Rock of Ages: Living Stones

Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Peter 2:4-10

This week’s Rock of Ages passage names the people of God, the disciples of Christ, the sisters and brothers in the Spirit “living stones”. That’s a curious title or classification because I do not think we often conceive of stones as living. They are inanimate. They can be sturdy, precious, porous, or soft. They are instrumental in construction projects. They are a pain to dig out of the ground to prepare it for a garden. They have the ability to stub your toe like no other.

But living? Do stones live?

As I thought about an example of living stones, my mind went immediately to volcanos – mighty and powerful living stones capable of spewing acrid ash and lava with temperatures nearing 2192 degrees Fahrenheit. Our history books detail the destruction wrought by volcanos – names like Vesuvius and St. Helen live in infamy. And yet they also create new land and regenerate land that was once unsuitable for agriculture to be vibrant and capable of producing crops.

In 2002 I served on a mission team in Costa Rica. Towards the end of our trip we hiked a mountain that was home to a monastery and the largest illumined steel cross in the country. Across the horizon from the monastery-mountain was what I would call a “stirring volcano.” Our guides told us that it had not erupted in some time, but it was not classified as dormant because it would have fits of spewing ash and rumbling the near by ground. As a result, the families that called the volcano home – either living on its side or at its base – were very attuned to its activity and ready to respond at any given moment.

I think the image of a volcano is an appropriate image for the church – and more specifically – the image of a stirring and active volcano. Churches have wonderful “volcano” moments during certain seasons of the year – Christmas and Easter especially – and also for Tuskawilla when our little orange friends come to visit. But what about the other seasons in the year? What about the other 46 weeks?

Presently we are in the height of Ordinary Time – the season of the church year that spans the time between Pentecost and the beginning of Advent. Many people hear the word ordinary and think “nothing special.” But this time of the Christian year is so special in that it grants us space to put into practice everything we have learned about the coming, birth, baptism, life, teaching, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and victorious return of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior because something between his coming and his victorious return stirred us so much that we committed our lives to him.

We remain in that commitment with him because his enduring presence – the Holy Spirit – continues to stir up  and reinvigorate that commitment. And then the months between Pentecost and Advent set in…and the “activity” in the Christian Year appears to slow down because we are not moving from season to season to season as we do from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany… Maybe our reactivity to God’s stirring becomes slower. Maybe we hit the snooze button on the stirring…and if we do that enough, we become dormant.

God gave us life and calls us to life. God made and makes us living stones. God’s Spirit within each of us is alive and well and wants to and does move us into activity. We are not being true to our identity as living stones if we are dormant. And if we are being true to our identity as living stones, then the effects would be felt not only by those who are connected together as this volcano of faith but also by those in our surrounding community. Our action should prompt, generate, lead, and sustain positive and affirming reactions in our community.

What is God stirring in you? What signs of God’s life and awaken-ness are you displaying to your and our neighbors? How will you make this week during Ordinary Time extraordinary?

Prayer: “Spirit of promise, Spirit of unity, we thank you that you are also the Spirit of renewal. Renew in the whole Church that passionate desire for the coming of your kingdom which will unite all Christians in one mission to the world. May we all grow up together into him who is our head, the Savior of the world. Amen.”*

*”For The Church,” The United Methodist Book of Worship 503.

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