Former Ministry Intern Stacey Kohl preached at St. Mark’s on Sunday, November 13th. Her practice is to preach without a text, but afterwards she transcribed it, so we have the best of both worlds this time. Thanks for the truly remarkable and timely sermon, Stacey!
What about the Stones?
Sermon for Sunday, November 13th, 2016; Luke 21:5-19
It has been, for many, a difficult, challenging, confusing week at the end of a difficult, challenging, confusing, and shocking season. As I prepared for today, trying to think about what to say—what to say in the midst of so much confusion and uncertainty I turned to the Gospel text and, as I read it, one question kept coming back to my mind over and over and over. That question is, “What about the stones?”
Did you all catch the stones, right at the beginning of the text…
“When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”
So what about the stones?
I process the world through images. There are some like Fr. Adam who process the world through words, through writing. For me, it is all about the pictures, and as I read this scripture over and over and over all I could see was piles and piles of stones. Except these are not just any stones. These are the stones that formed the temple of God. These are the stones in which the Spirit of God resides. For centuries the Jewish people came to this place to meet God. God’s very presence dwelt within that space. These stones are impregnated with the very Spirit of God.
And now, they’re on the ground. What do we do with that?
As I thought about those stones, I saw three choices we could make. Three ways to deal with the stones.
The first choice, we could bend down and pick up a stone. It’s good…it’s heavy…it’s hard…strong—makes a good weapon. I could do a lot of damage with this stone; hurt a lot of people; prove that I am right with this stone. I could silence those who don’t want to hear my opinion; silence those who I may disagree with; silence those who cry out in pain. I could use this stone as a weapon.
On the other hand, this stone used to form a building, right? It formed the walls of a space. It’s got a nice shape…I can gather these up…I can gather these up and I can stack them one on top of another until I build myself a fortress of solitude where I can escape from the world. I can retreat into this fortress, disappear. I can call people into it who I know won’t challenge me, who won’t question me, who won’t question my understanding of the world, or make me hear the cries of hurting people. I can use this stone to build a fortress of solitude and I can hide away from everything.
And there is a third option. I can pick up this stone and I can see it for what it truly is—the very presence of God on earth. I can see this stone not simply as a stone from a fallen temple but as the body of Christ broken for us—broken for the world. I can take this stone and I can carry it with me. I can carry it with me as a reminder of who I am called to be in the world—who we are called to be in the world. I can carry it to remind me that I am called to stand in the gap between those who are oppressed and those who would oppress. I can carry it to remind me that I am called to stand in the gap for those who have no voice or for those whose voice will not be heard. I can carry this stone to remind me that I should spend more time listening than talking, that I should spend more time serving than taking, that I should spend more time loving than hating. I can carry this stone as a symbol of God’s love, mercy, grace, compassion, and justice into a world that desperately needs each one.
The stones lie on the ground. What we do with them is up to us.