Monday, April 25, 2005

What will you do with your stones?

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5, NRSV)

Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him...
(Acts 7:58, NRSV)
Last night, I reflected on the readings for this Sunday, and came up with one set of questions. This morning, quite a different vision came...

Two readings for this last Sunday - two sets of stones, with two entirely different purposes.

In this reading from the first book of Peter, we are called to come to Jesus, "the stone that was rejected by the builders," and and we are told to become living stones, as Jesus was, to be built into a spiritual house. That's a high and holy calling.

In the reading from Acts 7 that is also a part of the assigned readings for this Sunday, there are also stones - stones that were picked up by a religious mob - a mob of the church people of the day - in order to stone Stephen to death.

So this morning I come to you with no deep reflections, no hidden meanings to analyze...just this simple question: if I am to be a living stone today, will I be a stone that will be used to build something holy, or destroy something (or someone) holy?

By my words and my actions today, will I build unity in the body of Christ by finding the common threads between denominations? Or will I work to smash that unity, by finding every way in which my church and my faith aren't quite like everyone elses? Will I point out how they don't do music, or baptism, or Eucharist right - and separate myself from "them"? Or will I look at "one faith, one hope, and one baptism, one God and father of all," and embrace my sisters and brothers?

Will I work to try to "keep sin out of the church," by excluding those whose sin I find objectionable? Or will I remember the words of Paul, that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) and open the door to all the folks who are still sinning? Because if we decide to keep out the people who are still sinning, I'm not going to be eligible to come to church...

Lord God of love and light, help me remember what kind of church you called us to build with these living stones. Help me remember that I have a choice - to build a church that is a country-club for a select few, or a church whose doors are open to every sinner to hear the Good News. And then, Lord, point me back to the words of Paul, and remind me for which group I really qualify. Amen.


so i go said...

unity in the body of Christ.. it's not for the faint of heart, is it?

this is a powerful piece Steve, one that resonates so deeply with me. thank you for so beautifully laying it all out. i hope many come to read this and begin to experience the common thread that binds us together.

peace, brother as you gather your stones.

Michael Dodd said...

A friend years ago said we need stones for ballast, but sometimes it is hard to tell when someone is providing stability and when they are being a stumbling block. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell which I am.
Living stones. I think "living" may be the key.

Keith Brenton said...

Wow ... if I'm dedicated to "keeping sin out of the church" ... I can't go back!

Convicting thought. One of many.

Thanks for bouncing this pebble off of my head!

Donna G said...

I love that you speak what I feel when we come from two very different type churches.

We all need grace to make it, when we also freely give it to each other we can become living stones and not stones bent on destruction

Shaun said...

Just came across your blog bro. Keep posting ilke this everyday, and i'll start using your site as my daily devotional. heh. Kidding. But good thoughts. To build up or to knock down. That would almost always depend on whether if one looks at oneself before throwing a stone eh? Most knocking down in churches would turn into the building up one's character if we looked more at ourselves before throwing our stones.