TREASURES IN THE STONES
by Bernice Beers
The following is the text of a presentation by Bernice Beers who was a long time member of Northminster Presbyterian Church. It was given at a Lenten Service on March 9th, 1988. In this message Bernice describes the "Treasures" she found in the fieldstone wall at the front of the church Sanctuary where the cross is mounted.
"Treasures in the Stones"
A little background regarding my interest in the stone wall. Many years ago a visiting speaker made a remark regarding the large fish shape across the wall – explaining how the fish has always been a Christian symbol. That was the beginning of my search for other "treasures" in the stones. I never stop looking, and have discovered more while working on this program for tonight.
I have found enough treasures to show you the life of Christ – from birth to resurrection. In order to make it easier for you to find the objects, I have prepared picture booklets for you, outlining individual objects.
I want to thank Steve Price for taking the pictures and Sharyn Menard for helping with the copies for your booklet.
I also want to thank my husband, Clyde, and son, Regan, for pointing out important objects that contribute to the story in stones.
I’ve asked my daughter, Melinda, to read the Scriptural references using the Living Bible.
The booklets will be passed out now, and I would ask that you follow along with the story. Of course, your imagination will help in the case of some of the shapes. They are not perfect.
On page 1, I have outlined some fun objects just to get your eyes used to finding the objects. On the left is a fish – tail and all. Inside the fish is a top. Can you look up and see them in the wall? To the right is the wild duck – in flight heading south. See how the colored stones are somewhat helpful? You will need to turn the paper to see the bow tie – next to the duck’s wing. Okay – lower right. A bear! Facing left. Can you see them? By now I hope you have the feel for how to spot the shapes?
Now turn to page 2 and the beginning of the story of Jesus. The day of His birth. The star – on the left – listen for the Scriptural reference – Matthew 2:1,2 and 7-9.
Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. At about that time some astrologers from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the newborn King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in far-off eastern lands, and have come to worship him." Then Herod sent a private message to the astrologers, asking them to come to see him; at this meeting he found out from them the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!" After this interview the astrologers started out again. And look! The star appeared to them again, standing over Bethlehem.
The angel across the top – listen to the word, Luke 2:8-14.
That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly an angel appeared among them, and the landscape shone bright with the glory of the Lord. They were badly frightened, but the angel reassured them. "Don’t be afraid!" he said. "I bring you the most joyful news ever announced, and it is for everyone! The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born tonight in Bethlehem! How will you recognize him? You will find a baby wrapped in a blanket, lying in a manger!" Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven – praising God: "Glory to God in the highest heaven," they sang, "and peace on earth for all those pleasing him."
The traveler – on bended knee – pack on his back. Hear it described in Matthew 2:7-11.
Then Herod sent a private message to the astrologers, asking them to come to see him; at this meeting he found out from them the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them, "Go to Bethlehem and search for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him too!" After this interview the astrologers started out again. And look! The star appeared to them again, standing over Bethlehem. Their joy knew no bounds! Entering the house where the baby and Mary, his mother, were, they threw themselves down before him, worshiping. Then they opened their presents and gave him gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
I did not outline the figure – but can any of you see Mary, to the left of the traveler, receiving his gift to the baby Jesus?
Page 3 – a dove – used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The head – same as duck. Matthew 3:13-17.
Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized there by John. John didn’t want to do it. "This isn’t proper," he said. "I am the one who needs to be baptized by you." But Jesus said, "Please do it, for I must do all that is right." So then John baptized him. After his baptism, as soon as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God coming down in the form of a dove. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, and I am wonderfully pleased with him."
The figure on the left – perhaps Jesus holding and comforting a child. If you look carefully, you can see the outline of a little girl’s bonnet – with the man’s nose nearly touching the top of her head. He has her gathered in his arms. Hear what the gospel of Mark says about Jesus and children. Mark 10:13-16.
Once when some mothers were bringing their children to Jesus to bless them, the disciples shooed them away, telling them not to bother him. But when Jesus saw what was happening he was very much displeased with his disciples and said to them, "Let the children come to me, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as they. Don’t send them away! I tell you as seriously as I know how that anyone who refuses to come to God as a little child will never be allowed into his Kingdom." Then he took the children into his arms and placed his hands on their heads and he blessed them.
On to page 4. The large fish I referred to earlier. At the bottom – see the sailboat? Five loaves of bread! Fishing was a common occupation in Jesus’ day. The use of boats for fishing and travel was also commonplace. Listen to Jesus’ words, as written in the Gospel of Matthew, as he went about choosing his disciples. Matthew 4:18-22.
One day as he was walking along the beach beside the Lake of Galilee, he saw two brothers – Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew – out in a boat fishing with a net, for they were commercial fishermen. Jesus called out, "Come along with me and I will show you how to fish for the souls of men!" And they left their nets at once and went with him. A little farther up the beach he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets; and he called to them to come, too. At once they stopped their work and, leaving their father behind, went with him.
