Monday, March 28

Easter Vigil Sermon

What does all this mean? We told and listened to stories of Gods acts and of human falling away; about sin death and resurrection. This week we have followed Christ from Palms Sunday triumphantly entering Jerusalem as savior and king. We thenmoved to the Maundy Thursday, the night of Christs betrayal, the very night he spoke to his disciples of his new commandment to love one another. And then to Good Friday Christs unjust death on the Cross. Finnaly we now have come to Easter, celebrating his resurrection from the dead? So what does it all mean?

Its all about Love.

This answer is both simple and complex. This answer makes sense to us and yet it might also be misunderstood. Our culture is obsessed with love, with romantic love and desire. If when I say "It is all about love", your first thought is to people falling in love, or the love of two people that grows from that, or even the love of family there might be a misunderstanding if love doesnt mean more than these things. It will probably not make sense for me to say that Jesus death and his resurrection is all about love. The story we have told this week and tonight is an odd love story.

Moulin Rouge is a love story that reflects aspects of the drama of Holy Week. The movie begins with great expectation, The young poet Christian comes to Paris with great idealism he is on the edge of a new age, the Bohemian revolution with its ideas of Freedom Truth Beauty and Love, and above all love, Romantic love, Eros. But there is a dark side to these ideals, or at least the environment in which these ideas are being proclaimed, in the hhadow of the Moulin Rouge night club. There is greed, there is infidelity, there are competing loves, competing desires all of which compete with necessity.

The Moulin Rouge is tinged with death, as the courtesan, Satine caries death within her having contracted tuberculosis. As you most likely know Christian falls in love with the courtesan Satine, who wants to be a real actress, a star of the stage show that the poet has been commissioned to write by a troupe of bohemians. But to put on this show there is the need for money and a certain duke who will provide the money for the show wants Satine exclusively for his mistress. In return the Duke will provide the owner of the Moulin Rouge, Herold Ziegler, with all the money he needs to turn the Moulin Rouge into a theater and put on the show, Spectacular, Spectacular. For a time the Christian and Satine hide their love from the Duke and it appears that love will win out in the end that as the Song of Songs says that this romantic love is as stronger as death, fiercer than the grave, unquenchable. But other loves and other necessities break the two apart and the Christian becomes distraught and broken. The film comes to an end with the show being put on the way the Duke wants it, and having the Satine as his mistress.

But Christian comes back and it seems that at this moment their love will be resurrected. Yet just as it seems all will be well Satine collapses at the end of the show due to the tuberculosis. She dies on the stage. Christian broken hearted again. The Moulin Rouge dies with her. The movie ends in death and the memory that death leaves us. The triumph of the story is that Christian loved, even though now all that he loved is dead and all he has left to do is write the story of that love. Love survives as a memoir, as a shadow, but death is the real victor. This is the melancholy of the film. This story is our cultures story it is the story we tell ourselves about love, and this how Baz Lohrmann can tell the entire story through our popular love songs. This love is not the love of the Song of Songs, this love is not the love that is as stronger as death, fiercer than the grave.

Tonight we have listened to a love story, a story that is sometimes told as a romantic love story. But unlike Moulin Rouge this love story does not end in death, rather it ends in the defeat of death. The stories told as we sat in the dark with our candles around the baptismal waters, the waters of creation the waters of the Jordan, the waters of our Baptism, is the story of Gods love for humanity. Gods unending, unrelenting love that through God the Son coming as a human being and dieing and rising again reaches through death into life. A love that defeats death. This love story that ends in resurrection and not death shows us the source of every romance story. So that we can see that the longing in Moulin Rouge and the romance stories we tell our selves, is a mere shadow of true love. Such love will only find its source in God and Gods love for humanity and the world. A love that loves even those who would not love in return, a love that dies so that humanity may find true love again. Moulin Rouge pictures the world dominated by sin and death, Christ in his passion and resurrection shows forth a love freed from that domination, a love that is truly stronger than death, that can empower our own love, and make it ever more expansive.

Yes It is all about love, though not simply the love of Moulin Rouge and our pop love songs. This means that Christs resurrection calls us to reorienting our understanding of love, to love of enemies, to a love that can find its true end only in God and a God who love first and last, who dies that true love may be known, in a world that is not unlike the heights and depths of Moulin Rouge.. The new life we are born to as Christians is love, a love that encompasses all; the lovely and the unlovely, enemy and friend. This is not sappy love this is not an emotional high. It is that unrelenting pursuit of the other seeks the others best, seeking to engulf them in a love that can in truth not be quenched. It is that love that will survive even death, because Love, God who is Love, underwent death and defeated death, by death. Our loves may be true, but all true love has its source in what we proclaim on this mourning. If you wish to truly love, truly love your partner,truly love your family, your friends, yes even your enemies, then one needs to become one with Christ who is love whose love defeated death, by death. Come to the one whose love is truly stronger than death, who has loved you from eternity and has never ceased loving you. Who died and rose again for love, for love of those who rejected and hated that love. Yes, Love has defeated death, by death.

Alleluia Christ is risen.