What is the sound of grace? Did you know that grace even had a sound? It’s sound is described as sweet in the famous John Newton hymn titled “Amazing Grace.”
Worship also has a sound. It can be as loud as a chorus of shouts or as soft as a whisper. It can even include “silence” for personal reflection and meditation. But have you ever sat in a congregation of believers during a time of silent mediation and found yourself praying and listening to the sounds of silence? Yes, even a worshiper’s silence is audible.
Everything in God’s creation has a sound that is used to bring glory to His name. From the crickets rubbing their legs together in perfect time, to the tree frogs answering one another’s call, to the rustling of leaves letting us know what the wind is up to, to the rhythmic grind of the ocean waves lulling us to sleep, and to the thumping of our very hearts; we see and hear the sounds of God’s creation all around us and it is just mind boggling how a Creator could have come up with such an array of sounds, let alone colors, shapes, textures, tastes and smells.
Is there anything that God has banished to absolute silence in this world? How about the rocks? To my knowledge, these have yet to produce a sound in and of themselves, but Jesus reminds us that the possibility actually exists. In the gospel of Luke chapter 19, Jesus is quoted as saying:
“I tell you if they (us worshipers) keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – Luke 19:40
And so we are tasked with making a joyous noise to keep those rocks from crying out for yet another day or for another generation to come.
In biblical times, God’s people made joyous noise to their creator using harps, lyres, cymbals and drums – together with their voices; and the rocks remained silent for one more second.
Throughout time we have used acapella praise, praise accompanied by the organ, instrumental praise with brass, woodwind and bells, and lately we have offered praise to the guitar, piano and drum; each one of us participating in this glorious symphony of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more minute.
We have chanted, we have spoken, we have sung our hearts out, we have wept, we have laughed, and we have groaned all as part of the sounds of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more hour.
There is a unified rustling sound as we all rise for the Gospel reading and there is a cacophonous sound at the close of our worship time together as we all place our hymnbooks back in their racks, and the rocks remain silent for one more day.
From the bombastic singing of an Easter celebration service to the quietest moments on Good Friday to the anticipatory sounds of Advent and to the babbled languages of Pentecost as worship is held across the globe in every tribe, nation and tongue – God is continuing to be praised; and the rocks remain silent for one more week.
There is a sound as we receive the Lord’s Supper; a crunch inside our heads as we take and eat and a gulp; and the rocks remain silent for one more year.
The din and clatter of change jingling, bills being ruffled and plates being passed during the offering; and the rocks remain silent for one more decade.
Babies crying, doors opening and closing, ceiling fans whirling, heating and air conditioning buzzing – these too are the sounds of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more century.
Time marches on, seconds turn into minutes, minutes to days, days to weeks, weeks to years, years to decades and decades into centuries. Worshipers hand down their distinctive sounds from one generation to the next and tomorrow’s generation brings with them a new sound of worship; and the rocks remain silent for one more millennium.
And yet, buried among these quiet rocks are a promise. A promise for all worshipers. An invitation to worship as we participate in creation’s symphony and yet another day without hearing even one rock cry out.
But I wonder what these rocks would say.
One might tell how a little shepherd boy named David used a small stone to slay a giant to show that we can do anything when God is with us and for us.
Another might tell how the prophet Elijah used stones to build an altar to God. This altar was used to offer a sacrifice to God to prove that He is the one, true God.
Yet another rock might tell how Solomon had used stones to build a beautiful temple for people to worship God.
Still another rock might remind us that Jesus once told a story about a wise man who built his house upon a rock. When the storms came, the house on the rock stood firm.
Yes, these stones might have a lot of stories to tell, but we won’t let them. Just as the followers of Jesus lined the streets to praise their King on that first Palm Sunday, you and I are here to praise our King. And as long as we praise him, there will be no need for these stones to cry out.