Holy Saturday

Paschal Vigil

Holy Baptism of Matthew, Alonna, and Wyatt Reeves

Readings: The Creation – Genesis 1:1-2:3 | The Flood – Genesis 7:1-5, 11-18; 8:6-18; 9:8-13 | Israel’s Deliverance at the Red Sea – Exodus 14:10-15:1 | A New Heart and a New Spirit – Ezekiel 36:24-28 | Jonah Preaches to Nineveh – Jonah 3 | The Gathering of God’s People – Zephaniah 3:12-20 |

Text: Ephesians 5:8-14

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

St. Paul writes in Ephesians, chapter 5:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”

Darkness in Scripture is always more than the physical absence of light.  Yes, light belongs to God’s creative work, but it also says early on that God separated the light from the darkness.

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And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. (Gen. 1:3-5a)

Before this, it says that “darkness was over the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2)  God’s creative work was ordering light and separating it from the darkness.  This is a spiritual truth as well, because there is spiritual darkness.   It brings with it chaos, an attempt to undo what God created orderly.  All mankind lies shrouded in this spiritual darkness, and only when one is given the light of God in Christ, do we recognize what the darkness does.  In the darkness, God’s order is under attack: “male and female He created them,” is twisted into our own self-chosen identity.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh,” is trivialized into chasing carnal pleasure and treating others as disposable.  “You shall have dominion over all the creatures on earth,” is abused either in waste or worship of the environment.

This darkness is what covers the creation God at first called, “very good.”  He says through Isaiah that there is a: “covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations.” But, “He will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:7-8).

The darkness of sin and the shadow of death we know all too well. A fallen world full of fallen men, who, Jesus even declares, “love the darkness rather than the Light” (John 3:19).   Humanity follows the broken compass of our fallen flesh, a needle constantly pointed inward, drawn by the gravity of our sinful, selfish desires. Such is the darkness of fallen mankind, a mind, will, and heart of darkness whose thoughts are continually evil.

But into this creation came the God who is the Author of Light, of good, of order: “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:9-13)

So, notice Paul’s choice of verbs in Ephesians 5. Once you were darkness: past tense. Now you are light in the Lord: present tense. In Christ, who is the Light of the world, our past sin and darkness have been changed into an eternally present reality: You are light in the Lord Jesus.

God’s brilliant light and love for us in Christ do not flicker. His grace and mercy to you cannot be snuffed out. Christ’s peace and light does not come and go like the rising and setting of the sun. No, Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, the Light no darkness can overcome. In His birth for us, His life for us, His death and resurrection for us, we have received God’s true, enduring, endless, and eternal Light.

In Jesus, “now you are light in the Lord.” You also called a city set on a hill. Do not hide who the Lord God makes you to be.  This is His creative work—a new creation bringing light out of darkness.  Similar to how it was in the original creation, He brought His creation out of water.  With His new creation in you, He brings it out of the waters of Holy Baptism.  As you have now been made light in the Lord, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Glory in God your Creator, your Redeemer, and He who makes you holy and light in the Lord.

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

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