I don’t know what it was like for the people in the congregation, but rolling that huge “stone” down the aisle and out the front door with the assistance of all the children in worship on Easter Sunday morning was fun. It was a delightful way to begin our Easter service. The “stone” blocked entirely our view of the altar – the table around which we gather with the risen Christ in the meal that remembers his death, declares his living presence among us, and anticipates the healing of all creation.
Hopefully the children – and adults – will remember the image that whatever stands between us and God, whatever stands between us and fellowship with one another, whatever stands between us and the true, eternal life God intends for us, has been rolled away.
The original stone was certainly not that big – but it had the same effect. The one they loved was gone. The light in his eyes, the sound of his voice, the joy of his laughter, the tenderness of his touch, the intensity of his passion, the depth of his peace – none of that was accessible to them. Their vital connection to the living God perished with his last breath. The stone sealed it. All they had was fading memory – and his puzzling statement that he would rise.
There is much that seems to shut the door between ourselves and the living God. Indeed, for many, I suspect, that door has never seemed open. They visit the altar like I visit my daughter’s grave – I talk, but she does not answer. I come to be close to her – yet it reminds me how far away she is.
But the stone has been rolled away. The barriers of sin and guilt are gone, if we will let them go with the stone. If we will let ourselves stand there as before the empty tomb. If we will let ourselves hear the voice call our name. If we will bow down to worship and serve. If we will let ourselves see that at the altar we stand at the edge of the dawning world where every debt is lifted.
Wherever life takes us in the week, that door remains open. Eternally open. The stone is rolled away. The light of the new day shines. And the living Christ is present.