My friend David is a cabinetmaker in Wintergreen. Years ago he built his own home in a holler in Massie Mill. The centerpiece of his house was a gorgeous two-story stone fireplace and chimney. For months David collected the stones for the project, creating a large pile next to the building site. Listening to him tell the story of building it sounded as if he was putting a jigsaw puzzle together. He would pick over the stones, putting them together in different configurations. He would choose two, throw one back on the pile. He was trying to find the best fit and most pleasing look. In the end, after months of gathering stones and weeks of choosing and assembling them, he built a marvelous fireplace for his family.
David’s fireplace comes to mind when I encounter Peter’s words (I Peter 2:4-10). Christ is the ‘living stone,’ chosen by God to be the cornerstone. Yet more than these, it is Peter’s words about followers of Jesus that strike me as hope beyond hope. “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…” (I Peter 2:10) Like the stones in David’s fireplace, and like Christ, we have been “chosen!” To remember that, to grasp that, is to be empowered every day of life.
Imagine their situation when the first hearers encountered Peter’s words. They were like David’s pile of odd stones. They were a community of converted slaves, some Jews who had been cast out of the synagogue, a few merchants and traders, maybe some artisans. None of them had any power, status or religious standing. Yet Peter says to them, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.” The world did not see much value in them. But God did!
And God still does, for God has chosen you to be living stones building up his kingdom on earth. When we hold on to that memory, some mighty things will be built for God.