Saturday, April 19, 2014

Story of Salvation [The Great Vigil of Easter - April 19, 2014]



The Rev. Jeremiah Williamson
Matthew 28:1-10

Story of Salvation

The story begins on the shore of the sea.  One toe testing the water and then a foot coming down on dry river bed.  A miracle for sure.  An opening that just appeared where hope seemed to dead end.  Tonight, this is where our story begins.

It is a story of Salvation.  And it does not end at the Red Sea.  The Red Sea is just one stop on an endless journey.  Moses and his nation of slaves, running for their lives, running from a powerful adversary, running until they come to the water.  But where death seemed imminent, Salvation was there, in the water. 

In almost every possible way, the story of Salvation seems impossible – the work of a God who seems to delight in long odds.  It is the hope in hopelessness.  Salvation's story is that it is relentless.  It moves in the most unlikely of places.  But for those with open hearts and eyes to see and ears to hear, Salvation is...

...calling.  Calling the thirsty to drink.  Calling the hungry to feast.  Calling the unworthy, calling the sinners, calling the exiles and forsaken to come.  Salvation, it seems, is found in the most unlikely of places: in people.  Salvation flowing through broken vessels.  Salvation found in profane mouths and scattered brains.  And yet, there it is moving through us.  Salvation – beautiful and miraculous, beyond description.  And we are the witnesses.  God has entrusted this perfect story to us – the story of Salvation to those who lack the adequate words. 

But who better to share Salvation's story than those who have experienced the power of God's love and forgiveness?  We are the thirsty and the hungry.  We are the unworthy, the sinners, the exiles, the forsaken.  Also we are the chosen.  We are those who walk in Salvation's hope.  And on the journey we are transformed because Salvation is...

...a way of life.  Salvation is not a moment.  It is happening in every moment.  God is making all things new – and you are no exception.  This is meant to change you, transform you, re-create you into the image of Christ. 

And so Salvation is the path – a walk with God.  Salvation is not the afterlife, waiting for your death, waiting until it is too late.  Salvation is here and it is now.  It is breaking into your days and weeks and years.  Salvation is taking hold of you right now because salvation is too important to confine to another world.  You need it now and so does this world.  Your salvation is meant to spread, like a virus.  God is changing you to change the world...

...a world in which there are too many valleys filled with death.  Centuries of war and hatred and violence.  It is an old story.  The dry bones fill the valleys – the terrible evidence of our madness.  Folks will sometimes question Salvation: “Saved from what?,” they say.  But I think we already know the answer: saved from ourselves. 

Destruction is in our genes – our history told in wars, a history of violence and revenge, of anger and hatred.  A valley of dry bones – a symbol of utter hopelessness.  But Salvation is even there – in that most unlikely of places – breathing life into barren places.  Salvation is...

...stronger than death.  The women who approached the tomb in the dim morning light did not expect to find Salvation.  They expected to find more death.  But the stone was rolled back, the tomb empty, and Salvation was already on the move.    

Salvation's story is that it is relentless.  There is no one and nothing beyond its reach.  Salvation is everywhere – on the shore of every impossible sea, in every fragile heart, in every staggering step, in every dry valley, in every place of death.  Salvation is there.

And tonight, Salvation is...in the water.  In the water that danced upon your forehead and your face.  In the water that reminded you of your baptism, that reminded you to whom you belong.  In the water of the font – water that tonight was powerful enough to make Amber a Christian.  In that water she found Salvation – in it was both death and resurrection – in it was a new life in Christ, in it was a love that will last forever. 

The same Salvation that burst from the tomb centuries ago is still on the move.  Still invading our space and our lives.  This is the story of Salvation.  It is the ancient story of those men and women who crossed the Red Sea, who found the empty tomb.  And tonight it is our story.  God is still writing.  Alleluia!

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