Thursday, July 16, 2009

When Rocks Cry Out

In July, we began a Wednesday Night Worship Service for teens. I was advised not to because lots of kids couldn't be there. (Families are on vacation, teens are helping with Vacation Bible School, on mission trips and other such stuff…) Nevertheless, it was on the heart of some church leaders to do it anyway.

The first Wednesday night we expected low attendance. But we had almost 40 people. Las night, we were certain there would be more teens. Unfortunately, we had half the amount of the previous week. The kids were disappointed with the low turn-out. It was a let-down.
This morning, I wondered if it would be better just to give up this crazy idea. Maybe folks were right, our timing is off. Maybe we ought to let it go?

I arrived to church this morning and headed to the sanctuary to prepare the worship space for Sunday. Wednesday night worship looks different than Sunday mornings. First, Julie and I had “turned” the pulpit into a rock pile and had covered the altar with candles and rocks. Second, Kit and Kyle had placed another rock pile in the back of the church for one of the prayer stations. During worship, we selected a rock to symbolize our burden and prayerfully wrote our troubles upon the rock.. For me, it was a moving experience. All of us took our burdens to the altar, prayed, lit a candle – and left it there for Jesus.
When I came in this morning to clear up the space, I saw the rocks. Exposed to the light of day, sitting out in an empty sanctuary, void of music, void of kids. I felt bad that I had considered canceling our teen worship nights. These rocks seem to shout to me “Don’t silence us!”

This brought to mind that story from scripture where Jesus tells us if everyone stopped praising him, then rocks would cry out. This morning, the rocks were doing just that.

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to joyfully praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, order your disciples to stop!" He replied, "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:37-40)
I smiled as I turned to Bible and re-read that passage from Luke. For us at Olivet, we fondly consider that biblical place known as the "Mount of Olives" to be our namesake - Olivet.
As I continued to read and place myself in the story, I could hear my own voice in the voice of the Pharisees: ordering an end to worship. Hmmm.. like a typical religious authority, I too had seriously considered putting an end to Wednesday night worship Wow, I had become like the Pharisees, trying to silence praise and judging praise as worthy or unworthy. Through reading this scripture, I was reminded that no one can stop the movement of God’s mighty acts of praise.

Funny - the stones cried out, just like Jesus said they would.

Yes, store-bought gravel rocks that people use in their gardens or driveways, covered with writing and scribbles, revealed to me God’s heart for worship. Twenty-four hours ago, I thought they were a clever tool for a prayer station. But an ordinary object can become an extraordinary tool for God’s message.

I decided to leave those rocks on the altar for Sunday morning– not just because they taught me today.. but also because each of those rocks points to a burdened soul. And each of those rocks can remind us that no matter the time, the place, or our age, all of us can lift our voices in prayer and praise.

On Wednesday nights at Olivet there is a place for where teens can hand it over to God – Whatever it is… and young people will continue to have a voice.


Anonymous said...

Faith, God gave you that name. Take it to heart. thank you for the new blog i needed it. wish i was going to be in church this sunday to see the rocks. if even one person comes and grows closer to God it is worth it.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully a call to the other churches and notification to our own youth will rally them back next Wednesday. Let the rocks cry out. Yes, it is a lot of effort. But as the other blogger said, "If only one soul is saved, it is worth it."

Rev Faith Lewis said...

Yes, it is certainly worth it - I am surprised at how easy it is for me to think and react like a Pharisee. Very humbling.

I have heard from a couple pastors who are coming this Wednesday with kids in tow. This is great.. and it would be great, too, if we could get those who are not already in youth groups. That is the next level of evangelism.

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