Fourteenth Station: Jesus is laid to rest in the tomb

We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.  Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.

They wondered, as they walked, who would roll the stone away?  He’d been lying there into the third day.  They knew they’d come back to do what time denied them on Friday – anoint and reverence the body.  It was the decent thing to do and you’d expect nothing else from decent people.  The big stone though, that would be a problem.  It seemed so final when it was rolled back over the opening of Joseph of Arimathea’s grave.  It did more than seal the opening, shut out the light and enclose the body of Jesus.  It seemed to say “day is done” and the end has come.  There was sadness beyond measure as the stone sealed the opening and his fate.  He was gone.

There was unfinished business though and they weren’t prepared to leave it unfinished.  The stone though was a problem  “Who would roll it away?”  “How could it be rolled away?”  A real dilemma and a practical problem.

The stone, it seems to me, represents grief.  Grief, that block to peace – that which needs to be recognised and respected in order to meet it in some way that might lead to a better place.  It may well seem too much for us and completely overwhelming.  Chances are we might think the light will never shine again and that there is only darkness to follow.  Bright days, happy days can become a faded memory in the face of grief.  Questions asked, answers not found, loneliness, anger, disappointment – hurt are all to be found in the shadow of grief. Talk about days gone, memories shared have to suffice in the absence of the one gone.  It’s an awful place to be.  All the “sorry for your troubles” have been spoken, the prayers have been said, the grave has its day.  Grief, that huge stone, is a cruel divide.  The women wondered who’ d roll it away?

This station is for all going through grief.  Jesus sleeps in death for all those who have died.  His death is the gateway to new hope – new life and renewed hope.  He is saying “I’ve been through this and it is not the end.”  Life, as we’re told in one of the Prefaces for the Dead, is “changed not ended”.  It does not seek to make little of the sadness felt or the loneliness being realised but still calls people to have faith and hope.  Words spoken by Jesus should come to the surface “I am the resurrection and the life ….”, “The one who believes in me never dies ….”  “I’m going now to prepare a place for you …..”  “This day, you will be with me in paradise …” “The child is not dead, but asleep ….”  These and other words like them seek to reassure us that the grave is not the end.

The stone, so talked about and worried about as the women walked towards the tomb was, in fact, rolled away.  This “grief” cannot be allowed close out the light, the hope forever.  One day, like the stone, it will be rolled away.  Maybe it won’t happen in a single move but, bit by bit – chip by chip – the rolling takes place and the light returns.

We pray then for all going through grief -that they will one day round the corner and see the stone moved.  On  that day the light will return – this must remain our hope ……..

Oh, that today we would listen to his voice, let us harden not our hearts.