Sermon - Easter Vigil 2023

The Resurrection of Christ, Giovanni Battista Moroni, circa 1545-1548

This is the night

  1. When the Pascha is not merely celebrated but enacted in us by faith

To borrow a phrase from T. S. Elliot’s epic poem about time, tonight is a “still point in the turning world.” The Creation of the world, from darkness to light, and chaos to order; the Exodus out of Egypt, in which the angel of death passed over the faithful and the Israelites passed over the Red Sea on dry ground; the Passion of our Lord, instituting His Supper, His betrayal in the garden, the unjust trial and His bloody crucifixion; the Resurrection from the tomb; your Resurrection on the final day. All this, the past and the future of redemption is right now. This, your redemption, is not merely celebrated like a birthday or an anniversary, but it is relived in us by faith this very night.

At the Passover meal the Israelites did not merely remember the historical event of the Exodus, but they relived the Passover as their own deliverance. “It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.” Dearly beloved, it is the same for you this night! 

“This is the night when God brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt and led them through the Red Sea on dry ground. This is the night when all who believe in Christ are delivered from bondage to sin and are restored to life and immortality. This is the night when Christ, the Life, arose from the dead… How holy is this night when all wickedness is put to flight and sin is washed away. How holy is this night when innocence is restored to the fallen and joy is given to those downcast.” 

Tonight we’re not merely observers of redemption history, but are partakers of it and its recipients. Death and resurrection are brought to a focus on a hill and in a tomb, but through faith the death and resurrection of Jesus is brought into your own heart. The Passover in Egypt is brought to a head at the Passover on Golgotha by which the Lord’s wrath passes over you and is met out on Christ your Savior. The Israelites’ passing over the Red Sea is fulfilled in Jesus who passed over from death to life and is manifested in you, His redeemed people, when you pass over from death in sin to new life in Him.

On this very night He who is eternal and immortal has made His home in you. The Passover Lamb has been sacrificed, on this night we eat and drink from the living body and blood of that Lamb of God who was slain so that we may live in Him. You have passed over the Red Sea of your baptism and entered into immortality. Time is fleeting away, and those who live in this world shall pass away with time itself, but you are anchored in the still point of this turning world: Jesus’ resurrection; you will not pass away with this life, but live eternally.

This is the night of your redemption and your new life in Christ, this is the night when you are recreated in Him, this is the night when joy and peace abound. This night is not only April 8th, 2023, but this night is every night. The grace of Christ which was born anew on Easter has never ended and you live in that grace tonight. You have passed over with Christ from death to life. Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Arise, you who sleep, and Christ will illuminate you! You are all children of light and children of the day.

When you awaken tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and every day, be emboldened and encouraged to live as new born children of God since you are alive in Him. Be unafraid of the darkness. Let the gloom pass away with this world. Alleluia! Christ has risen! 


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