With all the normal apologies to St. John Chyrsostom. Read the inspiration for this sermon at The Russion Orthadox Catherdral of St. John the Baptist, Washington DC
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
If you have lived a good life, if you have served the Lord all your days, been faithful in all things and suffered for the Truth, then rejoice. This Easter victory is for you. If you are weary from the battle’s strain, of bearing a cross under fire, of the toll that this faith takes upon a man, rejoice. This Easter victory is for you. Even if you have not always lived a good life but came later to the faith, or if you’ve succumb to temptation and backslid, cursed and lied and stolen, betrayed your family and your friends, even if you’ve struggled with pride and vanity, lust and greed, but still retained, by grace, the faith so that his night you seek Jesus, then rejoice. Do not be in doubt. God is good and this Easter victory is for you.
And even if you have lived a terrible life and done shameful things, and only just now have repented and longed to see the Crucified One, do not be afraid. For the Master, Who is jealous of His honor and will not share the adoration of His children with another, He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to all no matter how bad or rotten or wrong they have been. He died for all. He would have even taken Judas back if Judas had repented and believed. For He loves all men and has reconciled all men to His Father in His perfect death. He pays the wages of His love to all who bear His Name, who believe in Him. Therefore let not your eye be evil because He is good, because He accepts the wicked men of earth and reconciles them to Himself, but rejoice with the holy angels who sing God’s praise for each sinner that repents. This Easter victory is for you.
Let all this holy night rejoice in the goodness and generosity of the Lord. The good and the bad, the greatest and the least, the rich and the poor, the doctors and the catechumens, the founding members and the newly converted. Let all rejoice and receive the reward of Jesus’ death and resurrection, of His perfect live and substitution, of His wonderful mercy and grace beyond all telling. Let all be glad today. The table is full-laden. There is nothing more to do, nothing more to add, nothing more to believe for Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. He has welcomed you not just as His guest, but as His precious, beloved Bride in whom He is well-pleased. Let none go forth hungry for righteousness this night. Let none feel inferior or weak or second-class. Let none doubt his place at the Lord’s table. But let all enjoy the feast of faith and receive the riches of His grace.
The seal of the grave is broken and the morning of the new creation breaks forth out of night. Darkness is dispelled. Slaves are redeemed. Wickedness takes to flight. Sin is washed away. Innocence is restored. For man is reconciled to God in Christ.
So do not weep for your transgressions: forgiveness has dawned from the tomb. Do not fear death: the death of the Saviour has set you free. He has defeated death. It is no more. It is destroyed. He has captured Hell. He has abolished its cruel justice and mocked every one of its claims. He gave them His Body. He drained the Cup of Wrath. And Death could not Him. It’s belly burst spit Him upon our shores so that life and immortality have been be brought to light. Death is dead. Hell is impotent. Jesus lives. And the victory is for you.
O death, where is thy sting? O hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are cast down. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and Life lives and flourishes. Christ is rsen, and there are none dead left in the tombs.
For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of them that have fallen asleep. This Easter victory is your and your day will come. You grave will be as empty as His. So do not be afraid. Do not be sad. Rejoice. This Easter victory is for you.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Rev’d David H. Petersen
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana