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Easter Vigil

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

Romans 6 3-11 Matthew 28 1-10

Each year we celebrate the Season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter and we hear the familiar accounts of the story, in word and music. Each year we have an opportunity to appreciate the mystery in a new light.

At the door of the tomb the round stone, likened to the shape of a full stop which is never a full stop or the realm of death, the women hear an affirmation of life. “He is not here, he has been raised, as he said”

Echoing through the centuries, this is the foundation of Christian belief yet each Evangelist scores it with different notes. The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee to the cross come to perform burial rites in love and devotion. We can imagine them walking almost in silence, lost in their individual thoughts and grief. They stop occasionally to put down their baskets of spices and wipe the tears from their eyes. Suddenly the ground is shaking under their feet like an earthquake. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were wondering how they could move the stone when they look up and see the guards falling and the stone being rolled away by an angel who then sat on it. The two of them were witnesses to this.

Matthew reminds us of the central role played by women during the time of the ministry of Jesus. Unlike the men who scattered and ran, who lost faith, who betrayed Jesus, the women stayed. Women were present with Jesus during his life on earth, during the dark moments of crucifixion and death and in the first moments of new life after the resurrection. The women remembered Jesus’ predictions of death and resurrection and they were the first to worship the risen Jesus, and the first to be commissioned by him.

The message of the resurrection, familiar as an old song, but for ever new, is that Christ is not here inhabiting the realm of the dead but has emptied death of its power opening the way for life. Our world today has changed. It is not as God designed it to be. Human kindness seems to have given way to selfishness, greed and cruelty but Christ’s death and resurrection provides us with the possibility of a new beginning. God’s purpose in Christ is for the restoration of divinely ordered harmony in a world suffering from the effects of human sin. Leaders of nations and political parties have a moral responsibility, as do those who place them in power. and no amount of misinformation and political spin can hide their unrighteousness from God. Eventually, he light of Christ will prevail and as the ancient prophet Micah (4: 3,4) said

3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away. they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks ;nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more;

4 but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

The design of the Paschal candle reflects this in part. The carved timber cross rises from the rubble of war and flood. The ivy vine, in Hebrew a symbol of faithfulness and hope tentatively grows and clings to the Cross. The evergreen symbol of eternal life, Ivy was an early Christian symbol of faithfulness and charity reminding us to love and care for one another. We can be a new creation and so can our world if we heed the message. The Gospel must always lead us from “Come and see to Go and Tell” Are we afraid? Jesus said to them “ Do not be afraid..” “Go and tell…”.

The Reverend Canon Camellia Flanagan TSSF

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