Exodus 14:10--15:1; Isaiah 55:1-11; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Zephaniah 3:12-20
The readings tonight remind us of God's saving help to a people. Hebrews they are known as when they come out of Egypt. Later Israel, when the prophets are written. These people don't know certainty even in the face of being saved from the Egyptians and later the Babylonians. They face uncertain futures one in leaving behind all they ever knew and the other in trying to rest abolish and rebuild all that was lost.
As the Hebrews stand with a sea in front of them and the chariots of the Egyptians behind them, they must have been afraid. There is no where to go and it looks like death is upon them or capture and receptivity. Instead the sea is split and they are able to cross as God holds off the Egyptians in darkness.
Isaiah gives the picture of salvation being known to all through Israel's shining example of feeding, healing and being a city on the hill. This is all said when they are in captivity for 400 years and they wonder if they will ever go back to Jerusalem. If they will ever be free.
We can see the truth of these stories and the story of Jesus being raised from the tomb even today. There was a bombing in Belgium. Daily more and more atrocities are coming to light in Lui South Sudan. We may say where is God's saving help. Where might we see victory instead of failure and death. We are told we should be afraid because of what is going on in the world.
Tonight this is not the message we hear. Tonight we hear how the powers of this world thought they could kill and silence God. It is not so. Tonight the disciples are afraid for their lives and are hiding in an upper room. They will not remain there. Tonight we find the mystery that death and hate do not win for all time. Tonight we find love has won and will keep winning for all time.
Even when the days are dark and the light seems to not shine through fear, through doubt, through death we are told in John from the beginning that the light shone in the darkness and has not been overcome by it. As we sit here in the darkness about to renew our baptismal vows we state the darkness cannot overcome us. We are a people of faith. We are a people with a rich redemptive story. We are a people equipped to come and confront the darkness with all the love God gives us.
I am reminded of this faith when I remember the stories of the people from South Sudan. As we said good bye it was not a good bye. Because we know whose we are, we know we are God's and to God we'll return. We know even if we don't see one another in this life there is a promise of meeting in the next. Because of this night. Because of a love stronger than death. Because of the rich and deep forgiveness of God in his son Jesus.
Tonight is the night to say we are not afraid of what lies ahead. Tonight we say we are a people of faith. Tonight love wins again. May it shine bright in our lives so others may know this wonderful story of God written in us.