The Pas Easter Vigil
19 April 2014
Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13
Eternal giver of life and light, this holy night shines with the radiance of the risen Christ. Renew your church with the spirit give us in baptism, that we may worship you in sincerity and truth and may shine as light in the world, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
In the reading from Romans, we heard this evening, Paul talks about the correlation between our baptism and our life in Christ, as we recite it in the creeds.
Paul says: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Rom 6:3-4)
And when we contemplate these words, we can remember that we are all renewed in the waters of baptism, we’re reborn in those baptismal waters. Not just because Jesus has died on the cross and risen to new life, but because Christ lives within each of our hearts, and helps to guide us every day of our lives.
Since Ash Wednesday we’ve been looking at the creeds, at their words, at the way that the words of the creeds are not only our most basic and succinct Statement of faith, in the creeds we find a description of the way in which we see the workings of God, in three persons, to be a part of our creation, of our lives, and our faith.
In the brief statements of the creed we find an overview of the history of God’s involvement in our lives and in all of creation, and each petition begins with the words “I believe.”
In that statement of faith, we learn of all of the sacrifices that God has made on our behalf. Sacrifices that allow us to learn to love God, to be embraced by God’s loving embrace, and to appreciate that even God’s Son is a part of that plan to learn about God, and to introduce us to God.
Yet, even when that sacrifice is made, when the price is paid on our behalf, we discover that God is all around us, and within us. We discover that although we’ve not been aware of it, the Holy Spirit has been among us as long as creation has been in existence providing a way for God to communicate with us and to us.
We discover in the words of the creeds there are treasures, nuggets that we are able to hold onto in the rough and tough parts of our lives.
In our creeds, we find the depth of God’s work to create the world in which we live, in its infinite detail and we’ve discovered that the Son of God is among us teaching us and setting us the example we are to live in the world to each other.
In the nuggets of the creed are the words that have the ability to see us through the rough portions of our lives, starting with the words “I believe.”
These words provide the refrain for every aspect of our lives. The words “I believe” have been given to us along with the promises of God, the teachings of Jesus and the urgings of the Holy Spirit to follow where God needs us to go.
And Paul tells us, in the passage from Romans today, “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom 6:5) But he also says “The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The words of the creeds “I believe,” are important for us, in and for our lives; they strengthen us, encourages us, they bring us together and allow us to know each other as members of the body of Christ. And they’re two simple yet powerful words that define us as much as our baptism, as much as the promises made in our baptism.
Tonight, as we hear the words of Paul to the Romans talking about the power of Jesus death and resurrection as it relates to our own baptisms, we are blessed to be able to welcome three new members into the death and resurrection of Christ, into the body of Christ through their own baptisms.
But this isn’t an isolated step for these candidates. We’ve all walked this path, whether we were babes in arms, or adults when we were baptized.
And when we reach the font, when we bathe in the waters of baptism, it is then that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses beginning with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, includes all of those who are here, tonight, and ends with those who will come after us, welcoming us into the body of Christ.
And as we declare our baptismal promises whether for the first time or once again, we proclaim the words “I believe” with faith, with passion, and with heart, as we are able to declare in with faith and with confidence the words of our faith.
And these words are a part of us because of what Paul tells us in the reading from Romans, that we heard this evening. But also because of what Jesus has done for us and continues to do for each one of us every day.
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom 6:5)
When we hear these words, we remember Christ, and his passion, and his crucifixion. But we also remember his resurrection from the dead that we celebrate tonight with new life in Christ, with new life in faith.
And so we celebrate with the words “I believe.”
This night, we celebrate not only Jesus resurrection from the dead, but we also celebrate the rebirth in baptism of Sara, Ellaina, and Mason. This night we celebrate our faith in the words of the creeds, in the depth of their wisdom for each one of us, and their ability to walk with us through this world, and give us their strength to meet the challenges before us.
Paul reminds us, that in the words of baptism, “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. … but if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” (Rom 6:6-8)
And so in the dark of the night, in the dark of Jesus’ grave, we discover new life in the waters of baptism, in the words of our baptismal promises bound up since the birth of our faith, in the new fire that fills our hearts with Jesus love, and in the words “I believe.”
And we turn to the creeds. We look at the words we recite as we remember to strengthen our faith lives and to frame the faith we have, new each day, as we state our belief.
And we remember that we are reborn in these waters, we are renewed in these words and we are refreshed in the knowledge that God is a God of love who wants nothing more than to be a part of our lives.
Paul reminds us: “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives to God. So [we] must also consider [ourselves] dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.” (Rom 6:9-11)
And so we declare with conviction, and confidence the words of our faith, not only tonight, but every time we meet the words and proclaim our statement of faith, beginning with the words: “I believe.”