Opening The Old Testament
God's Good and Steadfast Love: Reflections on the Easter Psalms
The very famous verse 22 that became a watchword for the first Christians was apparently for the Israelite pilgrim a metaphor for their astonishing reception after she first had felt so unworthy for worship and thanks. She was first a "rejected stone," tossed away as useless for any building. But now she finds herself at the very threshold of the greatest of all buildings, the temple, and feels nothing less than a "chief cornerstone" of its construction. The first Christians saw something else here for their faith; they believed their rejected friend now resurrected had become the central cornerstone of the new temple, his body ascendant to the right hand of God.
All of this is "YHWH's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes!" (vs. 23) The pilgrim thought her life was at an end, that she had been forgotten and rejected. But she now finds herself thanking God for goodness and steadfast love, because she now feels herself alive in God. And the murdered Jesus, in the eyes of his first followers, was no longer lost in death, but rather alive in God, leading them into a new future of hope.
We can take this ancient pilgrim as our model this Easter. Like her, we have felt rejected and tossed aside. Like her, we have felt threatened with death. But also like her we can now feel accepted and loved eternally. And like her, we can feel fully alive and worshipping the God of life.
So put on your Easter finery, your best shoes and flashiest hat, your richest dress and supplest suit, and come on a modern pilgrimage to give thanks to YHWH, who is nothing but good and whose steadfast love endures forever. Or if you only have jeans, a tee shirt, and some beat-up tennies, come along anyway. All pilgrims are welcome. Happy Easter!
John C. Holbert is the Lois Craddock Perkins Professor Emeritus of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX.