You are Living Stones:
A Spiritual House, A Royal Priesthood
Sermon By The Rev. Marcia McRae at St. Barnabas’, Valdosta, GA, May 22, 2011
Lessons Appointed for Easter 5 Year A, RCL:
Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16;1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14
“If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it."
Peter says in the Epistle today, “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.” My dear brothers and sisters of St. Barnabas’, not too many years ago you did not exist as St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church. Now, you do.
|Stone on author’s desk|
You are a people. You are a beautiful temple of the Holy Spirit. You are a royal priesthood to serve God. You are to draw others to God so that they become God’s people, living stones, fitted into Christ, the cornerstone: Christ Jesus: the Way, the Truth, the Life.
In our Gospel Philip says, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus says, "Have I been with you all this time and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” We must be like Jesus so that whoever sees us sees God.
Jesus says: “I will do whatever you ask in my name...” My brothers and sisters of St. Barnabas’, you are living proof that whatever you ask in Jesus’ name Jesus will do. My husband, John, and I were there at your founding, and we attest to the many prayers offered in Jesus’ name for guidance on what God was calling God’s people to do to reach out in Jesus’ name especially here in Lowndes County. You are God’s answer.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people. You know Jesus IS the way, the truth, and the life. You are one of the dwelling places of God’s house – here on earth – a place to serve, to share, to love. You are a lovely dwelling place for people to gather, to learn, to grow in Jesus as the way, the truth, the life. You living stones are a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Stones scatter throughout our scriptures today. Stones bring death in the hands of the angry mob that kills Stephen, who speaks truth they do not want to hear.
As he dies, Stephen paraphrases Jesus: “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” And, like Jesus says on the cross, “Forgive them,” Stephen says words of love for those who kill him: “Do not hold this sin against them.”
Saul holds their cloaks and hears grace and love as Stephen says “Do not hold this sin against them.” That grace is a small stone that gets into the shoe of Saul’s heart. It rubs at his soul.
Our Psalm says God is our strong rock – our stone – to keep us safe. Peter says to come to Jesus, the living stone.
You appreciate stones – their strength, their power, their danger, usefulness, and beauty. Living water flows from your beautiful blue stone fountain outside. Stones surround your fish pond. Stones with sayings and special shapes beautify your garden. The stone sign welcomes us to the garden – a place to be with God.
Stones teach us about God’s call. Stones live the holiness of being exactly what God designs them to be. They sit right where you put them until you – or something moves them. This apparent inactivity belies how busy they work to be what God has designed them to be. To be the solid lump, their atoms have to move very fast. Stones are very active inside, serving God’s will for their creation: be a stone. This stone (in photo above) sits on my desk to remind me: be as God intends.
My brothers and sisters, be what God designs you to be. Show God to those who do not know God. Show them God’s royal priesthood: you living stones beautifully doing the will of the God in this time and place.
Be beautiful for God. Be strong. Be powerful. Be useful. Know that you will also be dangerous as you turn lives around for Jesus. You will be dangerous and wonderful and part of God’s plan as you pray in Jesus’ name. What you ask in Jesus’ name must accord with Jesus’ nature and purpose. We witness that nature and purpose as we see Jesus die on the cross.
In Jesus’ name we ask You, Holy Spirit, to move through us, to blow into the lives and hearts of those we meet that they may see God. In Jesus’ name we ask that these living stones here, this spiritual house, this royal priesthood, this Holy People of St. Barnabas’, will call others who are not God’s people to be God’s people, to know the joy of serving as living stones to the glory of God in this time, in this place.
Book of Common Prayer. New York: The Church Hymnal Corp., and The Seabury Press. 1979.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Lectionary Page. http://www.io.com/~kellywp/. Accessed April 19, 2011.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1977.
...With God’s help we will respect the dignity of every human being.
...Con el auxilio de Dios, respetaremos la dignidad de todo ser humano.
Book of Common Prayer p. 305
El Libro de Oración Común pj. 225.