[#pictureLent] Palm/Passion Sunday March 20: SHOUT

By W. Ryan Hall
Fleming Island UMC
Fleming Island, Florida

First, read Luke 19:47-48

There are songs that strike something deep within to bring out my inner rock star. If no one else is around — like when I’m in the in the studio of my silver car — those first chords sound and I channel Dylan, Def Leppard, Bono, and perhaps the occasional Beyoncé.

One of those songs is “All Along the Watchtower,” and in U2’s version they add the lyrics,

All I got is a red guitar / Three chords / And the truth

That lyric, along with a few other impulses nudged me to want to learn to play guitar. I have the truth after all, I know Jesus! 3 chords? Easy. All I needed was a red guitar.

It turns out that air strumming the steering wheel does not lead to easy mastery of a real guitar, red or otherwise. I have had that guitar for years now. I still have the truth deep within, and I know more than three chords, but coaxing a song out of that steel and glossy red wood is still beyond me.

The songs were flowing freely from the mouths of the crowd that joyful and expectant Sunday long ago. Salvation songs lined the road more deeply than the cloaks or branches. All the disciples knew the song to sing that day and joined in. The Pharisees and those for whom religion is control did not. “Scold your disciples! Tell them to stop!”

I love Jesus’ reply, “If they were silent, the stones would shout.” What would the stones shout on on Palm Sunday? Imagine their gravelly voices adding their distinctive tones to the music.

What songs lay buried in the hearts of stones?

I sometimes feel like a street-side stone. The annual Jesus parade is going by with jubilation throbbing through the crowds and there I sit, unmoved, unmoving. I don’t feel like they do. I don’t know the song they sing. Who knows my song? There I sit, the stone, the red guitar with the truth stuck, looking for the one to unlock the song.

Sing out, you stones! That One is here! Today we celebrate the promise of victory. The One who takes stony hearts and turns them to flesh, the One who pulls in all us living stones to construct a sonic temple, that One is on the move. Your song, the song deep within you, is needed. Lift your pebbly voice! Join the shout. The One who saves us is entering our city. Come on, stones, let’s rock!

Prayer: O God, help me join in. Free me from the fear of other’s judgments or what I think they expect. Free me from feeling stony-hearted. Let me joyfully jump in. I lay down my protective cloak so that unencumbered I can praise you with all of exactly who I am. Jubilantly I sing to welcome my king, my savior, the One. Jesus Christ. Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

1. What are the songs you sing when no one is around, or without caring who hears you? Why those songs?
2. When do you feel like a street-side stone? Is the parade passing you by? How do you allow Jesus to coax a song out of you?
3. What is your soul song? What is your distinctive contribution to God’s sonic, spiritual temple?