you

that God only loves certain people and not all people,

come back here to your family, and we’ll tell this story again,

and we’ll remember together that God wants life for everyone

and that all people are God’s people.


And the last reading came from another time,

when God’s people had wandered far, far away from God,

far away from the country where they lived with God.

So God stood on the road as a wise woman,

and called back to them, to help show them the way to come home.

So, Lukas, if you ever wander off and feel far away from God—

and you probably will—don’t worry, we all wander off sometimes.

Just come back here to your family, and we’ll tell this story again,

and we’ll remember that God always gives us a way to come home.


Now there is one more story that you haven’t heard yet,

but we’ve been telling it all night.

It’s a story about a man named Jesus.

He was baptized, too, and when he was baptized

God called him the Son, the Beloved,

and God gave Jesus a mission to show God’s people how to live.

And so Jesus taught people, and he healed people,

and he loved people, especially children like you.

But there were some people who didn’t like what he said and did,

and eventually they made a plan to catch Jesus, and they did,

and then Jesus died.

And all of his friends were very, very sad.


But what nobody knew is that God had already decided

to do something new with Jesus, God’s Son.

And so God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him a new life.

That’s the life we are celebrating tonight,

the life our family shares now, and the life that you will also share.

So if at times in your life, Lukas, you get very scared,

or very sick, or don’t know what to do, or are about to give up,

come back here to your family,

and we will tell the story of Jesus again,

and we will remember together that there is nothing in heaven

or on earth or under the earth, no power, no person,

nothing, not even death,

that can separate us from the love God has for us in Jesus,

and the life God has given us in Jesus.


So that’s our story, or part of it anyway.

I hope you still want to join it,

and I hope you will come to love it as much as we do

as you get older.

If you ever have any questions, though,

just come back here to your family,

and we will tell the story again,

as many times as you want.