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How To Be A Brick

The rock group, Pink Floyd, have a song entitled, "Brick in the wall".
The lyrics are simple. There is only one stanza that repeats itself. It goes like this:

We don't need no education.
We don't need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teachers, leave those kids alone.
Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

There is a famous story about a king visiting the king of Sparta:

The King of Sparta was hosting a visiting king and boasted about the formidable walls of the city of Sparta. The visiting king looked around and could see no walls. He said to the Spartan king, "where are these walls of which you boast so much?" The Spartan king pointed . . .

You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood. 1 Peter 2:5

The rock group, Pink Floyd, have a song entitled, "Brick in the wall".
The lyrics are simple. There is only one stanza that repeats itself. It goes like this:

We don't need no education.
We don't need no thought control.
No dark sarcasm in the classroom.
Teachers, leave those kids alone.
Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

There is a famous story about a king visiting the king of Sparta:
The King of Sparta was hosting a visiting king and boasted about the formidable walls of the city of Sparta. The visiting king looked around and could see no walls. He said to the Spartan king, "where are these walls of which you boast so much?" The Spartan king pointed to his bodyguard of magnificent Spartan soldiers. He said, "These are my walls. Every man of them, a brick."

On the same theme, Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:5  You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood.

According to Pink Floyd, being called a brick is no complement. In Sparta, it was the men of Sparta who were the bricks of the walls of Sparta. That was meant as a great complement.

Peter says we are like living stones, being built into a spiritual house.
It is an interesting concept that Peter uses, and he should know about being called a stone  or a
brick.
Remember that his name originally is Simon, Bar Jonah...Simon son of Jonah.
But Jesus calls him Peter,
the rock.

If Jesus was not able to make Peter into a rock of a man, the name would just have been a taunt.
Hey Rocky, where were you when I needed you?
Big talk should be backed up by big deeds, but when the chips were down, Rocky was more of a pebble.
But Jesus never said that to him.

But He could have.
Peter was big on boasting, but in a moment of crisis, he turned tail when a servant girl called him a supporter of Jesus.
But Jesus had better plans for Simon and so he gave him the name,
Rocky.
Jesus was in the process of building Peter into a living stone

It is interesting that in the shadow of the election of a new Pope, we can reflect on what Jesus meant when he said to Simon, "You are Petros and on this rock I will build my church.
Protestants have traditionally interpreted Jesus as meaning Peter and his confession not just the man. It is a person's confession that is the rock of the church of Jesus. I do not disagree with that.

But I think we can also allow that it is Peter the man who is also the rock upon which Jesus builds.
Not just Peter, though, but believers who in the words of Peter are, just like him, living stones being built into a spiritual house.
And Peter did become a living stone.
Following Jesus resurrection and following Pentecost when God gave Peter and the rest his Holy Spirit, Peter was a dynamo of a man.
He was tireless and fearless and eventually laid down his life for Jesus just as he said he would.
With the power of Jesus in him, he was a good as his word and better.
It is believed that Peter and Paul were both martyred at Rome under the persecution of Nero.
Peter traditionally is said to have been crucified upside down because he felt he was not worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.

God wants to build us into a spiritual house. "Us" individually and "us" collectively.
One of the desires most people have is for their life to have meaning for something worthwhile.
We want our lives to have significance.
God wants them to have significance too.
And he is willing to give us the means for them to be significant.

Collectively I want us to be a faith community that has significance.
I see us as a church that reaches out to people in need wherever we find them. And there are all kinds of need.
There is a need for friendship, for love, for acceptance. For believing that your life counts for something.
I want us to be a community that first of all is a community grounded in faith in what God alone can do in our lives.
Then I want us to be a community that dares to believe that we can accomplish big things, worthwhile things for God that will also enrich our lives and give us a sense of joy at being a part of something important.
And joy at having been a part of something where it was evident that God was at work.

I see that in small ways already, but what I want for you is for you to be able to see it and be a part of it in big ways as well as small.

What is interesting is that Peter is addressing people who probably were largely composed of slaves, and servants.
We know that when Paul writes he speaks of merchants, of soldiers and of slaves who were all a part of Christ's new body.
But for the most part they all had one thing in common:
Before they heard about Jesus, there were totally ignorant of God's purposes in their lives.

Peter says, once you were no people.
Slaves had no legal status in Rome and the ancient world in general.
Aristotle speaks of slaves as animate tools and nothing more.
A slave was property and had no status.
Slaves were not allowed to marry, so could not be a part of any permanent union.

He reminds them that Jesus was rejected too.
He is the rejected one because those in power could not see his worth.
But they have come to him, the most important building block.

In Jesus slaves suddenly found that they were of worth. They had the same status as anyone. God saw them of great worth and value and made them a permanent part of his body...the church. He says to them:

Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

A community of people who most considered worthless are becoming the building blocks in God's own building.

The cathedral of Coventry England dates back to 1043. The church along with a good part of the city was destroyed in a bombing raid in November of 1940. The very next day the decision was made to rebuild, not as an act of defiance, but of hope.
It was noted that two of the roof beams had fallen into the shape of a cross and charred nails from the old building were taken and fashioned into a new cross. In the church are the words, "Father, forgive."

The cathedral dean, the Very Reverend John Irvine, believes the spirit of the cathedral is one of hope. On the cathedral website he writes: "To walk from the ruins of the old cathedral into the splendour of the new is to walk from the ravages of human self-destruction to the glorious hope of resurrection. Your heart is lifted, your spirit is renewed and you feel that there is hope for the world... reconciliation is possible."1.

That is an incredible image. The broken and ruined being turned into an image of the cross of Jesus who saves us from our ruin.
Peter says, you like living stones are being built into a spiritual house.
I want to be a part of that project.
Do you?
Let's build what God calls us to build and lets build it together to the glory of God.


Preached  April 24, 2005
Dr. Harold McNabb
West Shore Presbyterian Church
Victoria, British Columbia

Notes
1. British Broadcasting Corporation,
WW2 People's War, "Coventry During WW2."
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