Chelsea Van Der Poel explores how regardless the season, God's goodness creates a hopeful new day.
On the eighteenth day of Advent, 2021, Vanessa Hughes captures the hope we have of each new day because of our precious cornerstone.
Our sure Foundation for the days ahead!
...therefore thus says the Lord God,
See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
‘One who trusts will not panic.’
And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plummet;
hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.
Isaiah 28:16-17 NRSV
Recently we built a stone staircase in our backyard. Big, heavy, long, stone logs curving up the slope of our lawn. It took an excavator a whole day to lay the bottom stone step; levelling the base, placing it into position, checking it and ensuring it was ‘just so’ before adding the rest of the steps. The rest of the stones were easy to place, sitting solidly upon the foundation stone.
Jesus, the one who was born as our saviour and Lord on that first Christmas over 2,000 years ago was described as this kind of foundation stone. God’s promises were the level base and Jesus is the solid, tested, sure foundation stone. The church is God’s new temple; God’s everlasting dwelling place and as we are built steadily on this precious cornerstone, there is an integrity, a sturdiness to this building because of what it is founded on. It might seem like a strange foundation; a baby in a manger, a humble king, a crucified saviour, a mocked and shamed Messiah and yet, it’s that very self-giving, sacrificial love that God chose as the basis for his new building.
As we come to the end of 2021, the days ahead all of a sudden seem uncertain! Will we ever be able to gather again in person without worrying about the pandemic? Will the growing scepticism about Christianity shake the people of God? Will the anxiety and worry of God’s people slow our labour?
Instead of seeing the days ahead as uncertain, God tells us not to panic but to approach tomorrow as a new day with a sense of hope! The birth of Jesus ushered in a new era! God has been building a new temple! One that lasts, one that will stand in a new heaven and a new earth. God tells us, ‘I am making everything new!’ (Rev 21:5). I love the sense of hope and optimism in this verse. As we remember Jesus as our precious cornerstone, a tested and sure foundation, we can recover our steady stance as the church; God’s new building; stone laid upon stone, laid upon stone. Ready for a new day with no need to panic as we rely on Jesus and his generous love.
As I reflect upon Jesus in this way in the lead up to Christmas, I pray that rather than a sense of apprehension about the future, I will be refreshed with the hope of each new day, because of our precious cornerstone. I pray this for you, I pray this for our church!
Vanessa Hughes is an Assistant Minister at St Andrew’s Roseville. Vanessa enjoys pastoral ministry to all ages and stages with a particular focus on teaching God’s word. As a busy mum of three, she cares deeply about faith lived out in the ordinary, messy and spectacular rhythms of everyday life.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Please renew our strength and hope for the days ahead and help us to be reminded at this time of year, that in Jesus, we find reason to ask for and experience such things. You have given us a firm foundation to stand upon and so we pray that as a church we would resume our confident stance in the world; one that resembles the love and humility of our Lord and Saviour.
Would this in turn, bless the world around us as they search for stability, certainty and hope. May they find these things in Jesus and be saved.
Photograph: Leaf Klevjer, Sunset, Wollongong, Dharawal Country, New South Wales
Visual Description: The vivid blue ocean is retreating over rocks from the beach, which gleams from the tide. The sky above the horizon blends through pastel shades of purple, pink, orange, yellow, green and blue.