It is likely that over the course of our celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of St. Paul you have seen, or will see, the eloquent words of the Very Reverend Samuel Marquis, the first dean of the Cathedral. He speaks powerfully about the Cathedral in ways that are physical and symbolic. He concludes by saying that it is a reminder to us that we “do not live by bread alone (Matt 4:4).
When Marquis wrote his words a century ago this city and the churches of it were burgeoning. Today both face the challenges of what new life might be. As we embark on a second century of ministry as a cathedral, for our diocese, region, city, neighborhood and people, I, like many others, continue to be transformed by the physical and symbolic elements of this great structure. But reflecting prayerfully on the beauty and majesty of these stones (and glass, wood, tile, tapestry and more), I know that our second century will be, must be, focused on the living stones of humanity and mission.
We are being called to become the “living stones” spoken of in the First Letter of Peter (1 Peter 2:5). We are to be built into a spiritual house: a priesthood of all believers to offer a spiritual place, life, witness (sacrifices). 1 Peter reminds us that we are God’s people, chosen, in order to proclaim the mighty acts of the One who brought us from darkness into light. Our mission is share that life-giving reconciling love with others.
Now, and for the duration of our centennial year, you will find actual stones in vessels around the Cathedral. They are pieces of limestone, the stone of which the cathedral is built. They have been prayed over and we have asked God’s blessing upon them. We invite you, we ask you, to take one. Our hope is that it will be a tangible reminder that we are not to be stacks of cold rock, no matter how beautifully stacked on one another, but that we are to be the living stones of this cathedral. If you are from another congregation, we invite you to take one as well – for our desire is that you and your community of faith will be built of living stones as well. (And perhaps that you would be moved to hold us and God’s mission and ministry for this place in your prayers from time to time.)
The eternal presence of God, reflected in the Cathedral stone, and the eternal love of God, reflected in lives of Living Stones, will be what transforms what is lost and broken into that which is again alive and whole.
Yours ever in Christ,
Scott+ May 17, 2011