Don’t Worry About the Stone – Lectionary Preview
March 15, 2021 by Rev. Lorenzo Small
Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021
Life is filled with stones: stone of injustice, stone of inequality, stone of prejudice, stone of violence, stone of partisanship, stone of poverty … stone, stone, stone! Everywhere we look there seems to be a stone, something blocking our way.
And yet, I find hope. I find strength. I find encouragement. I am even challenged by this Easter text.
Stone, metaphorically, is not unique to our individual or collective situations, but unfortunately, we are prone to believe so. We say to ourselves, “no one has it harder than me.” We need to look no further than our text, Mark 16:1-8, to dispel this myth and to find hope for a better tomorrow, or a better now!
We find three women in our story bound by a common purpose, a common devotion and a shared love, all of which are linked to Jesus. These women, who had determined that they would make their way to the tomb to properly anoint the body of Jesus, start out early Sunday morning, most likely before sunrise. As they are on their way, a very peculiar question is raised, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” They realized at that moment that there was an obstacle in their way that was beyond their ability to remove. But one must notice they kept moving towards the tomb.
I am challenged here because the women’s response to their obstacle compels me to contemplate, to consider how often we allow the perceived stone or stones in our paths to keep us from moving toward the goal. In their response, I hear them saying to us this Easter morning, don’t worry about the stone. Keep moving toward your goal. I certainly do not think they knew God would roll the stone away. Maybe the message from their resilience is, simply, “where there is a will, there is a way.” The story of the women at the tomb teaches us that anything worth committing to will have a stone that seems to be blocking our way.
This leads me to my second observation regarding the stone, and that is, it was necessary. Not only was it necessary, but the stone also had to be a size that was beyond the women’s capacity to remove.
Many have questioned why the women went to the tomb and not the men. Maybe it was a matter of practicality. A group of men may have never seen the stone as an obstacle believing they could simply combine their strength and roll it away.
But for these women this stone created a dynamic beyond their means and would require an act of God as its remedy. See, the stone provides the opportunity for God to put his power on display. As such, the stone, regardless of its size, should never be the determining factor on whether or not we move forward in carrying out the task at hand. Stone removal is God’s work.
Finally, we should pay particular attention to the women’s response when they arrived and discovered the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty. The text states they were alarmed, and by way of an angel, God channels that anxious energy and sets them on the course of proclamation. God sends them to roll away the stones of others. “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.”
It is here that I see how we are to respond to the resurrection. Accept that our stone has been rolled away. Then, go tell somebody, and so has their stone been rolled away. Whatever the stone: the stone of injustice, stone of inequality, stone of prejudice, stone of violence, stone of partisanship, or stone of poverty, Christ is risen! Don’t worry about the stone.
Rev. Lorenzo R. Small, Sr. serves as pastor of First United Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C. He attended North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, N.C., where he studied finance, and he pursued a career in healthcare following college. He later answered the call to ministry, graduating from Union Presbyterian Seminary in April 2013 with a Master of Divinity degree. Rev. Small was ordained as a PC(USA) Teaching Elder and installed as the pastor of Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, S.C., in 2014. He accepted the call as Pastor of First United Presbyterian Church and preached his first sermon there on June 18, 2017. He is married and has three sons and enjoys traveling with his wife.