As I pondered throughout the week about what to post for this Palm Sunday, I found myself re-reading a devotional published by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. In particular, I found one of my mentor’s writings to be especially thought provoking. Each time I read his words, I found something new to question. Something new to ponder. Something new to pray. So instead of trying to consolidate and regurgitate his words I decided just to share them with you.
Below is first a poem, and then a meditation by the Rev. Dr. Paul Hooker.
Grace and Peace to you as we begin this Holiest of weeks.
— Michael East
“If these were silent, the stones would shout out.” – Luke 19:40
You who enter the city in the midst of things, come to find a place to love and die, though we are busy keeping feasts, keeping kosher keeping our heads down, keeping a low profile ducked behind stone walls of practiced custom where no hope or change or grace can reach us.
You who come to upset our assumptions take away the illusion that we are the center of things that we can cushion the stumbling stones in our paths with pretentious fronds and conceited cloaks though we cry Save us, Save us without acknowledging that we need saving.
You who come to tear down temples overturn the tables of our sacred things scatter the coinage of our sacerdotal commerce release the doves we sacrifice to self deception though we apprehend you without understanding and install you in the harsher sanctuary of our stony hill.
You who dwell in the midst of things: for a moment, for an instant, for a heartbeat slow the processional of things still the noise of things until we hear the one thing whispered in the silence of the stones.
This year, when the calendar summons us comparatively early to this central week in the liturgical year, Christ comes very much “in the midst of things”—sandwiched in between the awards shows and the athletic spectacles, the political posturing and income tax preparation. But then, when does he not so come? Is it ever the case that we stand at the roadside ready to receive him and all that his coming means? Is it ever the case that our frenzied hosannas are set aside for a moment, while we contemplate what it might mean to be saved? Is it not rather always the case that we spread our cloaks in a vain effort to cover the potholes in our pathways, that we wave our palm fronds in hopes of hiding our failures?
In Luke’s Palm Sunday narrative, Jesus responds to the Pharisees’ command to silence his disciples by saying that, “If these were silent, the stones would shout out.” I admit to a fascination with the question, What would they say? I cannot help wondering whether the din of our daily activity does not drown out a witness from the foundations of the earth, from the rocks in the basement of time. Do not those stones bear the very fingerprint of God? Do they not have a story to tell? What would we hear if we were still long enough to listen?
– – Rev. Dr. Paul Hooker, Associate Dean for Ministerial Formation and Advanced Studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary