Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sermon: Easter Vigil

23 March 2008 at Salem Lutheran Church, Gretna, LA
Text: John 20:1-18 (Gen 1:1-2:2, 1 Cor 15:1-11)

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

On the first day of the week, light came out of darkness, order emerged from chaos. God did the impossible, bringing forth something from nothing. His creative work began.

On another first day of the week, light came out of darkness, order emerged from chaos. God did the impossible, bringing forth life from a corpse. His creative work began anew.

“In the beginning God created…” is how the book of Moses’s Law begins. “In the beginning was the Word…” is how the book of John’s Gospel begins.

In the creation, God works in six days. And then He rests on the seventh. In the coming of our Lord Jesus, His work is complete (even as He pronounces His work “finished” from the cross) on the sixth day, on Good Friday. And then he rests on the seventh.

Our Lord Jesus takes His rest on that unique Sabbath day, a high holy feast, abstaining from work as he lies dormant in the tomb. For indeed, His work in the Old Creation was completed when He defeated the devil, when He destroyed death through death, when He became the sacrificial offering to redeem all of mankind on the cross. Jesus, the Word of God, lay that Sabbath Day in death’s dark bands, in a tomb, awaiting the next first day, just as on the very first day when God, through His Word, commanded: “Let there be light!” The Sabbath darkness of the tomb was to be dispersed by the first day illumination of the tomb on the morning of Easter.

“Let there be light. And there was light.” The light of Christ. Thanks be to God!

On the first day of the week, light came out of darkness, order emerged from chaos. God did the impossible. The lifeless body of the eternal incarnate God who had been killed was once more restored to life. The Sabbath rest having ended, it is time once more to work. The Lord’s work is creative work. The Lord’s work is restorative work. The Lord’s work is to take darkness and chaos and replace it with a glorious paradise.

On this, the day after the seventh day, the eighth day, a new first day of a new week, is the first day of a New Creation. Jesus Himself promised that the old heavens and earth would pass away. The corrupted, sin-tainted, death-ridden universe is running down. The first day of the new creation brings forth the light that herald’s the New Paradise. And the first fruits of that creation is the flesh and blood of Jesus, emergent triumphantly from the grave, the bread of Life Himself, given for you; whose blood was poured out as wine shed for you.

Even as the redemptive work of our Lord was completed as He breathed His last on the cross, His new work of re-creation began as He drew His first breath in the sepulcher. The darkness of the old creation’s terminus gave way to the new creation’s genesis.

God’s work that began that second first day continues to this first day. The Lord’s ministry of re-creating that which is corrupted and revivifying that which is mortal still goes on today – through His body the Church.

St. Paul refers to his work in the holy ministry of preaching this Good News of our Lord’s resurrection to be “labor.” It is a new kind of work in the Lord’s vineyard. For when Adam and Eve lived in Paradise, work was not a curse. Work was not a burden. The earth opened forth and provided its fruits as free grace, a love offering from Creator to creature. But after the fall into sin, work became a curse. It became toil. It became drudgery, as man would now have to browbeat the earth and wage battle against thorns and weeds “by the sweat of his brow” in order to eat. Our Lord’s work on the cross was also drudgery. It was a curse. It was by the “sweat of His brow” – a brow encircled by thorns, that he labored on our behalf. And the result of this labor is death.

But dear friends, we Christians labor in the Lord’s vineyard. Jesus has done the drudgery and borne the heat of the noon day. He has given us His labor, His blood, sweat, and tears. And He has rested in the grave. The labor that leads to death is done. “It is finished.”

Since that new first day, the “labor” of the Lord’s apostles became something different. It became the work of extending a kingdom “not of this world” – through preaching and proclaiming. This is the kind of yoke and burden that our Lord tells us is “easy” and “light.” The work we do in the Lord’s kingdom is really His work. And just as the work in Paradise was as simple as seeds falling into the ground and rising into maturity without blood and sweat and tears – so too the work in the Lord’s kingdom happens when preachers sow the seed of God’s Word, and the Word of the Lord Himself grows the seed into faith. Like the Lord’s body, the Seed, promised in Genesis, emerges from the earth of the grave, growing into a vine that encircles the world, rising as a shrub in which the birds of the air perch, towering into a mighty and eternal Tree of Life that gives shade and bears glorious fruits in a New Paradise.

That is the Lord’s work. That is the Church’s labor. That Good News, that Gospel is what pastors preach and what Christians confess. That is the work that begins anew this first day. That is the work that has no end. This work is a joy. This work is not a curse, for this work overcomes the curse.

For just as the first day was the dawn of creation, this New and Greater First Day is the dawn of a re-creation. The Genesis of old has become a re-generation – literally in the language of the New Testament, a re-birth. The old generation, the old genesis, passed away as our Lord gave up His spirit and rested in the tomb on the seventh day. The new generation, the new genesis was spawned that first glorious Easter Day, as the Lord reclaimed His spirit, rose, and went back to His gardening on that new first day.

