The Rocks Cry Out

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Introduction: Where We’ve Been

Prayer is talking to God.

This can be as informal as we need it to be.
Or we can use some specific prayers throughout church history to help guide our steps.

The Jesus Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ//Son of God//Have Mercy on Me//A Sinner


How hard this can be to actually practice!
Though, I’ve heard from a few folks since this one that they’ve been working on adding a bit of silence to their practice.


At the end of the day, to take a few moments to examen whether we were drawing closer to God through our actions, or whether we were wandering farther away.

(Ed’s Sermon)

What does this Palm Sunday story have to say about prayer?

On one level, when as a preacher we come around to this time of year, I always get a little nervous.
How can there be a new way to preach the Palm Sunday story?
Some of you have been coming here for decades and hearing the same story over and over again.
What new light could I possibly put on this thing?
Well for starters, I did actually find something in this story that I hadn’t noticed before. More on that later!
But secondly, what if this story were held up with the lens of prayer?
What does this story have to say about the life of prayer for us in the faith?
And actually, I think there are three little glimpses of what prayer looks like in this story.

Three Prayers:

1.When God gives you a weird answer to a prayer!

Go get that donkey.

I wish with all my heart I could hear the tones of voice of all the characters in this story.
“Hey. Go get me a donkey.”
A donkey?
We don’t have a donkey.
It’s ok. Just tell the guy who owns it I need it.
(fast forward a little bit)
Hey…uh…what are you guys doing with my donkey?
Uh…the Lord needs it?
And then the conversation just cuts!
I am sure the donkey owner said more after this…Luke just leaves it out!

We get weird answers to our prayers all the time.

Sometimes the answers to the prayers of our heart sound extremely weird to us!

What if you quit your job?

I have known folks who have heard God tell them its time to quit their job.
Maybe to stay home with their family.
Maybe to explore missions.
Maybe to dedicate more time to working with the disadvantaged.
But whatever the reason, the impulse to quit your job when God tells you to in prayer is a bit…disconcerting, isn’t it?

We should go serve that people group!

We’ve all heard stories of missionaries who have felt called, sometimes quite suddenly, to serve a people group that couldn’t be more different than they are.
Maybe they’re called to serve in Haiti.
Or maybe just down the street in Homewood.
Or maybe with youth group kids.
Or maybe with older adults.
Whatever it is, when God places a particular group of people on your heart, that can be a bit tricky, can’t it?

You should go to seminary!

Don’t even get me started here!
But it is true, that sometimes very well intentioned music majors find themselves making a 180 degree career turn, and trying to say to themselves over and over again “The Lord needs me…the Lord needs me…the Lord needs me.”
Yes, I know that kind of makes me sound like a donkey, but I’m running with it!

What is required in those moments is faith.

We studied this a bit at our Bible study on Wednesday night, and I think you all should come to that!
But it reminded me how important the distinction between belief and faith is.
Belief is what you know.
It’s the idea, the scripture verse, the doctrine, the education.
And it’s essential to have that!
Faith is when you act on your beliefs.
Belief is what Peter said about Jesus being the Messiah: faith is going to get the donkey.
Belief is knowing that God is capable of calling us to strange places: Faith is turning in your resume.
Belief is a weekly Bible study: faith is when you involve yourselves in the lives of your church family.
The Bible never calls us to have more belief.
The Bible asks us to have more faith.
When we get the weird answers to our prayers, will we put our belief in to action?

2. When the crowd prays for peace.

Two parades

It turns out there’s a lot going on under the hood of this story.
That in fact, there would have been two parades on this particular passover week celebration.

Herod, Pilate, and others in the West.

These are the political leaders of their day.
And they would have had what would have been the equivalent of one of those military parades in the less hospitable parts of the world.
They would have come rolling in to town with armies of chariots.
They would have had all the spears and shields they could muster.
Of course the political leaders would have been riding on regal white horses.
The whole point of this parade would have been control through fear.
Step out of line, cause a ruckus, and we’ll crucify you.
And by the way, Happy Holidays!

Jesus in the East

Here comes Jesus.
Instead of armies, he has disciples.
Instead of white horses, he has palm branches and cloaks.
And instead of fear and intimidation, Jesus comes bringing hope and peace.

Who is the actual King?

Which one do you trust?
Do you trust the princes and powers of this world, all of whom have made great work of ruling through fear and intimidation?
Or do you trust in Jesus, the prince of peace and the bringer of hope?
The crowd following Jesus has made their choice:
Luke 19:38 “saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!””

Eirene- Wellness.

Try as hard as you want, you’ll never spread Eirene with spears. Or shields. Or tanks. Or nukes.
Try as hard as you want, you’ll never spread Eirene with intimidation.
You’ll never spread it with power.
You’ll never spread it with politics.
But this crowd, they want it.
They want peace.

These guys will change their tune come Friday.

What’s important to know is that this tune the crowd is singing won’t last forever.
If you came today, and then only come back on Easter Sunday, you might think that we just jump liturgically from one celebration to another celebration.
But in between there, this crowd changes their tune.
It turns out that Eirene is a long game, and violent rule gets results fast.
So those shouting Hosanna today will be screaming for crucifixion of this same man Jesus by Friday.
Gotta love the power of mob mentality.
But that leads to two encouragements for us this morning:

Come to something this week!

I’ve been watching DJ’s mixing songs while I work lately.
We live in a golden age of YouTube.
And they have to get the just right balance of the treble, the high notes, and get a bit of the bass under their to make it make sense.
If you only come to Palm Sunday and Easter Morning, it’s like getting only the treble notes of the story.
Come sit in the bass notes with us this week on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
Let’s let the whole story wash over us.
But then too, we have to ask the question:

Are we patient enough for peace?

