Easter Vigil 2014
Bonnie A. Perry
Since the beginning of creation we have been stumbling toward holiness; lurching, leaning, limping toward God in our own brilliant, yet frequently inept way. Since the beginning of creation we have been stumbling toward holiness, stumbling and falling.
Sometimes we fall forward and other times, we fall back: snakes and apples getting in the way. Is there any rhyme or reason to these interludes? If you, like me, have ever found yourself wondering about your life—your trajectory, meaning and purpose—if you find yourself wondering about those things done and left undone—on this night—in this place you find yourself in amazing company.
On this night Jacob—second son of Isaac—who, of course, is the second son of Abraham—Jacob on his way back to meet his older brother—the one he cheated out of everything—Jacob on that dark night on the river bank stumbles and falls or is he tackled and thrown? Either way he spends all night, wrestling with one whom he cannot move beyond.
All night wrestling—finally doing on the ground what he has never done standing up—he receives a blessing he has earned.
Wrestling with God, he is blessed, with every limping step he takes there after he knows he does it with God. He is now more than a cunning man he is a tenacious soul, utterly flawed yet completely called.
And so it goes, Pharoah’s daughter, did she ever expect to be an agent of the holy? To save the one who would set God’s people free? No, only in her boredom and self-absorption she longs to do something grand, something that matters. By chance she plucks Moses from the River Nile and then lurching forward she decides that she rather likes being someone else’s hope. We lurch and we limp and God uses it all.
Hannah, wants a child, a little one, she endures the abuses of short-sighted priests and along the way prays like we do, (you know the prayer) “Oh lord—if you give me this thing—then I promise you that.” Is it good news or bad : “This/that” prayers have been around as long as humanity. “Help me now God with this and I promise you that …”
She prays for a son and promises to give that very son back to God. Which brings us to little Samuel 3 the answer to her prayers. He hears as a boy, God’s call. Little Samuel—eventually anointing Israel’s first king—Saul.
Saul who is a first class nutcase, because we are stumbling toward holiness—falling toward God—none of it as a smooth direct line. It doesn’t go well with Saul—so we move on from him and Samuel, tries again—this time he finds David, God’s anointed one. We lurch once more toward God.
Isaiah, an upright man in the royal courts, never in his life did he expect to find God in that temple. Nor did he ever imagine, angels flying to him in that holy of holies and anointing his lips.
Yet, the next thing he knows he hears himself say, “Oh Lord here I am, send me.” Lurching and limping toward holiness.
Which brings us to this night. With William and Harry, babies beginning and Sarah an adult, finally finding—here we are all together stumbling toward holiness and hope.
Falling frequently, because it is dark. We cannot see well the way. By ourselves we will never get there, but with each other, even in the dark, with each other and the morning stars to guide our way—with each other 4 we will discern the path and find the way, risking, wading into the water, risking, lurching, questioning all. We are stumbling toward holiness, because it is dark now—but not--not for long.