I had an idea for an Advent reflective resource on the theme ‘Watch this space’ and wrote it up originally for Advent Online, but it didn’t really fit the thematic structure for AO, so here it is now, in case it’s useful to those planning the rest of Advent and Christmas in church. As always, help yourself.
This is a reflection / poemy thing based on the Palm Sunday gospel (the one with the stones), and making reference, among other things, to the Temptations of Jesus, the averted stoning of the woman in John 8, and the prophecy about the destruction of the temple.
We could have been the temple,
if we were bigger, or more beautiful,
but we are the despised and the rejected,
our shape and size are wrong,
or we are broken, not quite strong
enough; the House of God surely demands
that only perfect stones
may be accepted.
We are the downtrodden,
trampled in the dust,
we are the cursed,
the cause of battered feet and stumbles,
the playthings of the poorest children,
and for the beggars as they sit in boredom,
Equally unnoticed, equally humble.
We are still stone, when once,
we might have become bread.
And just before he turned to look the devil in the face,
to us he bent his head, ‘Remember this,’ he said.
We are still unbloodied, still unscathed,
when once we could have been picked up and weighed
in the hand, and flung in cruel contempt.
He saw us then, as he leant
down to mark the dust
and whispered to us, once again, ‘Remember this.’
We remember how he saw us, even though we
were not intricately carved or nobly
combined in stately, sacred architecture.
He saw us as we were, the least, the small,
the unimportant, despised, rejected all.
We remember how he saved us from the shame
of becoming unwitting instruments of blame.
We remember how he wished that we were food,
but would never use us for a selfish good.
And now we see him, riding like a king amid the raving crowd,
towards the Temple’s lofty towers, so tall and strong.
And just as we begin to wonder if we’d read him wrong,
he looks deliberately at the stony ground,
then raises his head and looks about
and speaks aloud:
‘If all the crowds were silent,
then the very stones would shout!’
Call us as your witness,
hear this testimony,
about a man who saw us
and gave us this, a story.
We tell that story on every rocky path
and in every wayside cairn,
in every church that’s built from rocks
to be a house of prayer and living sign
of the man who was himself
a stumbling block
to all who could not
love him as the corner stone.