News & Events
Mass of the Easter Vigil
St. Andrew's Cathedral
March 26, 2016
"We have a mighty 'Amen' to proclaim to the world. It is hope. It is new life. It is reconciliation. It is boundless joy. It is the overcoming of all darkness with the light of Christ."
~ Bishop Gary Gordon
Jesus is risen! He is alive. Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is alive. This is our Easter proclamation. This is the joy of this night. I will limit my comments to the Gospel and not try to comment on all the Readings—but the night is young, and we are filled with the joy and grace of this festive evening.
We remember, so many years ago, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We recall the words of Scripture and God’s saving hand for the Israelites in the waters of the Red Sea. We remember the prophetic words of Ezekiel that God will give living water to his people. We recall the characters of the Gospel we have just heard proclaimed: the women who went to the tomb, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James; the central figure of Jesus Christ; and of course, Peter, who finally gets it. Maybe.
Our Easter is not merely the remembering of moments in time and historical activities, the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. Easter is the celebration of our own rising from the dead. It is a participation, not a historical remembering, a memorial. We are the characters in this drama of new life. Each and every one of us here has been participating in this rising-from-the-dead from the very moment of our baptism, when God’s divine favour was poured out upon us in those waters, perhaps, for most of us, when we were baptized as infants.
I do not remember the day. Or the moment. Or even what I was wearing! And there are no pictures—pre-digital age. And from that moment, I, like you, was raised from the death of sin, and raised from eternal death to eternal life.
It was given in God’s favour. It was poured out. This is the mystery of our Easter. Yes, we remember events, but it is so much more. It is to participate, not only today, but to participate in the very fiber of our being, in Jesus Christ’s life. It is to participate in this profound hope in eternal life. It is to be able to live without fear. This is the grace of Easter. It is to know, with absolute certainty, that we, by our very presence in this church, in this moment, in this time, are witnesses to Jesus Christ’s rising from the dead, and we are witnesses to a profound hope because of Jesus.
This evening, in a few moments, we will renew our baptismal promises, and I will sprinkle everybody with holy water. Fr. John told me that some people even brought their own umbrellas, after last year’s experience. What can I say? If you’re going to sprinkle, sprinkle! If you’re going to get baptized, get baptized! And in that moment, as we once again say “I do” to our profession of faith, it is a profound “Yes” to God’s merciful love. It is a profound “Yes” to compassion. It is a profound “Yes” to all that God desires for us.
On this Easter night, when we say “I do,” let it be a great “Amen.” An “Amen” of God’s mercy that the Church proclaims day in and day out. Let the Church say “Amen” to hope. Let the whole Church say “Amen” to new life. Let the whole Church proclaim “Amen” in those many places, even in our own hearts, that are darkened because of fear, and grief, and loss, and vulnerability, and wasted time. Let this be an “Amen” to God’s living presence in our own lives, and let us carry that with us, this new life, to the many places in this city itself—to the darkened alleys, the broken bodies, the hopelessness of homelessness.
We have a mighty “Amen” to proclaim to the world. It is hope. It is new life. It is reconciliation. It is boundless joy. It is the overcoming of all darkness with the light of Christ. It is the dispelling of all fear. We are a people that are so often, and rightly so, called ‘Easter people’. We are Easter people.
Brothers and sisters, on this night, you will witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on three people to be confirmed in the power of the Holy Spirit. You will witness, and feel the power of that Spirit, coming through this temple, and it comes through our lives, through the many gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, if Peter ran to an empty tomb, then how much more should we run to the Living Christ, who knocks at the door of our lives and our hearts? All God wants is for us to say “Yes” to life, “Yes” to his love, “Yes” to his mercy, “Yes” to living forever. Let this holy night, this Easter night, be a great “Yes,” a great “Amen.”
Before the final blessing, I just have to say, Happy Easter!
I also want to express my gratitude for all the wonderful people who have participated and brought their gifts to the service of St. Andrew’s Cathedral over this Easter Triduum.
And here’s a little secret, that’s not really a secret—if you want something to do to keep Easter alive in your heart every day, be grateful.
Be grateful. If you can’t be grateful for something today, be grateful for something last year! It is at the very heart and the center of maintaining the joy and the hope that we have of Jesus Christ, every day.
Be grateful, and have a blessed and Happy Easter.
Photos courtesy Connie Dunwoody