The labor of St. Paul and the apostles in the Lord’s fields has been handed to us. It is the Gospel, the Lord’s labor “which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which you are saved.” This work, this proclamation of the Gospel, this participation in the risen body of Christ is a new creation – and that new creation includes you, dear brothers and sisters of our most glorious Risen Lord! The resurrection of Jesus is a foretaste of the resurrection of all who, in St. Paul’s words, “hold fast that word which I preached to you.” And the “labor” St. Paul speaks of is truly the Lord’s: “yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me…. So we preach and so you believed.”

We believe because witnesses have proclaimed it. We believe because the Holy Spirit has planted the seed into our hearts even as the Seed Himself was planted into the tomb. We believe because He rose from the dead.

We believe because the Risen Lord stands outside of the grave, mistaken by Mary for a gardener, even as His work has begun anew on the first day of the week creating a New and Greater Garden, a garden in which the fruits of the earth come to us purely by grace with no cursed labor or painful thorns; no blood, sweat, and tears – save those of our Lord on the cross. But all of those things are of the Old Creation. There is to be no more cursed work, pain, the wages of sin, that is, death – rather only blessed work, the work of the Lord’s vineyard, the Lord’s garden, the Lord’s kingdom which has no end.

On the first day of the week, light came out of darkness, order emerged from chaos. God did the impossible. Today is a new first day of this New Genesis!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Amen.

2 comments:

ElderChild said...

"Let There Be Light"

"In The Beginning" The Creator(Our Father) said,

"Let There Be Light, and There Was Light"

"The Beginning of The Creation of GOD"

"Let There Be Light"

And the revelation that The Messiah gave unto the
apostle John bore witness to The Truth that The
Messiah, was "The Beginning of the Creation of
GOD(Our Father, Creator of ALL)"! (Rev 3:14)

And The Messiah bore witness to His Brethren
when He testified, "My GOD is your GOD and My
Father(Creator) is your Father(Creator)."(Jn 20:17)

The Messiah testified "I have sent My angel to
you with this testimony for the assemblies. I am
the root and the offspring of David. I am the bright,
Morning Star(Light)"! (Rev 22:16) ) Peter testified
"We have the more sure word of prophecy; and
you do well to take heed, as to a lamp shining in a
dark place, until the day dawns, and The Morning
Star(Light) arises in your hearts."(2Pt 1:19) "But
you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, HIS own special people, that you
may proclaim the praises of HIM who called you
out of darkness into His marvelous Light."(1Pt2:9)

And the evening(darkness) and The Morning
(Light) was the First Day." (Gen 1:5)

"The Beginning of The Creation of GOD"!

It is very important to both know and experience
The Messiah as He Is, Was and always Will Be,
and also to know the "glory He had with Our
Father" before He was born in "the likeness of
sinful flesh". (John 17:5, Rom 8:3) For what The
Messiah Was and Is, Is that which He will always
Will Be."The Only Begotten Son" of "Our Father"!

First, let me simply state that I do not believe the
"catholic" and "christian" theo'ry'logical doctrines
concerning "The Only True GOD, Father ALL". For
they "image"ine a three-headed "god" they call
their "trinity", or they declare their "christ" to be
their "god and father", or they believe that The
Messiah was but an exalted messenger(angel)
or prophet.

John The Baptist testified, "And I saw, and bare
record that The Messiah is the Son of GOD(Our
Father)."(John 1:34) Peter testified, "You are The
Messiah, The Son of The Living GOD(Father of
ALL)"!(Matt 16:16) And the Ethiopian eunuch
testified, "I believe that The Messiah is The Son
of GOD(Our Father)". (Acts 8:37) "Seeing then
that we have a great high priest, that is passed
into the Heavens, The Messiah, The Son of
GOD(Our Father), let us hold fast our profession."
(Heb 4:14) "These things are written so that you
might believe that The Messiah is The Son of GOD
(Our Father)". (John 20:31) The Messiah testified
that He was "The Son of GOD", and that His GOD
was "The Only True GOD(Father of ALL)".
(John 10:36,17:3)

And The Messiah also testified that He was the
"Son of man" and "The Light of the world".
(Matt 26:64, John 8:12)

It is needful to believe that The Messiah Was, Is
and always Will Be "The Son of The Living GOD",
and that there is but "One GOD, HE WHO is
Father of ALL". (Mat 16:16, Eph 4:6) The Messiah
bore witness to His Brethren when He testified
after being "raised from among the dead", "My GOD
is your GOD and My Father(Creator) is your Father
(Creator)" (John 20:17)

Is The Messiah's GOD and Father your GOD
and Father?

Who are The Brethren of The Messiah?

