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2012 Easter Vigil Homily

April 7, 2012

April 7, 2012 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, PA

“Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today…. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’”

“The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Moses’ words point to the actor of salvation for the Hebrews. They will not save themselves. The Lord will act for them. The Lord will be their Deliverer, their Conqueror, their Redeemer. He will bring victory over Pharaoh and his army. Through the prophet’s statement, the Lord says: “Move over. Step aside. Let Me do it.”

That is what we see in all the readings for this night. You have heard the Scriptures’ testimony about the Lord’s actions, His doing things that humanity could not. His words: “Let there be….” bring creation into existence. The Lord discloses the flood to Noah and shuts him in the ark to keep him safe. He gives Isaac to Abraham as an only son, then He supplies the substitute for Isaac, leading Abraham to call the mountain in Moriah, “The Lord will provide.” Only the Lord’s words and His Spirit bring Israel’s dry bones to life. The Lord’s presence protects the Three Young Men from Nebuchadnezzar’s fire. Each time, the Lord’s actions bring life, save the day, work salvation, grant deliverance.

So it has been through time. History is a timeline of the Lord’s action, especially for His people. You belong to that group. You belong to that history. That history culminates with the appearance of the Promised Christ and the actions that He performed, when He told you and all humanity about salvation: “Move over. Step aside. Let Me do it. You cannot keep the Law, but I will. You cannot offer anything to atone for your sin, but I will. You cannot free yourself from slavery, but I will. You cannot defeat death, but I will.”

That is what this night is about—to remember and recall what the Lord has done for you. It is a night, when you are exhorted: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today…. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” You weren’t present at the events described in the Scripture Readings, but they speak about the Lord who is present now for you. Christ’s work that accomplished salvation—His death and resurrection—was in the past, but is effective and active in your day.

So tonight, you participate in the acts that deliver the Lord’s salvation to you. The Lord has renewed your baptismal covenant with Him, uniting you again with Christ’s death and resurrection, drowning all sin in you, separating you from the multitude of unbelievers, and keeping you safe and secure in the holy ark of the Christian Church. The Lord’s herald has proclaimed the great news of Christ’s rising from death: “You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here.” The Lord prepares a paschal meal for you to eat, so that you receive the salvation accomplished for you by the all-availing sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood on the cross.

In each of these, you are passive; the Lord is active. You are recipients; the Lord is the Giver. You are freed; the Lord is the Deliverer. You are saved; the Lord is the Redeemer. What Moses describes about Him is true: “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” And what he says about the people’s reaction is also true: “I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously.” The war has been waged and won. Christ has died, but He has risen. Your enemies—sin, death, and Satan—lie eternally defeated. The victory has been accomplished for you, bringing great joy. That is the message of this night.

The Lord has fought for you, while you remained silent. But receiving the benefits of His actions, you need not be silent anymore. So you with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Ezekiel, the Three Young Men, the Women at the Empty Tomb, and all the Lord’s people who have received His salvific acts will again sing to Him:

“The strife is o’er, the battle done; Now is the victor’s triumph won; Now be the song of praise begun. Alleluia!

Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee, From death’s dread sting Thy servants free That we may live and sing to Thee. Alleluia!”

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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