Daily thoughts on aesthetics and theology, and the entire world in between.

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The hidden location of the WP

Early in my training as an architect it was drilled into me that no building is possible without a Working Point, or WP. The WP is the point from which all the measurements of a building are taken: length, depth, height. Every measurement down to the location of the door knobs in Room 813 is traceable back to the WP. (The first building I worked on was a large hospital, with hundreds of doors).

So the WP is set by something unmovable and unchanging on the construction site, keyed in to local survey records, which are in turn keyed in to USGS (United State Geological Survey) data points, which I guess nowadays are all checked by satellites for accuracy.

The New Testament refers to Jesus as the rejected cornerstone five times, making this one of the most-quoted Old Testament prophecies about him. The cornerstone for a building of Jesus’ day was the WP of that building.

(By the way, do not mistake cornerstones for keystones. Keystones are at the tops of arches, glorious for all to see. A large building can have many keystones visible to all. But it would have -- and can only have -- just one cornerstone, usually hidden from obvious view).

What strikes me this morning is how obscure the original prophetic statement is. It is found in Psalm 118, which is a long, rambling piece, authorship uncertain (although usually ascribed to David, but this is not provable).

In Psalm 118, among other things, the psalmist praises God, recounts his kindness to those who fear him, makes references to not trusting in mortals, bemoans that enemies surround him “like bees” (yuck!). And on and on.

In the middle of all of this, he mentions a cornerstone of some building. The builders did not like the stone, and so they rejected it. But for some unexplained reason it was later made the chief cornerstone.

One day, Jesus went up a mountain with three – he took just three – of his disciples. On the mountain an extraordinary thing happened: Jesus was transfigured before his three companions. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes glowed white like light.

When they were coming down the mountain, he charged them strictly: “Don’t tell anybody about this…”


Psalm 118.22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.

Matthew 21.42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone …

Mark 12.10 Have you not even read this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.

Luke 20.17 Then He looked at them and said, "What then is this that is written: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone'?

Acts 4.11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'

1 Peter 2.7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, "The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,"

Matthew 17.1-9 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid." When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead."

Note: It is true that Jesus forbid them to tell others until after the resurrection. In other words there was a time limit to their silence. But still this is an extraordinary commitment to hiddenness until the right time. Since the resurrection is now in history past, does this mean that Jesus' charge does not apply to us? I don't think it is as simple as that. Because the resurrection is history, and so we have been given resurrection life, there is still a difference between gestation and birth in everything we do, everything we are involved in. Until something is ready to be birthed, don't broadcast it. Let all the measurements find their places ... traceable back to the Chief Cornerstone. And during gestation, that Cornerstone can be in the most obscure of places, hidden in the rough and tumble of daily life.


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