22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 118: 22-29
A hymn of thanksgiving to God, Psalm 118 celebrates God’s steadfast love, which is experienced in God’s deliverance. It comes as no surprise to us that Psalm 118 is the most often quoted psalm in the New Testament. Even today its verses ring out in our worship services through the year, calling us to worship, to remember, to offer our gratitude to God.
In this advent season, while we anticipate the arrival of the Christ child, John the Baptist has already called us to repentance so that we might see the salvation of God. We know that being turned from our old sinful ways to the ways of God is a joyful act. Trusting in the goodness of God we are able to say good-bye to our old selves while anticipating the new life that is yet to come. We are released from the brokenness of the past and delivered by God’s steadfast love for us to the possibilities of the future.
“The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (v. 22) opens us, once again, to the incredible surprises of God’s steadfast love and deliverance. The stone the builders cast aside as being useless turns out to fit perfectly as the cornerstone—the most important component of the building. The gospel writers used this phrase to articulate the significance of what God has done in Jesus Christ. It proclaims the good news of God’s redemption and restoration and it leads us in our 21st century crescendo of praise to the declaration that we, too, rejoice in what God has done, this day!
The psalm reminds us that the God who was active in the exodus is the God who was active in the exile and is the same God who was active in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This God is still working in our world—and our lives—today. The psalmist declares that God’s love endures forever. God is for us. The God who delivered God’s people in the past can be trusted to be the God of deliverance in our future. This is where our hope lies—in the God who does marvelous things, the God whose steadfast love endures forever.
As resurrection people we live celebrating this God who rescues God’s people from the ultimate enemy, death itself. As advent people, we live anticipating the time when God’s deliverance is complete on the day Christ returns to lead us all to glory. We live in the confidence of God’s steadfast love and presence among us and we live in the anticipation of God’s steadfast love breaking forth among us in new and unexpected ways as we wait for the coming of the Christ child.
Gratitude. Openness. Deliverance. Hope. Anticipation. Confidence. God’s steadfast love. Surely these are the Lord’s doing and they are marvelous in our eyes. Let us rejoice and be glad!
A prayer for this day:
Accept our gratitude, O God, for your steadfast love for us. We marvel at your faithfulness. We hope in your deliverance for ourselves and our world. We anticipate you coming among us with your life-changing power. We give you thanks, O Lord, for you are our salvation. Amen.
Rev. Merriam Alexander (M. Div., 2013)
Montreat Conference Center