Cornerstone

The definition of the word “cornerstone” offers two meanings. A cornerstone is a stone uniting two masonry walls in the construction of a building. It also describes something that is essential, indispensable, or basic. So you can attend a ceremony where the cornerstone of a new federal building is being laid while recognizing that democracy is the cornerstone of a free society.

I like the fact that cornerstones unite walls. Think about that in a figurative way…people often put up walls around them as they draw lines around their political, religious, racial, and societal preferences. Living in community with people of opposite preferences requires that common cornerstones be used to hold things together.

Jesus is such a cornerstone. Salvation can be found in no other place, regardless of one’s thoughts or leanings. He is the uniting factor that brings disparate entities together.

Our passage in Acts today follows a healing miracle that Peter and John performed in Jesus’ name. They are immediately questioned by the leaders, elders, and legal experts:

Acts 4 (Common English Bible)

The next day the leaders, elders, and legal experts gathered in Jerusalem, along with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others from the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”

One would think that the healing of a fellow citizen would bring unity to the commUNITY and be met with joy and appreciation. One would be wrong. It only brought division.

Then Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered, “Leaders of the people and elders, are we being examined today because something good was done for a sick person, a good deed that healed him? 10 If so, then you and all the people of Israel need to know that this man stands healthy before you because of the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 

Peter is clear that it is only through the power of Jesus’ name that the man was healed. He was also clear that God had raised Jesus from the dead.

11 This Jesus is the stone you builders rejected; he has become the cornerstone! 12 Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved.”

The message of salvation is a cornerstone of our hope, our belief, and our faith. It is an essential and indispensable teaching of our faith, one that we can build upon.

Whether we allow it to unite our walls or divide us is up to us. Jesus came to save the whole world and salvation can be found in no one else. Let this be the cornerstone of your witness as you proclaim the good news of the one raised from the dead.

A Cornerstone of Faith

The Easter Effect

I have a clergy friend who used to dread the week after Easter. He works primarily in music and drama ministries and has coined the phrase P.E.D. He feels that the worst part of Easter is the Post Easter Depression that falls on church folks. All the preparation and excitement of musicals, dramas, Easter egg hunts, special children’s sermons, the rush of Holy Week activities, etc. amp us up into a high frenzy of spiritual energy. When it is finally all over, a kind of confetti-scattered, chocolate-smeared, post-party-clean-up lethargy comes over us and we just want to sit still for a moment.

But when we catch our breath, we realize that Easter isn’t just a day. Indeed, Easter is a state of mind. It is an attitude. It is a lifestyle.

How interesting it is, then, to look back at the people who were present at the Resurrection. What effect did the Resurrection have on the culture of their time? How did Jesus’ followers react? What happened to them?

In the 4th chapter of Acts, Luke describes a radical, new Easter People:

Acts 4 (The Message)

32-33 The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.

If Easter is meant to do one thing, it is to unite believers. Easter calls us to be of one heart and one mind. Even more challenging, Easter calls us to share what we have with those who have not. That is our witness to the power of the resurrection. Easter People realize that it’s not about them, but rather it is about grace poured out unconditionally to everyone.

34-35 And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.

Are you one of the Easter People? Where is God calling you to sacrifice and share with someone who is needy? What exactly does the resurrection mean to you? Are there needy people in your community who could experience grace through your generosity?

Let us strive to celebrate Easter all year by being the one-heart, one-mind kind of believers. Maybe this year we can turn our Post Easter Depression into People Eastering Deliberately.

Spring Renewal by Michelle Robertson

One Man’s Trash

A few weeks ago, just before the world turned upside down, an original Salvador Dali wood engraving was found in a local thrift store here on the Outer Banks. A volunteer spotted it and took it to a local art appraiser. It turned out to be one of 100 engravings Dali did in the 1950’s on Dante’s Divine Comedy. It was quickly sold to a couple in Portsmouth. The donor of the artwork was not known, but we can probably assume that they did not understand the value of what they gave away to the thrift store.

The hackneyed phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” comes to mind. People often have different opinions on the value of things.

What do you hold high in value? What do you treasure the most in your life?

One of the things I treasure the most in my life is something that was freely given to me…my salvation through Jesus Christ. Offered to us without price, Jesus died on the cross so that we might be saved. We can’t buy it. We don’t deserve it. We can’t work for it. It is like a priceless Dali sitting in a thrift store, just waiting to be claimed.

In the early chapters of Acts, the disciples are continuing their ministry after Jesus’ death. They were preaching and healing in Jesus’ name. The Jewish leaders were questioning them about where they got their power. Peter stood among the elders and gave them Jesus:

Acts 4 (Contemporary English Version)

The next morning the leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met in Jerusalem. The high priest Annas was there, as well as Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other members of the high priest’s family. They brought in Peter and John and made them stand in the middle while they questioned them. They asked, “By what power and in whose name have you done this?”

Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and told the nation’s leaders and the elders:

You are questioning us today about a kind deed in which a crippled man was healed. 10 But there is something we must tell you and everyone else in Israel. This man is standing here completely well because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You put Jesus to death on a cross, but God raised him to life. 

The world around them rejected the One who had the power to save them. They thought he was worthless because he didn’t fit into their image of what the Messiah should look like. Their image revolved around political power and dominance. Jesus’ messiahship was all about sacrificial love and salvation.

11 He is the stone that you builders thought was worthless, and now he is the most important stone of all. 12 Only Jesus has the power to save! His name is the only one in all the world that can save anyone.

The rejected stone has become the capstone of the world.

If you treasure him, let your life reflect his value in everything you say, do, think, and post. People should be able to see God’s artwork in your life, and want His treasure for themselves. Remember… you’re the only Jesus some will ever see. That is priceless.

Wooden Treasure Photo via Facebook