Weekly Devotion

from Redeemer Pastor Mark H. Larson

Jesus is a rock in a weary land,

A weary land, a weary land,

Jesus is a rock in a weary land,

A shelter in a time of storm


Vernon J. Charlesworth, circa 1880

This Sunday, rocks or stones feature prominently in our readings. In our first lesson from Isaiah, God’s people in exile are encouraged by the prophet to hold fast to the foundation that has grounded them through times of trial: “Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug.” In our gospel, after Peter accurately confesses Jesus as the Messiah, he is gifted with a new identity and a new vocation: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

The thing about rocks is that they stay around a long time. Over the eons, they do change as the forces of wind, rain, and ice have their gradual effect. That’s not a bad image for how Christian formation takes place; we are shaped and altered by learning, worship, and life in community so that we gradually take on the form of Christ whom we follow.

Traditionally, Lutheran worship contains two confessions that keep forming us: a confession of sin and a confession of faith. In the first, we acknowledge who we are as sinner and saint, and in the second, we acknowledge who God is in the mystery of the Trinity. Like Peter’s, our own identity is revealed in those confessions. And, we might say, we are continually formed by and through them.

I am excited by all of the plans being laid for Christian formation this fall by the leaders, teachers, and staff at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Instead of being overwhelmed by the challenges of Cultivating Community (our fall worship and learning theme) in a time of pandemic, the extent of dedication and creativity being displayed is truly evidence that the Holy Spirit continues to blow through and upon us–our formation continues without missing a beat.

Our Midtown Lutheran Preschool opened on Wednesday with comprehensive safety protocols in place. Again, our playground and classrooms are alive with children’s joy and excitement. We are starting signups for our Fall Small Groups, learning together the skills and practices it takes to Cultivate Community, even while we are physically separated. Our Vineyard leaders are reaching out to their local groups, fostering connection, and enabling mission. Our Children and Family, Confirmation, Youth, and adult leaders are preparing for another exciting year of faith formation.

As individuals, as a congregation, as a city, and as a nation we have surely been battered this year. But with our foundation firmly set into Jesus the rock, we can meet whatever challenges come our way. Standing firm, we will continue to be shaped into the people God needs us to be.

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