Advent

Rejected Stones

1Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
Let Israel say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.
Let the house of Aaron say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say,
    “His steadfast love endures forever.”

Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
    the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
    What can man do to me?
The Lord is on my side as my helper;
    I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

10 All nations surrounded me;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees;
    they went out like a fire among thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
    but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he has become my salvation.
15 Glad songs of salvation
    are in the tents of the righteous:
“The right hand of the Lord does valiantly,
16     the right hand of the Lord exalts,
    the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!”

17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has disciplined me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
    that I may enter through them
    and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
    the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord‘s doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save us, we pray, O Lord!
    Lord, we pray, give us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
    We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
    up to the horns of the altar!

28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
    you are my God; I will extol you.
29 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!

(Psalm 118, ESV)

The stone the builders rejected

Has become the capstone

The Lord has done this

And it is marvelous in our eyes

Worst childhood memory? One of them has to be gym class. I wasn’t athletic or coordinated, so it was miserable. That misery peaked into nightmare when the class would start with this announcement – “Ok kids, I’m going to pick team captains for kickball and they’ll choose their teams.” I know what this meant. I’d quickly scan the class for someone weaker, with less hand eye coordination. Then, as the brutal selection began, I’d sit there and hope I might get picked before one of the girls. You can imagine how that went.

Rejected stones are just that, broken leftovers on the job site, construction refuse that is literally worthless to the builders. You can usually tell a piece of junk when you see it, something probably oddly shaped or cracked, sitting thrown away on the dump truck pile. It’s a practical decision, one we’ve all made many times while cleaning out the garage. Is it useful? No. Valuable? No. Does it mean something special to you? No. Then off to the trash it goes. 

Rejection is awful. But we all know a story or two where someone was rejected, perhaps in the football draft or applying to Juilliard, and it was the wrong decision. Then that person goes on to break all the records and be someone truly amazing. For some reason we love those stories, perhaps because of the way they give us so much hope. Rejection is an Advent story. In Jesus we have this story told as large as it gets. Eternal creator come to save His creation treated as discarded loser who needed to be gotten rid of. And when that same loser turns around to save those who rejected Him? Sweet joy of heaven. That’s an eternal and unbeatable love right there. And it gets even better – it’s a story He loves to tell over and over in our lives. He is God and He makes the choices, and it’s meant to show us what kinds of choices He makes. And guess what, He’s radically different than Junior High School kickball captains. As God He had better reasons not to, and He had better folks to choose from, but in the end I’m surprised by this joy – He picked me!

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