Easter Vigil Sermon
We gather together for the Easter Vigil on the night of Holy Saturday. It is, in actual fact, the strangest day of the Church’s year. Even in times of normality, the churches are closed. There are no Masses, no services, except traditional devotions like the Blessing of Easter Food so popular in Central Europe. And even though Angela and I are kept busy preparing the church for the Easter Vigil, it is a long day of monotonous emptiness.
We all know why: Jesus is dead. We have accompanied Him on His last painful journey step-by-step. We have seen the scourges, the crown of thorns, the nails, the cross. Now He lies cold in a borrowed tomb and the greatest story ever told seems to have ended in blood and tragedy. The stone that has been rolled to seal off the tomb seems like a gigantic full-stop.
Jesus of Nazareth is put on that long list of lost causes, of popular fads, of five-minute celebrities. Perhaps one day He will be rediscovered by a historian searching through ancient records, but for now He is just a memory in the minds of His Mother and disciples - a treasured memory but one that will fade as the years go by.
But the death of Jesus was not a full-stop. On Holy Saturday, I can hardly wait for evening to come - because, strangely, it is only in the darkness that we find the light. In the midst of our despair comes hope. Into our sorrow comes joy. Into our emptiness fullness. The light of the Easter Candle transforms us and shows us the way ahead.
This year we celebrate Easter as never before. Our Alleluias may sound muted. Our hearts burdened, our ceremonies limited. Even our church doors are shut, seemingly sealed just like Christ’s tomb. But we know the Spirit is alive, that the emptiness is pregnant with possibilites, the darkness full of promise. We don’t know what the next few weeks will look like but let us try to live it with the quiet confidence and hope that the Resurrection gives us.
Christ is not here, He is risen, alleluia!