The Art of Celebration

Luke 19: 28-40

Why waste your breath, moaning at the crowd?
Nothing can be done to stop the shouting.
If every tongue was still the noise would still continue
The rocks and stones themselves would start to sing.

Whether you hear it in these words from JX Superstar
or in the words of Luke’s gospel, it sounds like he is bragging, doesn’t it.

Leaving aside the horrendous pun of rock bands,
do you recall examples of rocks getting involved in a time of praise?

It’s probably lucky that the triumphal entry didn’t head past Uluru
or take a swing past Katajuta
because if they got shouting and singing
we’d probably still be hearing the echoes 2000 years later

Maybe it’s the echo that becomes important here.
I’ve mentioned before that one image I love
is that God has sung creation into existence
and what bounces back, in tune with God, is the echo of praise.

 When done at its best, an object may not just echo the sound
but may develop resonance –
when the object itself vibrates in tune with the original sound

 And the Palm Sunday event (with or without palms!)
certainly seems to have raised enough energy to get an echo going.
But we also know that the cries, the shouts, changed over the next days.

It’s nothing new to recognise that “Hosanna” became “Crucify”, is it?
And while we don’t see or hear any literal echo on Palm Sunday
(maybe it is because the disciples didn’t keep quiet)
I think we do get an echo from the rocks later in the week.

Early on the Friday morning, the shouts became shouts of “crucify him”
and only a few hours later as the world went silent
the rocks and stones joined in those shouts with a stunning echo
As the earth shook, and darkness descended.

The way we live and our emotions and reactions become infectious
whether they are in tune with Hosannas or in tune with cries of Crucify.

Celebration is transformative –
as long as we let it infect us and not just grab us for a moment.
It is healing and refreshing to cultivate a wide appreciation for life.

When we overwork we become weary.
When we neglect exercise we become lethargic.
When we constantly strain for God, we become spiritually exhausted
When we ignore the spirit, we become inwardly dull.

 But if we manage to live with the perspective of celebrating life
we can relax and enjoy;   we can keep life in perspective

And we can be reminded that we are no better (or worse) than others –
for in the words of the great prophet Ben Lee “we are all in this together”

A writer called Harvey Cox has recently written
Our celebrative and imaginative faculties have atrophied.
Once, visionaries were canonized and mystics were admired
Now they are  studied, smiled at – or possibly just committed.

On that first  Palm Sunday,
the crowds were visionary and mystical in their celebrations
They celebrated “peace in heaven and glory to God.”

I wonder what might have happened
if they had kept singing long enough and loud enough
for that echo to keep going
or for the rocks and stones, and all of creation,
to vibrate in resonance with “peace and glory”

I wonder what our households may sound like
if the art of celebration was practised well enough
that they resonated as truly “Healthy Households”.

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