This is the Night

Alleluia! Tonight more than any night we know some deep truths.

  • Life is stronger than death.
  • Light is stronger than darkness.
  • Love is stronger than hate.

The hard part is that the world often has a warped view of love. We make it about words that aren’t followed with actions. We make it about how much money we spend. We put rules and limitations on it.

God’s love, though, is extravagant and relentless. Gods love is joyful and endless and timeless. God’s love touches the deepest parts of who we are and invites us to share it with the world.

That’s all well and good, but what does that mean in practical terms? US Supreme Court Justice Potter Steward coined the phrase “I’ll know it when I see it.” He was talking about obscenity, but tonight, I am reminded that it could  also and perhaps better be applied to love.

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That means we have to watch for love… which is why tonight is so important. If we did all of the Vigil readings there are nearly a dozen we would see the huge arc of God’s love for people…. and reminds us that God responds to every part of us—including our brokenness and lostness, through the Easter story. In an act of unselfish love, the women came to the tomb to take care of the Lord that they loved even in death.  In reaching out in love, they encountered the love of God that conquered death.

That love is why we added words from our presiding bishop and the Dali Lama—to remind ourselves that that the love we are talking about reaches from the resurrection right to this moment and beyond and that it reaches past our limited understanding to every corner of creation. 

Tonight invites us to practice love, in the way that Jesus did, by following God’s immeasurable love wherever it leads. Theologian Karen Armstrong offered this recipe for knowing if we are going in the right direction: “If your understanding of the divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, of self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God’s name, it was bad theology. ” 

Easter invites us into living and breathing the good theology of love. When we do it will make us kind, empathetic and active… It will give us the tools to be Christ in our world. That theology is the one that makes us who we are—an Easter people, a people driven by love. Again, I say: Alleluia.

Preached by the Rev. Hailey McKeefry Delmas at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany on Saturday, April 20, 2019.

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