March 26th, 2016
We here have witnessed mighty deeds. We have seen the bringing of light from darkness. We have seen mysteries, illuminated by the fire of God’s Spirit. We have come the verge of grace, and have felt it rush over us. We have discovered there is a still point to life, and when we stand there, we opened our ears, and heard as the whorl of life became a song. We here have reached out to touch God, and we have found that God has touched us, and we are not dead. Not anymore. We have felt the slipping of our bonds, the unbinding of our chains, and soon we will taste life.
Some may say these are big words for little things—big ideas for a bunch of candles, a bowl of water, and bit of bread and sip of wine. And they’d be right. These ideas are too great for such normalities. And let us add to that our own presence, we human beings who gather and say that we have touched the holy. We human beings are the most amazing things we have yet discovered in the universe: some say every one of our brains is more complicated and less understood than rest of the known universe. And yet even we would seem to be too small for the idea that God has touched us and cares for us. Despite our unique place in this cosmos, we are a fleck, a speck in its history. That, of course, makes us both more precious and more useless. Our very existence is like a candle flame in the night—so beautiful, but always in danger, precarious, about to die. And yet we say, that there is hand that holds us, that cups our flame so it won’t blow out, a voice that has called light directly out of darkness shine in all it’s beauty.
We are like floating ash, rising to glow briefly, and then drifting, cold and dark before we hit the ground. But tonight, we have touched God, and God as touched us. And it is fitting that God has come to us through such humble means, in the all the physical and perishable and simple things like wax, flame, water, and human touch. Baptism, and all the sacraments are founded on the truth that the eternal God, beyond sense and even reason, bound himself to creation in the human body of Jesus. We say that the eternal Word has joined with a sign, and if we look to where the sign points, with the eyes, of faith, we see, we hear, we touch, we receive God. God passes over the chasm that separates us from him, and God lights us on fire.
This is the night—this is the night in which all who believe in Christ are rescued from evil and the gloom of sin, are renewed in grace, and restored to holiness. This is the night in which, breaking the chains of death, Christ arises from hell in triumph. This is the night when we say that our redemption is more than a restoration—this is the night when our perishable bodies receive God’s promise to incorporate us into God’s own imperishable being.
For it would have profited us nothing to be born had we not also been redeemed, our prayer says. And this means that even as human beings, born, we are incomplete. We are still flecks of ash, about to flick out. But this human clay will and must receive the blessing of God, who in Baptism and the Eucharist gives us his own very life, his own eternity. Tonight is the night we touch God! O necessary sin of Adam that is wiped away by the death of Christ! O happy fault that was worthy to have so great a Redeemer! For even if our first ancestors had not sinned, we still would need a Savior, who would bind the eternity with time, spirit with flesh, to show for the inscrutable image of God, to unmask the Holy, and to give us life beyond anything the universe can offer.
Welcome. Welcome to this night, to these mysteries, to this life with God. Amen.
The Reverend John Flack