Amazed, bewildered, cautious, doubtful, expectant, fearful, grateful, humble, incredulous, joyful, keen, luminous, mystified, nervous, overwhelmed, panicked, questioning, resistant, skeptical, tentative, uplifted, vulnerable, wondering why I am listing this alphabet of emotions from A to almost Z.
I am because I have seen them in your faces, Sarita, Jeff, Ravi, George, Phil, and in Nick’s who will be baptized at a later date. I have heard them in your voices. When I was praying on Friday morning and did as Fr. Ken told us the other night, asking Jesus to help me. I remembered your faces, saw the looks in your eyes and heard in your voices your questioning, your wondering “what on earth am I here for?
You come here tonight, my friends, with a rich religious inheritance. From Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and even Intellectual Skepticism. You come and bring us the mystery of God’s love for the human race in so many of its wonderful manifestations. You enrich us with your questions, your searching, your wondering. You reflect for us who we all are as followers of Jesus Christ. Your faces, hold the mirror to each of us who share with you fear and amazement at the Good news of this night. Your voices echo the uncertainty in our own that simply wonder, Is this for real? Can this really mean all that we claim it does? In Christ Jesus we are a new creation!
But we are not alone in our wondering. Listen to the gospel, the two women are fearful and overjoyed. They do not know what to think until Jesus himself meets them on the way. And in his face and in his voice, they know that it is Jesus, alive for them in a way that they never could have imagined. And their world will never be the same. These two women, our sisters, the first witnesses of the Resurrection in Matthew’s gospel will bring “glad tidings of great joy” as the angels did to the shepherds at the birth of the Messiah. Those who hear it will resist at first, incredulous at hearing the claims that “he is risen”. But even these fearful, panicky, skeptical “brothers” will come to believe when they have seen him for themselves and heard his voice again speaking their names. They two like their sisters before them will say “I have seen the Lord”.
Sarita, Phil, Jeff. George, Ravi, We have seen the Lord in each of you! Whether you know it or not, your expressions have changed during this time of preparation. As you have drawn closer to this night, I have seen more smiles on your faces. I have seen an inner light that comes from each of you. I believe that you are like those two women who came to the empty tomb, have heard the incredible news, fearful and overjoyed. Now you come to meet Christ himself in the living waters. Christ who says, Rejoice and Don’t be afraid.
My friends, you may have noticed that I left out two letters in my alphabet. The letter X (No this is not Sesame street) X is the Chi. The Chi is the Greek symbol for Christ. And Christ is the key. Christ is the one who opens up for us the mystery of death and rising. And Christ is the one who invites you to meet him in the waters of baptism. He says to each of you, Rejoice> and Do not be afraid!