Many years ago, I visited County Clare in the west of Ireland as part of the Congregational Federation’s Children’s Work Board. In the north-west of the county there is an area of stone called The Burren. I was there in March and the area seemed to be covered in stone. It looked like a place where there was no life. The guide explained that cattle lived in the area throughout the winter and found sufficient food to keep going until the spring. Looking across the fields of stone, I could see nothing that resembled food for cattle and yet, as I looked closer, I could see that there were green shoots appearing between the stones. Apparently, instead of stones being cold, as we might have imagined, there was a warmth coming from them which germinated the seeds. It seemed that even from the stones there was life.
In the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, God said He could transplant a cold stone heart with a warm heart of flesh in which His Spirit would live. When God changed the hearts of people in such a way, it was to help them to be obedient to Him and to act with courage as David did and to do the impossible as God willed it.
The greatest illustrations of stones in the Bible is, I believe, found in 1 Peter chapter 2, which tells us how God sent His Son Jesus to be a cornerstone for us, the living stones. Christians are connected to the Saviour Jesus Christ in a spiritual building whereby He is the cornerstone which holds the rest together. It is through being joined in this way that we find the kind of courage that David had, the nurturing that was illustrated in The Burren, the warm loving hearts which are transplanted by God into us and the strength to act upon the will of God.
In all the illustrations we find that God makes the changes in us which we are unable to make or sustain in ourselves. Jesus reminded us Himself of this when He said, “With man this is impossible but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19 v26)
PRAYERSThis week’s prayers are taken from Psalm 118 and we begin with the theme which has much to say for this time. Confidence in God’s eternal love. God’s love is unchanging in the midst of changing situations. This gives us security.
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures for ever.
Let those who fear the Lord say: His love endures forever.
In my anguish I cried out to the Lord, and He answered by setting me free, The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid. The Lord is with me; He is my helper. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory, the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things.
Open the gates of righteousness, I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us be glad in it.” Amen