This is the title for the focus of my sabbatical. What inspired the Hosannas being shouted out as Jesus road into Jerusalem? As I go to visit the ruins (rocks) where Paul did his ministry (where Christianity began but is largely absent today) I wonder, “was it all for not?” Or, do the “stones” (ruins and/or living stones) still shout out today?
Turkey, where Paul did most of his travels but is predominantly Muslim today, is very secular – not all that different than the context in which I live and serve. How did Paul do ministry in such a way that ensured the stones would shout out for ages to come, whether or not specific churches survived? What are the implications for us in our context of ministry?
I have some hunches about such things. I suspect that what was (still is) of most importance was the witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, building living stones through mentoring future leaders (like Timothy), and a willingness to kick the dust from one’s feet and move on (a recognition that the preservation of the institution, or brick and mortar, was of little importance – God can raise up children to Abraham from stones).
As mainline churches have continued to close, and Christianity as a whole is in decline in America, these questions are of utmost importance for us to explore. How do we raise up living stones? How do we inspire the stones of today and tomorrow to shout out Hosannas to The Lord? How did Jesus? How did Paul? I think it was something in particular about the message and how they engaged people with that message, or catered that message to the context and person(s).
I’m looking forward to the opportunity to explore the places where Paul did his ministry with my family. I pray that my preaching will be better informed, more inspired, and even more effective having taken this pilgrimage and wrestled with these questions. And I pray that my children continue to be those living stones Christ inspires with the desire to shout Hosanna in our world.