Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
As I was clearing some of the overgrown bushes in the garden yesterday I came across a deserted blackbird’s nest carefully tucked into the branches of the firethorn bush. Such a neat tidy little nest formed of woven twigs and grasses with a lining of mud. How did you make that, Mrs Blackbird, with only your beak to work with? Where did you learn the skill not only to form such a sturdy structure, but how to place it on such a firm foundation? Is there a University somewhere that runs a Building and Construction course for blackbirds?
The Old Testament tells us a lot about building houses, temples and etc. Just one example: the plans for that magnificent structure, King Solomon’s Temple are described great detail in the Book of Kings. Now, every building requires a foundation stone or cornerstone on which it is built. Jesus reminded his listeners of the fate of those who build their houses on sand. (Matthew 7:24-27NIV). No doubt King Solomon’s Temple was firmly founded but like the blackbird’s nest it, and all the succeeding temples, crumbled and decayed; they are no more for as Ecclesiastes says: “All go into one place; all are of dust, and all turn to dust again” Eccl.3:20. There is nothing permanent on this earth – certainly not you or me.
If we are looking for something permanent then we must turn to the New Testament to see what St Paul has to say on the subject. Writing to the Corinthians he says: “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Cor. 5:1). So, where do we find the cornerstone for this house “not built with hands”? Here again we turn to St Paul who tells the Ephesians: “with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (Eph 2:20).
But let us remember that this is not some ethereal building out there somewhere. Each day we pray “on earth as it is in heaven” which tells me that we need to build this house here on earth. Now!
But why am I telling you this? It is surely a basic tenet of our faith. Well, yes it is, but it is good sometimes to step back from the rush and bustle of everyday life and to think for a moment. Am I caught up too much with building a home for my family, making enough money to satisfy my wants; achieving something, some reward? Am I concentrating too much on things which will decay? Am I, as the Psalmist says, rejecting the stone? (Psalm 118:22) Is it possible that I am blinded to God’s invitation to be part of his kingdom? After all, the kingdom of God is open to all men and we are all called to help build it here on earth. Am I ready to take my part in this glorious undertaking?
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years