Easter 5A: 5/18/14
The Rev. Dee Anne Dodd
St. Paul's, Wallingford CT
From today's psalm:
"Be my strong rock, O Lord, a castle to keep me safe,
for you are my crag and my stronghold..."
know that old folk tale "stone soup"?
culture seems to have its own version.
you come down to it
about a bunch of people so hungry that
start a soup kettle going with nothing more than
and a stone.
Eventually others come along to add carrots or potatoes
few herbs and before you know it
there's a tasty soup to share.
a parable about working together.
today's lections are a veritable "stone soup"
one of those weeks when they all seem to work
a common image.
that image is, literally, stones.
Stones, little rocks.
almost certainly stepped on some this morning
whether on a nicely landscaped driveway at home or
parking lot here.
keep my house in bloom all winter
planting amaryllis and paper whites in stones.
Life growing out of stones, living
Stones can be a means of violence and death.
only in ancient times, but tragically even in our own day,
and girls are sentenced to stoning,
sometimes for transgressions committed by others,
usually male relatives.
are bigger stones too, aren't there?
Perhaps you've noticed our cornerstone outside etched with
year it was laid.
cornerstone, whether literal or figurative, from which
everything else is built --
something as big and grand as this church.
there are capstones, the highest center of an arch,
keep everything from falling apart.
yes, stones that seal cold dank tombs.
of all that stone rolled away from Jesus' tomb
reveal resurrection and life.
get a little of everything in today's scriptural "stone soup".
our first reading from Acts, the saga of the early church,
see the stoning of Stephen,
first Christian martyr whose death echoes Jesus'.
Stephen is surely a hero of our faith.
here's the thing about his stoning:
wasn't done by "bad guys" but mostly nice religious folks --
many ways, our forebears --
felt that they were doing the right thing
silencing this trouble-maker
was, in their minds, jeopardizing their beloved traditions.
the witness of Stephen's stoning be for us
only an inspiration
stand up for our faith even when it is difficult to do so.
it also be a warning against the temptation to "stone" --
our judgment or ignorance --
who don't look or love or act or pray like us.
stone image from today's psalm is how I began this sermon.
asks God to be the rock on which we stand,
castle which keeps us safe,
crag on which we climb.
Likewise, the epistle -- the First Letter of Peter,
sequence of stone images.
in Christ is a living stone, it says.
Christ is our cornerstone.
because of him now we're living stones too.
of us, as living stones, built together by Christ's own hand
a spiritual house.
That's not Jesus' only reference to a house, is it?
my Father's house there are many dwelling places"
says in the gospel,
we might've heard more often at funerals
stone imagery here is more implied than stated,
Jesus promises to guide us to that spiritual house
this life into the next.
here's a stone.
these by the bushel.
Because, if you've served on the Vestry you know
we end every meeting by passing a basket of them around
each writing a prayer request on it.
dare say some of you have had your names written
these stones over the years.
we pass them around again,
time taking someone else's stone
we add to our prayers for the next month.
a real "stone soup" of prayer.
you believe that last Tuesday's meeting was
first time we've forgotten to do this?
fear -- we're all going to make up for it.
Here's how it works.
a quiet moment to listen for what God might
nudging you to pray.
on the stones given by the ushers,
the Sharpies scattered in the pews,
on the stone -- a name, nickname, initials,
issue or part of the world you're concerned about,
whatever shorthand works.
at the Peace,
your stone to someone else to take home to pray.
here's the fun part -- don't just hand it to the person
sitting closest to you.
about someone beyond your pew,
someone you don't know.
fact, let's swap stones multiple times
exchange the Peace -- really stir it up!
make a delicious "stone soup".
it? Take a moment. Let us pray.....