Pastor’s Letter – April 2024

Dear Family,

Several years ago, Carolyn and I listened to an audio recording of the book He Still Moves Stones by pastor and writer Max Lucado. One particular story in the book titled “It’s All Right to Dream Again” where he describes a new insight he received from the familiar Easter morning encounter by the women who went to Jesus’tomb has stayed with me. Let me share some excerpts from this chapter because the author says it so much better than I can.

“It’s a dark Sunday morning. It has been dark since Friday. The only ember of light (on Friday) is the small band of women standing at a distance from the cross – watching. Among them are two Marys, one the mother of James and Joseph and other is Mary Magdalene. Why are they there? They are there to call his name. To be the final voices he hears before his death. To prepare his body for burial. They are there to clean the blood from his beard. To wipe the crimson from his legs. To close his eyes. To touch his face. They are there.

The last to leave Calvary and the first to arrive at the grave.

So early on that Sunday morning, they leave their pallets and walk out onto the tree-shadowed path. Theirs is a somber task. The morning promises only one encounter, an encounter with a corpse.

Remember, Mary and Mary don’t know this is the first Easter. They are not hoping the tomb will be vacant. They aren’t discussing what their response will be when they see Jesus. They have absolutely no idea that the grave has been vacated.

It isn’t hope that leads the women up the mountain to the tomb. It is duty. Naked devotion. They expect nothing in return. What could Jesus give? What could a dead man offer? The two women are not climbing the mountain to receive, they are going to the tomb to give. Period.

Mary and Mary knew a task had to be done – Jesus’ body had to be prepared for burial. Others didn’t offer to do it, so the two Marys’ decide to do it. Whether or not they were tempted to bemoan or feel frustration for the lack of assistance by others, they didn’t quit. That would have been tragic. You see, we know something they didn’t. We know the Father was watching. Mary and Mary thought they were alone. They weren’t. God knew. He watched them walk up the mountain. He was measuring their steps. He was smiling at their hearts and thrilled at their devotion. And he had a surprise waiting for them.

“At that time there was a strong earthquake. An angel of the Lord came down from heaven, went to the tomb, and rolled the stone away from the entrance.Then he sat on the stone.” (Matt. 28:2)

I noticed something I’d not paid attention to before. Why did the angel move the stone? For whom did he roll away the rock? For Jesus? Think about it. Did the stone have to be removed in order for Jesus to exit? Did God have to have help? Was the death conqueror so weak that he couldn’t push away a rock? (“Hey, could somebody out there move this rock so I can get out?”)

I don’t think so. The text gives the impression that Jesus was already out when the stone was moved! For whom then, was the stone moved?

Listen to what the angel says:

“Come and see the place where his body was.”

The stone was moved – not for Jesus – but for the women; not so Jesus could come out, but so the women could come in!

After being told by the angels to inform Jesus’ followers about what has occurred, they don’t have to be told twice. They turn and start running to Jerusalem. The darkness is gone. The sun is up and the Son is out. But one surprise still awaits them.

Suddenly, Jesus met them and said –

“Greetings! Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my followers to go on to Galilee, and they will see me there.”

The God of surprises strikes again. It’s as if he said, “I can’t wait any longer. They came this far to see me; I’m going to drop in on them.”

God does that for the faithful. Just when the road gets too dark, like it was for Mary and Mary, the angel responds and the Savior shows and the two women – and you – will never be the same.

The lesson? Three words. Don’t give up! God is watching. For all you know right at this moment he may be telling an “angel” to “move your stone.”

Don’t quit. For if you do, you may miss the answer to your prayers.

God still sends “angels.” And. . . God still moves stones!”

-Pastor Rob