“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 for behold I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here. 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.
It is, in many ways, 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 most importantly, perhaps, Easter, for Christians, signifies the resurrection and the promise of eternal life for all those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives, the promise that came with the rolling away of the stone and the risen Christ who fulfilled God’s prophecy.
The rolling away of the stone brings the opportunity to lift the heavy burdens from our lives — burdens of hatred, prejudice, greed, lust, despair, apathy and envy, placing our trust in a risen Lord. And for years, we’ve used this Easter Sunday editorial as a means to hopefully encourage readers, whether Christian or not, to stop and think about the part we may play 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 may use to block compassion, tolerance, love and understanding.
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, using, at times, our own faith as our reason for doing so? Do we hate our neighbors because of the choices they’ve made for their own lives? Do we judge all by the actions of a few? Aren’t we, as Christians, called to detest those things we believe go against the teachings of Jesus yet love those who sin? In fact, aren’t we all really sinners who, should we cast a stone, should do so toward ourselves first?
If we do less, are we any different than the Pharisees of Jesus’ time?
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 dislike of the party to a dislike of people? Is that what Jesus did when he walked the earth? It wasn’t, so is it right for us to do so? Or is that a stone we are rolling back in front of the tomb?
How about those from other cultures, on social rolls or living from paycheck to paycheck — do we judge them, see them as lesser citizens, thorns in the side of those of us fortunate enough to have a job, drive a car and pay our own bills? If so, that’s another stone.
Have we returned the stone of apathy? Is it possible we simply don’t care about anything beyond what impacts our own little world? Are we indifferent and unconcerned about the plight of others? Do we care about the poor, and do we reach out a helping hand? Do we care about the environment and do our part to keep it clean? Or have we left it to 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, oh they are many, and it seems we pile them up at a rapid pace, placing one against another, against another.
Perhaps this Easter morning, we should take the time to consider the stones we have rolled against that tomb, pushing the saviour from our lives.
And, as we ponder those stones, we should commit ourselves to removing them one by one, once and for all.