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Building a Temple with Living Stones

510 S. Farwell St., Eau Claire WI 54701 • 715.835.3734 Map to the Cathedral

Building a Temple with Living Stones

~Fr. Michael

The Cathedral has been a profound delight for me to pray in since I first visited here to discern the call to be dean some six years ago. Like many people who come to visit, I was rather overwhelmed by the simple grandeur of the High Altar, and the maelstrom of light and color in the windows that surrounds you as you pray. From the lofty rafters to the very shape of the building, everything in the Cathedral is designed to help focus the heart and mind on God.  Our church is truly something to celebrate. 

As much as all of us love this building and its space, I think the best way to celebrate it is to reflect on why the Cathedral, and other churches like it, were built.  They were built in order to help people change and grow, and that we might grow in the knowledge and love of God as we gather to worship.  The best way to celebrate this wonderful heritage is to strive to be the Church with the help of this Church building.

Solomon admitted that the temple could not contain God since not even the heavens can contain God. But through the hearts of people who worship there, God can assuredly be accessed.  Jesus warns about the risks we face with trying to contain or control access to God, though.  He knocks over tables and chases out money changers from the Temple.  Ever since the church has been keen to avoid needing this kind of warning, but it hasn’t always been successful.  So what is the right balance?  How can we use the gift of our spaces to help us to not be so dependent on our spaces, but on God alone?

Peter gives us a powerful image for how we can be the church: “like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.” (1 Pet. 2: 5) In being living stones, we imitate Jesus who was the fulfillment of the “stone rejected by the builders” mentioned in Psalm 118. This reference is used many times in the New Testament, often by Jesus himself. It means that the life and teaching of Jesus that was rejected by nailing Jesus to the cross has become the basis of a whole new culture and way of life in Jesus. We are called to be living stones built by the Holy Spirit into a new temple supported by Jesus, the cornerstone.

 Stones are solid and we are meant to be solid in our commitment to Christ and to each other. It is the solidity of stones that makes them strong enough to support each other. We need to be as strong as that if we are going to support one another. But Peter is not describing ordinary stones, which are rigid, and hard, and cold.  Ordinary stones are dead, but Peter is describing living stones, filled with vibrancy, and the ability to resonate with one another. Unlike dead, rigid, stones, living stones are permeable to each other and most importantly to Christ. 

May our Cathedral Church open us to each other and to Christ so as to transform us into living stones receiving life, stability, and purpose from the rejected cornerstone.