No, I’m not referring to the Rock N’ Roll band, although there is a rock, and it does roll. I’m speaking about Mark’s Gospel, chapter 16, verses 2 to 4, which says: ‘And very early on the first day of the week when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.’
When Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, visited the grave of Jesus on that first Easter morning, they didn’t fully plan on how they would anoint the body of their Lord. They had the proper spices which were needed to fulfill the Jewish rite of anointing but had no idea how to access the body. How would they remove this massive stone? It’s almost like an afterthought as they rushed to the graveyard at first light. Perhaps other followers of Jesus would be there and together they could roll away the rock? The stone was very large and would require superhuman effort, but they needed to honour their dead master no matter what. What they certainly did not expect was a resurrection.
Isn’t that just like God? Rolling stones when it is least expected. To flip the old expression, the two Marys in the Gospel were so earthly-minded that they were no heavenly good. But aren’t we like that too?
This past year has been like living behind a massive stone in many ways. COVID has blocked our lives and sealed us up in our bubbles. There were times of release when restrictions eased but once again that stone rolled us right back into our tombs of self-isolation and fear. Who will roll away the stone for us?
That is why there is Easter. God rolls away the stone sealing Jesus in the tomb. God does something completely new and unexpected in raising Christ from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection means that you and I will be raised to a new life as well—you and I are transformed when we see the risen Christ standing in our midst.
And where is the risen Christ? Well, according to the Gospel of Mark he was already ahead of the disciples going to Galilee. The risen Jesus had work to do and was waiting on his followers to join him. It’s the same for us today. Isn’t Jesus present when we offer to deliver groceries to a family in isolation? Or when we pray for and provide support to our frontline workers? Or when we take the time to call another person who is lonely or scared during this lockdown? In all of this and more, God is removing stones of fear and isolation, because Christ is risen and present through us—the Church.
I’d like to share an Easter poem written by Andrew King, a retired Church worker from Oakville, Ontario who writes poetry based on the Lectionary on his website, A Poetic Kind of Place. This poem is called “To Galilee He’s Gone” based on Mark 16: 1-8:
We saw where the body of Jesus was laid,
laid within the tomb.
And we asked
who will roll the stone away,
who will roll away the stone.
We heard the angel: “Christ has risen:
behold his empty tomb”.
And we asked
where to go to find him,
now that he has gone.
The angel said he’s going ahead of you:
to Galilee he’s gone.
And we asked
what he’ll do in Galilee
in the place we know as home.
The angel said you’ll find him where new life
lifts hearts of those in tombs.
So we asked
to be those who serve him,
who show that life has won.
We find him risen feeding the hungry,
risen among the poor,
and we meet
him among the friendless
and bringing the homeless home.
Thus we say, today, in our Galilee,
pointing to the empty tomb:
see where God
is rolling the stone away,
is rolling away the stone.
Copyright © 2015 by Andrew King
Let those stones continue to roll. Happy Easter!