“And behold, there was a great earthquake: the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone from the door and sat on it. …And the angel answered and said unto the women. Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here. For he is risen…” — Matthew 28: 1-6.
The stone was indeed rolled away on a sunny morning many, many years ago, bringing with it the dawning of a new day, both for those who lived during Christ’s time and for all of us who have come afterward.
In many ways, that’s what Easter signifies — the dawning of a new day, the promise of new beginnings and the hope of rebirth, a second chance.
For Christians, Easter is also a reminder of the gift that God provided— the gift of his son — and the greater gift that Jesus gave — his life for all our sins, a debt only he could pay.
And, perhaps most importantly, Easter, for Christians, signifies the resurrection and the promise of everlasting life as proven when the stone was rolled way and Christ rose from the dead to fulfill God’s prophecy.
With the rolling away of the stone was the opportunity for us to lift the heavy burdens from our lives — burdens of hatred, greed, gluttony, lust, despair, apathy and envy. And for years, we’ve used this Easter Sunday editorial as a means to hopefully encourage readers to stop and think about the part we may play now in rolling that stone back in front of the tomb, shutting out the Jesus who taught love and tolerance, compassion and understanding for all men.
We do so again today, with an updated zeal for urging each of us to examine our lives to see more clearly the stones we toss back in front of that tomb as we’ve set out to live our lives the way we so choose?
What about the stone of hatred? In our attempts to uphold our own beliefs have we found reasons to hate those who are not like us. Do we hate gays because we don’t believe in same-sex marriage or accept the choices they’ve made for their own lives? Aren’t we called to detest those things we see as sin but love those who sin? Aren’t we admonished not to cast the first stone?
What about hatred of those in differing political parties. Do we feel so strongly about the party that most represents our beliefs that we loathe people who are on the other side? Have we stretched beyond a dislike of the party to a dislike of people? Is that right, or is that just another stone we are rolling back in front of the tomb?
How about those from other cultures, on social services rolls or living from paycheck to paycheck — do we judge them, see them as lesser citizens, thorns in the sides of those of us fortunate enough to have a job, drive a car and pay our bills on time? If so, there’s another stone.
Have we returned the stone of apathy? Is it possible that we simply don’t care about anything or anyone beyond what impacts our own little world? Are we indifferent, unconcerned and unsympathetic to what goes on around us? Do we care about the poor, and do we reach out a helping hand? Do we care about our environment and do our part to keep it clean? Or have we left these to the care of others?
If so, that’s a stone.
What about greed? Do we covet what others have? Do we seek ways to get what we want, no matter the cost? One more stone.
The stones are many and, it seems, we pile them up at a rapid pace, placing one against another against another as we try to force other people to fit into our own perfect little mold.
Perhaps we need to take a moment today, on Easter, to consider the stone that was rolled away, and then think about those we’ve pushed back into place, pushing the saviour farther from our lives.
And, as we ponder those stones, we should commit ourselves to removing them one by one … once and for all.