In our scripture readings for this Sunday, Stephen is being stoned. He has shared about Jesus and he is paying for it and yet calls to God to forgive his killers. We later even see his prayer answered as Saul, the passive onlooker, becomes chosen to be a Jesus follower named Paul to step into Stephen’s place. Stephen calls for Jesus to receive his spirit reminding us of the Psalm verse that says, “Into your hands, I commend my spirit for you have redeemed me, O Lord, God of truth.”
Jesus was rejected too. The cornerstone of our faith that God gave us had his body broken for us. We have stumbled over this rock too. And yet here we are called to be “living stones” built into a spiritual home, making sacrifices pleasing to God.
- For all the ways we have cast stones and inflicted pain, we are to repent.
- For all the times that we have been like Saul and not stepped up to protect against injustices done to the least of these, may they forgive us and pray like Stephen, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
- For all the stones others hit us with too, let us forgive others’ sins as we would like to be forgiven.
We have taken refuge in God the rock but not been rock steady. Yet Bible verses from Peter reassure us of second chances, of mortals made from dust formed into an eternal church.
“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.
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.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)
We are to take the stones that we can use against each other — our power, our belonging, our judgments, and our control — and lay these down to proclaim the mighty acts of God.
- We were chosen, so let us use our power to show mercy and not cast stones.
- We are a priesthood, so let us use our belonging to show faith in being redeemed when stones are hurdled against us.
- We are a holy nation, so let us use our judgment to proclaim God’s mighty acts as our rock and refuge.
- We are God’s own people, so let us make the sacrifices of “ALTARed” lives and be built into a spiritual house of living stones.
We know that Jesus has promised to make room for us in heaven so let’s trust the carpenter with right now where we are at too. He can build something good out of our rocky roads of pain and cornerstone times of rejection if we put our lives into his hands.