The Great Vigil of Easter 2019
One of the Christian’s realities is that of now and not yet. All the glories and riches of heaven have been won for you by Jesus’ death and resurrection. They are yours! But not yet, because you’re still in this world. All of the benefits of being God’s own child are yours now because you are Baptized into Christ, but you don’t get to fully enjoy the benefits of that inheritance yet. Heaven is yours by a free gift of your loving heavenly Father and the sacrifice of the obedient divine Son. Salvation is given to you day after day by the working of the Holy Spirit in the Word and the Sacraments. But day after day you suffer the effects of living in a sinful and dying world. This is a pattern we know well. Now, but not yet.
The Great Vigil of Easter 2018
O Death, where is your sing? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55) Death, hell, and their master, Satan, have no victory, no power. They thought they did. Jesus died and they rejoiced. For a time, it looked like Death had taken the victory, swallowing up the Author of Life. It stopped His breath, it spilled His precious Blood. Death finally ate its fill on Good Friday as it devoured Christ as He bore the sins of the world.
Why does the Pastor preach? Scripture explains that the role of preaching the Word of God is how saving faith is created: “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ … So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:14-17). The Augsburg Confession, seeing this connection between the Preaching Office and saving faith, summarizes Scripture on the Office of the Holy Ministry in this way: “To obtain [saving, justifying] faith, God instituted the Office of Preaching, giving the Gospel and the Sacraments. Through these, as through means, He gives the Holy Spirit who produces faith, where and when He wills, in those who hear the Gospel. It teaches that we have a gracious God, not through our merit but through Christ’s merit, when we so believe” (AC V 1-3). The whole reason the Pastor preaches is so saving faith can be created, so we know that “we have a gracious God” who loves us and has saved us from our sin by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.