had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.
he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called
the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30saying,
‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you
will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden.
Untie it and bring it here. 31If anyone asks you, “Why are
you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’ 32So
those who were sent departed and found it as he had told
them. 33As they were untying the colt, its owners asked
them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ 34They said, ‘The Lord
needs it.’ 35Then they brought it to Jesus; and after
throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on
it. 36As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks
on the road. 37As he was now approaching the path down from
the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples
began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the
deeds of power that they had seen,38saying,
‘Blessed is the king
who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
and glory in the highest heaven!’
of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order
your disciples to stop.’ 40He answered, ‘I tell you, if
these were silent, the stones would shout out.’
he who comes in the name of the Lord. Is special on multiple
This is the
week is Passover and Psalms 113-118 will be recited in worship,
at the Seder table, for some in daily prayers. As we are
telling the story of our own transformation from the pain and
suffering of this life to the blessing of experiencing God with
us in this life, Jews are retelling their story of freedom,
celebrating God in their deliverance from slavery and suffering
blessed as I reflect upon two very different yet deeply
connected and deeply personal rituals of our faiths. v. 1 of
Psalm 118: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His
steadfast love lasts forever.”
But there are
more blessings in this story from Luke!
have their Bible open? What happens at the end of the section I
read? Verses 39 & 40?
Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples
he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them,
What is that
about? I’ve been looking at rocks this week, people.
Mission to Mexico caravan, of about 130 persons, rolled into the
town of Francisco Murgilla. What an entrance they make. With
them comes truckloads of supplies for building 4 homes. It’s
quite an appearance. We are loud! 130 are loud. But it’s not
just 130. Families are waiting in anticipation of a new home.
Children have been counting down the days – possibly 365 (don’t
forget 2012 was a leap year) days, since the group departed for
home LAST year, because they know there are dozens of old
friends and new friends to play with, to learn English, to teach
Spanish, to share food. And that’s not even all the children in
the surrounding neighborhoods, that’s just the orphanage
children. The word spreads, there is energy, hope, excitement,
possibility. They come to welcome us. [side story:
There worksites were really far apart last year. There was a
kid last year that came all the way from Site #2’s neighborhood,
he hitched a ride and got over to Site #4, near the orphanage,
played all night, had a blast. And then Dan Hertel had to drive
him home at like 10:00 at night cause he didn’t have a ride and
it was too far to walk. ]
hospitality does not end at the entry into the city. These
families cook delicious meals to feed the entire everyone on a
worksite. Every piece of wood is precious cargo. Everyday the
worksite grows in volunteers because others want to watch, then
return the next day to help, and come back a third day because
we’ve brought extra PB&J’s.
Last year the
grandmother who could not contribute to the workload or the
cooking sat under a shady tree and painted on the tiny scraps of
wood that would later that week be thrown out. She painted
messages of blessings and handed them out to everyone. I can’t
throw mine away. It’s not much. Block of wood. Off white
paint. It’s blessed. She’s beautiful. I’ll never forget her.
stones will cry out means to me that all things are of God and
therefore all things are blessed and blessing.
speak of God’s love, the scraps, the red dirt we bring home in
everything. All blessed all blessing.
mentioned before the book An Altar in the World by Barbara
Brown Taylor. In the last chapter, about pronouncing blessings,
she tells the story of leading ritual blessings for houses.
It’s a party, we know the housewarming party, but you seriously
go room to room as a group and bless it. I haven’t done that
for anyone here but I’m willing to, it sounds like a great time.
So they make
their way into all the rooms and end in the dining room. “We
blessed the ordinary bread and the ordinary wine, passing them
between our ordinary hands to place in our ordinary mouths, as
we did so we were fed – by God, I should say, but also by one
another. God has no hands but ours, no bread but the bread we
bake no prayers but the ones we make, whether we know what we
are doing or not. When Christians speak of the mystery of the
incarnation, this is what they mean: for reasons beyond
anyone’s understanding, God has decided to be made known in
matters to God. The most ordinary things are drenched in divine
possibility. Pronouncing blessings upon them is the least we
and palms, the feet of the donkey. The droppings of the
donkey. All are blessed. And blessings.
Did anyone catch the story on NPR of the house purchased across
the street from the Westboro Baptist Church? Used for the
purpose of spreading the message of love and inclusivity and the
God’s welcome to all. Painted in a rainbow.)
blessings is the least we can do. But it can do a lot. BBT
speaks a little later of blessing prayers in Judaism, like Psalm
118. (There are so many others).
Many of the
prayers of blessing begin with this phrase:
are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe.
atah, Adonai, Elohenu, Melech Ha-Olam and from there it
There is a
tradition in Judaism to say 100 blessings a day , based on a
verse from Duet. It ain’t easy, folks.
But it’s good
word barukh is not a verb describing what we do to God.
(like we are blessing you, God) it is an adjective, describing
God as the source of all blessings. Barukh is an expression of
wonder at how amazing God is. The stones are holy, shouting the
praise of God because they are God. (side note: I think just
saying the first phrase of the prayer in Hebrew is so beautiful
I must have said it 40 times yesterday). Baruch atah, adonai,
elohenu, melech haolam.
try blessing the ordinary things in life and see what happens to
your state of mind – to your perspective on the world.
There is a
blessing in each living thing and in each story. There is a
blessing within each action and reaction. And the barukh is
not reserved only for the good stuff. Prayers are said when
times are tough too and all that also comes from God. And this
Easter story we have waiting for us this week is both good and
bad. It’s just awful. And it’s inspiring. Ordinary and
divine. Bless the hard stuff too – bless the cynical and angry
folks you meet. Bless the anger inside of you for it can teach
you. Think of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5 – all those blessings
for the powerless, the hopeless, the hurt.
Blessed is the he who comes in the
name of the Lord.
disciples came running to see Jesus on the Mount of Olives they
saw in him a great blessing from God. They felt seen and heard
for the first time. They felt as though they had a purpose and
that purpose was blessed. Because that’s what he did!
And Jesus –
when he says the stones would cry out if the people were silent
– that is not arrogance speaking –I don’t think he means “the
people know what they like, and I have to give it to them!” He
saw the blessing inherent in each of them. He saw god pouring
out from their souls, and he thanked God for their welcome. He
too had found recognition, he felt fulfilled in his own
Our youth are
going to have a teaching moment or two this week. They have all
this stuff and they think they can’t live without it. But then
they see how having nothing to offer but a welcoming heart, two
giving hands can change lives, can fill the time, the boredom –
can sustain you for longer than an iPad battery lasts. And they
come home with new eyes and bigger hearts and more God shining
To be seen
and heard and recognized for the blessing you are is a powerful
How many in
this world today would give up everything they have for a kind
word and a warm welcome? How many souls have been hurt by
another, claiming to speak for God? How many have been rebuked
for nothing more than who they are, how they dress, who they
The sign of
the street person on the side of the road that says “Any
kindness helps” – that is the truth. It means more than do you
have some change to spare, do you have a snack to share. It
means Do you see me? Does God see me?
hearts of so many who once believed they knew God is more than a
protest of religion – the closed heart is a sign of pain and
suffering that can be relieved when someone blesses them. Those
folks need to know that God loves them and need to know that
they are holy, blessed, beautiful. We And then in return they
might live to bless someone else, trust again, hope again.
That is the
beauty of Easter -- once we find our own way in to the story.
There are a million ways in. And the way out is hope. I found
my way to hope through the blessings. I pray that you will take
time this week to find your own connection to God through the
Easter story and all the ordinary things in your life.