And when Jesus was nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
~Luke 19:37-40 (KJV)
This pandemic has rocked our world. This pandemic has brought most all of this planet to a halt. This pandemic has so remarkably changed how we are now living our lives.
Each of us have stories to tell. I hope that we are doing that. Friends have gotten the virus. Some recovered, some not able to. Friends have had to spend their birthdays alone. Friends have lost loved ones and are told they can't gather for their funerals. Friends have had first grandchildren born days ago and are still only able to see pictures of their granddaughter. Friends have lost their livelihoods; some friends continue to go to work every day. Students have lost their senior years and graduations. …each of us have stories to tell. It’s the sharing of our stories that help us find meaning, help us stay connected, help us tend and care for ourselves and one another. It happens in both the telling and the listening. There will never be a balance. Sometimes it will feel like we are talking way too much, and that’s just what is needed in that moment. And there are times when we feel almost like a sponge, wanting to hear more and more from a loved one. There is life in our telling, there is reassurance in our listening, there is love in it all. Each story. Each time.
This isn’t how today is supposed to go. For Christians around the world today is Palm Sunday. Our ageless story reminds us each year, that this is the day when Jesus’ journey through the wilderness came to the road at the bottom of the hill below Jerusalem. Many of us remember the story, we are told that a couple of his friends went ahead and got a colt for him to ride and enter triumphantly into the city. The only part that feels true for me from that story is that today feels very much uphill. Somehow, even though the calendar marks this as the day of arriving, I don’t feel like I have the energy to make it up this last hill with him into the city. Left foot, right foot.
Palm Sunday is all about the parade. Palm Sunday is about a procession winding its way through the Holy City. It is about Jesus being welcomed and proclaimed King over us all. Palm Sunday is all about gatherings and celebrations, about waving palms and singing songs of “Alleluia.” And for us, for this day instead there is sheltering in place and 6 feet distancing. It’s quiet, even in the big cities. It is strangely, almost frighteningly still. Few cars, few people, empty streets.
We have come this far by faith. We have not come this far to turn back now. How many times have you heard these words? How many times have you felt these words? How many times have you lived these words? This is surely our day to proclaim the strength and faith we have lived in and through to make our way up the final hill into the city. After journeying this far through the wilderness, surely this is the day to celebrate and announce his arrival into Jerusalem. Surely, this is the day. Left foot, right foot.
Only in the gospel of Luke do we hear the words from the 19th chapter, the 40th verse: “If the people hold their voices, surely the rocks would cry out.” I think this is the Sunday for just that. I think this is the Sunday when we need to listen, you and I, for those rocks already crying out. Here in these days when our countries, our cities and neighborhoods feel eerily quiet, here is the place where we stop and listen. Will the crying out come from the rocks that are singing? Will the crying out come from the dogs walking by or the birds flying overhead? Will it come from a stranger's greeting and kind eyes? Surely, we have not come this far to turn back now; surely the singing is already coming forth. Listen. Pay attention. The song has started, it began when we drew on our faith and inmost strength to journey up that last hill. Jesus is right here, right now in the midst of us. Nothing can hold back our songs, our stories, our crying out – we can take our lead from the stones. Listen, they are singing the most beautiful song. Listen, dear souls, the stones are singing the songs we know by heart. Alleluia.