The one who falls on this stone

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t might seem an unusual text on which to base a song for congregational singing, but perhaps that isn’t altogether surprising when the songwriter is our own Mike Koop. The gospel reading for this past Sunday was Matthew 21:33-46, in which Jesus says to his audience that “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” (21:43-44)

As the liturgy opened, two hundred voices joined together to sing these words:

The one who falls on this stone
The one who falls on this stone
Will be broken into pieces
It will crush all on whom it falls
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Just what does that mean? Well, here’s Robert Farrar Capon’s take on these words:

His paradoxical messiahship is a great stone in the world’s way: Jesus Christ, as Paul said in 1 Cor 1:23, is a stumbling block to the Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks. The world perennially trips over him in unbelief; and when he comes in judgement to its unfaith, his vindication of it by grace through faith simply grinds to powder the irrelevant, lost life on which it chose to rely. (Capon, The Parables of Judgement)

In this sense, to sing such words is to effectively confess that we will rely only on the grace of Christ… or that we will do what we can to release our grip on the things we so easily mistake for “the way, the truth, and the life.”

Not the easiest of words to sing, but somehow on Sunday they were the right words.

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