Let me share a little church history of Allentown Presbyterian Church. Our motto is I AM THE VINE YOU ARE THE BRANCHES. And so our purpose is to remain in him and bear much fruit for the Kingdom. This was voted upon, chosen because it’s so true and we are an agrarian area of New Jersey so it’s very appropriate.
But some of us liked the metaphor of Living Stones as a motto even more. Yet It was thought to be too hard to understand. Remember Jesus declaring that if they forced people to shut up about him that even the stones would cry out? It’s implied that we are like those stones. A prayer from the Valley of Vision describes us as something like them when it says:
Though creature cells of emptiness we have a fullness accessible to all, and incapable of reduction.
As cells or stones we have that capacity for fullness in God all because of the power of God. As fully filled Stones or cells we are sort of built up into one Living Dwelling place of Christ and God’s love. So we are particularly fitted stones for taking in and participating in his being.
Why is living stones a preferable symbol to me? First, because we are all in this living of life on earth, together. Since we are empty creature cells that can access his life, and because we are placed so close together to form the walls of his dwelling, we have an effect on one another. We are less an upright wall if any surrounding us are empty. We are more likely to be filled and stay filled if those surrounding us are fully built up in the loving power of Christ. We have a harder time of this living business if we are surrounded by either clods who choose to remain empty or stones dried hard by the harshness of their surroundings or merely, the much less fortunate who are without the great advantage of the experiences of love and learning.
So this living stones metaphor reveals how we rely on each other for support and stimulus to avail ourselves of God’ s presence and filling. We can deplete one another and revive each other and we often all stand or fall together. Often in rising to the difficult challenge of helping those close to us to be filled, we become fuller and stronger ourselves as God’s power avails for us.
So being all we can be as living breathing cells or stones, we are one, God’s beloved and maybe like Pygmalion’ s sculpture, we come alive, but only as we all come alive. Your aliveness in Christ is never wasted, but always edifying for all the living stones around about you. We strengthen them in strengthening ourselves. When we open ourselves up to the filling of the Holy Spirit we help build him a beautiful dwelling place with our unity and love accessed through him alone. Let us be actual living stones, a living, eternal monument and community which anyone might join to grow and flourish in all manner of fullness we can not comprehend but if we stones can cry out, can live, we can some day fully comprehend and know as He knows.
This is a motto worth leaning into for our future.
1Peter 2:4,5; 10
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.