There’s an old story told from when God was creating the world. God assigned the angel Gabriel to distribute stones and rock. Gabriel did this faithfully, flying here and there with a very large sack of stones on his back. But when Gabriel was flying over the mountains around Jerusalem, the sack broke and the entire load fell.[i] It’s a charming story. What’s for sure true is that the Holy Land is a very rocky place.
It is no surprise that rocks figure into Jesus’ teaching. In his parable of the sower, Jesus speaks about a farmer “sowing seed, some of which falls among the rocks,” because farm fields would need to be endlessly cleared of rocks. Jesus speaks metaphorically of those who walk in the daytime “will not stumble,” won’t stumble over rocks. Tombs and burial boxes – “ossuaries” – were carved out of stone, and to this day; water cisterns were chiseled into rock, and to this day. Jesus would give a new name to Simon, the designated leader among his disciples. What’s the most powerful name Jesus could bestow on Simon? Peter, which means “rock,” the rock on whom Jesus would build his church.
The metaphor of stones and rock is used again and again throughout the scriptures, and especially in the psalms. So we hear in the psalm appointed for today:
[God] alone is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold, so that I shall not be greatly shaken…
In God is my safety and my honor;
God is my strong rock and my refuge…
We live in very shaky times. In virtually every venue of life in our world, there is now instability. The psalmist assures us: God is our rock, our stronghold, our refuge, so that we shall not be greatly shaken… How is this true for you now? Amidst so many things that are dismantling, falling apart, washing away, what is the bedrock of truth that you know from God that can keep you stable? Jesus said that “everyone [who] hears his words… will be like a wise [person] who built [their] house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.[ii]
What do you know for sure? What has been God’s revelation to you that remains a constant? What specifically is the bedrock of your faith in Christ that can keep you stable amidst “the changes and chances of life”?[iii] Cling to the rock.
[i] The story, recounted by Gary M. Burge in The Bible and the Land, p. 61.
[ii] Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 8:13.
[iii] From a Compline prayer, Book of Common Prayer (1979), p. 133.
Please support the Brothers work.
The brothers of SSJE rely on the inspired kindness of friends to sustain our life and our work. We are grateful for the prayers and support provided to us.