Grace Notes – Let’s all put down our rocks

Editor’s note: Nancy Kennedy is on vacation this week. This column is from 2021 and is still relevant in 2023.

One of my favorite memories as a kid was the day my dad took us on a drive to have an adventure.

I don’t remember too much about that day except that we laughed a lot.

At one adventure stop, a lake, or maybe a pond, we picked up rocks and threw them into the water.

It feels good to throw things — until someone gets hurt.

I was thinking about that day this morning while watching the morning news and then checking my Facebook page.

We’re all throwing rocks at each other these days, huge boulders of hate and fury, and we’re out for blood: I don’t like you or what you stand for or believe in so I’m going to destroy you.

Years ago I used to post a discussion question on the Chronicle Facebook page each weekday at noon, but I had to stop. No matter how innocuous the question (“What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?”), eventually it would devolve into hate — rock throwing.

Also this morning, one of our cats got into my bookcase and pushed two books from the shelf and onto the floor. One was a Bible and the other a small book called “Dropping Your Rock” by Nicole Johnson.

I had been asking God what I should write about this week and he answered me with the help of a mischievous kitty.

“Dropping Your Rock” was published in 2003, but its message is timeless — and timely.

Almost since the beginning of humanity, people have had a brutally simple way of dealing with wrong: rocks, Johnson writes. Pick up a hard hunk of stone and violently cast their vote against perceived wrongs.

It went on for centuries until Jesus came and messed things up.

In one of my favorite gospel stories, a woman is caught in adultery. Never mind that it takes two and there’s no mention of the man she’s with, she’s yanked out of her house naked and dragged to the temple courts where Jesus is teaching.

In a ploy to trick Jesus, the religious leaders demand, “The Law of Moses commands we stone such women. What do you say?”

I love what Jesus does next: He writes on the ground with his finger.

In the 2013 TV mini-series, “The Bible,” Jesus picks up a rock as if to throw it. Tension builds. Will he or won’t he?

Instead, he says, “Go ahead and stone her — let the one who is without sin throw the first one.”

Since none are sin-free, they all put down their rocks and walk away. Once they’re gone Jesus says to the woman, “Where are your haters? Has no one condemned you?”

Filled with relief and awe, she replies, “No one condemns me, sir.”

Then Jesus tells her the best news of the gospel: “Neither do I condemn you. Go in peace and leave your life of sin behind” (John 8:1-11, my paraphrase).

Every one of the men dropped his rock and left.

“The problem with throwing rocks is that rocks don’t hit sin; they hit people,” writes Nicole Johnson.

“Our rocks will never change the world, only pockmark it with hate and fear.”

It feels good to throw rocks, to hurt people who hurt us or who are simply different from us.

However, Jesus calls us to put our rocks down, because rock throwing doesn’t change hearts. Only love does that — love that leads to repentance, repentance that leads to forgiveness, forgiveness that leads to reconciliation, reconciliation that leads to freedom and freedom that enables us to put down our own rocks and leave them down.

Only that will bring about change, the change that may one day stop all the hate.

Nancy Kennedy can be reached at 352-564-2927 or by email at


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