Stones & Rocks
“The comment was met with a stony silence” “It dropped to the ground stone dead”. Nothing could be more lifeless than a stone.
It is their inert, lifeless nature that makes them permanent and useful for a range of purposes.
Stones are formed in the ground, often over extremely long periods of time, through the geological processes of accumulation, pressure and heat, and come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and properties, from the rather plain to the stunningly beautiful.
Stones are a basic building material, and have long been used to create landmarks and memorials. In June every year, locally we gather around a stone that marks the departure point to remember servicemen who were amongst the first to land on D-Day (see item on page 4). The stability and permanence of a stone gives a very physical, present-day rallying point for significant, historical events and for individuals. And as well as pointing back, they can serve as a signpost into the future – “we will remember them” – and a commitment to live or journey a certain way in the future, as people did in bygone days with the aid of milestones that both mark progress and provide guidance towards a destination.
The Bible describes stones and rocks being used in many different ways, including as memorials and altars, where significant events and God himself are brought to mind; an ancient, tangible object bringing to mind in the present things that otherwise remain intangible.
Jacob, later named Israel, was the builder of one such memorial (at Bethel), and – recognising the unchanging, enduing nature of God – gave him the name ‘Rock’, or ‘stone of Israel’. But Jacob’s other names for God – Shepherd, Mighty One, etc. – make it clear that for him, God is far from lifeless.
Jesus, too, is described in the Bible as a stone – a living stone, a chosen and precious foundational cornerstone. He is the basis of a building made up of many other ‘living stones’ – the description of those who trust in Jesus and become part of that spiritual building.
It is written about by St Peter, one of Jesus’ closest friends, formerly called Simon but given by Jesus the name that means ‘rock’ (the Greek word for ‘rock’ is where we get our word ‘petrol’). Peter realised that this name did not apply just to himself, but that all Christian believers who become living stones – stones of different shapes and sizes (as acknowledged in the name for the ‘Pebbles’ children’s group at All Saints’ – see item on page 2). All have a place and role in the magnificent building that is built for the glory of God.
Come to Christ, who is the living Foundation of Rock upon which God builds; though men have spurned him, he is very precious to God who has chosen him above all others.
And now you have become living building-stones for God’s use in building his house. What’s more, you are his holy priests; so come to him – you who are acceptable to him because of Jesus Christ – and offer to God those things that please him. As the Scriptures express it, “See, I am sending Christ to be the carefully chosen, precious Cornerstone of my church, and I will never disappoint those who trust in him.”
1 Peter 2:4-6 (The Living Bible)