Minister’s Message

“Roll away your stone I’ll roll away mine /Together we can see what we will find.”   – Mumford and Sons

Dear Holy Ones,

Easter is a triumphant story of renewal.  Not the simple and uncomplicated triumph of Jesus dying for our sins.  The Christian story of Easter seems so neat and clean on the surface. We all know the outcome ahead of time. Like a rigged election (foreign or domestic), it’s not a triumphant victory if the outcome is never in doubt. Jesus is crucified for being a threat to the Roman empire, stirring up trouble among commoners, slaves, women, the deformed, and other outcasts.  His disciples go to anoint his body but the stone at the entrance to the tomb has been rolled away and an angel tells them, “He is not here. He is risen.” It’s magical. All is better now. Jesus is in heaven and we can be too.

Looking at the story this way allows Jesus’s followers off the hook and I don’t find it very inspirational.   What if there was no angel? What if they had to roll the tombstone away themselves? What then? What if resurrection had been hard? What if it had been a lot of work? I bet the Easter story we’ve inherited would have been different.  The resurrection story as it’s been told skips the journey of renewal and rebirth. Instead it’s instantaneous. The reality is that coming back from the grave is hard work.

What if resurrection wasn’t magic? What if Jesus had to crawl off the stone slab himself? What if, as Christian theology tell us,  he descended into hell and had to fight his way out? I can’t relate to the disciples version of Easter – they arrive and the angel tells them the news and they just go away shaking their heads in disbelief.  I can, however, very much relate to Jesus’ experience of going to hell and back. I bet you can, too. Any resurrection or rebirth I’ve known in my own life has come by way of going through hell, not being given a free pass to escape it.   

Tombs are dark, scary, and smelly.  They are full of rot and bones. They don’t see nor do they seek the light of day.  I wonder if Jesus was tempted to just remain dead? It’s easier to remain dead. The safety of our deaths, even though we lament them, give us the comfort of the familiar and we relive, even  revel at times, in our own pain, our own pasts, and our darkness. We have trouble letting go of things that keep us down. Sometime rebirth is a choice and not a part of a natural cycle. You can choose to get up off the slab. You can choose to roll away the stone.  You may have to go through hell to do it, but if you do, you can step into the light.

I invite you into a month of renewal.  Roll away the stone keeping your soul entombed. See what you might find.


Rev. Tony