He answered, I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out. (Luke 19:40)
Today is Palm Sunday, the day we reflect on Jesus’ “triumphal” ride into Jerusalem. Ironically his ride isn’t really triumphant as much as it is parody; the king of Jews riding on the back of a small colt, with his followers cloaks draped over it would have struck those who saw the events transpire as a kind of impromptu play mockery of the way Roman emperors would enter the city after a triumphant time away at war. But this scene disturbs some of the religious leaders to the point that they go up to Jesus (while he is in the middle of staging a scene no less!) and complain to him to have his followers shut up. After all, what they are chanting “Bless is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven,” is itself a troubling language. There was already a “king,” and that king (Caesar) has promised “peace” as well (though his form of peace necessitated war machines). You can see that things are quickly heating up, and this is just the start of holy week!
And to his fellow Jewish friends and religious upholders of the status quo Jesus I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out. (Luke 19:40)
If these people over here get silent, the silent (stones) will speak out. I take the stones as a those worshipping in silence, the creation participating in the coming glory of the Messiah ready at any moment to celebrate.
As I reflected on this I began to wonder about today and how we might aim to be more like the stones than the folks singing out songs. Today there is no lack of people shouting out, there is no want of noise, the frequencies are continually being increased, the volume dial now goes to eleven, the information age may be better described at the age of TMI. In a day when it’s rare to hear the preacher stop talking, the politician stop politiking, the TV pundits stop twisting, the reality shows stop exploiting, the web stop streaming, the tweets stop tweeting, maybe we all need to sit down for an hour and be silent.
Maybe, in our day in age, silent worship is the perfect thing to do on Palm Sunday.
And so I wonder if today Jesus may have said the opposite of what he said during the first Palm Sunday. I tell you, if these were not silent, the stones would fall silent. (Luke 19:40) In our day of so much noise, it seems all the more appropriate to fall quiet, take time to deeply reflect and commune with Christ who is now among us, who, now we know, is triumphant. Palm Sunday may be as much about regaining a lost sense of awe as it is about shouting out our opinions, convictions and ideas. What if we all stopped and fell silent out of a deep sense of awe?
“Forfeit your sense of awe, let your conceit diminish your ability to revere, and the universe becomes a market place for you.” ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL
As we enter this week just before Easter what does it mean for us to regain our sense of awe? What are the things you do that help you feel awe? In our world we talk a lot about surviving, what does it look like to thrive? To really be connected to one another, and to Christ? This week as we prepare to reflect on the resurrection of our Messiah only awe will bring us close to the meaning of this story. The Gospel of Jesus is backwards, often it is a parody on the powers of our society, often it is a simple and often overlooked act that is praised as most profound (she found her one lost coin!), often it flies in the face of the things everyone else in our world tells us to value, it tells us to appreciate the things, the people, the creatures the most powerful try to exploit. In all these moments (and many more) only awe will do. And so may we, like the stones remain silent.