Isaiah 51: 1-6
Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many. For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.
Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples. I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended.
Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry where you were dug. The prophet Isaiah reminds us this week of our common background. No matter who we are, no matter how far we have traveled, no matter what we look like, who we love, or what path we take in life, we’ve all been cut from the same quarry. We’ve all been formed by a God who has loved each one of us into being. How well we embrace that truth takes a lifetime of work.
There are those who learn early how everyone has been formed in love and others (perhaps those of us with heads taken from the harder, denser rocks in the quarry) who take longer to understand God’s all including love and some who fight that truth every step of the way. Even those who learn this early, take a lifetime to wrap their minds around the fullness of God’s love for us and for all of creation. Some of us come from a church background that helps us learn that from the very beginning. Some have been hurt deeply by church and need to let go of that before they can discover something different they could call their own. For more and more people there just isn’t any church background and for others church growing up wasn’t harmful, but it also never seemed to make it’s way in at the time.
There is not a better way or a worse way to grow into the understanding that all of humanity has been equally and lovingly quarried into being. There’s not a better time or a worse time to begin figuring that bit out and there is never a time that we will ever completely wrap your minds around the infinite love of God. It’s infinite after all, and none of our arms can reach quite that far.
The Psalm today reminds us that as we walk that journey, the God who has created us promises never to leave us. The Psalm talks of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. “Steadfast love” is the best English translation of a Hebrew word that means way more. It implies a deep, never ending passion for us; an unbreakable commitment to be with us always… a love that will never be shaken, no matter what we do or don’t do in our lives.
The God that cut us from this same rock cares more deeply, even for us with granite-hard-noggins, than we could ever imagine. This is not a God that blasts us out of a quarry and sends us off in the dump truck of life. This is a God that cuts each of us with a sculptor’s eye… A God who cradles each of us in loving arms lifting us with care out of the quarry. The Psalm writer ends by praying: Do not forsake the work of your hands. That’s the promise we receive from God.
The lesson from Romans also tells us a little more about this never ending journey of faith. The rock that was cut from the one stone; the rock that was lovingly lifted out of the quarry; it isn’t just any old rock. Each piece of stone was cut with deep intention, in love and for a purpose. Figuring out what that purpose is in our lives is the third most difficult thing we do here on this planet. The second most difficult thing is to actually live into that thing God has called us to do and the first hardest thing is to decide what’s for dinner.
So no human being is just some old rock. Each human being is a specially selected stone, quarried with love for a purpose. Each human being is lifted from the quarry in the arms of a loving God and each human being is sculpted by God into something of great beauty. Each of us are shaped like a priceless work of art. Each of us are cut like a diamond, with intricate facets, unique, and precious. To the One who cuts us from the quarry and shapes us like diamonds, each and every one of us are the most beautiful gems in all of creation.
As we grow in understanding the breadth and depth of God’s love for us we begin to see ourselves, our neighbors and the world around us through the eyes of the Sculptor… we see more and more like the Divine gem cutter. We slowly begin to see the people around us as more than just a bunch of rocks. We even begin to see those who seem to have rock hard heads and stone like hearts… they too were really created to be gems, cut along side us from a common rock and shaped for a purpose in the world.
Our faith is a journey which begins by being hewn from the same rock, lifted in love from the same quarry, held and shaped by a loving God for a purpose. It is a journey of forever wrapping our minds around the fullness of that truth. It’s a journey which strives to see the hardest hearts through God’s eyes, as unpolished gems still being cut, as unfinished sculpture still being carved. Our challenge is to see God’s hand in those who are polished stones and in those who are still very much in the rough.
This is one of the many reasons we need one another… why we need the Church. Here we are fed by that loving God who cuts us from the rock, lifts us from the quarry and forms us for a purpose. Here there are eyes who can help us see God at work in us and others. Here we are reminded that we and all of creation is a treasure of gems, crafted in stedfast love! Thanks be to God. Amen.