1 When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’ 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. Mark 16:1-8 [NRSVA]
In all my long years of ministry there has never been an Easter where these words were more needed, appropriate and welcome. ‘Who will roll away the stone for us?’ That is the question we have been asking for the past year. Who is going to free us from the tomb of isolations and separation we have been experiencing in lockdown? We are all praying that the vaccine is going to do this for us.
If we have ever needed a message of resurrection it is now! Because Christ was raised from the dead we too can experience the new life he has to offer. This is what we will celebrate when Easter comes this year.
We are prepared for the stone that has entombed us and kept us from worshiping together to be rolled away, but we will need to be patient and wait until conditions are safe for our return. The URC Moderators have written with a recommendation that churches do not open for Easter, but rather wait until Pentecost, 23 May at the earliest. If conditions are right for restrictions to be lifted on 17 May allowing indoor entertainment venues such as cinemas to open, then it would seem appropriate for our churches to hold in person worship. Our in person services will still need to require masks, social distancing and no singing, but it will be a start in rolling away the stone. Pentecost is an appropriate time to reopen our buildings as it is the birthday of the Christian Church.
I wish you all a very happy Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.