Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sermon for March 24th 2013 (by the Rev. Susan Ormsbee)


Shouting Stones
24 March 2013 (Palm Sunday)

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be pleasing to you Lord, our rock and our redeemer.  Amen.
One of my earliest memories from my childhood is about seeing the queen.  It was in the late 1950’s and Queen Elizabeth was visiting Ottawa.  She was going to drive down the highway just outside our subdivision.  Everyone in the area lined the highway; we were all eager to see this important person; to see the queen!  When she got close we could hear the crowd shouting “Long live the Queen”.  Then her car was in front of us, I waved my flag and yelled too.  It was exciting to be a part of the crowd honoring the Queen.  I wonder if that was what Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was like?

The first gospel passage we heard today speaking about Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem is present in all four gospels.  However, only Luke’s gospel passage do we hear Jesus’ comment that if the people do not praise him then the stones will cry out.  The idea of shouting stones makes me stop; pause, to consider what this means.  After some study and pondering I have developed three possible explanations for what this passage may mean.  These are: 1) That evil will not prevail in the world; 2) That the inanimate world is created by God and praises him; 3) That the disciples were right in praising God.
The idea of stones crying out is also found in the prophetic writings of Habakkuk.  This book was written to show that God was in control despite the apparent triumph of evil.  At the time of its writing Babylon was dominating the Jewish people and Habakkuk, a prophet, asks God about this.  God answers saying that even though it seems evil is triumphant eventually righteousness will prevail.  At this time even the stones of the wall will cry out against the evil.  Through this prophet’s writings it is shown that truth may be temporarily silenced but eventually it will be heard; evil will not prevail. 
Is Jesus now saying that the stones would cry out against any of his followers who would remain silent when then know the truth?  Is he saying that nothing can stop a person from proclaiming his kingship?
Another possibility is that Jesus was saying that all of God’s creation can praise Him. 
The world that we perceive as inanimate was made by God and is permeated with his divine presence.  Psalm 139 tells us that God can not be confined by our human boundaries; that where ever we are God is also.  God is never absent. 

I think about the different types of stones I have experienced.  The mountains immediately come to my mind; they speak to me about the greatness of God’s creation.  I have seen piles of stones, cairns marking a place of significance.  The Inuit build Inukshuks to serve as guidepost, to tell them where to go.  Sand, containing many small stones, reminds me that I am not the centre of the universe.  Stones can have many different voices. 

I wonder if we are being reminded to spend time listening to all the voices which make up our day?  Are we to listen more to the voices of other people and also to the voices of creation?  Is Jesus saying that all of creation has a voice to praise God?

Finally I wonder if the people in the crowd had it right?  They were praising Jesus calling on him to save them.

The Pharisees are troubled by this entry into Jerusalem.  The disciples and the crowd are proclaiming the kingship of Jesus, telling about the miracles that they had seen.  The Pharisees are concerned that Jesus will take away their power and authority.  They don’t want this new group to cause change in their area.  They tell Jesus to keep his followers quiet.  Jesus responds that if my followers don’t praise me then all of creation will.  It sounds like the disciples have finally realized that Jesus is their king, the messiah who will free them. 

Is this what we are being told, to proclaim the gospel, to praise God?  If the stones know how to praise Jesus why do we not praise him? 

In looking at the three possibilities I realize that they are all saying that we, as followers of Jesus, are called to proclaim his story and to praise God at all times.  Like the stones we are to cry out  “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Amen.

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