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Blogging Toward Sunday, May 14th, 2017
Fifth Sunday of Easter - Happy Mother's Day
Closer and Closer: "Living Stones"
1 Peter 2:4-10 (New Revised Standard Version)

4 Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God's sight, and 5 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. 6 For it stands in scripture:
"See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
7 To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
"The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the very head of the corner,"
8 and
"A stone that makes them stumble,
    and a rock that makes them fall."
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10 Once you were not a people,
    but now you are God's people;
once you had not received mercy,
    but now you have received mercy.
There's a lot of loving encouragement being shared in this particular section of Peter's post-resurrection letter to a rural area in Asia Minor.  It might not be seen at first glance, but read the passage again through that lens and see if it doesn't begin to emerge.  Peter's letter was meant to bring hope to a community of people who had lost their way, and were feeling societal pressure to return to their original expressions of faith and religion.  Yet Peter helped them, as well as us who read these words today, see that we too are special in the eyes of God, and because of this unique relationship that the Creator seeks with it's creation, something beyond our comprehension can and will be built. 
 
The word "precious" is used three times in this portion of scripture. So let's focus on this word in light of Peter's analogy of "living stones" being used to create a "living temple."  In verse four, Peter is referring to Jesus as a living stone that was rejected but chosen and he finishes by describing Christ as "precious in the eyes of God."  What a beautiful image of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.  To be precious in the eyes of someone requires intimate knowledge of that person, leading one to assume there is a meaningful and authentic relationship that exists.
 
In verse six, Peter quotes from Isaiah 28, using the analogy of a cornerstone, but not just any cornerstone.  This will be a cornerstone within Zion, and how is this cornerstone described?  It is precious.  Finally, in verse seven, Peter describes Jesus as precious once more, only this time he places the view of Christ's preciousness in the eyes of the reader.  Within these three uses of the word "precious", Peter has established the relationship of Christ with God, placed it as the bedrock of all things moving forward, and then grafted us into this unique and meaningful relationship as well.
 
All of this lends itself to Peter's ultimate point in this section, which is we can find hope in the fact that we too are chosen to be "living stones."  Meaning, we too have a relationship with our Lord available to us.  And as we develop in our discipleship, we too can take part in the ongoing construction of a living temple within God's created order here on earth.  In short, we are "precious" in the eyes of God.
 
Michelangelo's famous statute of David is an enormous work of art, carved from a block of marble eighteen feet high.  But Michelangelo wasn't the first person to attempt to craft a statute from that particular slab of marble.  Agostino di Duccio was an artist who selected that block forty years earlier and had begun working on a statute of either David or an Old Testament prophet. But it was a difficult piece of marble to work with because of how thin and misshapen it was.  Consequently, Di Duccio gave up on the project, saying, "I can do nothing with it."  So in 1501, Michelangelo was commissioned to create the David by the Cathedral in Florence, and using this cast aside marble, Michelangelo carved this classic and "precious" world famous statue.
 
So how does it make you feel to know that God see's that same possibility within you?  What does it do within you to know that the Lord views you as "precious?"  Is it enough to compel you to be a "living stone," taking part in the ongoing construction of God's "living temple"?
 
Let's talk more about this on Sunday....see you then,
Jim

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