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Easter Vigil

Genesis 1:1-2:3

Rev. Andrew Eckert

Holy Saturday
Our Savior Lutheran Church  
Stevensville, MT

Sat, Apr 11, 2020 

We begin with the end of the beginning: “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” God recognized how well He had done in creating the universe.  This is not egotism by God, but truth.  God is the perfect Creator, and His actions of creating were flawless.  Especially Adam and Eve were created perfect in every way, unblemished by any degradation of sin or death, implanted with the image of God’s holiness.

We know how long that lasted.  Not the exact length of time, which Scripture does not state; but we know that the perfect righteousness of the image of God was soon spoiled by the tempter’s efforts.  Thus sin and death entered the world that was created without them.

But Christ was born into our flesh, and He died our death, and He has been raised from our grave.  Therefore God sees creation restored in us and the image fully repaired.  This He sees not because of what we have actually made of ourselves, but because our nature has been elevated by Christ.  In Him, God is pleased with men.

The Creation account shows us many things that are fulfilled in Christ and Easter.  Water was created and separated from the dry ground.  In this water we find salvation when God adds His Word and command to it.  For Baptism is the Easter sacrament, empowered by the same power that raised Christ from the dead, as Saint Peter says.

So it was not for nothing that the Spirit of God hovered over the waters of the deep, which were soon to be teeming with living things.  For He also hovers over the Baptismal font.  Whenever we are recreated and reborn in the water with the Word, the Spirit is there.  So it is also a new day for the one baptized, as they are joined with Christ in His death and resurrection.  The power of God’s creation reaches down through the darkness of sin and death, and by His Spirit gives life.

So also the earth was cold and dead until the Lord said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation . . . each according to their kind.” So also, the cold, dead earth held the Body of Christ in the tomb until Easter morning.  Then He, our Vine, rose up from the earth.  Thus we know that since we are in Christ through faith, we are His kind, also to rise.

We also learn from the Creation account that the light of the first day came from the Word.  God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  So also the Light of the new creation comes from the Word.  This happens in us personally when God gives faith and forgiveness through His spoken Word.  But it also happened on account of Christ, who is both the Light of light and also the Word that was in the beginning.  The Word has accomplished all things in His work for us.  He has created the new day of salvation in Himself.

We read the same thing in Second Corinthians four: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, placed in our hearts a bright light so that through us enlightenment would arise and knowledge of the glory of God in the countenance of Jesus Christ.” We see this most clearly on Easter, when Christ, who is the brightness of the Father’s glory, has shone forth by rising from the dead.  This the new dawn, even more glorious than when the first light shone on the first day of this earth.  For God in Christ has now recreated the human race as a foretaste of the new creation that is to come.  In Christ our race is renewed.  By resurrection our renewal will be completed.

As Thomas Kingo wrote, “Like the golden sun ascending, Breaking thro’ the gloom of night, On the earth his glory spending So that darkness takes to flight, Thus my Jesus from the grave and Death’s dismal, dreadful cave Rose triumphant Easter morning At the early purple dawning.”

His resurrection shows us that Christ our Lord is the New Dawn.  He is the greater Sun that has shone upon this world of darkness, sin, and death.  He has enlightened and warmed us by His glorious death and resurrection, so that we awaken to a new, eternal day.

As God said, “There was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Christ rose in the early morning hours, before the sun, on the first day of the new creation.  So we are gathered here in the evening, which is the beginning of the new day.  Easter is now, before the dawning of the sun.

In the same way, we wait through our earthly lives.  The new day is already here, established by Christ’s rising some two thousand years ago.  But the darkness of sin and death is still upon the earth.  We wait for the full dawning, the culmination of Easter, to come soon.  We do not know how soon “soon” is.  But we are able to wait patiently, because the new day is already here.  Eternal life is already ours.  Although we stumble about in weary bodies, the new life is in us, and it will shine forth on the Last Day in glory and majesty.  For so Christ has earned for us and promised us by His own resurrection.

In His Name, the Lord of life, both Creator and Risen One, our dear Lord.  Amen.

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