Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013
Offered by John W. Vest, Associate Pastor
God, it wasn’t so long ago
that we gathered together
to celebrate the birth of Christ
and reflect on the mysteries
of the incarnation—
the way Christ emptied himself of divinity
while at the same time
perfectly reflected your image;
how he entered the fullness of humanity,
with all of our joys
and all of our sorrows.
Through the muck and the mire,
he proclaimed the good news of your love,
even in the most hopeless of places.
In this past week we have witnessed
as the worst of humanity
rejected your gift of hope,
putting Christ to death,
attempting to deter
the emergence of your kingdom
and the rush of your Spirit
as she erupts into the world.
In those dark moments
we recognize the darkness
that threatens our lives
and the whole world,
loneliness and grief,
humiliation and shame,
illness and death,
homelessness and hunger,
divisions and war,
hatred and oppression,
injustice and inequality,
violence and abuse.
Within each of these realities,
and in many more,
we can identify our own stories;
pain and suffering are not abstractions for us—
it is the common condition of humanity,
shared even by Christ,
all the way to the cross
and to the grave.
But on this day, O God,
you have rolled away the stone
and your light has pierced the darkness of the tomb.
On this day
the hope that Jesus lived and died for
has emerged even stronger than before.
Baptized into death with Christ,
we are being reborn into newness of life.
Indeed, the whole world is being born anew,
as your kingdom bursts
into the fullness of your love poured out.
We know, of course,
that many of us still experience
darkness in our lives;
these struggles don’t simply go away
in the joy of this day.
But we are renewed in faith
and strengthened in hope.
we have been reminded
that the promise of Easter
is not just an idea
that we sing, pray, and preach.
Christ is alive and lives among us today.
Your real presence
is more than something we hope for—
you are here with us now;
we know you in the love we share for each other,
the love that binds us all together as one.
On this day, O God,
Christ’s resurrection gives us hope that nothing—
no tragedy, no mistake, no sin, no evil—
is beyond the redemptive power of your love.
This is the truth of your kingdom,
a kingdom we long for,
a kingdom for which we now pray
using the words the living Christ teaches us.
Our Father . . .
Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church