Saturday, April 7, 2012

Keeping the Vigil

Easter Vigil
April 7, 2012
The women on the Saturday after Jesus died weren’t keeping a vigil. The disciples certainly weren’t. They had seen Him die and were still in mourning over their loved one they thought would be with them forever. We gather here on the Saturday between our observance of Good Friday, the day Jesus died, and our celebration of Easter Sunday, the day Jesus rose. We call our observance a vigil. How do we keep a vigil? Why do we keep a vigil?

You might recognize that the word ‘vigil’ is related to the word ‘vigilant’. To be vigilant is to be watchful, to be ready. As Christians we are called upon by our Lord to be ever vigilant; as long as we breathe on this earth, as long as our Lord delays His return in glory on the Last Day. We are to be watchful, vigilant.

This remains true today even as our observance of this day that we call the Easter Vigil has our observing of it for a specific reason. The women on the Saturday after their Lord died were waiting for Sunday to come so that they could resume the embalming of His body. We are here this evening knowing everything that happened. We know that He was in the tomb on Saturday. We know He rose from His tomb early on Sunday morning. We know that He died and rested in the tomb and rose from the grave all for the securing of salvation for the world.

This is what we know. And this is the focus of our vigil. If you think about it, it really is the focus of our ever being vigilant throughout our lives as Christians. The problem, of course, is that we so often aren’t vigilant. We forget. We get caught up in day-to-day affairs. We get caught up in the desires of our sinful flesh. We perhaps aren’t aware that our lives as Christians are to be ones of vigilance, ever watchful for the day when our Lord will return in glory. If we are aware perhaps we’re not aware of how to be vigilant.

They way we do it is by receiving the grace and gifts of God as He gives them to us in Word and Sacrament. By daily dying and rising; dying to our sinful flesh in repentance and rising to new life in our Baptism. By being in God’s Word in daily devotions and weekly in Bible Study.

Basically, we keep the vigil, that is, we live lives of watchfulness and vigilance, by being in those things our Lord has given us where He instills in us the watchful and vigilant mind and heart which has its focus on and joy in our Lord who came in order to go to the cross, who rested in the tomb, who rose victoriously from the grave, and who will come again in glory to welcome us into the eternal glory He has prepared for us. Being vigilant isn’t something along the lines of being a monk in a solitary setting. It is much more along the lines of being who you are, where God has called you to serve, and living in the grace of your Lord as He gives it to you in His Gospel through preaching and His Sacraments. Amen.


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