This sermon was written for the saints at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to be preached on Saturday night at the Easter Vigil, 2012.
Welcome to this new day – the day of our Lord’s resurrection from the dead! Jesus rose on the first day of the week, which began at sunset tonight. And since then, every first day of the week has been blessed. Since then, every first day of the week has become a celebration of Easter as the Church gathers around her risen Lord in Word and Sacrament until he comes again in glory to raise all the dead and to bring us into that great wedding banquet that has no end.
Today is also the Third Day – the Third Day of the Paschal Triduum, the blessed Third Day about which Jesus said, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Today has also been called “The Eighth Day” – the day of the new creation. For God made all things in six days, and on the seventh day he rested. And Christ labored for the six days of Holy Week and on the seventh day his lifeless bones rested in the tomb. But now he rests no more. Now he is risen from the dead and that changes everything. You can’t just start over again counting the days of the week as man has done since the beginning of creation, because this creation is waxing old, like a garment. This creation is destined for fire, because the sin of man – the sin of us all – has ruined it. We’ve ruined everything, and so everything must pass away; everything must be destroyed. Everything – except for the living Lord Jesus. He has already conquered sin and passed from death to immortality. He is the beginning of the new creation, a perfect creation, and the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. He is our doorway out of this dying world and our entrance into the life of the next.
And we enter through that doorway through Holy Baptism. It’s no accident that ancient baptismal fonts were octagonal – eight-sided – in shape. Because the Church understood what was really going on in that Sacrament, what was really happening in the spiritual realm. The baptized is being drawn out of this dying world and into the new creation of Christ, being clothed with Christ and with his resurrected life, the life that belongs to all of you who have been baptized and believe in the risen One.
So welcome to this day, fellow believers! Today is a new day with the dawning of new life and the beginning of the destruction of death. And whether we remember it as the first day, or the third day, or the eighth day, let us remember with the Psalmist that this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it (Ps. 118:24)! Amen.