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Track the story with your ears

by davesandel on April 3rd, 2021

Saturday, April 3, 2021          (today’s lectionary)

Easter Vigil

Track the story with your ears

Like a deer that longs for running streams, so my soul longs for you, my God. I went with the throng amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving, and I will go in to the altar of God to give you thanks upon the harp, O God, my God!

When you attend Easter Vigil service you start outside around a fire, perhaps contained in a firepit, perhaps not. As darkness descends, you move with the throng of worshippers into the church, which is dark at first and then slowly lit, with candles and with lamps. The readings begin, seven of them, with accompanying responsorial psalms, and the readings tell the story of God’s creation and personal involvement with his people.

  1. Send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

The story continues with Abraham’s test, when God told him to sacrifice his only son Isaac and then relented when Abraham showed his willingness to do exactly that. This template of extra-human obedience became the standard for God’s people, whether or not they lived up to it.

  1. You are my inheritance, O Lord. It is you who hold fast my lot.

Tonight’s third chapter carries Moses and the Israelites across the Red Sea on dry land. Slavery in Egypt is behind them forever. And on the far side of the sea, they sing their song of deliverance.

  1. Let us sing unto the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and rider have been cast into the sea.

Every covenant has two sides, and we break our covenant with the Lord over and over. But God’s faithfulness covers all generations, forever and ever, from the time of Noah and the rainbow. “Never again,” says our Creator, “will I destroy mankind.”

  1. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me. You changed my mourning into dancing.

And again, in the fifth reading, God promises his eternal faithfulness. “I will renew you with an everlasting covenant. All you who are thirsty, come and drink, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Do not be afraid; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will.”

  1. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation. Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!

God’s words offer us a fountain of life, a fountain of wisdom, which we can enter only in prudence and obedience. As we do enter this sacred place, “what pleases God is known to us.”

  1. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. They are more precious than gold, and sweeter than the honeycomb.

In the fullness of time all the punishments and pain inflicted on God’s people will be removed. In the seventh and final reading, God promises “a new heart, and to place a new spirit within you. I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities.”

  1. Like a deer that longs for running streams, my soul longs for you, O God.

During the Easter Vigil service, new Christians are baptized. The seventh psalm celebrates the joy of finding a running stream when you are thirsty unto death. Dunk your head in the water, drink the cup of salvation, know you have been cleansed and set upon a new path.

Don’t you know that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? And now, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

Now as the vigil concludes, listen a little bit longer. Open your ears to the stories of Jesus. Wait for it, wait for it, and watch the Easter Sunrise flow back from the east into our lives.

The women said to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” A young man sitting in the tomb said to them, “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. Do not be amazed. He is not here. He is risen!”

(Genesis 1, Psalms 104, 33 … Genesis 22, Psalm 16 … Exodus 14, 15 … Isaiah 54, Psalm 30 … Isaiah 55, 12 … Baruch 3, Psalm 19 … Ezekiel 36, Psalm 42, 43, Isaiah 12, Psalm 51 … Romans 6, Psalm 118, Mark 16)

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