The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

Psalm 118:22, and referenced in Acts 4:5-12

So, what is a cornerstone? Most simply, it is the first stone that is laid down in constructing the foundation of a building. And…wait for it….it’s in the corner.

But this stone has become imbued with so much meaning! The cornerstone is the one that is often inscribed with important information about when the building was made, like the date, the architect, the name of the building.The laying of the cornerstone is often done with aplomb and ceremony – there is usually a celebration, people give speeches, the press is there to record the event, etc. People will pour wine over the stone, kiss it, bless it. This stone gets a lot of attention. And the cornerstone itself often hides treasures like a time capsule. The Washington Monument, for example, has a 24,500 pound cornerstone that contains documents and memorabilia related to the monument and George Washington.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

In the Acts passage, Peter claims that those gathered – the rulers, elders and scribes – are the builders. Those representing institutions of politics and religion.

Within PC(USA) we have this movement called 1001 Worshiping Communities. In my work, I track leaders of these communities from beginning to end. This is mostly done through an annual survey, but I also sometimes interview the leaders. I recall one leader in particular who was doing what I thought were some really great things. So when they replied to one of my surveys saying their community was shut down as “not recognized by presbytery,” I called them.

Now I’m not saying the leaders of this community were like the apostles, doing all the right things and getting persecuted for it. These particular leaders were doing things that go against our rules, like giving communion without an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament present. But I do notice the similarities. Outsiders trying to do a new thing, and the authorities – the rulers, elders, and scribes – challenging them, asking “by what power do you do these things?”

By what power indeed.

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