“I will create. . .if not a masterpiece, a destruction, if not a symphony, a hole”. These words, as best I remember them, used to be on my bulletin board when I taught school. “I will create. . .” They reminded me that my call as a teacher was to inspire and empower that unique creativity of every student. It helped focus my attention on the reality that every destruction is a creative act. Knocking down a carefully built tower of blocks is clearly an act of power, but it is an act of creativity as well. The world as we know it is rearranged. It is an exciting and essential learning for a little child—“I have power in this world!” It takes education, patience, and motor skills to build a tower of blocks. Generally, at least at first, it is a communal activity. The child learns not only how to balance the blocks on top of each other, but also that there is satisfaction in doing so. “See how high you can go! Wow, look at that!” When we build, we learn, we have input on design. What was within us now stands outside and beyond us. We expand and grow, learning about ourselves and the world of our materials, becoming more and more the person we were created to be. This Sunday is about stone. We see stones thrown at Stephen until he is dead. Men spurred on by their religious leaders to create a destruction, a destruction of a new way of thinking, a new way of relating, a new way of living. Stephen and those who sought to follow Christ, were beginning to see the world differently. They were beginning to understand the intrinsic value of every human being. They were experimenting with replacing the law of the church with love for one another. They were building a new world beyond and in spite of the institutions of the day and the people who had built that particular tower and made those rules didn’t like it. And so they did what people always do when they feel threatened and afraid, they created a destruction. They made a hole where a kind, loving, creative human being once stood in order to protect what they knew. I don’t know if Peter was in Jerusalem when Stephen died, but even if he didn’t actually carry Stephen’s bruised and broken body home to his family, he would have carried him in his heart. Peter was a leader in the new community and Stephen was the first to die. Peter must have looked at stones differently from that day on. Stones that kill. Stones that build. How would the new community of Christ they were struggling to build make use of stones, now and in years to come? How could they build, create, in a new transformative way? “Living stones”. Living stones is Peter’s answer. What if we don’t build the church of brick and mortar, stone and timber? What if we build the church of the living stones that are the followers of Christ? What if we construct a new community in such a way that every new member’s unique gift and voice must be built into the fabric of our life together? We won’t shape the stones to fit the design. We will instead, amend the design to fit the stones, the living stones that God sends. The only constant will be Christ, the Cornerstone; that foundational reality that directs and inspires and empowers all. Wow! And you thought building a tower of blocks was hard! Peter isn’t saying that we shouldn’t build things. He is not saying that we shouldn’t guard against destructive behavior or intent. He is saying that we are to value, above all else, the individual human being. He is saying that we are called, as the church, to weave an ever changing tapestry of life together, integrating all, discarding or marginalizing no one. This was the creative, life giving work of Christ. And we are called to that work. Together we will create. . .if not a masterpiece, a destruction; if not a symphony, a hole.
Happy Mother’s Day! This is an opportunity to prayerfully sit with Christ and consider the gift of your mother. Some of our mothers were amazing. Some of our mothers fell short. Most of our mothers were some of both as human beings always are. But all of them, through love and sacrifice, gave us the gift of life. We are because they are so take time to thank her and God, whether she is with us still or gone ahead. Take time to lay before Christ any unresolved hurts, unhealed wounds. Lots of times our best is just not good enough, even when it is all we have. Give your wounds to Christ and let forgiveness heal your heart. Name three things or thirty about your mother that make you smile. Name three ways or thirty that you are just like her! Let gratitude overflow your heart for the amazing gift she is and you are!
Church at church next Sunday!! We will be having Holy Eucharist at Grace Church, Sunday, May 17. We are asking you to be very careful about keeping 6 feet of distance and encourage you to wear a mask. We will have the six feet distance marked off coming into the church and we will mark the seating as well. There will be hand sanitizer at the door as you come in and we will try and have as much air flow in the church as we can comfortably. There will be some changes in the liturgy. We will not sing or exchange the peace by shaking hands. We will be doing a kind of “serve yourself” communion. We have tried to be as careful as we can about safety so please share your concerns if you have them. Since we cannot have coffee hour yet, we will have a time to visit and catch up after services from our seats in the church. For those who wish to worship from home, we will continue to live stream the services. I am excited to worship with you and see you at the same time!