Even the Stones Cry Out
April 10th 2022 Palm Sunday Luke 19:28-40
"Even the Stones Cry Out" by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman
Lighting The Christ Candle
Call to Worship
One: It is holy to gather.
All: It is holy to sing.
One: It is holy to be generous,
to throw our coats on the road.
All: It is holy to celebrate justice when we see it.
One: It is holy to shout, “Hosanna!”
All: It is holy to remember.
One: It is holy to gather.
All: It is holy to sing.
One: Here and now, let us do all of these things.
Hymn: VU 123 “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna”
Good Friday walk: The churches of the Scugog are once again sponsoring the traditional Good Friday walk, on Friday morning, April 15th, starting at 9:30 a.m. at the Palmer Park gazebo. Following the cross, the walk proceeds to seven stations through downtown Port Perry. The entire walk takes about an hour. We hope to see you there!
Farewell Service: Rev. Ned’s final service with Scugog Island United Church will be on June 5th.
Annual Meeting on April 24th
Copyright: Prayers by Rev. Sarah (Are) Speed | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org. Bulletin Cover art by Hannah Garrity.
Artist Statement for Cover “Even the Stones Cry Out” by Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman
I went out into my side yard and picked up rocks to take pictures of them. As I quickly scanned for interesting rocks, I was underwhelmed by what I was seeing. I had already decided that the rocks were going to be dull and boring. My color enthusiast self was annoyed by the prospect of dusty neutral tones and minimal contrast. This was an interesting place to begin my process, considering the text
I was working with. I was definitely underestimating what the rocks would have to offer the piece, and was pre-emptively disappointed about the mundane color schemes and textures I would have to work with from my photographs. Gosh, was I wrong. As I downloaded the images and began to edit them, a wide spectrum of color came into view. Most of the hues were entirely shocking and unexpected: periwinkle, magenta, turquoise, mauve, rust, orange, gold, and plum, just to name a few. It was as if God was saying to me, “See, even if you turn a blind eye, and your assumptions distract you, the stones will cry out.”
Jean Law, Elsie Nicholson, Terry Petroff, John and Diane Findlay, Nancy and Don Scarrow, Debbie McIntyre, John Black, Lynne and Ian McLeod, Nellie Van Dyke, Tim Pelyk, Bob Currie, Derrek Linton, Sharen Bobbie, Ed and Jane Williams, Bill Statton, Tracy Harper, and Joanne.
Hymn- VU 149 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross”
Prayer of Confession
One: God of street parades and hosannas,
All: we know that you are counting on us
to speak out against oppression,
One: to speak up for love and to speak hope to fear,
All: but so often we are silent.
One: We worry that we’ll say the wrong thing,
All: so we don’t say anything at all.
One: We worry that we’ll offend,
All: so we keep our convictions to ourselves.
One: We worry that we’ll speak up and won’t be heard,
All: so we stay silent.
One: And meanwhile, the parade marches on.
All: Unravel our fears. Spark conviction in us.
Give us the courage to yell, “Hosanna!”
One: Gratefully we pray, amen.
Words of Forgiveness
Friends, even when we are silent, even when we are scared, even when we miss the moment, even when we choose to speak and say the wrong thing— we belong to God. There is nothing said or unsaid, done or undone that can undo that, so rest in this good news:
We are forgiven. We are known.
We belong to God, every day and always. Amen.
Prayer of Illumination
Holy God, sometimes life feels like a parade rushing by us as we stand on the sidelines and try not to miss it! There are hundreds of things that catch our eye, but the thing we fear missing the most is you. So slow down the speed on this parade. Paint the colors of this world a little brighter. And dance through the words in our scripture passage until it is almost impossible for us to miss you there. God we are here. We are trying to pay attention. Gratefully we pray, amen.
Scripture: Luke 19: 28-40
After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now 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, saying,
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”
Anthem “He Came Riding On a Donkey”
“I tell you, if these people were silent,” Jesus said, “the stones would shout out.”
I love this imagery because right away it makes me wonder: What would a stone shouting out sound like? Would it be a low rumble like the tremors of the earth? Or maybe they would have a reverberating ringing, like the sound that is made by the vibrations of a crystal glass when you run a wet finger around the edge.
Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”
Every part of the world is part of God’s creation. Just as we can study pieces of artwork to learn about the artist, when we look at any part of the world we can learn more about God.
There are two quotes from the mystic Thomas Merton which I think apply here. He talks about trees, but what he is talking about is God revealed in nature so it applies to rocks as well.
A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying [God]. It “consents,” so to speak, to [God's] creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree”
“Nothing has ever been said about God that hasn't already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.”
Maybe the stones are already shouting out and just aren’t noticed. Rev. Lauren Wright Pittman created the artwork on the bulletin cover. She commented that she had decided that she would only use the colours she found on the stones in her backyard. As she started collecting photos of the stones she was disappointed that she would have so few colours to work with. She was sure it was going to make for a dull picture of dusty neutral tones and mundane colour schemes and textures. But then she was surprised to discover that even in the ordinary rocks of her yard there was a wide spectrum of colours: periwinkle, magenta, turquoise, mauve, rust, orange, gold, and plum. She said it was if God was saying to her, “Even if you turn a blind eye, and your assumptions distract you, the stones will cry out.”
