In December last year, the partnership between the churches of Houghton, Thurnby and Stoughton was (finally) formalised—and we became the Cornerstone Team.
Why call it that? That’s a good question—and those that were involved in the discussions last year will know that it wasn’t easy to pick the right name. Should we go for something descriptive, something geographical, something modern…? Well, there are all kinds of things we could call ourselves—but in the end, it came down to wanting a name which would always remind us who is at the centre of all we do: Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone.
There are several Old Testament passages which use the idea of a Cornerstone in different ways, but two in particular have great significance for us:
- Psalm 118:22: which tells us about God’s rescue of his people through his rejected Messiah: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’; and
- Isaiah 28:16: in the midst of of a passage about God’s justice in bringing judgment against a people who are extremely full of themselves and over-confident, there is this welcome reminder of what God is planning: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.’
Both of these passages and their themes then get picked up by Jesus and his apostles:
- In the parable of the tenants (Luke 20:9-19), Jesus quotes the Psalm, and explains that it is our response to him which is most vital of all: ‘Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.’
- Peter repeats this teaching of Jesus in Acts 4:11-12, again quoting the psalm reference, and giving a clear explanation of what it means: ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’
- Paul doesn’t give a direct quotation, but he develops the idea from Isaiah 28 about the cornerstone which is the foundation stone for all God’s people: ‘Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the chief cornerstone.’ (Ephesians 2:19-21)
- Finally, Peter again, this time in his first letter (1 Peter 2:6-10), quotes both Isaiah 28 and Psalm 118, and explains that Jesus Christ is both a precious hope to those who believe, and a stumbling block to those who reject him.
So, the Cornerstone Team it is. We’ll be celebrating all that God has done for us in a special service at St Catharine’s on Wednesday 9th April at 7.30pm, when we will be joined by people from all three churches, and by Bishop Tim.
And every time we use that name to describe our group of churches—it’s a great reminder of Jesus Christ, who is God’s chosen and precious cornerstone.