"Let There Be Light"

Once again, It is very important to both know and
experience The Messiah as He Was, Is and always
Will Be. The Messiah simply testified in John 17:5
"And now O Father, glorify Me with YOUR own self
with the glory that I had with YOU before the world
began".

Prior to that testimony The Messiah had testified,
"Yet a little while is The Light with you. Walk while
you have The Light, lest darkness comes upon
you: for he that walks in darkness does not know
where he goes. While you have Light, believe in
The Light, that you may be the children of Light."
(John 12:35-36)

And the apostle John testified: "In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and
The Word was GOD. (John did not testify that
The Word is GOD)The same was in the beginning
with GOD. All things were made by Him, and
without Him was not any thing made that was
made. In Him was Life; and The Life was The
Light of men. And The Light shined in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not. There
was a man sent from GOD, whose name was
John. The same came for a witness, to bear
witness of The Light, that all men through Him
might believe. He(John the baptist) was not that
Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the True Light, which enlightens every
man that comes into the world. He(The Messiah)
was in the world, and the world was made by
Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto
His own, and His own received Him not. But as
many as received Him, to them He gave power
to become the sons of GOD, even to them that
believe on His name: Which were born, not of
blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will
of man, but of "The Only True GOD, Father of
ALL"." (John 1:1-13)

It is needful to realize that The Messiah testified
of "The Only True GOD" in John 17:3, and so it is
that The GOD and Father of The Messiah IS,
WAS and always WILL BE "The Only True GOD".

"The Only True GOD" is "Father of ALL".

And "The Father of ALL" is "Our Father", HE WHO
IS "The Only True GOD" and Father of The Messiah
and His Brethren.

And the apostle John testified in John 3:17-21:
"For Our Father sent not his Son into the world
to condemn the world; but that the world through
Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is
not condemned: but he that believes not is
condemned already, because he has not believed
in the name of the only begotten Son of GOD(Our
Father). And this is the condemnation, that Light is
come into the world, and men loved darkness
rather than Light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that does evil hates The Light,
neither comes to The Light, lest his deeds should
be reproved. But he that does Truth comes to The
Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that
they are wrought in GOD(Our Father)."

In John 12:34 the people asked, "Who is this Son
of man? Then in John 12:35-36, "The Messiah said
unto them, yet a little while is The Light with you.
Walk while you have The Light, lest darkness come
upon you: for he that walks in darkness does not
know where he goes. While you have Light, believe
in The Light, that you may be the children of Light.
The Messiah spoke these things, and departed,
and hid Himself from them."

Simply, "In The Beginning" The Only True GOD
spoke The Word, "Let There Be Light", "And there
was Light"! "And there was evening(darkness) and
there was morning (Light), The First Day". (Gen 1:5)
Certainly such "Light" was not "natural" light, for
"natural" light, the sun, moon, and stars were not
created until the "fourth day". (Gen 1:14-19)

"In the beginning", "The First Day", The Father of
All created "The Light", without which Creation and
Life, as we now know and experience it, could not
have been.

The First Day, "The Light", The Messiah, "The
beginning of the Creation of GOD(HE WHO is
The Only True GOD and Father of ALL)"!
(Gen 1:3, Rev 3:14, John 17:3, Eph 4:6)

And "The Only True GOD" created all "things" by,
through, and for "The Light", The Messiah, "The
Son of The Living GOD" and "Son of man".
(Col 1:15, Eph 3:9, Mat 16:16, Mat 12:32)

And "The True Light which enlightens every man
coming into the world", was born as a child
destined to be The Messiah. (John 1:9, Mat 1:21)

The Messiah, "The Light of the world".
(John 8:12, 9:5)

The Messiah, "The firstborn of every creature
(all creation)". (Col 1:15)

The Messiah, "Begotten of Our Father",
"The firstborn among many Brethren".
(Heb 1:5) (Ps 2:7) (Rom 8:29)

The Messiah, "A servant of The Only True GOD
(Father of ALL)". (Isa 42:1-7)

The Messiah, "The Lamb of GOD".
(John 1:29,36)

The Messiah, "The firstborn from among the dead".
(Col 1:18)

Once again: "In The Beginning" Our Father, "The
Only True GOD" spoke: "Let there be Light, and
there was Light"! The Messiah, "The Beginning of
the Creation of GOD", "the firstborn of every
creature(all creation)". (Gen 1:3, John 17:3,
Rev 3:14, Col 1:15)

Thanks Be To "Our Father"!

