Sunday morning worship at Grace Episcopal Church remains online. Evening Prayer is offered outdoors on Sunday evenings for a congregation of 50 or less. All are welcome, however registration is required. Please visit our Grace@Home page for the registration link and to see all the ways we are staying connected to one another, to Grace, and to God!
422 Brenau Avenue, Gainesville, GA 30501
“He is not here. Come see the place where he lay. Then, go quickly and tell the good news to the others.”
My good friend Leslie told me about sitting by her sister’s bedside in the last days of a long battle with cancer. She said her sister talked about how much it had always meant to her when their father would recount the story of her birth: How it was in Manhattan and a snow storm and their father was rushing to get to the hospital in time for the birth, telling the cab driver that if he’d get him there in under ten minutes he’d name the baby after him whether it was a boy or a girl. “I love that story,” she told Leslie.
Leslie said she sat for a moment, really struggling with how to handle this. Finally, her personality type won out over letting her sister die in peace. “You were born in May,” she said. “I was born in January. That’s MYbirth story.”
Her sister said, “Seriously, I’m about to die and you’re denying me this amazing story of how special I felt on the grounds of a technicality?”
“It’s not a technicality! It’s MY story.”
“No,” her sister finally won out, “You being born in January and me in May is your story. My story is about a father’s great love, and that is too good a story to belong to just one person.”
This isn’t just our annual retelling of the Easter story. This is the best story we tell about the day of our re-birth! It doesn’t matter which side of the empty tomb you were born on, the absence of the body in that grave is the evidence of eternal life made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Tonight signals more than just the end of Lent or the eve of a special day with family gatherings and yes, even egg hunts. As with my friend’s sister, it is an event that fills everything we do with a sense of the sacred, of being deeply loved. And, as she said, a story about being loved that much cannot belong to just one person.
That much love really warrants this much drama: gathering in the cold darkness for the kindling of the new fire, hearing the lessons in the dark, even welcoming little Julian Mullis into the family of God by candle light, this little baby that shares Jesus’ birthday of December 25 and now also shares the date of his Easter rebirth. That’s some pretty good karma lining up. I expect amazing things from Julian.
And, because it’s a story that holds us as well, God expects amazing things from all of us.
There is a lot of work to be done. When Jesus said on the cross that his work “is finished” he left behind for us a world still at war and at odds with God’s plan for the kingdom. The challenge of our liturgy – our common work – is daunting, my friends.
But, the first and always most important part of our common work, our liturgy, is “praise.” Tonight is about praise and thanksgiving for God’s overcoming labor of love for us and for all mankind. Indeed, that is a story too good to belong to just one person.
“So let our songs to heaven wing, the vault with alleluias ring, in praise of Christ our risen Lord, new life to all he doth afford.”
Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Park
The Great Vigil: Year B
March 31, 2018