August 20, 2006

Living Stones

Some years ago I preached at Grace and Saint Peter's, Baltimore, on the feast of their Dedication. I just discovered that the sermon was published in the Summer 2005 issue of The Anglican Catholic (XVII). It begins:

It is a great pleasure to be invited once again to stand in the splendid pulpit of this beautiful church; especially on this day when we give thanks for its dedication as a place set apart for the worship of Almighty God. In giving thanks, we are called to think not only of the spiritual gifts that abound in this place, but about the hard facts of its physicality: the reality of its very stones. And in doing so, we face a mystery revealed both in the creation of the universe, and in the new creation which began with the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

This mystery finds its eloquent metaphor in one of the most contradictory images in all of Scripture: the living stones which Saint Peter invites us to become.

Now, in folklore and fiction, from the petrified souls who glimpsed Medusa's writhing hairdo, to poor Han Solo carbonized in Star Wars, being turned into stone is a curse, a symbol of death, coldness and finality.

So it may seem odd that Saint Peter should suggest that we be turned into stones. And so he stresses that the stones we are to become are living stones. That's another image altogether, equally familiar from legends and tales. My favorite instance is C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. As you may recall, the land of Narnia has been cursed by a wicked witch, so that it is always winter but never Christmas, and she has turned all who oppose her into stone — frozen statues, who only come back to life when the Great Lion Aslan comes to revive them with his breath.

Enjoy the rest...

—Tobias S Haller BSG

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