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Fr. John’s Easter Sermon:
The Story of Creation
God said: In the beginning, when I created the heavens and the earth, the earth was without life. Darkness covered the face of the deep, and my spirit swept over raging waters. Then I commanded, “Let there be light!” And I saw that the light was good. I separated the light from the darkness. The light would be called Day, and the darkness Night.
And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
God said: “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters!” I commanded. “Let it separate the waters above from the waters below.”
God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters above. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
God said: Then I said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear!” And it was so. I called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together I called Oceans. I commanded the earth to bring forth vegetation: plants, grains, and fruit trees of every kind. I looked at what I had done, and it was good.
And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
God said: “Let there be lights in the sky to separate the day from the night. They will show the seasons and days and years. Let them shine down on the earth.”
And it was so. God made the two great lights — the sun to rule the day and the moon to rule the night — and the stars. God set them in the sky to give light to the earth.
God said: “They shall rule over the day and over the night, and separate the light from the darkness.”
And it was so. God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
God said: I ordered the oceans to bring forth a multitude of living creatures, and I let birds fly above the earth across the sky. I created the great sea monsters and fish of every kind, and every kind of bird. And it was good. I blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the seas, and let birds cover the earth.”
And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
God said: “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind,” I proclaimed “Tame animals, reptiles, and wild animals shall roam the earth!”
And God created every type of animal, and every living creature that creeps on the ground. And God saw that it was good.
God said: Let us make human beings in our image and likeness. They will have power over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over all the animals and reptiles of the earth.
So humans were created in the image of God, both men and women. And God blessed them.
God said: Be fruitful and multiply; populate the earth. Take care of the fish in the seas, the birds in the air, and all living things that move upon the earth. I have given you every plant that yields grain, and every fruit tree for food. And to the beasts of the earth, the birds of the air, and to every other living creature, I have given green plants for food.
And so it was. God saw everything that was made, and was very pleased. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Thus the whole universe was completed. And on the seventh day, God was finished working and rested. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day God rested from all the work that had been done in creation. And that is how the world was created.
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Israel’s Deliverance at the Red Sea
Moses led the Israelite people out of slavery in Egypt. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, was angry and tried to recapture them. As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back and saw the Egyptian army quickly advancing on them. In great fear they cried out to the Lord for help, and blamed Moses for their plight:
Wasn’t there enough room in Egypt for our graves? Is that why you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we tell you in Egypt to leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians? We would be better off serving the Egyptians than dying in the wilderness!
Moses said: Do not be afraid! Stand firm, and see how the Lord delivers us today. We will never see the Egyptians again. The Lord will save us. Keep still and watch!
God said: Moses, why do you cry out to me? Raise your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea. The water will divide in half and the Israelites will be able to walk through on dry ground. Then I will make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow them into the sea. I will show my power over Pharaoh and his entire army. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.
The angel of God, who had been leading the Israelites, went behind them. A cloud, which had also been in front, moved between the Israelites and the army of Egypt. And so the cloud lit up the night for the Israelites, but kept the Egyptians in darkness. And the one did not come near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. All night, the Lord drove back the sea by a strong east wind. The waters were divided and turned the sea into dry land. The Israelites walked into the sea on dry ground. The water formed a wall for them on their right and on their left. All of Pharaoh’s soldiers, chariots, and horses went into the sea after them. At dawn, God looked down upon the Egyptian army from a fiery cloud, and threw the Egyptians into a panic. Their chariot wheels were clogged with mud, and they could hardly turn.
God said: Moses, stretch your hand over the sea, so that the water may come and drown the Egyptians and their chariots.
So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. The Egyptians tried to flee, but the waters covered the soldiers, chariots, and horses. The entire army of Pharaoh had followed the Israelites into the sea, and not one of them lived. But the Israelites had walked through the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.
Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians. Israel saw the great work that the Lord had done. The people stood in awe and believed in the Lord and Moses, God’s servant.
Then the prophet Miriam took a tambourine in her hand and all the women went with her and danced with tambourines: Sing to the Lord who has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver have been thrown into the sea!
Sing to the Lord, who has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver have been thrown into the sea!
O God, whose wonderful deeds of old shine forth even to our own day, you once delivered by the power of your mighty arm your chosen people from slavery under Pharaoh, to be a sign for us of the salvation of all nations by the water of Baptism: Grant that all the peoples of the earth may be numbered among the offspring of Abraham, and rejoice in the inheritance of Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Response: Zephaniah (3:14-20)
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you,
he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands grow weak.
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a warrior who gives victory;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
he will renew you in his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing
as on a day of festival.
I will remove disaster from you,
so that you will not bear reproach for it.
I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the LORD.
The Epistle: Romans (6:3-11)
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The Gospel: Luke (24:1-12)
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.