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Keeping the Faith


Who will roll away the stone?




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Ronnie McBrayer is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

April 29, 2011 | 1447 views | 1 comment

My family possesses a noticeable lack of creativity. At least it seems that way, because every time we gather -- for a reunion, a holiday dinner, or what have you -- we always tell the same old family stories. I can recite them from memory.

There is the yarn about my granddaddy shooting up White’s Pool Hall one night, drunk as a wheelbarrow. Or the time my eighty-plus grandmother fearlessly pulled a snake barehanded out of the plumbing of my aunt’s house.

And then my favorite -- Uncle Lamar, the Baptist preacher, couldn’t get his tractor started on one particularly cold morning. He cursed and kicked it, losing all resemblance of his religion. He awoke the next morning to find that his tractor had slipped out of gear, rolled down the hill, and into the catfish pond. His sermon the following Sunday was a beautiful discourse on divine retribution for losing one’s temper.

Of course, one of my own experiences has been added to the family litany and I must endure its retelling at least annually. I was only eight years old and spending a week with an aunt and uncle. Above their little home, resting quietly on the hillside, was a massive rock, pushed there by bulldozers building a new road. This behemoth was the size of a couple of Volkswagen Vanagons.

We were sitting on the porch and my uncle said casually, “Sure hope that rock never rolls down the hill. Why, it would roll right through the house and kill us all.”

I didn’t sleep a wink the rest of my stay. I was filled with the blubbering terror that we would all be crushed in our sleep as this malicious rock unhinged itself from its resting place. The headlines the next day would recount the tragic story of a man and woman squashed to death in their bed.

The real heartbreak would be the demise of their innocent nephew who was only visiting for a few days. After two sleepless nights, my uncle cut my stay off early and drove me home in a blowing snow-storm. It was the only way any of us were going to get any sleep.

Crippling fears. High anxiety. Sleepless nights. Rolling rocks. It sounds a lot like Easter morning. The Gospel tells the old story of a group of women walking to Jesus’ tomb early that Sunday morning. These ladies were crushed with grief, sleepless since the crucifixion of their Lord.

As their feet shuffle to-ward the graveside, they have every intention of anointing the hastily buried body of Jesus. There is only one problem: A rock the size of a couple of Volkswagen Vanagons covered the entrance.

They wondered aloud to each other, “How will we get to Jesus’ body?” “How can we pay our respects and embalm him properly?” And then they ask the supreme question of Easter Sunday morning -- “Who will roll away the stone?” The rock, placed over those ancient tombs to keep grave robbers and animals off the corpse, weighed tons. A cohort of soldiers guarding the site only complicated matters further.

We will all ask that question at some point. Who will do for us what we cannot do ourselves? Who will roll away the stone? The stone of death. The stone of separation from our loved ones. The stone of fear and dread. The stone of dashed hopes and unfinished lives. The stone of finality that is too heavy to move.

We know of course that upon their arrival to the tomb, these dear ladies found the stone already rolled away. Jesus had taken up his life again, breaking through the power of death, and paving a highway to the kingdom of God.

No stone could possibly keep him in the grave. No crucifixion could rob him of life. No Roman governor was powerful enough to keep him held down. No amount of injustice would be allowed to prevail over this perfectly lived life.

Who will roll away the stone? Jesus already has. Now that’s a family story worth repeating.

Ronnie McBrayer is the author of Leaving Religion, Following Jesus. He writes and speaks about life, faith, and Christ-centered spirituality. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.
 
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Elaine K.  
Floresville  
April 29, 2011 7:23am
 
 
New column posted.
 

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