O God, who made this most holy night to shine with the glory of the Lord's resurrection: Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that we, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This is the second of three collects recommended. I have chosen it because of the three it most explicitly addresses the effects of resurrection in our own lives.
What would it mean to you to be stirred up with the "spirit of adoption"?
When I was 11 years old, I went with my aunt and uncle to the state adoption agency in Montgomery where they fetched their new daughter. Earlier the couple had come from their country home twice to the hospital in my hometown (Anniston, AL) where my aunt could receive trained medical attention in childbirth. Each time the child was still born. Never have I heard any other wails to match my aunt's in the days she stayed with us afterward. Depression and gloom filled every space.
What a contrast when I saw them coming out of the adoption agency bringing their daughter, truly stirred with a "spirit of adoption."
God has adopted you and me as his children! We need a huge infusion of the "spirit of adoption" that my aunt and uncle manifested. Adoption is not just a sentimental idea: a real child arrives: you and I arrive, and God glows even more radiantly than my aunt and uncle glowed.
Baptism is a sacrament, that is, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Indeed, 'God, stir up in us a spirit of adoption that we, being renewed, may not only worship you in sincerity and truth, but may also manifest the fruits of this adoption by loving even our enemies as much as you love them.'
God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears God and goes what is right is acceptable to God.
Surely not if the person is a low-class Samaritan? Or a queer? Or a homeless person? Or......
Anyone can't really mean "anyone", can it?
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Everyone who believes?! No exceptions?!
It should come as no surprise that the Church in India has had remarkable growth among the Dalits (the "untouchables).
It should come as no surprise that Jesus had his first major successes not among the Israelites, but among the Samaritans.
It should come as no surprise that some of the most vital ministries of the Episcopal Church are among tblgq persons, despised in most of Christendom and in most other parts of the Anglican Communion.
It was not just for heterosexuals that Jesus rose from the dead. Alleluia!
Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
I love the decisiveness of Psalm 118:
On this day the LORD has acted; *
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
When Ernest and I were down home for his father's funeral in January 1998, we visited his mother's grave and then we visited several places special to his faith journey, most notably the place where he was baptized.
Two years later, when we were in Alabama to lead a retreat for Integrity, we visited the graves of both my parents and the sanctuary of Parker Memorial Baptist Church in Anniston, where I was baptized.
I can well understand why in his darkest moments of depression Martin Luther sustained himself by repeating again and again to himself, "But I have been baptized!"
I have been baptized! I have been baptized!
On the day of my baptism, "the Lord has acted"; I rejoice and am glad in it!
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
I urge you to seek out a community sunrise service this year, preferably one outdoors in a cemetery. Arrive before most others, while the musicians and others on the program are setting up. Take members of your family, especially any children.
Sunrise services are some of the fondest memories I have of growing up. They were special. We we weren't just Baptists or Methodists or Pentecostals or Presbyterians or Episcopalians. We were hundreds of Christians gathered in the cemetery knowing the tomb we sought was empty!
Don't worry. There will be plenty of time for you to make it to the 10 o'clock mass in your own parish afterward.
Something very special is going to happen at your parish today. You may experience it as powerful and definitely as unlike most other times when you have been there for Easter.
Jesus himself is coming to the service, but he is coming incognito, disguised as one of the other parishioners or maybe as a visitor. If you converse with the person you believe to be Jesus in disguise, you are to make no comments about what you have heard. The only way that you can let Jesus know that you are 'in the know' is by the way that you treat him. Hold great expectations of all, especially of those you have never rated highly before, remembering Jesus' reputation for especially liking the disreputable.
Wait patiently. Observe closely, gently.
All will be revealed, possibly soon and dramatically, possibly long after and subtly.