“He Is Risen From The Dead”
Why is this night like no other night ?
As we stand in vigil by the tomb of the dead Jesus, we also prepare ourselves to greet the Risen Lord, alive again, immortal. The redemptive death of Christ doesn’t only impact our lives – it transforms the universe, it has cosmic implications.
This is why the liturgy of tonight has all the elements of nature – earth, wind, fire and water. Elements which are the primal stuff of the universe. All these will participate in the new creation, which is what Easter is.
This is why too we recall the great deeds of the past when God reached out to save his people, giving us a new heart and making with us a new covenant.
Four important symbols recur repeatedly in the Easter Vigil service:
The symbol of light, the most powerful and most primitive of all natural symbols. In the beginning, God said, let there be light. Even more, light is the universal metaphor for insight and understanding, for reason as opposed to ignorance, for freedom from darkness and bondage. The Paschal Candle is the symbol of Jesus, Light of the World, who lights our way, as the Pillar of Fire once led the Israeli people into the Promised Land.
Then there is the symbol of God’s word, his powerful utterance which makes all things to be. Jesus is the Word of God, remembered and invoked in the Church in the Scriptures. We remember with grateful hearts, how God created us, how he chose us as his own, saved us from our oppressors and pledged himself to us anew. The readings from the Bible explain God’s plans for us from the beginning of time to the coming of Jesus.
The third symbol is that of water, baptismal water. Everywhere water is a symbol of renewal, purification, restoration of life. We are re-born in water and the Spirit, children of a new creation.
Finally, tonight we celebrate the Eucharist, Christ’s final gift to his Church before death, and now his first gift to his people after his resurrection. We recognize him at the breaking of the
bread, as did the disciples at Emmaus -- that is, Jesus is there wherever we are ready to share with others, even at personal cost. For the Risen Lord is Spirit, accompanying us on the way, the silent partner to every conversation.
May these symbols of the Risen Lord be part of our lives always, individually and in community.
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