March 26, Easter Vigil

Genesis 1:1--2:4a; Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18, 8:6-18, 9:8-13; Exodus 14:10-31, 15:20-21; Baruch 3:9-15, 3:32--4:4

Bryan Cones

Last Sunday we began telling a story: the story about Jesus’ last week or so of life, which we finished up yesterday as he breathed his last. And now with Jesus on this night we are waiting in the darkness for what comes next. What do you think is going to happen with Jesus?

To mark the time we have started telling our whole story again, from the beginning, in the watery chaos before time began, when it was only God on their own, wondering what might be drawn from the fertile void. And out of a watery nothingness God’s creativity called forth a flourishing something: light and darkness, sun and moon, green growing things, living creeping things, breathing human things. Out of nothing comes something through God’s imagination. What do you think is going to happen with Jesus?

Another story, this time a natural disaster of epic proportions, a moral disaster that humanity brought upon itself, the story tells us, which threatened to wash away all that God had made. But the Holy One won’t have it, and commissions a life raft to keep creation afloat until the crisis passes. Out of certain destruction comes salvation through God’s faithfulness. What do you think is going to happen with Jesus?

Another story, perhaps a bit more familiar: an enslaved and oppressed people, no hope of rescue, crushed under the heel of the god-king Pharaoh, a motley crew of Hebrews whose lives did not matter, to Pharaoh anyway. But they did matter to the Holy One, who summons a voice to speak for them, who gives a holy name for them to call, and who marshals creation in a great war against their oppressor. Out of slavery comes liberation through God’s power. What do you think is going to happen with Jesus?

The story goes on: That people passed through the desert and became a nation, bound by a covenant to the God who set them free. But covenants can be hard to keep, and some who had been oppressed became oppressors themselves, of the widow, the orphan, the alien immigrant. The people turned from the path of Wisdom, though she taught them her ways and called to them again and again in the unheeded voices of the prophets she sent. So finally she came herself, and pitched her tent, and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Out of abandonment comes companionship through God’s steadfast love. What do you think is going to happen with Jesus?

And so Wisdom walked among us to show us her way, healing and freeing, teaching and listening, eating and drinking with everybody who came along. And before long she drew the attention of the god-king Caesar, and those who oppressed and enslaved the poor, and turned creation to destruction for their own purposes, who would prefer to keep for themselves what God desires for all.

Which brings us back to where we started, on this night, here in this darkness, waiting to tell the story of what happened with Jesus: out of defeat comes victory, out of death comes life, out of the old creation comes a new one, and the story of Wisdom begins anew in the risen body of Christ.

And so here we are, bearing that story, to a world beset by chaos and violence, on the edge of natural and moral disaster threatening to burn up what God has made, when some lives still don’t matter, the widow and orphan and alien are left abandoned on the border, and Wisdom’s children are still sent to the tombs. What do you think is going to happen with us?

We already know the answer: We are going to live the story we have been telling of what God has been doing all along, of what Christ is now making risen flesh in us, Christ’s body: the divine imagination that draws forth a flourishing something where once there was nothing; the divine faithfulness that shelters and protects what is threatened with destruction, the divine power that goes to battle with anything that enslaves and oppresses God’s people, the divine love that refuses to give up on anyone, the divine Wisdom who teaches and listens, heals and makes whole, who sits to eat and drink with all who have been abandoned, the divine life that disarms death forever.

So let us gather now at the waters where it all began, and begins again and again, to be bathed once more in the story of how God is saving the world.