Easter Vigil Sermon - How the Smallest Miracle can Defeat the Deepest Darkness

May I speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

The world, for the last few years has seemed so dark, hasn’t it? The world, still reeling from covid, the worst pandemic in over a century, with over 6.2 million confirmed deaths and likely at least double that, we now have an increasingly volatile war in Europe, where a dictator as bad as any we have seen in our history books brings death and hell on a scale not seen for the best part of 80 years. The world is so dark, and we seem so powerless to do anything about it. I was reading an article by a rabid atheist criticising the response of the church and noting how what they called ‘empty platitudes’ would not save a single refugee or stop a single bullet. She argued that they shouldn’t be given any room in the public sphere. Where is God in all this mess, in this world, that for most of us, has never been so dark.

Tonight, we began in darkness. Our time must in some senses mirror the hearts of the disciples as they go through their first full day without their Lord. They had been witness to the most awful violence and evil, much like humans do needlessly to one another every day. Their Lord had been cruelly executed, who they loved. The tomb had been sealed, the body hadn’t had time to be anointed properly as the sabbath started. The world must have been incredibly dark that night and the disciples must have been thinking, ‘where are you God?’. While the disciples wept and didn’t understand and waited in utter defeat, God was at work, beyond their sight and beyond their knowledge. In the darkness of the tomb, in the quiet without witnesses, without fanfare, without proclamation, the light of the world flickered on. In that empty cold tomb, without anyone there, the light of the World sprang from the grave, victorious. The most momentous event since the creation occurred away from the press, the people and the everything. No doubt focused elsewhere, to whatever the next things was, the people who had put Jesus to death had moved on, their evil they thought, achieved. In the darkness of the tomb, just like in the darkness of this church a few moments ago, the light of Christ shone out, death was defeated and the evil of the world put on notice.

Light flooded that tomb, and the stone was rolled away. The most momentous moment in history, happened in a rich man’s tomb nearly 2000 years ago. Where was God? Well God was saving the human race in a tomb at night. Alleluia.

Here is the thing. Yes, the world is dark, but God has defeated the darkness. We may not be able to see God in some of the events we face, but God is at work in the tomb, making it empty, bringing life and resurrection. What we do at church may seem unable to make a dent in the armour of the evil of this world, but it is here, that love, faith and family grow. It is in the small miracle of communities like ours, determined to spread the light of Christ, that continues the downfall of evil. It is here and in millions of other church communities across our world, that the defiant light of Christ shines ever brighter. The light of Christ can never be defeated, can never be destroyed, or disarmed or diverted. The light and love of Christ shines within our dark world and as we draw ever nearer to His return that light will shine all the brighter. The victory won for us this night so long ago can never be defeated. We are the resurrection people, the people of the empty tomb who can say Alleluia, our Lord lives, come and taste the fruits of faith, come into the light and receive eternal life. On this night, in an empty tomb, the evil of all the world was given notice. Jesus is risen, the first fruits of the new creation. Alleluia.

For us, we are the ressurection people, who have the light of life, the easter light shining in us. Our job as Christians is to bring that light to a dark world in need of it. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. This is our message to a dark world. So, people of the ressurection will you shine the light of Christ out to our dark world as we point to the empty tomb where death was defeated, whatever the cost?

Amen

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