This Jesus is `the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
it has become the cornerstone.' -Acts 4:11

I recently heard the phrase, "If you spot it, you've got it," which means, that if you see something in someone else that drives you crazy, it's probably because they're like a mirror showing you what drives you crazy about yourself - whether consciously or unconsciously.  I often think of this in our polarized times and sometimes wonder if all our finger pointing means we're all just really frustrated with ourselves.  Maybe we get so upset with people we perceive as having intractable opinions because we reject the parts of ourselves that are intractable.  Maybe we get anxious about the hatred we see in others because we are afraid of the hatred we harbor ourselves. It's something to consider, anyway.  

If you spot it, you've got it!.  It's another way of expressing Jesus' advice not to judge the speck in your neighbor's eye without taking out the log in your own. But I've found that this also works the other way - you often admire in others what you feel good about in yourself.  As they say, whenever you point at someone else, there are always three fingers pointing back at you.

Which reminds me of how sometimes our greatest strength can become our greatest weakness, and our greatest weakness can become our greatest strength.  For example, you may be an unusually intelligent person, but you might find you fall into being a judgmental know-it-all.  Or maybe someone who is painfully shy might become a really, really good and compassionate listener.  Whenever you point at others - or yourself - what you judge as superiorities may actually be detriments and the other way around.

Which all leads me to this famous biblical phrase - that the stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  The way I read it is that sometimes there are things in your life that you thought were negative and they turn out to be your best teachers. The troubles you go through shape and form and mature you (the biblical refiner's fire, or fuller's soap). For example, ask people who are strong in their recovery about their addiction - and many will say that they are grateful for it, for without it they would never have become the person they are today.  The "stone" that you might logically reject in life can strangely become the firm foundation for healing and new life.

Peter, and the other disciples had been imprisoned for preaching about Jesus and healing in his name. They were brought from their cells to testify before rulers, elders, and scribes, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.  These were the people who'd so recently had Jesus put to death. But Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaims that Jesus - the nothing carpenter from Nazareth who was given the outcast's death in shame - is, in fact, the foundation for our healing - the chief cornerstone of our faith.  You  may have been expecting a powerful and royal Messiah - but this man who you reviled and put to death on a cross - He is the true Messiah. And his suffering on the cross has become the triumph of new life!

So if you've ever suffered with any particular "stone" in life, whether addiction or grief or abuse or poverty or illness or any other kind of suffering, the story of Jesus and his resurrection promises that none of those stones will define us, and that new life can, in fact, be built firmly upon them.  This is liberating news - news that built a whole movement - the Jesus movement - the church.

This Sunday's readings are HERE