We pray for peace constantly! It might even be in the prayers of the people today, I haven’t checked yet.
But too often we’re like this crowd is going to end up.
We want peace at the end of someone’s spear.
We want peace through intimidation.
We want peace through power.
That might work for a shallow peace, for the absence of conflict.
But if it’s Eirene we’re praying for…oooh…that’d different.
Eriene comes with donkeys, not white horses.
Eirene comes with palm branches and cloaks, not red carpets.
Eirene comes with prayer, not politics.
Eriene plays a long game, and we need to act in faith…with patience.

3. What if the rocks cry out?

Jealous (or scared) Pharisees.

These poor Pharisees, they’re never painted in a good light are they?
They hear Jesus’ crowd screaming, and they say “Hey…shut them up will you?”
And I’m guessing there are a couple of reasons for this, but at least two jump to the front.
They’re jealous!
Jesus seems at this point to have a lot more street cred than the pharisees have.
Anyone that’s a follower of Jesus is a threat to the popularity and thus power of the Pharisees.
Or…they’re scared.
Remember, just on the other side of the city is the big army of people that will kill anyone who steps out of line.
If the Roman authorities assume that this crowd speaks for all the Jews, the Pharisees could find themselves nailed to a cross before too long.
Whichever reason they might have had, the Pharisees have this response:
Keep them quiet.
To which Jesus has this incredibly fascinating response:
Luke 19:40 “He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.””
Which, once again, led me to a deep question:

What’s on a rock’s mind?

If I went up to a rock and said “Go on now! Let out what’s inside!” What do you suppose that would be?
If I said to a rock “What are you about to let out in to the world?” would there really come an answer?
I guess the crowd kept going, because the rocks never got their chance to voice their opinion or open up about what’s inside.
But it all points to something on Jesus’ mind right now:

The nature of inevitability.

In Jesus’ mind, the die is cast.
You can’t do anything about what’s coming.
God is about to show the world what love looks like, Eirene earned from laying down one’s life for one’s friends.
And if you try to shut this thing down, if you try to shut these people up, it’s not going to end well for you.
Even the rocks are going to cry out.
But what I didn’t realize until I was studying this text this week, is that this is actually all a bit of foreshadowing, isn’t it?

The Pharisees and the powers that be are going to try to shut Jesus up.

The Pharisees and the religious leaders are going to make a deal with Judas.
The Pharisees and the religious leaders are going to accuse Jesus of blasphamy.
The Pharisees and the religious leaders are going to have a sham trial in a kangaroo court.
The Pharisees and the religious leaders are going to whip the crowd into a frenzy to shout “Crucify.”
The Pharisees and the religous leaders are going to be so intent on shutting this guy up, that they’re going to kill him.

And the rocks have something to say about that.

Try to shut him up, and the stone’s going to roll away.
Try to shut him up, and the stone’s going to let out whats inside.
Try to keep him down, and he’s just going to rise up.
Try to spread religion, and he’s going to spread relationship.
Try to keep the crowd quiet, and the stones are going to shout out that the tomb is empty, and the King is alive!

Where do we go from here?

We step out in faith.

Has God given you a weird answer to one of the prayers on your mind lately?
You know, every time I talk about the difference between faith and belief, someone comes up and tells me that they have in fact been feeling a call to step out a bit and put their beliefs into action.
Is that you today?
Has God invited you to something radical?
Has God placed a particular people on your heart?
Has God invited you to think outside the box?
Has God invited you to a new place of trust?
Is it time to step out in a bit of faith for you?
If so, by all means, don’t walk that road of faith alone.
Part of what is amazing about the church is the way we can be here for each other.
It’s how we can encourage each other.
It’s how we can speak truth to each other.
It’s how sometimes when we don’t have enough faith to stand on our own, our friends and church family can stand in faith for us.
If you’re feeling called to step out in faith in some way, come tell me about it!
Or tell any of our spectacular leaders and staff.
Let us walk on this journey of faith with you when God gives a weird answer to prayer.
Go get that donkey!

We work for the Eirene of the world.

Look, in this particular season of life, a lot of folks are going to be trying to grab your attention and tell you that peace comes through intimidation.
They’ll tell you that the other side hates their country, and that they’re to be feared.
They’ll tell you that a vote for the other guy will bring about the end times.
They’ll tell you that we’ll only have peace if we are strong.
That’s West Side Parade Talk.
We’re East Side Parade people.
We know that peace means wellness, and not fear.
We know that peace comes slowly and intentionally.
We know that peace comes on donkeys, and not white horses.
We know that peace is the stuff of Jesus, not the stuff of politicians.
And so we can do as the famous hymn says, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Is there a way you can spread wellness this week to someone in your life?
Is there a way that you can encourage someone to hope?
Is there a way that you can look after the needs of your community?
Is there a way that we can have peace on earth and in heaven?
And can we step out in faith to make that happen?

We listen to what the rocks have to say…particularly the stone that gets rolled away.

The rocks have something on their mind.
The rocks want us to know that death is swallowed up in victory, and we win.
The rocks want us to know that the tomb is empty, and that resurrection is real.
The rocks want us to know that God is not only in love with us enough to die for us, he’s in love with us enough to live for us too.
The rocks want us to know that you matter to God, you always have, and you always will.
The rocks want us to know that Jesus Christ is alive today, tomorrow, and always.
You can try to shut us up if you’d like.
But the hosannas and hallelujahs of even the rocks are inevitable.
Might as well get to singing!
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