What would the stones have to say? The season of Lent began with the devil trying to tempt Jesus telling him to turn the stones into bread. Throughout the scriptures stones are referred to with some significance. It makes me wonder about all that the stones have witnessed and what they might say.
Perhaps these would be like the stone tablets on which the ten commandments were inscribed upon. They might shout out words proclaiming God’s covenant relationship. And like the first tablets which were broken they might cry out about how we have broken the covenant.
Maybe these would be like the stones that Joshua took from the Jordan river and set up as a marker of the people’s history. Perhaps the stones would shout out reminding the people of their past?
These could be the stones that people had picked up to throw at others such as the prophets God had sent in the past, or those who society viewed as sinful. Perhaps the stones would shout out about the injustices and violence in the world? Maybe they would echo Jesus’ words to those who would throw stones, that the one without sin should cast the first stone.
The stones that shout out might be like the stone that the builders rejected which was the chief cornerstone. The stones might shout out to tell us that our salvation is tied up with the very people we have rejected or overlooked.
Or maybe the stones that shout out would be like the stones around the church. Inscribed with the names of those who have been part of the church and contributed to it’s life. Each of those stones encircling the building bears witness to the person and reminds us of them. If those stones could shout out, perhaps they would share stories of faith and community.
The other thing this makes me wonder is why the stones would shout out. What is the significance of Jesus’ actions for the stones? Why should they care that he was riding into Jerusalem? Why would they feel the need to shout out? Perhaps God is doing more in Jesus’ life than we realize? As one of my professors in seminary said, “It’s not all about us. God is concerned about more than just humanity.”
In ways we might not even begin to imagine, God’s action in the life and work of Jesus Christ is for the good of all creation. Jesus isn’t just working for our personal salvation, but it is for the fulfillment of all creation. We are connected to one another. We are also connected to the world we live in, even to the rocks. And through Jesus, God will somehow bring about blessings for all of creation.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem the people cried out Hosanna, which means lord save us. But it also has the additional meaning that we trust that God is able to save us and will. If the people were to keep silent the stones would shout out because there is good news here that cannot be kept silent. There might be those who try to silence others, but Jesus declares that this act of silencing cannot and will not last forever. The truth of what God is doing will break through the silence.
Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem begins the events of holy week. Those who tried to silence Jesus would be successful for a time. They killed Jesus and placed his body in a tomb. Then they sealed that tomb with a large stone bolder. That was supposed to be the last word. God had come into the world and those opposed to what God was doing through Jesus Christ had put a stop to it. Those who followed Jesus would be silent. It seemed that evil had triumphed. But when the people were silenced the stones shouted out. The stone that sealed the tomb rolled aside and shouted out the miracle of the empty tomb. When we return next Sunday, it will be to celebrate with the rest of creation that nothing will keep Jesus from going back into the world. Nothing will separate us from the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Affirmation of Faith
Go to the village ahead of you, and you will find a colt tied there. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, say, “The Lord needs it.”
We believe in a God of surprises. We believe in a God with a sense of humor. We believe that there are things we may never understand, but we believe that even in the mystery, God is there.
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt, and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
We believe in giving what we have. We believe that actions of generosity change us.We dare to believe that these small acts can change the world.
The whole crowd of disciples began joyfully praising God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.
We believe in a God who is a miracle-maker. We believe in a God of good news. We believe this good news is so good that we cannot help but sing.
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
We believe there will be forces that try to silence what is just, good, hopeful, and generous. We do not believe those voices will have the last word.
“I tell you,” Jesus replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
We believe, at the end of the day, love will find a way.
We believe. Help our unbelief. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Hymn VU 716: “My Life Flows On”
This is the table of the risen Christ.
In this feast comes the root of our joy.
In this feast gleams the promise of the earth
and the glory of all creation.
In this feast comes the Christ,
Saviour and Friend to all.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Thanks and praise be to you, O God, for you sent your Son Jesus for the healing of the world that we might learn to follow his life of humility and share in the joy of his glorious resurrection. And so we praise you:
Holy, Holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the lord. Hosanna in the highest.
On the night before he died for us Jesus gathered his friends for a meal. He took bread, gave you thanks, broke it, gave it to them and said, take, eat, this is my body which is given for you: do this in remembrance of me.
After super he took the cup; when he had given thanks, he gave it to them and said, this cup is the new covenant in my blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins; do this in remembrance of me.
Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.
Gracious God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us and upon this bread and wine, that the bread we break and the cup we bless may be for us the communion of the body and blood of Christ. Unite us with Christ in his suffering that we may also know his glory, and strengthen us to reveal your justice, until all are made whole again in your kingdom without end. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Invitation to the Table
Sharing the Bread and Cup
Prayer After Communion
We give thanks, almighty God,
that you have refreshed us at your table
by granting us the presence of Jesus Christ.
Strengthen our faith,
increase our love for one another,
and send us forth into the world
united in courage and peace,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Gracious God, bless and transform all that we offer: our faltering steps, our brokenness, our hope, our risking, our hearts, that your covenant may be written on our hearts and we may be a blessed and transformed covenant people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
As you leave this place, may you be awestruck by the beauty of this world. May you laugh, and may it be contagious. May you overflow with love for those around you. May you be effusive with hope and quick to point out joy. And in all of your living, and breathing, and being, may you find yourself full to the brim with God’s Holy Spirit, and may it change your life. In the name of the Lover, the Beloved, and Love itself— go in peace, full to the brim. Amen.
Go Now in Peace