April 15, 2023
“They discovered that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb….”
Initially, this must have been a relief. No doubt, as they were making their way that morning, the women must have wondered how they could possibly roll the large stone away from the tomb to get inside to care for the corpse. It would take all of them and all their efforts to push it out of the way. Perhaps they hoped for guards to be there still who might assist in this task. But neither of these was necessary. Access to the tomb was already achieved. The stone door was rolled away. The tomb was open. Relief initially for these women, yet also alarm. Who had moved the stone? Had the tomb been violated? Why was it open? What could this mean?
Tombs during this era in the Middle East were cave-like enclosures carved into rock. The dead body would be wrapped and placed inside the tomb, and then a stone door placed over the entryway. The body would be left in the tomb for up to a year, allowing for decomposition. Then the family would remove the bones and place them in an ossuary (a small funeral box), which was kept at the back of the tomb.
The stone was rolled away. The doorway was open. The entry was accessible. Open, not closed. Stay with this reality at this point in the story. Try hard not to move ahead but stay with the experience of arriving and seeing the entryway open. What would it have felt like to arrive at this on that early Sunday morning? What questions did these women have in their minds as they saw the stone rolled away?
Spend time with this moment in this resurrection story. Find a stone and hold it, pray with it, and carry it with you. Think of the things in your life that are closed and those that are open.
Identify what you have placed in a tomb.
Does this need the stone door to remain in place for a while longer? If so, trust this.
Perhaps something is entombed in you that needs or is ready to have the stone rolled away? How can you ask and allow God to roll the stone away?
What stone doors are you ready to let God roll away, opening a path to something once dead but now recalled to new life?
How has God rolled away a stone that surprised you? Changed you? Brought you new life? New healing? New insight?
Prayer: Holy One, roll the stone away. Give me courage to trust in your wisdom and gift of opening the entry to new life, new healing, new possibility, and new holiness. Amen. Alleluia.