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…acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1Peter 2: 4-5
When you visit Israel-Palestine, and spend time among Palestinian Christians, you will often hear them refer to themselves as “living stones.” What do they mean? Christians have, since the earliest times of Christianity, come to the Holy Land and, in particular, to Jerusalem, to see the places Jesus saw, to walk in the actual footsteps of our Lord and Savior. I have been to the Holy Land twice and spent a goodly amount of time with Christians who live in the place where Jesus lived, ministered, suffered, died, and was Resurrected. Palestinian Christians lament the fact that so many western Christians come to see the physical places of Christ’s birth and life - Gethsemane, the Jordan, Galilee, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Holy City itself – yet neglect to hear the stories of those who now carry Christ’s legacy in His Hold Land while being challenged by the isolation and chaos caused by so many of the Israeli government’s policies. The places of Christ’s life are brilliant and transformative but they are not the living and breathing people who continue to follow Jesus in the land where Jesus transformed the world.
I have no desire to get into Middle Eastern politics, recognizing that every political situation is complicated with many points of view! What I am trying to get across is this idea that we are ALL living, breathing stones. When the Pharisees asked for Jesus to stop his followers from shouting ‘Hosanna,’ Jesus replied that even if their mouths were stopped the very stones themselves would shout out, ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ 1 Peter tells us that Jesus was rejected by most of humanity during His lifetime, yet he was “chosen and precious in God’s sight…” Then he implores us to be “like living stones” and to “let yourselves be built up into a spiritual house.” We are cut off right now from our worship spaces, by and large (though our sanctuary is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for prayer), but we are spiritual mansions, houses built, our bodies made temples, by the sacrifice and love of God in Christ. W are more important to Christ than any space, more loved by God than any Temple. WE are called to pray, to read scripture, and to work for the equality and life of each and every creature of God. We are living stones, made alive by the reality of God’s blessed love and hope, called to become a spiritual home where God will reside.