Sunday, 8 April 2012

Rolling Stones: a Short Sermon on Easter Morning with reference to Mark 16:4 and Tyson Stabler's Baptism

Mark 16:4 (NIV84) But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
Resurrection morning. The day that everything changed. The day that turned the bleakness of defeat and despair into victory and hope. And it all centred on that empty cave; cold and dark, a borrowed tomb (Joseph of Arimithea had had it made for himself),  carved out of rock.

Sometime between when Joseph rolled the stone against the door of that tomb and when the Marys arrived to find it rolled away; probably during the night immediately before the women arrived with their spices because if the stone had been rolled away earlier someone would have noticed, Almighty God focussed a beam of divine life-restoring energy into that dark space and performed the defining miracle of our faith. It happened unseen, without human help, in the Father’s sovereign timing and will. And here we all are two thousand years later. Here you are. Good on you for making the effort to come here this morning to recognize and celebrate what Jesus did for us—to acknowledge our salvation and that we will share his resurrection.
Mark 16:4 (NIV84) But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
The stone was large. Too large for the women to move, they thought. They were worried about who would remove it for them. They wanted to get in to where they thought Jesus was to serve him even in his death.

There are such stones in our lives. They also need to be rolled away so we come out from the darkness of sin and death into the light of the Risen Christ. Like the women, we need help with that. The stones are heavy. There is work involved.

Here are some stone rollers:

  • Liturgy, literally, the work of the people. Worship; repetitive, faithful, worship is a powerful stone roller. It brings us of our sin-tombs into the light. 
  • Devotional Bible reading and study, not so much for what you can get out of it, but for what it can get into you. God’s word written rolls stones. 
  • Daily prayer. I want to remind you of rich treasure we Anglicans have in our prayer books for that. Morning, evening, mid-day and night, family prayer is all in there. Great stone rollers. 
  • Serving others in Jesus’ name. Helping others to get out from behind the stones which entomb them in loneliness, sickness, poverty and distress is another effective stone roller. 
  • Baptism. By bringing Tyson to be baptized, Colin and Donna Lee are rolling the stone back from the tomb that would otherwise imprison him forever if it were not for Jesus, his Resurrection and his church. To keep that stone rolled away, this Easter morning, Donna-Lee and Colin will commit themselves to showing Tyson how to look for Jesus of Nazareth and where to find him (Mk 16:6)—here in his church. They’re promising to do the work of bringing him to church and nurturing Tyson here in the presence of the Risen Lord Jesus, to pray and witness—set an example—so Tyson (and Rylan, baptized ? Years ago) will grow to be like Jesus. They will renounce the devil and everything opposed to Jesus, turn to him, accept him as Lord and Saviour, put their whole trust in his grace and love and promise to obey him as Lord. 

This is really important work. Don’t lose focus. Don't allow yourselves be distracted by other things because if you do, not only are your children more likely to lose theirs, but the stone will almost certainly roll back. Don’t let that happen! Jesus is risen from the dead! He is alive! Making sure that we, and our children if we have them, share in his resurrection is the most important thing in the world!