Easter Vigil 15 April 2017
A few years ago I took my 9 year old great nephew to the Rose Center for Earth & Space in New York City. He was so excited to read the outline of the known history of the universe. Someplace along the way I asked him, “Jacob, what did God have to do with all of this?” He thought for a moment and said. “God? Oh. God comes along much, much later!”
Like most young people today my nephew would not be so impressed by a biblical explanation of how the world began or, in the words of Ilia Delio, that it was the finite loving outflow of an infinitely loving God.  Little wonder then that God, meaning the historic Jesus, comes along much, much later.
In fact, according to environmentalist Larry Rasmussen, if the entire history of the cosmos (about 14 billion years) were written in ten volumes, the earth would appear in volume eight. And, humans materialize only in the final two or three sentences of the very last book. “We are fossils in the making, afloat in God’s creation,” Rasmussen would say.
Human beings emerged out of a creative process that continues to evolve. It is not something outside ourselves. A faith that proclaims God as the progenitor of all creation also affirms that we are one with that divine Being and the cosmos. The story of salvation, summarized in our biblical texts this evening, conveys the ways in which people responded to God as they experienced God acting in their lives.
For us, the traditional storyline is quite logical. God creates beauty. Humans deface beauty. Prophets imagine rehabilitation. God rescues humanity. Our role in this story is not only significant but urgent. With a broader cosmic perspective, we are better equipped to discover more reliable equations for repairing the world, particularly our environment and its inhabitants. Energy sources for all. Potable water. Bread for the world.
Jesus of Nazareth emerged out of the same evolutionary process as we did. His task was to model for us pathways whereby we can live our lives with goodness. In another text, the Gospel of Mary Magdala, Jesus does not dwell on his passion and death for the forgiveness of sin. Rather, he said the focus of his teachings is on the goodness of humanity. This comes as good news for people who have been told they are hopeless and shameful as humans. 
Easter is not only about the one time raising of Jesus of Nazareth from death. By linking the human and divine in Christ, we discover that that mystery cannot be separated from his life time achievements or from whatever may happen in our future.  For you and me the resurrection points to our own evolving transformations and our deepest hopes.
Seeking reconciliation, justice and peace is the mission of a community that identifies with the ethical ideals taught by Jesus. Roger Haight interprets human cooperation with God’s act of creation as a way of experiencing God at work the history of humanity. 
It is a collaboration that includes the labors of Moses, Miriam, Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, the prophets, Jesus of Nazareth — the characters in tonights readings. The story also includes you and me. This sense of being part of a larger source of energy (creation), a bigger story, leads to the importance of belonging to a community like this one.
Christopher Dean and Katria Foster, tonight you will become members of this faith community joining us in caring for creation and other human beings. The celebration of these sacraments affirm that God is already at work in your lives.
Tonight, we, each of us, also affirm our place in God’s creative process, not as something beyond our human experiences, but united with a God who loves the human race and continues to walk with us.
1. Delio, Ilia. Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness. (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2015)
2. Tausig, Hal. A New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts. (NY: Houghton,Mifflin Harcourt 2013, 217
3. Richard Rohr, Eager to Love: The Alternative Way of Francis of Assisi (Franciscan Media: 2014, 219-220)
4. Knitter P and Haight R. Jesus & Buddha: Friends in Conversation. (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2015, 110-11)