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From the Clergy: Dean Smalley

The immovable stones of our lives are found in different shapes and sizes. Some, though frustrating, are able to be stepped around; others are looming, imposing, seemingly impossible.

I’ve shared a moment in my own life when a large stone loomed in front of me. At the end of my time at The Citadel, my friend and I came up with an idea that we thought was funny. It was, but institutions and individuals differ on humor. Succinctly, we were caught, and hit with the maximum punishment, 60 demerits, 120 tours. The larger, looming stone was this meant that we would not graduate on time. A week from the finish line and we were doomed.

College problems are significant, but more come along the way: health diagnoses, trying to hold and perhaps not holding a marriage together, longing for a marriage that does not seem to be happening; concerns for children or loved ones, addictions, intractable relationships and systems, loss of work or work that numbs; places in our lives where we feel hopeless, stuck, dead.

My college moment had a shocking intervention. Before I paid my debt, the incoming president, General Watts, granted amnesty – the immovable was moved. It was his good pleasure to do it. That is a gospel snapshot.

The Bible speaks honestly to the ways things are, acknowledging meaningfully even life’s darkest corners. It also speaks to the larger truth – the goodness of God, his suffering for and saving us, that the cross and the empty tomb are God’s good pleasure to move what we cannot move. The stone is moved, the tomb is empty, that we might see who God is for us.

Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome make their way to the tomb, and their concern is, “Who will roll the stone away… But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away” (Mark 16:4). God rolls the stone away for them, for us, that we might know that he moves stones, raises the dead, gives life, loves.

He is risen,

Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; he is not here.
    – Mark 16:6a

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