From Pauses for Pentecost
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from Heaven and,
going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.
Eastertide is all about coming alive to the mystery of our own existence, to the uniqueness and sacredness of those around us, to the unearned gifts of creation that bless us each day, and to the wondrous presence of God that fills all things. The resurrected Jesus invites each of us to rise up into the fullness of our lives. Right at the beginning of this journey, we need to remind ourselves that this is the good news the risen Christ wants us to experience.
But first, as we are reminded today in our gospel reading, those stones blocking this newness of life need to be rolled away. I wonder what your particular stone may look like right now. Think for a moment about the Biblical picture of us having “hearts of stone,” (Zechariah 7:12). Hearts of stone are hardened, cold, and unresponsive. When our hearts are hard, we want little to do with God. We lack a sense of wonder, awe, and reverence. We struggle to love unselfishly. Everything to do with our faith and our lives feels dull and bland and gray.
Stony hearts can express themselves in even more destructive ways. Sometimes we find ourselves judging others negatively when they mess up rather than seeking to understand their situations more fully. Or we think that we are better than others or superior to them and end up living with deadly self-righteousness. Sometimes our hearts become hard with a refusal to forgive or with resentment or with bitterness or even with destructive hatred. There may also exist stones of grief, failure, negativity, cynicism, guilt, and the list continues. The terrible thing about these stones is how they obstruct our access to the life God wants to give us.
Eastertide is the season for our hearts of stone to become hearts of flesh again, filled with the Spirit. Spirit-filled hearts are aware and warm and responsive. The good news is this: Jesus wants to meets us in the power of his Spirit that we may come alive again to the presence of God, to ourselves, to others, and to all creation!
Go outside and pick up a stone. Let it represent whatever it is that stops you from living fully. If you are able, write on it one word describing the stone in your heart. Offer it to God with the request that God will help you roll it away. Then throw the stone as far as you can.