In the Name of the Crucified and Risen One, Amen.
This is the night.Â Jesus who was crucified is risen!Â Donâ€™t be afraid, he said he would do this.Â Paul says, â€śYou also should consider yourselves dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.â€ťÂ This is the good news.
These past days we have been remembering Christâ€™s death and resurrection.Â We have not been reenacting it, weâ€™ve been remembering it.Â It happened 2,000 years ago.Â While we remembered the Last Supper and Christ being arrested, he is risen.Â While we remember the crucifixion, he is risen.Â Today, he is risen.Â Christ was not risen today, he was risen a long time ago and we remember that.
So what do we do with this?Â How does it affect us today?Â Barbara Brown Taylor tells a story of visiting a parish and in discussing with the Rector what she was going to say, he told her, â€śwe need to know whatâ€™s saving your life today?â€ť (From: An Altar in the Worldâ€ť)
What is saving your life today?
Is it a friend.Â Is it time alone.Â Is it a meeting.Â Is it hope.
Last year, when I was at the Vigil at St. Maryâ€™s I sat next to a man who at the time I didnâ€™t know very well.Â We had had passing conversations, pleasant, but we didnâ€™t know each other.Â Weâ€™d been on some committees together.Â After the service, he leaned over to me and said, Jason, for the last three years I thought to myself, â€śThis is the last time I will be at this serviceâ€ť.
See, Paul, has cancer.Â A very rare form of cancer, so rare that at one point Paul shared with me that they didnâ€™t have treatment for this kind of cancer, so he was literally the guinea pig.Â Paul, was diagnosed about 4 years ago and in the time was clear of his cancer twice.Â Needless, to say it has been a difficult time.
Paul and I had lunch about a week later, I had to talk to him.Â He shared with me at lunch that the diagnosis of his cancer was really when he started taking his spiritual journey seriously.Â He had gone to church and considered himself a Christian, but it was not central in his life.Â So, why now?Â Paul, shared his philosophy of faith with me.Â He said, at some point in your life you will get to a point where in the middle of the night when you canâ€™t sleep and death is at your door, you are going to want someone, something to yell at, to cry to, to point at, you are going to want something bigger than yourself to rely on.
Living a Christian life, a life of salvation, is not a grand act, itâ€™s not a life filled with dramatic expressions sacrificial giving.Â Living a Christian life is a simple subtle choice to believe that there is hope, even in death, there is hope.Â That there is good.Â That there is love.Â In your darkest hour, having hope is what a life of salvation is all about.
Paul will be the first tell you, he is no saint, (although I would contest that) but he is a Christ follower and in Christ there is life and hope and love.
Paul has a lot that he could be bitter and resentful about.Â He could be cast into despair.Â He is not.Â Donâ€™t read me wrong on this, Paul gets angry.Â Angry at God, at the doctors, at his cancer, but he doesnâ€™t hold on to that anger.Â He lets it go.Â Last year at the vigil, what I saw in Paul was gratitude for being able to worship at this service one more time.
Nelson Mandela said, â€śAs I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.â€ť
Darkness takes on lots of forms.Â Sometimes it is facing our own death, but mostly it is other things.Â This Easter, we are alive in Christ, which is our freedom.
I want us to consider two things: 1) what death are you facing, today?Â What is the thing that says to you there is no hope for you or anyone?Â 2)Â In light of Christ, what does it look like for you to say I am alive?Â In the face of that death, how do you live?Â Amen.