Today's message is based on Matthew 21: 33-46

Last weekend Deb and I were away visiting our grandchildren in Pittsburgh.
So, when I returned, one of my first official pastoral acts was to help build a shed.
Maybe you noticed but we have a new storage shed at the back of the parking lot.
John Dall got that from Home Depot and it replaces our storage space in the Pink house.
On Thursday, he and Clem and John Crump worked on putting it together.

But in the morning, I helped with what everyone agreed was the most important part.
We built a solid foundation with the cornerstones all set square and leveled.
That way, the shed which set upon it would stand strong and last.
Otherwise, time or adverse weather conditions can cause the whole thing to collapse.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells a parable about a vineyard that was planted.
It was protected and supposed to yield lots of good fruit.
But when the landowner sent his representatives to the tenants, they were rejected.
Then, when the landlord sent the son, the tenants rejected and even attacked him.

Jesus’ parable is not about a vineyard at all, but the people of God within Israel.
And the reps. sent by the landowner (God) were his prophets.
Of course, the Son finally sent was Jesus himself, whom they mostly rejected.
The consequences of this was that the people bore no fruit and God was displeased.

Jesus then quotes a Psalm, saying ‘the builders rejected the cornerstone’.
And, his conclusion is that, upon rejecting the cornerstone, the whole thing failed.
So those who were given the task of being God’s people, ignored the building block.
and in this passage, Jesus attributes that quality to himself; he is the cornerstone.
Which, as we know, is the most important stone in the whole building.

But instead of pointing a finger at those Jesus directed his comments to;
the Pharisees and others of Israel,…let’s put the question to ourselves.
Do we reject Jesus, the cornerstone?
Do the leaders of Christianity, like the leaders of Israel, reject Jesus the cornerstone?

You might say ‘How could the Christian church reject the cornerstone, Jesus?
Christianity is founded on Jesus Christ!  That’s what Christianity is!’
I don’t think churches reject Jesus as much as water down who and what he was.
And in that sense, when you alternate, manipulate or moderate Jesus, you reject him.

Churches, in trying to appeal to many, sometimes diminish some of his harsher words.
Not blatantly denying Jesus but watering him down to where he’s more palatable.
Downplaying the concept of our sinfulness that he talked about all the time.
Ignoring his demand for faith in him alone, and how that is connected to salvation.

Churches also jump into the political foray by propping Jesus up as the banner for their selected issues or causes on things he never spoke about.
Other churches, championing their political causes and rave about specific politicians, but, in doing do, tend to forget much of what Jesus was about and what he said.
These and other ways of diminishing Jesus rejects the real person that he was.
Using a different Jesus to build our own case or in the wrong place is, I would say, tantamount to rejecting the cornerstone by mis-using it.

And how about in our lives - Do we reject Jesus the cornerstone?
Do we reject him because its easier to go the other way, or should I say, our own way?
Again, I don’t think people reject Jesus as much as we diminish him in our lives.

So when Jesus calls us to be devoted to God first,…. we often put other things ahead.
I know I do that all the time;… unconsciously, but nonetheless, pushing him aside.
Just like a builder who refuses to use that crucial cornerstone,…..
so do we in our lives tend to reject Jesus the cornerstone when we ignore him.

When it comes to priorities in life and acting on what’s important, I tend to ignore him.
When it comes to all those hard things he asks us to do,… I want to set him aside.
When it comes admitting my faults,…. I want to throw an old tarp over him.
When it comes to forgiving,…. I want to chisel away what Jesus wants of me.
How about you?   Some of the same things?

In building my life, my future, and my relationships, sometimes I reject the cornerstone.
But in seeking to find the easier or more convenient way of building those things,….
in the long run, I only hurt myself since it all can tumble down much more easily.

When churches or we reject the cornerstone, the bible says we do so at our own peril and we fail to produce the good fruit God wants from us.
Because, without it, the whole thing (the church, our faith, our life) can collapse.
When we do not trust Jesus enough to let him be the cornerstone of our lives. 
Careers can collapse,…
Marriages can collapse,… 
relationships can collapse,… 
a life we’ve built can collapse.

That shed out in the parking lot should stand for a good long time.
It has a good base with sound cornerstones that were set square and leveled.
We too have been built with a good cornerstone - Jesus Christ.
That Jesus who never rejected anyone also said he would never rejects us. 
With him as our cornerstone, he will make sure that we produce good fruit and last even longer than that shed.

Amen