Fish and boats and loaves of bread were part of Jesus’ Miracles. See if you recognize the word from Matthew 8:23-27 and Matthew 14:14-22.
Then he got into a boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly a terrible storm came up, with waves higher than the boat. But Jesus was asleep. The disciples went to him and wakened him, shouting, "Lord, save us! We’re sinking!" But Jesus answered, "O you men of little faith! Why are you so frightened?" Then he stood up and rebuked the wind and waves, and the storm subsided and all was calm. The disciples just sat there, awed! "Who is this," they asked themselves, "that even the winds and sea obey him?"
So when Jesus came out of the wilderness, a vast crowd was waiting for him and he pitied them and healed their sick. That evening the disciples came to him and said, "It is already past time for supper, and there is nothing to eat here in the desert; send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy some food." But Jesus replied, "That isn’t necessary – you feed them!" "What!" they exclaimed. "We have exactly five small loaves of bread and two fish!" "Bring them here," he said. Then he told the people to sit down on the grass; and he took the five loaves and two fish, looked up into the sky and asked God’s blessing on the meal, then broke the loaves apart and gave them to the disciples to place before the people. And everyone ate until full! And when the scraps were picked up afterwards, there were twelve basketfuls left over! (About 5000 men were in the crowd that day, besides all the women and children.) Immediately after this, Jesus told his disciples to get into their boat and cross to the other side of the lake while he stayed to get the people started home.
Pages 5 and 6 will need to be referred to as one page. Because of the overlapping, I have used the two pages to point out events of the last week of Jesus’ life on earth.
On page 5 at the top, you will see an outline of what I believe suggests the branch of a tree – perhaps a palm tree. In your picture – all of the design is not photographed – but it is complete on the wall. Hear the word from John describing Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. John 12:12-13.
The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city, and a huge crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him, shouting, "The Savior! God bless the King of Israel! Hail to God’s Ambassador!"
On page 5 we see a crown – lower right – base of the cross. Matthew 27:28-29. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and made a crown from long thorns and put it on his head, and placed a stick in his right hand as a scepter and knelt before him in mockery. "Hail, King of the Jews," they yelled.
Page 6. And then the Last Supper. The cup is on the right (handle and all). The bread on the left. The Word from Scripture, Matthew 26:26-29.
As they were eating, Jesus took a small loaf of bread and blessed it and broke it apart and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take it and eat it, for this is my body." And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks for it and gave it to them and said, "Each one drink from it, for this is my blood, sealing the New Covenant. It is poured out to forgive the sins of multitudes. Mark my words – I will not drink this wine again until the day I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom." Back to page 5. The dove, the duck, now becomes a cock, or rooster. Now Peter and Jesus were so close. At one point Jesus said to Peter, "You are a stone; and upon this rock I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it." And Peter loved Jesus so you’ll understand the comments by Peter in the Gospel of Mark. Mark 14:27-31. "All of you will desert me," Jesus told them, "for God has declared through the prophets, ‘I will kill the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter.’ But after I am raised to life again, I will go to Galilee and meet you there." Peter said to him, "I will never desert you no matter what the others do!" "Peter," Jesus said, "before the cock crows a second time tomorrow morning you will deny me three times." "No!" Peter exploded. "Not even if I have to die with you! I’ll never deny you!" And all the others vowed the same.
And then Matthew 26:69-75. Meanwhile, as Peter was sitting in the courtyard a girl came over and said to him, "You were with Jesus, for both of you are from Galilee." But Peter denied it loudly. "I don’t even know what you are talking about," he angrily declared. Later, out by the gate, another girl noticed him and said to those standing around, "This man was with Jesus – from Nazareth." Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. "I don’t even know the man," he said. But after a while the men who had been standing there came over to him and said, "We know you are one of his disciples, for we can tell by your Galilean accent." Peter began to curse and swear. "I don’t even know the man," he said. And immediately the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said, "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." And he went away, crying bitterly.
Then finally the cross – the symbol of God’s love for all of us. John 3:16. Maybe we could say this one together. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This Easter season we celebrate once more the empty tomb. Christ rose from the dead. He lives! Hebrews 2:9-10 and 1 Corinthians 1:24-25.
But we do see Jesus – who for a while was a little lower than the angels – crowned now by God with glory and honor because he suffered death for us. Yes, because of God’s great kindness, Jesus tasted death for everyone in all the world. And it was right and proper that God, who made everything for his own glory, should allow Jesus to suffer, for in doing this he was bringing vast multitudes of God’s people to heaven; for his suffering made Jesus a perfect Leader, one fit to bring them into their salvation.
But God has opened the eyes of those called to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, to see that Christ is the mighty power of God to save them; Christ himself is the center of God’s wise plan for their salvation. This so-called "foolish" plan of God is far wiser than the wisest plan of the wisest man, and God in his weakness – Christ dying on the cross – is far stronger than any man.
Hymn #198 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Benediction: May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.