Reading I Peter 2 this morning at about 4 am (had to catch an early flight to Virginia), I drifted off into a dream where I was standing in a line in some kind of Kingdom of God city. With the help of someone who was apparently a rockpile caretaker, one by one the people in line decided which kind of Living Stone in God's temple they would be. I am not saying this is how it really happens. It was, after all, a dream.
So when I got to the head of the line, I told the caretaker - a nondescript fellow in dusty, shabby work clothes - I was thinking I wanted to be the kind of stone that lived in a happy, blessed family.
"That's a very popular choice," the caretaker said, gesturing to a large pile of attractive, comfortable looking stones stacked together, their rough edges made smooth by constantly rubbing action. The stones looked like they "belonged" there and in my heart I yearned to belong there with them.
But then I had another idea. "Maybe I should be a stone that is minister of the gospel, or a Christian businessman, well-known for my giftings and good works," I said. "There is so much I could do for the kingdom!"
"That pile is even more popular than the family pile," the caretaker said. He pointed to a towering, glittering rock edifice, each stone a spectacular work of art in itself, separate from and competing with the other rocks for visual pre-eminence. I could have marveled forever at each rock's awesome beauty.
And then, almost as an afterthought, I said, "I suppose I ought to ask which of these two piles the cornerstone came from." I asked this because I knew that the cornerstone of any building was the most important stone, and that the cornerstone stood for Jesus himself. That seemed important somehow.
The caretaker laughed and said, "the cornerstone? Neither pile. It was fished out of that pile." And he waved his arm at a tiny, distant pile of rubble, lying almost forgotten outside of the city gates. I walked over and was, to say the least, not impressed. I've done enough asphalt shingle roofing to know what a reject pile looks like. If a shingle's any good, it gets used, but if it's broken and cut up and cracked, into the reject pile it goes.
I noticed, however, that the little pile of stones had the same dusty, well-worn hues as the caretaker's clothing. Then I saw him pick up a stone and cradle it in his hands, looking lovingly at it from all angles, a master craftsman working in a much-loved, intimately understood medium, thinking: "Once I shape and strengthen this one, I know just the load-bearing spot for it.....it's perfect."
And suddenly wanting more than anything to be honed and placed by his gentle, skillful hands, I asked:
"You use these broken, oddly shaped stones to bear burdens the other stones can't bear, don't you? You're him, aren't you? You're not just the caretaker. You're the Cornerstone."
And he answered: