I love words and their meanings – and recently I have been thinking about the word dress [that is probably connected with weddings…] but not the noun, rather the verb
We dress lots of different things – ourselves, windows, salads, lawns, wounds, crabs…
My Bible readings this week have been from 1 Peter, and I read this
As you come to him, the Living Stone – rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Dressing of stones is a process in which their surfaces are prepared to a form, fit to be used for any constructional purpose. Dressing is according to the type of work and demand. The Purpose of Dressing Stones is
- To make them fit, to be used for particular construction.
- To provide horizontal and vertical joints in the masonry
- Generally to give them a neat and good appearance.
The more I thought about this ancient craft, I realised something important – all the instances of ‘dressing’ in my list at the top of this post involve adding something [clothes, curtains, oil, fertiliser, bandages, pepper…] but when stones are dressed, something has to be chipped away. The worker removes exactly the right amount of stone to make it truly useful.
And that is what God does with us, patiently and lovingly - He chips away the rough edges which prevent us ‘fitting’ into the construction of his kingdom. He helps us to form secure joints [relationships] with our brothers and sisters in Christ. He enables us to have a good appearance [witness] to those looking on.
God had graciously given us gifts already – and he knows our inner strengths and abilities [he created us, after all] and he knows where we will be of most use. I love this picture of bridge-building in the Lake District. The stones are different shapes, colours and sizes – but together they make an attractive structure, which will help carry people over the water. Being chipped away at by a hammer may be temporarily painful – but the end result, when set in its appointed place, is something beautiful and useful. I want to be a living stone, even if the process of ‘dressing’ isn’t always comfortable! It brings a whole new meaning to the phrase
Getting dressed for church