BY THE REV. BARRY FOSTER |
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”Luke 19:40
One of the dangers of being in church as long as I have, is that all this church and Jesus stuff starts to make sense. If we’re not careful, we’ll start believing in miraculous healings, shouting stones, a resurrected body…
We might even start believing in God’s justice for the poor. We might believe and begin practicing peaceful solutions for conflict. And we might even believe that mean, evil people can be changed by the Holy Spirit, becoming peaceful, loving people.
We might even believe that loving the people and cultures of the world instead of trying to win an argument to prove we are right and they are wrong… maybe listening and understanding each other is what God intended for us to do all along.
Maundy Thursday is the day we remember how Jesus gathered his closest friends for a celebration Passover dinner…which became his last supper – an ironic, tragic turnaround.
Palm Sunday we remember when Jesus’ celebrated entry into Jerusalem, turned into his death walk to crucifixion only a week later. The crowd of peasants who believed in Jesus’ message called him “Son of David” and implored him by yelling “Hosanna,” which is a word from Psalm 118 which means, “Save Now!”
Disturbed by this passionate belief in Jesus, as God’s Messiah, the religious leaders came to Jesus and told him to silence the crowd…that these words could cause trouble!
Jesus told the leaders that if the people were silenced, the very stones would cry out. God’s truth and God’s message of reconciliation, love and peace will never be silenced.
Stones are inanimate objects. They can’t do anything on their own. They just sit there. But in the Bible, the stone has much imagery surrounding it:
- The Psalmist says that “God is my Rock and my Salvation.”
- The devil tried to tempt Jesus into turning the stones into bread to satisfy his physical hunger.
- The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews echoes the Psalmist of Psalm 118 that Jesus is the “corner stone” of the Kingdom of God which the builders of the world have rejected.
- And, Jesus points to the stones and tells them these inanimate objects will do the shouting if the people are silenced.
Of course, this is a figure of speech………….Or is it?
Archeologists and geologists have proclaimed for years that the stones do speak to us. These inanimate objects teach us about human history and about God’s created order. Some believe that they not only tell us of the past, but they can help us predict the future.
Many theologians believe that God is constantly speaking to us through the created order. And when we listen to the rocks, trees, air, water, and soil, we find that we can live in better harmony with nature. We find that we can live a healthier life when we take care of our water, air and soil.
Are the stones speaking to us? If you say yes…depending on the company listening to you…you could be considered mentally suspect.
If you believe that the meek will inherit the earth, or that you should love your enemies, or you should be a peacemaker in the midst of conflict, or you really do treat others as you desire to be treated yourself. If you believe in these things…what does that make you? Also, mentally suspect?
We all worry about the consequences of actually living a life of loving, forgiving, and bringing peace and justice to the poorest among us. We worry that the world really doesn’t want the poor to excel… or, we worry that our friends and neighbors will label us troublemakers. For we know all too well that the world is full of opportunists just waiting to take advantage of poor naïve souls.
The disciples didn’t seem to have a clue as to what was going to transpire for them in the coming days. And when tragedy struck…against conventional wisdom…they continued Jesus’ cause – and made it their life’s cause.
Now, before we get too nostalgic and begin to romanticize this story… many of these folks lining the road to Jerusalem that Passover holiday, lost their lives following Jesus. But because of them, we believe their message and believe in Jesus as God’s messenger.
And, hopefully, for us, these stones will never have to speak as long as we proclaim with our lives the Good News of Christ, and his kingdom of Shalom.
About the Author
The Rev. Barry Foster is pastor of Unity Moravian Church in Lewisville, NC.