Today, on Passion/Palm Sunday, we witness Jesus’ fateful ride into Jerusalem. His triumphal entry into the holy city is a time for celebration. The disciples line the streets—they take off their cloaks and lay them on the ground along Jesus’ way—and they shout, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” So great was the joy that, when asked to silence his disciples, Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.” And I can’t help but wonder if, just maybe, the stones were indeed crying out, and the people there simply didn’t have ears to hear.
But the celebration was short-lived. In his words and deeds, Jesus proclaimed a new reality. He proclaimed a reality in which all would have access to wholeness, to the abundant life that is God’s desire for creation. He proclaimed an economy in which the poor would no longer be poor; a community in which all would be beloved; and an empire in which Caesar would no longer be emperor. But the implications of this reality were not acceptable to those in power—for the poor to escape poverty, the rich must cease to be rich; for all to be equally beloved, those with special privilege must cease to be privileged; and for Caesar to cease being emperor, well, anyone who would suggest such a thing must be a traitor. And so Jesus was executed as a traitor to the Roman Empire. And, as the sky darkened and Jesus breathed his last, I can’t help but wonder if the stones were crying out then, too.
Today, the stones continue to cry out—and not only the stones, but even the mountains. And today, they lament not only the death of Christ, but also the death of their kindred. The National Memorial for the Mountains identifies over 470 mountains in the Appalachians that have been destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining, and the destructive process continues, not only leveling mountains and destroying habitats, but also polluting waterways and making affected areas more flood-prone. Many of us are unwittingly connected to this horrifying practice. In Nashville, NES uses coal from a mountaintop removal mine. The mountains cry out, and few of us have ears to hear. We inadvertently support companies that destroy mountains to feed our energy addiction.
At the cross, we are confronted by the tragic nature of the reality in which we live, which is often governed by injustice, suffering, and violence; sin, death, and evil. For the crucified Savior, there is little we can do but mourn. But, by God’s grace, we can work to save other innocents from the same fate. Likewise, there is little we can do for the mountains that have been destroyed but mourn. But we can work to prevent other mountains from meeting the same fate.
As we look forward to the resurrection, we see a glimmer of hope. But today, we mourn, and the mountains cry out.
1. As the disciples celebrated Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, celebrate the arrival of spring. When you pass pear trees, dogwoods, and other blossoming trees, stop to admire the beauty of creation and to give thanks to God for the renewal of life.
2. As we mourn the crucifixion of Jesus, take a moment to pray for mountains that have been and are being destroyed, as well as all of God’s creatures that are affected by the destruction.
3. Join the fight against mountaintop removal. For Tennessee Residents, visit LEAF to find out what steps you can take to help pass the Scenic Vistas Protection Act to make mountaintop removal illegal in TN.
O God of joy, we rejoice in the rebirth that accompanies spring.
O God who suffers with us, we cry out and mourn the passion of Jesus. We weep for his suffering, the unjust suffering of others, and the suffering of all creation.
O God of hope, we yearn for the day when you will finish the work of redemption that you have already begun.