“And they said unto themselves: Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?” (Mark 16:3).
Yesterday, Easter (Resurrection) Sunday, as part of the Easter worship my dear Pastor, Reverend Lisa Dempsey came up with a wonderful plan to have the congregation involved in the conclusion of the sermon. The altar would be stacked with stones that have names of the many things that Christ removes from our life as we discover our resurrected Lord. She offered a few to get me started, (disbelief, discouragement, lost hope, bitterness, grief). I could have stopped here, but that would not have been wholesomely truthful.
Sunday morning, depending on the number of rocks gathered and the number of responses, the congregation were to be given an opportunity to come up to the altar and remove a stone, and call out the word on the stone. Her thinking on this activity was divine, she hoped that hearing the “words” we all contributed and seeing them removed from the altar would be a powerful visual. Powerful it was, it engaged us in the power of the resurrection, and served as a reminder of the celebration of new life and freedom that has been given to us through Christ at the empty tomb.
“Fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified” (Matthew 2:5). Here’s some of the stones that have been rolled away from my life: doubt, self-doubt, shame, remorse, regret, temptation, covetousness, pain, fear, suspicion, ambition, distrust, hatred, guilt, disappointment, selfishness, self-righteousness, stubbornness, ambivalence, boasting, cursing, disbelief, ignorance, jealousy, contempt, mean spirit, narcissism, pride, violence, want and the list goes on. For those of you that are or are not seeking Jesus it is my prayer that this list helps, it is by no means complete. We all have a stone or stones that only Jesus can roll away.
I was not the lone contributor to the stack of stones, several other members contributed also, there were forty (40) stones for the picking and proclaiming. This group activity reminded me of Thomas Merton, an Anglo-American Catholic writer and Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani writing: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” It is wonderfully comforting to know Jesus made certain that we would
never have to face the perils of stones alone. Jesus, our Savior on the cross removes the stones, if we would allow ourselves to carry them no farther than to the foot of that Ole Rugged Cross.
“And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great” (Mark 16:4). The stones in our lives whether in our minds or hearts are not too great for Jesus to roll away. A sad truth is that too many will not muster the courage to ask him into their lives to roll away the stones. If you have not asked Jesus to come into your heart and roll away your stones, today is a good day and yesterday was the best day of all. He is risen, he is risen indeed. “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher” (Luke 24:2).
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