When I was hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park and other places like it, I noticed stones stacked up into little towers along the way. I now know that those collections of rocks are called cairns and they are placed there by hikers to guide future hikers along the path to show them where to go. Over the centuries, cairns have also been used as landmarks and memorials.
I got to thinking that cairns of sorts were used in the Bible by Abraham, Moses and Jacob as altars. Check out these verses:
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. —Genesis 22:9
Abraham built this altar to acknowledge that God is God on his journey through his life, and he was saying through this cairn that he would obey God’s will. Of course, God would send an angel to stop Abraham from sacrificing his son. But later, God would sacrifice his own Son, Jesus, on the altar, the cairn, if you will, of the cross, which was erected on a rock hill called Golgotha.
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As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5
I love the imagery that Peter uses here us each of us being like living stones. When you think about stones, you think of something solid, strong, but cold. But the picture here is one of stones filled with warmth, with energy, with vibrancy, along with being solid and strong.
To extend the metaphor, regular stones gathered together to build something strong, like a church building. When we as living stones come together to worship, we are building something strong, as well the Body of Christ, the Church at work, the active hands and feet of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
In my church where I worship, each child that is baptized receives a little stone as a memento and the parents are told that this stone can be placed on a child’s dresser and later in a backpack for the child to carry with him or her as a reminder that he or she is connected to the solid Rock of Jesus through Holy Baptism and that he or she is a living stone, called and blessed to work for Christ. Continue reading →