We are all part of a story.
It is a story that stretches back to the very beginning of the world when God created everything out of nothing. From the mud of the earth, He formed the first man and woman, our ancestors, and breathed life into them. They and their children disobeyed God and lost friendship with Him. Yet He never gave up on the people He created, offering them time and time again the opportunity to be reconciled to Him.
Finally, He sent His only Son to reveal to us the depth of His fatherly love and to take upon Himself the suffering we deserved for our sins. All this week we have remembered how, though He came to show love, He was treated with cruelty and contempt. It looked as though it might be all over when on Good Friday He was put to death. But we know the rest of the story. It is the reason we have gathered here tonight. God raised Jesus from the dead. The apostles bear witness to it. Martyrs shed their blood to spread the word. And generations of believers have committed themselves to living as He lived and to telling the next generation the story of our salvation.
The point of the story is this - there is nothing and no one greater than God. Though sin separated us from Him, God is greater than sin. Though death takes every living being, God is greater than death. Though suffering can fall upon us at any time, God is greater than suffering. Through Jesus, our Heavenly Father conquers all the powers of evil and darkness. The victory is certainly not yet complete. But it is playing itself out in our lives and in our world.
We became a part of that story at our baptism when, as Saint Paul tells us - “We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the glory of the Father,we too might live in newness of life.” It is now time for us to live out the story of Jesus’ victory by rejecting sin and evil in all its forms. It is now time for us to live the new life of the resurrection by performing good deeds, feeding the hungry, giving comfort to the suffering and praying for sinners. Finally, we must never fail to tell the story to our children, our family members, our friends and whomever God may place in our lives so that they can know the blessed hope that guides our life.
More than ever, today’s world needs to hear our story. It is a world that is plunged in darkness and in need of the light that only Christ can bring. We must tell our story to those who are lost and wandering aimlessly. They need to know that there is a purpose to their existence, that God created them for a reason, and that they can find that purpose in Jesus Christ. There are so many of our brothers and sisters who are suffering alone with no one to visit our comfort them. They need to be reached with the message that Jesus stands by the side of all those who suffer, and that, if they offer their pain to Him, He can transform it into a source of blessing. Finally, there are so many in our world who think that they are in charge of their own lives and are not accountable to anyone for the choices they make. They need to hear that one day they will stand before the throne of God to give an account of their life. They also need to know that there is forgiveness in the blood of Jesus and strength in the Holy Spirit to overcome any sin.
We are part of a story, a story that is as long as the world itself. It is a story filled with failure and triumph, sin and grace, doubt and faith. However, we know how it ends. Our Risen Lord will come again in glory to judge the living and dead and to establish His Father’s Kingdom forever. If by His grace we have been faithful to the vows of our baptism we can rest assured that He will welcome us to live with Him forever. Let us, then, light our candles and renew those baptismal vows with deeper purpose and conviction so that Jesus victory may show itself more clearly in our lives.