Saturday, April 19, 2014

You can nail Truth to a cross, wrap it in winding sheets and shut it up in a tomb, but it will rise!

Lord, show us that love is stronger than hatred, that love is stronger than death. Descend into the darkness and the abyss of our modern age, and take by the hand those who await you. Bring them to the light! - Benedict XVI, Easter Vigil 2007

Scripture Text: (Zephaniah 3:14-20)
Shout for joy, daughter Zion!
sing joyfully, Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
daughter Jerusalem!

The LORD has removed the judgment against you,
he has turned away your enemies;
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.

On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, Zion,
do not be discouraged!

The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior,
Who will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
Who will sing joyfully because of you,

as on festival days.
I will remove disaster from among you,
so that no one may recount your disgrace.

At that time I will deal
with all who oppress you;
I will save the lame,
and assemble the outcasts;
I will give them praise and renown
in every land where they were shamed.

At that time I will bring you home,
and at that time I will gather you;
For I will give you renown and praise,
among all the peoples of the earth,
When I bring about your restoration
before your very eyes, says the LORD.

I picked up a newspaper and skimmed the headlines today: a killer convicted and sentenced to death row in the United States, strikes and blockades in the Ukraine, unrest in the Middle East, the list can go on.  Deep suffering and death beg for an explanation.  Resurrection does not come easily to these situations.  The darkness of the tomb and emptiness can even hold sway within our own hearts.  

Yet things are not always as they appear.  This Vigil of Easter comes to awaken us to the reality that what we see in the headlines is not all there is.  And there is more than what we experience in the emptiness of our own hearts!  Our world and our lives are about to be turned upside down.  In the darkness there is light.  Truly, death and suffering will not have the final word!   

On this Vigil of Easter we gather as the people of God, and we recall our ancestral stories  in which the shedding of blood is a source of liberation, and life arises in the midst of death.  Our Scripture passages read like a well-known epoch that is born of experience of and trust in our God.  As we stand before the tomb, we can be confident that the real story underneath the headlines continues.  Today be still.  Wait on the threshold where death will give rise to new life.

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