Easter Vigil Meditation: “Anticipation”
The great preacher, the late Rev. Fred Craddock, once said that anticipation is one of faith’s greatest gifts. Tonight is a night of anticipation, as we know what was discovered on Easter morning. Holy Saturday marks the movement of Jesus from death to resurrection life. According to Scripture, when the women arrive at the tomb Jesus had already been raised and the entrance of the tomb had been opened. So tonight we sit in this anticipation, no longer in Good Friday, but not quite Easter morning.
Jesus is mysteriously being raised and we proclaim it in its fullness tomorrow morning, but tonight, we sit a little longer in this anticipation. Fred Craddock wrote, “Anticipation enables us to ride out the storm, endure periods of pain and privation, stick with distasteful and boring tasks, maintain sanity in chaos, and survive disappointments and delays in pursuit of our goals. In addition, it is probably the human spirit’s greatest source of pleasure, often exceeding that provided by fulfillment of one’s anticipation.”
We all have those nights when we know something is going to happen. It may have been sitting in a hospital room waiting for baby to arrive or waiting for that last breath. We anticipate the joy of celebrating holidays with family or going on trips together. We anticipate how God will continue to work in our lives. It’s really a great gift of faith, anticipation, we wait for the promise of God to come.
Every Holy Week teaches me something new as we walk the Passion or suffering way of Jesus to the cross, death, and resurrection. This year, I am reminded that Jesus is wherever we go, wherever we are. It reminds of the reading from Psalm 139, words Jesus probably knew by heart, “Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” 12 even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. While tonight is an in between night, we still know that the light of resurrection shines brighter than the coming darkness of night.”
Where can we flee from God’s presence? God’s presence was with us as we waved those palm branches. God was with us as we sat the table and enjoyed the feast which was a foretaste of what is to come. God was with us at the cross of Jesus and the crucifixions of today. God is with us as we sit near the tomb in anticipation of the announcement that “Christ is risen!”
This vigil is one of anticipated joy not darkness; one of anticipating celebration not sadness. We know that Jesus goes from death to life this night and when the women arrive at the tomb, we will say with them, “He is risen.” We know the story. We heard several readings tonight that remind us of God’s saving work throughout human history. God created, God brought us out of Egypt, and God saves in Jesus Christ. The challenge for us tonight is to keep the anticipation not just tonight, but throughout our lives. God is always and everywhere, at the table, at the cross, in life and death, at the tomb, and when the sun rises tomorrow, God will be there. As we read in Psalm 30, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Whatever comes this week, this year, or during this life, may we know that the risen Christ goes before us, above us, behind us, and within us. That is what we anticipate and begin to proclaim tonight. Christ is risen! So are we! Amen.