The Stones Will Cry Out
“As you therefore have received Jesus, the Christ, continue to walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37 Now as he was approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,
“Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
This is the last Sunday in our series on gratitude and thanksgiving. As we wrap up this series, it occurred to me that what we have been talking about throughout the month is a particular lens through which we understand our faith. I suppose there are multiple ways of understanding who God is, how God works in the world, and what our relationship is to the divine being we call God. In our passage from Colossians, the writer reminds its readers of their faith in Jesus and how that faith is designed to carry them through every eventuality. In a general sense, we see that our faith is built upon a foundation of Thanksgiving, an outpouring of what we’ve been taught about Jesus—that Christ is “the image of the invisible God” and the one in whom “the fullness of God was pleased to dwell;” all things were created in him and through him and for him, and in him all things hold together (1:15-20).
This sweeping understanding of Jesus and what Jesus’ life meant to the people of Jesus’ day offers us hope for a better tomorrow. We can see that by faith, and through the practice of Thanksgiving, we are somehow made whole. As I was thinking about the depth of the Book of Colossians, and its cosmic perspective on the incarnational aspects of Jesus as the Christ, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ words in the Book of Luke. The Luke passage is at the end of the story of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into the city of Jerusalem prior to his death. I have often thought that the word “triumphal” was misplaced in this context, but it is used to better understand what happens to Jesus on the cross, that Jesus’ death and resurrection ultimately defeat death, which is triumphant, indeed.
What we see in the Luke passage, though, is Jesus pointing out the nature of the whole of creation. When the Pharisees complain to Jesus about the shouts of praise from Jesus’ disciples, Jesus replies, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” The image of stones shouting out praise and glory to God may be worth the silence. What a spectacle that would be. And yet, how true it is that when we fail to offer God thanks and praise, the whole of creation will chime in and make its presence known.
This reminds me so much of walking in the mountains of Southern Appalachia. There is something magical about the hills, valleys, and peaks that scream God’s beauty. If you’ve ever spent any time sitting by a rushing creek or stream, the babbling of the water over the rocks sounds like music that echoes throughout time. Surely God hears the language of the water and the stones, both offering their praise.
I have often wondered if we were more attuned to nature, would it be possible to understand the language of trees or mushrooms, or any other living thing. Could we actually talk to the wildlife around us, or all the plants that find life among us. We tend to think that we are superior to all other living things because we are thinking, feeling entities, but without all the other living things, we could not live. It is hubris to separate ourselves from the very things that give us life.
Instead, our faith teaches us that we are interconnected beings of one creation. God saw fit to create us alongside all other living things, which should cause us to pause and ask how we can better praise and offer thanks to our creator. What Jesus reminds us of is that the whole of creation is better at doing the one thing we all should be masterful at—praising and offering thanksgiving to our creator. There was a time in the evolution of man when we were far more connected to our creator than we appear to be now. When we were surviving on the land, one meal at a time, and understood the sacrifice of a single animal to feed a group of people, our connection to the realities of this world was far more tangible than today.
We’ve lost our sense of wonder in creation – maybe because we are so removed from it – and this loss affects our ability to see God or know God in the tiniest of ways. God is longing to be in relationship with us; to hear our thanks and praise. We might ask, though, what do we have to be thankful for? What kind of praise can we offer a God who allows such horrible things to happen to us and around us? Perhaps this is why the Luke passage is so special. Jesus knew he would soon be arrested and put to death. Even so, he did not change his plans to go to Jerusalem; he stayed the course. And as the people are singing when he enters the gate, he understands that his life, just like all of our lives, is worthy of praise and thanksgiving.
Jesus reminds us so blatantly that we cannot escape the love of God no matter how much we try. Our lives are held by God, maybe even for God’s purposes alone, which we are not privy to, but are bound none-the-less. There is comfort in knowing that God is that intimately involved with the whole of creation. I’m glad to know that there is this interconnectedness that I cannot escape, no matter how much I try. What draws me back, again and again, to the Luke passage, though, is the simplicity of the stones. I collect rocks and have long believed that there is something special and unique about rocks, although, we could say that about all of creation. What I need to instill in my heart and mind, though, is that an object, such as a rock, may have the capacity to cry out to God, and because I am so busy walking by without noticing, I miss the song of the rock.
Our praise and thanksgiving to God is a powerful set of tools that can bring us closer to God, our creator, and closer to the whole of creation. Our praise and thanksgiving can root us in our faith, can give us the necessary elements to begin healing from all the assaultive things in this world. When we recognize how we are connected to all life, when we offer song just as the trees offer their wind song, we acknowledge the life that is in us all, and the joy that comes from living in this very moment.
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, and offer thanks and praise for each and every one of you.