Psalm 118: the story behind the stone

March 22nd, 2010

By Byron Peachey, EMU associate campus pastor

Read: Psalm 118: 1-2, 19-29

“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone …”

How often today do we study stones around us?  What do we know of stones?  What kinds are worthy for building, how smoothly can their surface be cut, which are the strongest?

Look now at your hands – and now imagine yourself as a stone mason.  Imagine the hands of a mason in ancient Israel, the strength and agility of the fingers, their cuts and calluses — and their practice of constantly choosing one stone over another.  Beginning at the foundation, selecting, chipping, hammering, placing stones one by one beside and on top of the next.  They choose some for this wall, reject others and toss them into a rubble pile.  These weren’t identical bricks, rather they came with irregularities, curves shaped from flowing water, color variations, the mason’s eye looking for strength, beauty, and shape.  All those stones laying at rest, full of potential, yet waiting for the place of their best fit.  And then, finally after perhaps months of building, the capstone emerges, the one which brings it to completion.  One which earlier had been rejected.

Imagine yourself as the mason, or even as one of the stones.  The qualities necessary for a good building are the same:  patience, seeking the right fit, the right combination, matching the strengths of the stone to its place in the whole structure.

Lent, and the waning days of winter, is a season of waiting, in trusting God to carve us, shape us, to be ready when the timing is right for us to take our place.  Surely Jesus experienced such waiting for the opportune time.  Imagine, as some suggest, that Jesus himself was not necessarily a carpenter, but rather a stone mason.  With the hands and patience and steadiness of one who knows stones, and the building of a strong house.