The Pas Easter Vigil
21 April 2019
Exodus 14:10-31, 15:20-21
you have made this night bright
with the radiance of the risen Christ.
May we, who have been raised with him in baptism,
reflect the light of his glory
and live with him for ever. Amen.
What do we do when we’re faced with a new, an unknown, a possibly terrifying situation, in our lives, in the world around us?
In the readings for this morning is the Hebrew People’s flight to freedom from the Egyptians.
We see them, this morning, with the Egyptians at their back, the Red Sea before them. We see them begin what turns out to be a 40 year litany of complaint.
They accuse Moses saying: “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Ex 14:11b-12)
And, in our lives, we often get stuck in such litanies, as well.
We often get bound up in our personal tragedies, in situations that threaten to take the wind out of our sails, issues that threaten to dominate not only our actions, but those of future generations a well.
We get stuck there, and are we unable to look at the ways in which a way forward, a way out is provided when we look through the eyes of faith, trusting in God to provide.
Genesis tells us that the Hebrew People came to Egypt to escape the famine that threatened to dominate the Middle East for another 5 years, and Egypt opened their doors to this extended family of sheep farmers.
So, they did what all immigrant families do, they settled in, they learned new social customs, integrating such into their own patterns and families, and they had many successful generations to follow them. So many successful generations that the Egyptian kings became afraid, and first enslaved the Hebrew people, and then attempted brutal methods of population control.
So, they cried to God, and God listened.
God sent them Moses, a very reluctant prophet, to lead them to freedom, to bring them up and out of generations of slavery, and to remind them first of all that they are free, that they are the offspring of God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah, that they are loved and heard, supported and upheld by God.
And we need to remember this, in our lives, as well, every day because every day we face similar kinds of setbacks, and obstacles in our lives, in our families, in our world.
The earlier chapters of Exodus all talk about the story up to this point. Exodus chapters 14 and 15, that we hear today, shows us that the Hebrew people have left their ghettos, that they now stand on the shores of the Red Sea, and Pharaoh, and his army are bearing down on the Hebrew people from behind.
This is where our weekly television programs go to commercial, leaving us on the edge of our seats, wondering what miracle Moses will perform, now, with all of this stacked against him.
But we, in this midst of the challenge before them and behind them, in the midst of the drama of the story, the drama of the people who are running hither and yon panicking at what looks like an absolutely hopeless situation, we forget that God is present.
We forget that God has always been present, and continues to be present in our lives and in our hearts still today, in the depths of our own drama.
In the midst of this sense of absolute chaos, of disaster “13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”” (Ex 14:13-14)
Now, in the midst of the underlying circumstances of our lives, in the midst of health problems, of intergenerational issues, even in the midst of the Easter Mystery surrounding the resurrection of Jesus, we often find ourselves so mired in circumstances that we have difficulty trying to find a way out, a way forward.
In such conundrums, we tend to rely upon our own ingenuity, our own smarts, our own skills to get us out of such a predicament instead of allowing God to save us, to be active in our lives.
Sort of like watching MacGuyver build something like the beach landing craft from World War II with nothing more than the wagons of the Hebrew people, and his trusty Swiss Army knife.
But MacGuyver isn’t there. After all he’s a fictional character, a figment of our imaginations. And instead, we have God, and we have Moses, God’s reluctant prophet, as we stand, with the panicking Hebrew people on the shores of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army bearing down behind us, we hear Moses’ words to stand firm to allow God to prevail, to provide a positive solution that we could never imagine.
At the same time, we have Moses’ words of reassurance and God’s promises that after today they will never see these Egyptians, these challenges, again.
And God delivers.
God provides a way for the Hebrew people to move forward. God provides a way for this generation of the Hebrew people to escape their lives of slavery that has dominated their day-to-day existence for the past several generations. A the same time, God acts for you and for me in the resurrection of Christ.
God breaks, for once and for all the bonds of slavery, of death, of intergenerational trauma and shows them, shows each one of us, that the way forward is literally the way through.
And today, standing in the garden, in the predawn light, we hear Moses’ words, again “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” (Ex 14:13a)
Today, we see the stone rolled back.
Today, we hear the trumpets of heaven, we see Christ emerge, alive from the tomb, and we along with the women acknowledge that even the grave cannot hold the son of God,
Today, we acknowledge that Moses’ words are fulfilled when he said “14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex 14:14)
We see God at work once again providing for us, fighting for us, leading us to places and experiences we could never imagine because it is so far outside of our own experiences that it’s difficult to grasp. For the past three days, since Christ died on the Cross, God and Christ have been fighting on our behalf, to break the bonds of sin and of death.
This morning, we gather with the women to revel in the resurrection of Jesus. This morning we gather to remember that death is not the end of the journey and one day we will stand before the throne of God, with Christ at our side.
Today we remember that God, that “The Lord [fights] for [us; and all we need to do is] be still.” (vs 14)