Thursday, October 22, 2015

A New Heart & A New Spirit

Easter Vigil
 Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA, 4 April 2015
RCL Year B: Ezekiel 36:24-28; Romans 6:3-11; Psalm 114; Mark 16:1-8
Time flies!
It seems like yesterday we started Lent &

fasted from the  word Alleluia.

Yet here we are at Easter, joyfully saying Alleluia!
Time flies tonight as we speed-read human history, hearing some of the great stories of us as humans who know & love God, who then forget & just don't get it & finally DO get least until we forget again God's profound Love. After all that we share this night of nights, how can we possibly forget & drift back into the old us?
We hear God promise us in our scripture from Ezekiel: “A new heart I will give you...a new spirit I will put within you..I will remove from your body the heart of stone & give you a heart of flesh.” As Christians, we know this is possible because the loving heart of flesh that beats within Jesus stops beating on the hard wood of the cross. Jesus' human heart stops beating on Good Friday – the day that looks like Bad Friday – yet the day that declares: God DOES love us & God redeems us through Jesus' death on the cross. Death is not the final word.
We celebrate this truth: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again – Alleluia! Jesus' Resurrection gives us confidence to live in new, bold ways. Jesus calls us into a new relationship with God & each other, to live in holy community.
Notice tonight's Gospel from Mark repeats details to emphasize the work we have to do to share the Good News of Jesus' Resurrection:
1st the angel says to the women: "Do not be alarmed...Jesus...has been raised...go...tell his disciples..." They leave in terror & amazement and...and...and say nothing!?[At some point, someone said something or we wouldn't be here tonight celebrating Jesus' Resurrection!] Mark goes on to say Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, who tells the disciples, who don't believe her. Jesus appears to 2 others, who tell the disciples, who don't believe them. Jesus appears to the 11 disciples, gives them what-for about their stubbornness in not believing the Good News. What does it take to get through to us?
We do have Good News to share. Do not be afraid to share it. In our Baptismal Vows we have just promised to proclaim by word & example the Good News of God in Christ. We vowed no limit to proclaiming this Good News, which includes what we read in Romans: We are no longer enslaved to sin, no longer trapped in sin. This Good News we promise to proclaim with God’s help.
Proclaim is an interesting word. It can mean (as my dictionary1 says): “to declare publicly, insistently, proudly in speech or writing, extol, to proclaim the rescue worker's efforts. We are to proclaim our rescue worker's efforts: Jesus is our rescuer.
This concept of the rescuer reminds me of the 2010 mining disaster in Chile. You may recall the mine's collapse kept 33 miners trapped 2,300 feet down in the earth for 69 days [Aug. 5-Oct. 13].2
Humans have been trapped in sin a lot longer. We have Good News to proclaim to release trapped people. As you/as we do this work, I encourage you to continue in the apostles’ teaching & fellowship, in the breaking of bread & in the prayers – all with God’s help.
God entrusts this work to us to do with God & each other. We do this work in this happening community where we live God's love. God gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us in our rescue work so that our love may overflow more & more with knowledge & full insight to help us determine what is best.
God gives us the work to do so that others come to know:
God loves you.
No exceptions.
All are welcome. 
Alleluia! All are welcome! What Love. What a joyful reason to rejoice & SHOUT Alleluia!


Bacon, Ed. 8 Habits of Love: Open Your Heart, Open Your Mind. Boston: Grand Central Life & Style. Hatchette Book Group. 2012.
Dios Habla Hoy: La Biblia. 2da Ed. Nueva York: Sociedad Bíblica Americana. 1983.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1988.
Holy Bible. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Lectionary Page. Accessed: 16 Feb. 2015.
Merriam-Webster. Smartphone Dictionary app. Merriam-Webster Inc. 2012. Accessed: 14 April 2014.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds.: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1977.
Timeline: Trapped Chilean miners. Accessed: 14 April 2014.

1 Merriam-Webster. Smartphone Dictionary app. Merriam-Webster Inc. 2012. Accessed: 14 April 2014
2 Timeline: Trapped Chilean miners. Accessed: 14 April 2014.

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