of the General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley
April 11, 2022
This week plunges Christians around the world, into the heart of our sacred story as Jesus goes from a triumphal entry into Jerusalem that turns the meaning of “triumph” on its head, to a final meal with his disciples where he will issue a new commandment that we love one another as we have been loved by God, to his death by the grisly Roman practice of crucifixion, to the eerie pause of Holy Saturday, to the indescribable joy of Easter morning when we learn anew and again that Love is stronger than death. If time can be said to be holy (and I think it can though it transcends designation) then this is, indeed, the most holy of weeks in our formation as disciples of this living and dying and rising Christ. From a practical standpoint, (and we do well to acknowledge this even if it seems mundane), pastors, musicians, church administrators/secretaries, and technicians are working overtime even now to carefully craft and lovingly offer to you worship services and experiences to usher you more deeply into the mystery and meaning of this Holy Week.
I’ve been haunted this week by a poem written by my friend, pastor and poet, Paul Hooker (some of you might know him, too) entitled In Medias Re – in the midst of things. It harkens from Luke’s account of that Triumphal entry into Jerusalem when Jesus tells a cosmic truth; that if his followers were silenced, even the stones would cry out. Paul comments on his poem, “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?
In Medias Res
“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.
In this Holy Week may you hear the one thing whispered in the silence of the stones, and may you hear the deeper music of life and death and the Love that is stronger than death that grants us, yes even us, even the whole world, life anew!
As ever in prayer,