Luke 24: 1-12
The British folk band, Mumford and Sons, have a song entitled Roll Away Your Stone which builds on the idea of the empty tomb that we hear in Luke’s Gospel. They go onto say in the song that one of the most challenging things for us to do is to roll that stone away because we are so afraid of what we may find on the other side. We have some idea of what’s in that tomb…death, stench, cobwebs, darkness, fear, all of that stuff that we think we are avoiding by keeping the stone in place. And despite the fact that this is Easter, it’s everything we find in today’s gospel! It doesn’t sound anything like Easter, but sure sounds a lot like Good Friday, and a lot like Holy Thursday, and a lot like what we heard last week on Palm Sunday. We experience death, anxiety, fear, darkness, and despite the resurrection of Jesus today, we still have it in place!
You see, I think Mumford and Sons has it wrong. I don’t think that we are all that afraid of what is behind the stone and in the tomb. I think what frightens us the most is what is outside the tomb. I think we are most afraid of what God is calling us to out there, out in the fullness of life. We don’t necessarily spend our whole lives on Good Friday, although we know suffering and death; but we also don’t spend it on the Easter side. Much of our lives are spent on Holy Saturday, in the tomb where we are comfortable; in the dark, with our friend death and fear and so often we like it that way! In the words of the disciples in Luke’s Gospel account, it’s utter nonsense!
But it will take them time and we will hear it over the course of this season as they gradually grow in trust of this God that is calling them from death, darkness, and the tomb, and calling them out to the newness of life for which they were created. At the moment, they are still very much in the tomb, filled with fear and anxiety, but they will grow to trust the voice of God and remembering what Jesus had said, and reflecting on the prediction of the passion, death, and resurrection, and gradually they will be led out.
There is, however, that stone. Remember, what Mumford and Sons had spoken about and the difficulty of moving it away. There is no way that they women who go to the tomb today could have managed to move a stone the size of one they would have encountered. Not even if all the disciples were there would they have been able to do that! But as much as Holy Thursday was about imitating Jesus, and Good Friday was about dying with Christ, today is probably the most difficult. You see, we can move it ourselves. We can call ourselves out. It is only in hearing the voice of God and becoming aware of that call and learning to trust. Resurrection is all about trust. We can die pretty easily, even if we fight it. We can even imitate what Jesus did. Today, though, calls us to something deeper, into a trusting friendship with the Risen Christ who rolls the stone and calls us out to new life.
Yes, we gather with grateful hearts for the gift of eternal life that this feast offers, but God doesn’t want it to simply be something in the life to come. Life is something God wants us to have and experience today. Can we trust the One who raised from the dead to call us to new life? God calls us out of the tomb into that new life on this Easter day!