|Last week, our church waited outside to begin our Palm Sunday worship gathering. Right before we opened the doors, our Lay Leader spoke on behalf of the congregation. Reading from Psalm 118, he said, “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 118:19).|
So, I opened the doors and we processed in singing and waving our palm branches.
Once inside, we read again from Psalm 118. “I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:21-24). In the days that followed, we remembered the rejection of Jesus. On Resurrection Sunday, we rejoiced.
Psalm 118 has also been a part of my daily readings since Sunday. For me, it’s been as if I’m asked repeatedly, “Is it still marvelous to you? Are you still rejoicing?” With all the festivities surrounding Easter, it’s good to ask, “Is Christ still the cornerstone?”
I took a peek at Wikipedia to look for some insight about cornerstones. The first three sentences solidified for me Psalm 118’s importance. It first states the cornerstone is the first stone set in construction.
Yes! Colossians tells us Christ is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18).
Then we recall that all other stones are set in reference to the cornerstone. That the rest of the building takes its form from the cornerstone. As we do in Christ
Finally, Wikipedia tells us “over time a cornerstone became a ceremonial masonry stone.” That seemed like a strange opening sentence. I took it as a lesson.
This is where we need to be careful. Psalm 118 gives us that great image of the builders rejecting the stone we set as the cornerstone. The builders despised and turned away from it. We gave it a holiday. If we’re not careful, ceremony rules faith. No, we may not despise what we celebrate. At least not intentionally. But if we dilute it beyond recognition, what’s the difference?
Resurrection is no mere holiday. It’s the power of God demonstrated in Christ Jesus. It displayed God’s will for the cosmos, God’s victory over sin and death and God’s way of justice and love.
If we enter through the gates of righteousness, we need to see the cornerstone. Ceremony takes a back seat. Our worship and devotion should center our wills and priorities on Jesus. Not just help us feel good about the day. With the inspiration and help of the Holy Spirit, our risen Lord shapes who we are and what we do. God made Jesus our cornerstone–Lord, keep that marvelous in our eyes!