Monday, 19 May 2014

Living Stones

Peter, in his letter, tries to explain something of what it means to be part of God's people.  He uses various ideas including the image of living stones.  It’s in 1 Peter chapter 2, verses 4 and 5 – Come to the Lord, the living stone ….  come as living stones …  Then, verse 6 is the quote, and it is quoting Isaiah 28:16 – This, now, is what the Sovereign Lord says: “I am placing in Zion a foundation that is firm and strong.  In it I am putting a solid cornerstone on which are written the words, ‘Faith that is firm is also patient.’”  The quoting isn’t exact, but that is often the case when the New Testament quotes the Old.  But the point is that the living stones of Isaiah 28 predict the cornerstone that these new Christians identify with Christ.  The builder may well choose a stone that was rejected on another occasion because it didn’t fit, but is just right this time.  And so there are things here about being rejected.  There are things about being chosen.  And there are also, surely, things about building.  And all these fit the story of Christ and his Body, the church.  I really like what William Loader says about this image: “The stone imagery invites us to see ourselves also as stones and then to see ourselves together as not a random pile of rocks or stones strewn across the landscape of interim territory, but as stones belonging to a structure built on Christ. It is a wonderful image of belonging. It invites us to our own imaginings and reflections: stones are old, young, brittle, strong, shiny; fractured, solid, large, small, differently shaped and oriented - there's room for everyone.  The image expands to include not only belonging in a building, but also belonging in creating a space for celebrating the presence of God. …  People together are sacred places and spaces, temples not made with hands. It defines the church not as the building in which we meet but as the building we have become. Our role is to be a space where people engage holiness and sense the presence of God.”

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