The Messiah, The Creation of "The Only True
GOD, Father of ALL"! (Rev 3:14)

The Messiah, "made so much better than the
angels"! (Heb 1:4)

The Messiah, "The Light of the world"!
(John 8:12, 9:5)

"The Lamb of GOD", "The Light of The New
Heavenly Jerusalem"! (Rev 21:22-23)

Paul experienced "The Light " on the road to
Damascus. "And it came to pass, that, as I
made my journey, and came near unto
Damascus about noontime, suddenly a great
Light from Heaven shone round about me.
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice
saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why do you
persecute Me? And I answered, "Who are
You, Master"? And He said unto me, I am
Yehowshuwa'(Yahshua, Joshua) of Nazareth,
Whom you persecute. And they that were
with me saw The Light, and were afraid; but
they did not hear the voice of Him that spoke
to me. And I said, "What shall I do, Master"?
And He said unto me, arise and go into
Damascus, and there you shall be told all
things which are appointed for you to do.
And when I could not see for the glory of
that Light, I was led by the hand into
Damascus." (Acts 22:6-11)

Paul also testified, "At midday I saw in the
way a Light from Heaven, ABOVE THE
BRIGHTNESS OF THE SUN, shining round
about me and those who journeyed with me.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I
heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying
in the HEBREW tongue, Saul, Saul, why do
you persecute Me? It is hard for you to kick
against the pricks." (The Messiah could not
have told Paul, "I am jesus" for He spoke in
the "HEBREW tongue") (Acts 26:13-14)

Paul saw "The Light" that was The Messiah
and he was blinded(naturally, not Spiritually)
for a time. Now when The Messiah was in
the "likeness of sinful flesh", born as "the
Son of man", He could only reflect "The
Light", liken unto the moon which but reflects
the light of the natural sun.

"Let There Be Light"

The Messiah, "The Light of the world"!

And consider the natural light provided by
the sun, which was Created on the fourth
day. Does not the natural light of the sun
reveal outwardly, all the earthly, natural
things? Consider what happens when
that which you thought was clean is
exposed to the light of the sun? Is not
the least outward particle of uncleanness
readily seen in the light of the sun? And
so it is with "The Light" that is The Messiah.
For His Life, "The Life", exposes all the
uncleanness in the life that is of The "I" in
all of us! The "I" is the creation of mankind's
"imag"ination! And "The Light" penetrates
deeply, cleansing even the innermost
recesses of the heart, "rightly dividing the
soul and spirit"!

Yet for such a cleansing to begin one must
"experience The Messiah(The Light) and
The Power that raised Him from among the
dead"!(Php 3:10) Oh, there are many who
know of a "messiah", yet who has
experienced "The Light"? For "The Light"
was "The Beginning of Creation" both the
old, which was natural and earthly and The
New, which is of The Spirit and Heavenly.
Those who "love this world and it's things"
yet desire that which "decayed, waxed
old and vanished away" (Heb 8:13) They
are of those "whose 'god' is their belly,
and whose glory is in their shame, for
they mind earthly things". (Phlp 3:19)

Sadly, those who "love this world and it's
things" yet love darkness more than The
Light and they will abide in the darkness
they loved forever ;-( (1Jn2:15,Jn3:19-20)

Sadder yet, systems of religion that are of
this world, such as "catholicism", "christianity",
"judaism", "islam", etc., have so perverted
The Testimonies, that today, as in the two
thousand or so, years gone by, "The Way
of Truth is evil spoken of"! All because of
the theo'ry'logical, heretical doctrines that
are of men! And especially those
theo'ry'logical doctrines which seek to
define "The Only True GOD, Father of All".
(2Peter 2:1-2)

All such doctrines are but the product of
mankind's "imag"ination and mankind's
"imag"ination is destroying and perverting
Creation(land, air, water, creatures, Light,
Truth, Love, Peace, Joy, Hope, .etc.)

Yes, sadly ;-( Creation is being destroyed
by self-willed men who could care less
about that which is of The Truth(What Is,
Was, and always Will Be), and care even
less about those things which they can
not comprehend apart from their
"natural" senses and mental processes ;-(

And The Truth testifies, The Creator "will
destroy those who destroy the earth(HIS
Creation)"(Rev 11:18).

Sadly, in this wicked world, those who
seek profit will naturally overcome those
who do not ;-(

Yet, There Is Hope!

For The Life is of The Spirit!

And Miracles do happen!

And Faith rejoices against profit(greed)
and theo'ry'logy(logic)!

Hope is there would be those who experience
The Miracle that is receiving "a love of The
Truth" for they will "see" "The Light".
(2Thes 2:10, John 8:12, 9:5)

And they will receive peace, in spite of the
dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world, for
they will clearly "see" that "The WHOLE
world is under the control of the evil one".
(1John 5:19) And they will clearly "see"
things as they are and not as "imag"inative,
world-loving humans would have others
believe them to be, for they will "see" The
Light that is The Messiah....... francisco

Father Hollywood said...

Elderchild:

Thanks for commenting on my blog. I posted on yours (though I see that your is moderated). I hope you'll post my sermon, just as I allowed you to post yours. Blessings from God the Son this Holy Easter season! +HW