March 30: The Great Vigil of Easter

The Rev. Joseph Peters-Mathews is the vicar of St. Hilda St. Patrick. The sermon for March 30, 2024 was preached in response to Mark 16:1-8 based on the manuscript below.

Listen now to the Easter Sermon
of St. John Chrysostom
as translated for use
at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church,
San Francisco.

If there are devout
and God-loving people here;
welcome to this beautiful,
radiant feast.
If there are any careful
servants of God,
come and rejoice with the Lord.
If anyone here
is worn out from fasting,
tonight you will get your fill.

If you’ve been working
from the break of day,
tonight you will be paid in full.
If anyone came to work in the morning,
the thanksgiving meal is spread for you.
If any of you
showed up in time for lunch,
don’t worry,
there is plenty for everyone.
If some of you could only manage
to come in the afternoon,
you haven’t lost out on anything.
If anyone came
right before closing time,
don’t give it a second thought,
you’re right on time.

The Founder of the Feast is gracious;
the last one in gets as much as the first.
The Lord is here to serve everyone
the latecomers
as well as the first comers.
God is compassionate
with the last
as well as the first;
She gives freely to both.
It doesn’t matter
if you’ve over achieved,
or you’re just getting started.

God is gracious
and welcomes every effort.
So, everybody –
enter into the joy of our Lord:
newcomers and old friends,
share the bounty.
Rich folks and poor:
everyone celebrates together.
Sober or shabby,
God honors you both.
Those who fasted,
and those who did not,
rejoice today.

The table is full of rich foods;
no one goes away hungry.
Everyone is welcome
to the banquet of faith;
God’s goodness
is freely given to all.

Death tried to swallow him up,
but it gagged on his life.
Prophet Isaiah saw this and proclaimed:
“Death was angered
when it met you in the pit.”
It was angered
because it was abolished
It was angered
because it was mocked
It was angered
because it was slain.
It was angered
because it was chained up.
Death swallowed a body
and choked on God.
Death invaded earth
and came face-to-face with heaven.
Death relied
on what was seen
and fell by what is unseen.
O Death,
where is your sting?
O Grave,
where is your victory?

Christ is risen
and death is overthrown.
Christ is risen
and its tyranny is destroyed.
Christ is risen
and the angels rejoice.
Christ is risen
and life is triumphant.
Christ is risen
and the tombs are emptied.
Christ has risen from the dead,
and become the first fruits
of those that died.
Glory and power to him
forever and ever!

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