Mark 16: 1-8
As I read the Easter story I wonder “Is there any significance to the huge stone that had sealed Jesus’ tomb?” “Could it have a message for us to help live in peace in this chaotic world?”
It seemed to have a prominent place in all four gospels-- it got me thinking about the spiritual and physical stones in people’s lives.
We all know about physical stones, remember as kids we collected stones of different sizes and colour-on beaches or along the railway track. As we got older we built stone fences, many still visible in the countryside. The early settlers surrounding Rockburn, took STONES FROM THE FIELDS they were clearing --to build the Rockburn church
We can imagine our ancestors picking-shaping-- lifting the stones in position-- mixing of cement to seal the stones in place --building strong walls.
They wanted this building to be a lasting TRIBUTE TO THEIR FAITH IN GOD, so stone was used to build the Rockburn Church that has remain the worship center for the community for over 150 years.
My reminiscing finally got back to the Easter Story and spiritual stones. What about “the huge stone used to seal the tomb?” could it have a message for us.
The gospel stories give powerful images of “rolling away the stone” from the tomb.
--an angel roll away the stone and sits on it.
--the guards fall asleep and a great earthquake rolls away the stone.
--Mark just says “it‘s already rolled away !”
Mark paints a dramatic scene in his Easter story when Mary and her friends go to the tomb. Remember that day,
The dawn light gets brighter,
suddenly Mary jumps out of bed,
“I have a job to do,” she mutters.
She quickly gathers the spices saved for Jesus’ burial.
Along the way she picks up her friend Salome and together they walk together quietly along the path.
-- They needed a lot of courage to set aside their fears and make this early trek to the tomb
-- constantly look over their shoulders making sure they are not being followed.
-- afraid they might be recognized as followers of Jesus and accused of treason.
As they approach the grave they wonder,
“Who will Roll Away the huge, heavy stone that sealed the tomb?” A good question!!!!
As we continue our walk with Mary and Salome to the grave and they approach the tomb, things seemed to have gone from bad to worse.
Much to Mary’s surprise, the huge stone they were so worried about was mysteriously rolled away from the entrance to the tomb.
“The Stone is rolled away.!!” exclaimed Mary.
-- First thought, “No, no not Grave robbers!”
They walk inside the tomb and it’s empty. There is nothing in the tomb! Where is Jesus’ body? This is too much!
The woman fall to the earth trembling their faces touch the cold earth.
As the women slowly get up, they look in each other’s faces. Could it be true?
MARY looks at SALOME saying “JESUS DID TELL US, BUT WE DIDN’T UNDERSTAND.” SALOME replies, “HE DID TELL US, BUT WE DIDN’T BELIEVE HIM.”
I was wondering “What if the stone was never rolled away!
How would a sealed tomb affect our Easter Story?
How would it affect our faith? Have you ever given it much thought?
What would Mary have done if the tomb was still sealed?
—well she could have asked the soldiers—the ones who put it there in the first place to help roll it away--she could have asked her friends to help move the stone-but let’s face it they were no longer in sight, they had all fled.
She could have, I suppose declared it impossible to roll away the huge stone, shrug her shoulders and simply walk away -- go home. But then …by leaving she never would have seen the gardener!
What if the stones we encounter in our lives are not rolled away—will they forever haunt us and keep us from living a full life?
I suppose, like Mary, we might have the same thoughts about breaking free from our tombs. We can call on the authorities-police or a Government Agency --seek help from our medical institutions, family doctor or CLSC—maybe we can confine in our closest friends, they might be able to help us--—or we can shrug our shoulders and struggle with life the best we can.
We all have known stones like that, stones that need to be rolled away-- the ones that sit in our throats to hold back the flood of tears--stones that sit in our stomachs and weigh us down with fear. The ones we hide behind, to keep our insecure selves safe. Then, in anger or desperation there’s the stones we would like to throw.
We all face many obstacles in life
-- the death of a love one—loss of a job—a health issue
--a marriage breakup --maybe the caregiver’s blues- feelings of loneliness --guilt-depression-or chronic pain.
Many of us know of times when the darkness in our caves becomes too much to bear, when the wish for the smell of fresh earth and the sound of buds bursting into flowers gives us the desire to break free from the gloom but we haven’t the strength.
–Often it is not enough to rely on our own strength but with Jesus’ help, the stone can be rolled away. Sometimes it will be slowly inch by inch—other times with one great heave the burden is rolled away, surprising ourselves with our own strength.
The Easter story tells us to open our eyes and see the cave that held Jesus is no longer “barricaded.” God’s Spirit that dwelt in Jesus has been set free and is now found in each of us--available to give strength and courage thru out life’s journey.
This EASTER SEASON let us shout Hallelujah, THE STONES that were holding us prisoner are ROLLED AWAY and we are free to bathe in the light!!
WHO COULD ASK FOR ANYTHING MORE!! Amen.
Rev. Christine Johnson has been invaluable in shaping this message.
Let us prayer: Dear Jesus, walk with us in this time of worship, as you walked with Mary in the garden. Whisper our names, that we might hear your voice. Show us your grace that we may know your love. Grant us faith that we might believe in your risen spirit. And ask for help to roll away the hidden stones in our lives. We ask in your name. AMEN.