Sunday, April 11, 2010

History Lesson - A Sermon for the Easter Vigil

If you’ve been following the news, then you’ve heard about the controversy over the Texas Board of Education’s changing history. They approved all sorts of changes that reflect their own political views rather than actual history.

I know, you’re shocked. On the other hand, is that really new? No. People have been doing that for eons. Why, look at the ancient Egyptian history columns called steles. They always manage to have a version of Egyptian history where the pharaoh is wonderful and strong and always victorious. Look at them, and you’ll see the pharaoh never loses a battle.

But history can be real – and true. The lessons you heard tonight -- our Salvation History for example. It was no less true before Jesus than it was after.

Look what we have.

Creation – God made the world maybe not exactly as it’s described here, but the point is that God made it and in doing so gave us everything we need to thrive.

Abraham/Isaac – If you know the story, you’ve got Abram who has no god suddenly called to be God’s guy – nothing asked of him at first, just faithfulness. I know this story, this test, sounds like a gruesome way to prove loyalty, but that’s not really what it was, is it? Here we have God showing how painful it can be to lose one’s child – especially when it means you are the one responsible for it. This is a precursor to God’s own sacrifice of his son. More than that, Abraham’s near sacrifice of Isaac makes it clear to the world that this sort of sacrifice is no longer necessary, that God provides all the sacrifice that is necessary.

Moses – brings his people into safety. Life is not easy, but at the right time, we are brought through the waters.

Dry Bones – When we think all is lost, God gives life.

These stories, our history, tell how God never makes it easy but never ever abandons us. That God’s love is the point of our being here in the first place, and that its reward is nothing less than God.

This is the same story we see and know in Jesus. In him, God is one of us. Loving us intensely. In him, we see that no sacrifice is ever necessary to earn God’s love – it is freely given and can never be taken away. In him, we are saved from the waters of despair and meaninglessness. IN him, we are given life – even as he rises again from death, so we are given new life when we feel we are lost.

The Salvation History tells us what we already know. God is love, we are loved. And that love is good.

The way the story is told may not be exact – but it is entirely true.