What do these Stones Mean?

A Christian Perspective

Stones in a Field
What do these Stones Mean?
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About the Author

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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Moses is dead.

After all those promises of freedom in the promised land, when the people of Israel finally get within sight of the promised land … Moses is dead.
But just when hope is about to give in to despair, God says to Joshua, “I’m with you now, little buddy!”

You would think this story about Joshua and the damming of the Jordan River would be better remembered. Perhaps if Cecil B DeMille had filmed just one more scene ….

The beginning and end of the exile is marked by a distinct dampness.

You may remember that the people of Israel were enslaved in Egypt. Moses led them into the wilderness across the Red Sea

  1. The parting of the waters of the Red Sea let them out of Egypt
  2. After many adventures the people come within sight of their goal, across the Jordan river.
  3. The damming up of the waters of the Jordan River let them in to the promised land.

Every day we stand with one foot in the past, and the other raised. So do we look back? Do we take a risk? As the future unfolds, who goes with us?

These two events are a dramatic way of getting the attention of the people of Israel. God is with you. God is doing this.

God told Joshua, ‘choose twelve leaders’, who were then to pick up the Ark of the Covenant, — that elusive great box that contained the tablets with the 10 commandments – and heft it up and step into the waters of the Jordan, at the height of spring flooding.

It required bravery for those leaders to put their feet into a flooding river:

When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.

It required bravery for the people to leave the wilderness – not as easy as we might think. It was the only life they knew. They grew up with the story of their grandparents bravery in leaving Egypt and now they had to do the same thing.

But the leaders God gave them stood still till every one was over the river – stood still while a miraculously damned up river is overwhelming them on one side, while the stubborn resisted and the stragglers lagged behind, waited until every single person finally started to move and made it to the other side.

How frustrating for those leaders, standing still in the water, waiting, waiting patiently for everyone to decide to forge ahead, take the risk, and cross that river.

First Challenge: to tend to the movement of your life with faith
It takes great courage to put your feet in the Jordan. But this story is told to encourage us to do just that.

The leaders have lifted the Ark — the symbol of their faith, their relationship with God, and the 10 commandments that God gave them. They have looked to the faith of the past – the ways in which God has spoken to the people.

And they have stepped out in courage, offering a vision to enable their people to relate to God, to acknowledge God within and outside, to seek to live in God’s way.

Pointing back to the source of strength and forward to the unknown but promised land.

If your foundation is deep and secure, you can risk it all.

The movement of your life matters; make it faithful!

Second Challenge: to make the moments of your life matter.
The story doesn’t end in the middle of the river. After all the people made it safely to the other side, the twelve leaders carrying the Ark finished the crossing. And then God told Joshua to choose another 12 leaders:

“one from each tribe, and command them, “Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.”

Why this pile of heavy rocks,? ‘So you can tell your children what happened and what I did for you.’

God was taking the present moment and turning it into a meaningful moment for the future.

And here we are, standing in our Jordan, telling the story.

This is our challenge. There are still stones to be added.

Hear about a stone that Bob Mitchell, a member of Maple Grove United Church left for one of our teens, now a young adult:

Adrienne was telling me what it meant to grow up in our church:
“When I was twelve, someone in church asked me to do something I didn’t want to do, but I agreed anyway. Bob Mitchell took me aside and said,
‘you didn’t want to do that, did you?’”
He told me he learned that saying ‘yes’ when he didn’t mean it really didn’t work out and not to be afraid to say, ‘no’. But when I felt it was right to say yes, I should be enthusiastic and committed.
I never forgot that. It has kept me out of trouble at times. And when I say ‘yes’ I really do mean it.

Bob’s message became the foundation for her own impassioned leadership. Bob died, but the stone he left remains, because he cared enough to make a memory in Adrienne’s life.

What will be the stones that will give another generation a memory of your life of faith and your church?

This is a question of import to you and to God.

The movement of your life and the moment of your life matters. To God and to others.

Whether you are standing still in the Jordan or struggling to pile up stones for the future: do not fear! Listen to God and God will bless what will be.



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