Christ is risen!
Our Lenten journey toward the empty tomb and the Easter celebration is complete. We have entered the glorious season of Easter. Christ is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Mark’s Gospel account of Jesus’ resurrection has the women who went to the tomb to care for Jesus’ body asking a profound and universally held question.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ dead body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were asking each other, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) (Mark 16:1-4, Common English Bible)
Who is going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us? Who is going to roll the stone away so we can see and experience the empty tomb? Who is going to roll the stone away so we can encounter the Risen Christ? Who is going to roll the stone away so we can experience victory over sin and death? Who is going to roll the stone away so our hope and joy are renewed? Who is going to roll the stone away?
This is the fundamental question in the hearts and on the lips of millions of our neighbors right here in Minnesota. Every one of our communities has women, men, youth, and young adults—broken people, defeated people, hopeless people, forgotten people—asking, “Who’s going to roll the stone away?”
The place of the living
Every United Methodist congregation in the Minnesota Conference is called to be in the stone-rolling business. We know the promises of Easter that can roll away the stones in people’s lives and set them free. We know that resurrection is not a one-time, long-ago event. We know that Christ’s victory over sin and death is our victory—now. We know that the Risen Christ is calling our names and the names of every one of our neighbors, inviting us to move from the ground of the dead to the place of the living. We know that the Risen Christ yearns to unbind us from our grave clothes and set us free to go and tell others about Jesus’ saving grace. We know that the Risen Christ is seeking individuals and congregations to join his “stone-rolling” mission.
Congregations that are purposefully seeking to fulfill God’s vision of cultivating spiritual vitality, reaching new people, and healing a broken world are consistently rolling the stone away and unbinding people from their grave clothes. I rejoice in the many United Methodist congregations across Minnesota that are in the stone-removal business. These congregations are praying and working for Holy Spirit breakthroughs in the lives of those they minister to and with. They are in their neighborhoods, towns, and across the globe answering peoples’ desperate cry, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?”
They are in their communities, cities, and around the world, calling people by name, inviting them to see that Jesus of Nazareth has been raised. They are in their neighbors’ places of work, their own families, and on the streets, unbinding people from their death shrouds, calming their fears, advocating for their rights, offering hope, feeding body and soul, inviting them to become Easter People. They are unabashedly recruiting others to join Jesus’ stone-rolling mission.
I pray for each of you and each of our congregations a most joyous Easter Season. The resurrection of Jesus is everything. The empty tomb is the center of creation. The Risen Christ is the focal point of history. The dark night is over; the stone has been rolled away. Sin and death have been vanquished. Grace wins. Hope wins. New life wins. Love wins. Go and tell. Go and live. Go and be an Easter People. In the strong and precious name of the Risen Christ, go and roll some stones away!
Bishop Bruce R. Ough is resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church