Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Buried with him? United with him in a death like his?


Do you not know that your old self – The old Adam or old Eve in you – was crucified with him? That that old body of sin has been destroyed?


Well then, do you not know that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of God the Father so we too might walk in newness of life? That we are no longer enslaved to sin? That we will live with him? That death no longer has dominion over us ss it no longer has dominion over him?…


Sadly, the evidence available in the world, available from looking at humanity’s continued inhumanity toward one another, points toward nothing but the reality of sin and it’s continued dominion.


When Christ Jesus was arrested in the garden he said to those who came after him with swords and clubs: “This is your hour, and the power of darkness!” And I’ve got to tell you, I’m wondering when the next hour will take hold.


I have family living in Belgium – Thanks be to God, they’re far from Brussels, but still… And I have family and deep roots in Eindhoven, a major city in Holland. And Karen and I are planning a trip in a couple weeks to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, and we’re going to be in several cities across southern Europe. And I’m wondering when will this hour end and the next hour take hold?


Look, believers throughout the ages have faced this tension. It’s nothing new. In times of persecution, in times of war – whether such violence was being directed at us because we are called by the name of Christ, or whether we were perpetrating such violence on others, because they were not called by the name of Christ, or maybe because they believed some things differently about the Christ, for God knows both have been true, but in times of persecution and in times of war – God’s people have struggled to understand, to make sense of, to face the reality that, though we pray for God’s Kingdom to come, and though we believe that Kingdom was ushered in in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, we do not see God’s Kingdom fully realized in our daily experience in the world as we know it, as we live in it, as we experience it day to day. The world as we know it, and live in it, and experience it day to day is marred by sin, and hatred, and mistrust, and division, and violence, and death.


So when Paul asks: Do you not know that the old body of sin has been destroyed a big part of me wants to say: “Well, no, I don’t! Because I believe what I see, and feel, and experience, and too much of what I see, and feel, and experience is marked by death!…


On Easter morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb. What was she going for? What did she expect to see? Death, I’m sure!


I remember for several months after my father’s death, more than 25 years ago now, I would go to his grave site, and I’d talk, and I’d pray. And then, one day, it struck me. He’s not here!


If the promise of Jesus is true, if the promise of the resurrection is true, if the promise of Easter is true, then the grave is not the end of the story, and my father’s not there. There may be some remnant of his fleshly existence there, but the essence of who he was on earth, and the essence of who he is in eternity is not there in the grave.


We heard it on Passion Sunday. To the repentant criminal on the cross Jesus said: Today you will be with me in Paradise. Jesus’ promise holds forth a promise for all who die in Christ, for all who are baptized into his death. Jesus’ promise holds forth the promise of new life, eternal life with and in Christ in Paradise.


Mary Magdalene, Peter, the beloved disciple, none of them get it at first. But Mary hears her name spoken by Jesus, and then she gets it.


Each of us who have heard our names spoken in Holy Baptism have received the promise Paul writes about in Romans 6, the promise Mary comes to understand on that first Easter morning as she hears her name spoken, the promise spoken to the repentant thief on the cross in Luke’s Gospel. In Holy Baptism we were joined to Christ in a death like his, therefore, we will most certainly be united to him in a resurrection like his. Death no longer has dominion over us because the One who calls us by name, the One who named us and claimed us in the water and the word of Holy Baptism, has conquered sin and death, once and for all!


Earlier in the sermon, twice, in fact, I spoke the rather difficult and, perhaps petulant question: “When will the hour of darkness be replaced by the hour of God’s reign of life?


Well, sisters and brothers in Christ, that day and hour is right now! That day and hour has already come, whether we see it or not, whether we recognize it or not, whether we embrace it as true or not, that day and hour is here and now. In our baptism, in the Word read and proclaimed and sung and enacted, in the sacrament of the Table, in our feasting on the broken body and shed blood of Jesus – real food that causes our sins to be forgiven and that holds forth the promise of a deeper fulfillment in the eternal feast to come, of which this feast is but a foretaste! – because Christ Jesus has died and is risen, and we consider ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus our risen Lord.


And so we raise our voices together in the shout of triumphal praise:


Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!


Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!


Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!