"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:9-10).
You see, because you know what Easter means, because you've been "churched" or "Called out" from the darkness of unbelief and stress to the light of Jesus - you are something special. Look at that list. Can you even imagine that? He took us, who so naturally fight, quarrel, gossip, slander, and all that other stuff that looks nothing like Jesus, the living stone - and he makes us what he just listed: reflections of that living Stone - the stones built on him.
Let's go through that list. You are a chosen people, he said. In verse 6, he had used that same word to describe Jesus - chosen. Our Savior was God's one and only, precious, the one chosen to complete God's perfect plan and fulfill his powerful purpose. And now God uses that word to describe you and me. We are chosen. We're here for a reason ... special... precious to God. We're not gathered together by chance. God chose us.
And you are a royal priesthood. That's fascinating. The kings from the line of David were very special, given power by God. The priests from the line of Aaron were very special, given privilege and responsibility by God for the spiritual well being of his people. But never after God instituted that Davidic kingship and that Aaronic priesthood, never until Jesus did one person fit both of those descriptions. Now as believers, as living stones built on this Living Stone, you have all those rights and privileges. You are royalty that will sit on thrones in heaven over all. You are priests that have direct access to God and who so powerfully represent him here on earth - You've been churched to be a royal priesthood.
And he goes on: You are a holy nation. I know, we don't look holy. We sin. It's as simple as that. But that's focusing on the darkness we talked about last week. Look in the light of God's Word at what it says: you are forgiven... you are holy. Through the blood of Jesus Christ poured out on you for the forgiveness of all your sins, through the water of Baptism filling you with the Holy Spirit, through the living and enduring word of God building you up - you are holy.
And you, Peter says, are a people belonging to God. You are his own... and for a reason, "that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." And you do that by being what God has made you, living the love Jesus said will show the world that you are his disciples, speaking the word that changes everything for those who hear it. Wherever you are members, if you believe in Jesus, the Living Stone, you are the Church. Let's live like it.
The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.