EASTER VIGIL C – April 23, 2011 – DARING TO INFLUENCE
Rob Bell made the list. He’s an Evangelical pastor who is rethinking Christianity in America. Feisal Abdul Rauf made the list. He is the imam who supported a new community center near Ground Zero. Dharma Master Cheng Yen made the list. He teaches that suffering is inescapable but that humans have the potential to overcome it. 
What list you ask? Who are these people? Who picked them? According to TIME magazine these are three of the most influential people in the world this year. These religious leaders and 97 others are “activists, reformers and researchers, heads of state, scientists, artists, athletes and economists. Their ideas spark dialogue and dissent and sometimes, even, revolution.” 
We are gathered this evening to remember a long list of people who have influenced our lives — Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Moses, Miriam, the prophets, saints, martyrs, Jesus of Nazareth, Mary of Magdala. This, the holiest night of our liturgical year, is all about us. I would like to add the Church of St. Vincent de Paul to the TIME magazine list of 100 influential people [congregation applause], each of us adults and children alike. Why should we be on the list? Let’s just remember what we are doing these days.
On Holy Thursday, our shared supper, our washing of one another’s feet, our Eucharistic feast was linked inextricably with what we do in our food pantry, our seasonal giving trees, our collection of blankets, clothing and other sundries for those who need them.
Yesterday, on Good Friday, our embrace of the cross was linked with our letter writing campaigns to civic leaders appealing for justice and dignity for all people. It affirmed our relations with our sister parish in Panama whose way of the cross is filled with daily suffering.
Tonight in the story of creation we remember that our motherly God gave birth to this planet and all human beings. The texts from the Hebrew bible this evening remind us how tenuous our love affair with this ineffable God can be at times. It takes constant communication and renewed commitment to maintain a healthy relationship with God.
Our compressed celebration of the life story of Jesus Christ, the last supper, the crucifixion and now his bodily resurrection reminds us of those who witnessed these events. They have influenced us. Now we are enacting these rituals not as spectators but as actors in the continual unfolding of our story – this paschal mystery.
The Spirit of God ignites the Easter fire, stirs the baptismal waters and seals in the gifts we share for the common good. This holy breath makes the very body and blood of Christ come alive in our sacred food and drink given to us to be portioned out to all.
Tonight Kelly King and Ann Lothrop will plunge into this story [by baptism]. With Robert Rosborough they will celebrate the gifts of the Spirit in their lives [by confirmation]. For the first time all three of them will partake in the spiritually nutritious banquet of life [the Eucharist].
Invigorated by their journey you and I renew our faith and our commitment to be protagonists in this story – this paschal event. In doing so you and I add ourselves to a list of influential people who make things happen in our homes, our schools, our places of work. We bring the ideals of this paschal story into the public forum — both church and state. Each one of us does so in a particular way.
While there are other things that have an impact on our lives like illness, earthquakes and the economy our chance for survival depends on how well we rise up to the occasion. There is a banner over our front door that challenges us each time we enter the church: how bold and daring we are to advance the kin-dom of God here on earth.
1 The 2011 TIME 100 http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/0,28757,2066367,00.html