Somewhere around ten-to-twelve years of age, I had a passion for collecting arrowheads, spearheads, axe heads, etc. I can't remember how I exactly came to an intense liking for them. I also don't remember who it was that gave me my first arrowhead. But I do remember that I became "hooked" on collecting them, studying them, and even doing some historical research as to what Native American tribes might have existed in the area where my "treasures" were found.
When looking at an arrowhead or spearhead, I would check out the various "slices and chunks" that had been made while they were being made to the shape they were as I held or looked at them. I wondered what it took to create these in a way that served a useful purpose for the previous owner(s). How long did they keep pounding away at the stone until they had their desired finished product? What did they use to cut the numerous grooves and slices out of the stone? Who was the owner of the arrowhead and how successful were they in achieving the purpose of hunting and/or protecting themselves and their family?
My biggest treasure was an almost complete axe head (with the groove where the handle would be affixed unto it). It was quite big and heavy for a young boy to hold. It was porous and smooth, not chipped like the arrow or spear heads. I wondered how lucky I was to have this creation!
I don't know if I knew the name of what the process was called to make these treasures, or if I even remember ever hearing the term. However, reading a Still-Speaking Devotion by Vince Amlin, I learned the process was called Flint-knapping. He shares this understanding of flint-knapping in his devotion:
...a stone core is shaped into a hand axe or an arrowhead. A hard hammer stone is pounded into a more fragile rock, knocking off large chunks. Then another stone is used for pressure flaking, breaking off smaller shards until the edge is sharp and the tool is well-defined.
It's amazing what archaeologists can learn even from those shards: how far a group of people ranged, who they traded with, what kind of work they did. All by looking to the rock, following those flakes back to their source.
In his devotional, Amlin goes on to remind us of what the prophet Isaiah understood about the kind of "rock" we are hewn from: "Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many." – Isaiah 51:1-2
I appreciate Amlin creating an image of what God's family looks like when he states, "We know... we're chips off the old block. We are the many born from the one. We are made of good stuff, both fragile and strong. Remember it, you who seek God, and be shaped for Love's use."
You and I are part of a heritage of covenant people that goes a long way back. Covenant people have over the centuries felt like they have been "hammered, chipped, and sometimes broken." They have felt abandoned by God. They have wondered why God was not more active in keeping those situations from happening. But then, as now, on far too many occasions, covenant people, abandon the ideals of God. Covenant people have the choice to act in the way of God's "rightness." They have a way to share God's love and reconciling mercy, but choose not to.
If you have been part of Spring Creek over the last several years, you may have felt like you were being "hammered, chipped, or even broken" because covenant has been broken — by pastors, staff, leaders, or other people and other ways. However, by God's unconditional love and merciful reconciliation, we have the opportunity to be "the chip off the old (and new) block" as we move forward to a desired future. The Covenant of Old reminds us that God desired that humanity would follow a set of ten laws that would help us to understand God's ways and then live them as covenant people. If we were to take a deeper look into the Ten Commandments we would also find they are life-giving to God's people.
The New Covenant given to us by Jesus is one that continues being life-giving to those trying to be disciples of Jesus. In Jesus, we see how God's life-giving nature is made manifest. A nature that is focused more on reconciliation and love offered by God's amazing grace than holding a list of "do's and don'ts" in front of one another.
As God's covenant people we can still be "chips off the Old (and New) block! We can practice being less self-centered and more Christ-centered by practicing "holy manners." How so? Perhaps it might be by sharing openly our feelings without fear of being personally attacked. We can also do it by listening to one another without correcting or changing their feelings or words to match your own.
The Listening Session this coming Sunday, March 4th after worship will give each of you the opportunity to remember from what rock you were hewn from!
May our prayer be: "God, you who raised up children of Abraham from stone, form us for your work. Amen."