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05/14/2017

1 Peter 2: 1-10                      “It Looks One Way”                5/14/2017

Rev. Jerry Krueger                        

Is anyone here a seamstress, or a carpenter?  One of the foundational guidelines when you sew a hem, is that it is straight, even and on the mark.  How you start out can indicate how you might finish. Building a concrete, brick, wooden, or stone wall is the same way.  First thing you do is lay out a cornerstone or a corner post. You set your corner, making sure it is square, anchored in and true, and the resulting course of block or brick, or wooden fence will follow that same straight, level, plumb course.

This capstone or cornerstone referenced today in our reading says that it is to be our foundation.  So that we might abandon anything that would cause us to go off course, to make the level out of line. We are to get rid ourselves of ill will and all deceit. (Being true to self) We are to pitch pretense. Empty ourselves of envy. Shut down the speaking of slander.  Ditch the old ways…begin a new life and embrace like a newborn, the healthy spiritual sustaining food of...what?  “The word.” Sustain yourself on God’s word and once you have tasted it you will know that the Lord is Good.

Think of a construction site, maybe a new home being built. As carpenters work, there is always a pile of scrap. Wood that is miscut, or not true, perhaps a board has a serious blemish, maybe wood that is a bit green. 

But out of that pile of trash, refuse, set aside stuff  that humans have said is” no good,” God picks up and says in a spiritual way through Jesus Christ, “Yes, this is true. This is good. This is the foundation that YOU need. Trust me your Lord God. Don’t just trust your human selves.”

Follow me and I will guide you in building a life, a Christian life that is straight and true.  You are being built into a church. Into the walls the roof, the floor. All who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior; you are all linked together, providing interrelated structure and cohesiveness through your linked lives.

The scripture proclaims in verse 5, “you yourselves are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple. You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Hmm. Spiritual sacrifices to God through Christ.

Your spiritual sacrifice on behalf of others to God through Jesus Christ is like vows we take when we join the church: “Will you vow to support this congregation with your prayers, your presence, your gifts, service and witness? “ These are the things that we are called to lay out before Christ on behalf of others.

The idea is not only are holiness, good deeds, financial support of the church and spiritual growth best fostered in a faith community, but also in community itself. And we focus not on the individual, or your particular individual preferences, but we key in on in being in community in which we find our primary channel of faith.

A few years ago I visited a friend who is a pastor in New Mexico. As we caught up on goings on in each others families and individual lives, he mentioned that they had a problem at the church he served. He said, “Come with me, I’ll show you. “ We walked across the yard to the next door church, and as we stepped into the sanctuary I was immediately aware of a foul odor assaulting my nose. 

It stunk. It was a nasty, dirty, smell that can be described only as fit to make you gag. My eyes watered, my nose burned, I clapped both hands over my nose and mouth and sped out of the church.

Bats and birds had made their way through a roof opening in the soffit of the church. “Richard, how long has this been like this?” MY friend replied, “About 6 months.”  WHAT? Are you crazy? How can you have worship here? It’s awful.  Richard said, Jerry, We don’t have worship here. We meet in the fellowship hall.

Apparently the church trustees, leaders were stuck about a solution. Funny how I had a solution in 10 minutes. 

  • Call pest control to remove birds and bats
  • Remove bird and bat droppings
  • 3 seal up hole in roof and secure.
  • Air out sanctuary, mission accomplished.

Here was the problem though.  This was a historic building on all kinds of historic registers and rolls, and a few people on church leadership complained that if they opened up the roof, (it would be a substantial opening,) it would ruin the integrity of the structure and thus they would lose their historic church status, and could probably not get approval form the outside powers that control historic preservation buildings to do the repair anyway.

The tail was wagging the dog. The mission has been lost. It was no longer about reaching out to hurting inquiring seeking people with questions needing answers and a faith life through Christ. This whole endeavor had become an issue over something completely unrelated to the mission a church is created for.

In 1 Peter it says, People, who believe, are blessed. Scripture says that those who reject the  rock, cornerstone, Jesus Christ, well that tossed aside by humans stone, becomes a life tripping hazard that makes people stumble, and a rock that makes them fall. Because they refuse to believe in the word of God, they stumble.

That means the true; the straight course is laid out before you. It requires self empting, self sacrifice, and it requires looking out for others, and it is not all about you.

God has chosen each of you as a royal priesthood, set apart to share your Gospel story.

Reject the cornerstone? And know that you will stumble. Accept Jesus Christ, and know that you have become a people who may speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.

All buildings are built to serve a purpose. To serve food, to sell groceries, to house a doctors office, to have a place to get a drivers license renewed. To provide shelter.

But failing to use a building, to let it stand abandoned or idle leads to the Kress building, the GE factory on Market Street, to the soon to be dismantled Wean Building across Front Street. Don’t use it for its purpose; it will be torn down eventually.

Having a church that is infested with varmints and birds and bats is not the purpose the church was designated for.  The New Mexican congregation was like the man who gimped around with the ingrown toenail for 6 months. In pain, in distress, knocked off center and full of other issues stemming from the primary issue.  What was the solution?

Go see the podiatrist, get the numbing shot in the sore toe, let the doctor remove the portion of the bad nail causing problems and let the healing begin.  When we carry baggage with us, or allow ourselves to be nudged off course gradually and little by little, soon we find ourselves working around our purpose. We find ourselves just “kind of connected with Christ. We find ourselves justifying by saying, we’re not TOO unlevel. We’ll maybe its close enough.”

Do you want to just live a life that is “close enough? Do you want to live a life that is off center, not true?  When you hold the plumb line up to your life, is it leaning too far off balance one way?

When you take the laser lever or bubble level and place it on the top course of your life, does the bubble remain in the center, or does it float to the top of the green liquid bubble indicting that you are not straight and true?

This text from Peter is addressed to a people who are being reminded of the gift of Jesus, who is our cornerstone, our foundation, our rock that keeps us in true living and aligned in a Christ like fashion.

We are called to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus.

That means we offer our presence here in church. We show up.

We offer prayers for our church, for each other.

We bring our gifts, our financial resources striving to give sacrificially so that the church may continue its ministry. As Christian we are designed to give because we are grateful and grace filled. Does your giving model that gratefulness?

Our service means we offer time as volunteers in some capacity to advance the kingdom.

And our witness. We are called to witness for Christ as we “speak of the wonderful acts of the one who called you out of darkness into his amazing light.”

Once you weren’t a people. That was before you knew Christ. But now, you are a people. A people who know, believe, support, speak about, and act for Jesus Christ in the family, in the church, in the community. You are a royal priesthood. “

Church, we may think we have come from that pile of scrap, that load of stones and rocks rejected by what people say is acceptable and true. But hear this… we have been picked out of the heap by the Lord of Life, by the Creator, and we are set as living, breathing stones with Jesus Christ. We are a royal family, a royal priesthood, and we have a story to tell.  Be grateful, be blessed, be saved, and give thanks to the One who has brought us our salvation.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.