This service almost preaches itself, so this homily will be brief. God be praised!
Have you seen Jesus’ resurrection tonight? Have you?
Yes, you have, whether you noticed it or not.
That sounds awfully dogmatic, especially coming from me, a Myers-Briggs INFP and an Enneagram 9, that is, someone who avoids decisiveness as long as possible. But this is a time to be emphatic. We have all seen Jesus’ resurrection tonight, whether we noticed it or not. And we haven’t just seen it, we’ve gone through it with him.
Sure, you might think that all you’ve seen is a bunch of people playacting his resurrection, acting as if most of us didn’t know that the lights would suddenly come on and people would haul out their bells and start ringing them. Well, of course it’s playacting. We can afford to admit that most of what we do at All Saints is a kind of playacting—a holy kind of playacting.
But what we keep discovering is that something immeasurably more is happening in and through all this apparent playacting. “We believe that something happens to us through our worship of God.” That’s our first shared conviction mentioned on our parish website. Something happens to us. Something IS happening to us. And at the center of that something happening is Jesus’ resurrection, still happening, drawing us into full communion with all that once happened and all that’s still happening in the life, death, and risen life of the one our creed calls “God from God, light from light, true God from true God.”
We all got doused tonight with the waters of Baptism. And St. Paul tells us that these waters don’t just remind us of Jesus’ death, they unite us to it. It’s still happening. And while Baptism points to a future resurrection we can’t even picture, Paul finally switches from future tense to present tense: “The death [Jesus] died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” The resurrection that Paul himself saw, that turned his whole life upside down, never stopped happening for him, and it never stops happening for us. Because the risen life of the executed Jesus is right here among us all, our death and resurrection has already happened; it’s still happening; and it will keep happening long after we have breathed our last.
It’s about to happen all over again when we break Jesus’ risen body at the altar. We break it so we can share it with all of us, who together are likewise his broken yet risen body. Both—broken yet risen; risen even while broken. Something is happening, noticed or not, something embracing all that you have brought here to this moment, your griefs as well as your joys, not denying or belittling anything that’s happened to you, not denying or belittling all that’s happening in this increasingly perilous world that we brought with us into this space.
I first set foot in All Saints decades ago when a friend dragged me to this very service, the Easter Vigil. It was my first. I wasn’t an Episcopalian then. Of course the beauty of it blew me away, but it was much more than that. The Rector had recently died of AIDS. His widowed partner, soon to join him in death, presided and preached that night, affirming resurrection in the face of all that he had undergone and knew he was about to undergo. And I began to realize that I had just stumbled into something that would never stop remaking my life—not just an achingly beautiful service, but a whole way of engaging the God who with Jesus shares our worst and best moments, all of them, promising never to abandon us, no matter what, drawing us into a self-giving life that will always rise even from the worst that can happen.
All of that, I dare to say, is what’s happening again tonight, in and around us, noticed or not. We have all seen Jesus’ resurrection tonight. And we haven’t just seen it, we’ve gone through it with him. And it will never stop remaking your life. Alleluia. Christ is risen.