If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:14-15
It's been a good many years since I was in Yankton, South Dakota.
Even so, I'm incredibly proud of the 500 families who make up St. John's Lutheran Church, and I give thanks for the pastors who serve as undershepherds of that flock.
And if you're wondering why they were selected for honorable mention in today's Daily Devotion, I will be more than glad to share: right before Holy Week, St. John's Church had a fire, a fire which caused about $2 million worth of damage.
After close inspection, the state fire marshal and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators agreed: the fire was the result of arson.
What a tragedy! What a terrible cross for a congregation to carry!
But tragedy does not make me sing the praises of these folks. No, I am thankful that these pastors and this parish have had their faith built upon Jesus Christ, the Savior.
Immediately after the fire, church leaders started salvaging personal effects and hauling debris to the dumpsters. The preschool was relocated and an alternative site was found for worship.
But what is most pleasing is this: Pastor Gunderson said, "People will come together over this." He is right. Knowing the power of the Holy Spirit, the pastor was able to preach a message about how their gracious God will bring the congregation through this test of faith.
That's what he said. Then he added, "Our goal is to continue to lift high the cross."
Did I say this fire was a tragedy? Let's change that to "this fire has become an opportunity for St. John's to witness to their invincible Lord!"
That is the kind of witness Christian martyrs have made over the centuries; it's the kind of proclamation Christians continue to make every time they entrust their future into the hands of the crucified and ever-living Savior. It's the kind of witness that allows believers to say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6b)
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, be with St. John's congregation as they rebuild. Empower the persecuted around the world. Let every Christian have their lives and faith built upon the cross of Christ and His empty tomb. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
By God's grace, this devotion is freely shared with you. Still, I don't know all the people who need it or should read it. Won't you forward it to that someone? Just click the "Forward this devotion to a friend" link below. You can also direct them to sign up for the DD's at: http://www.lhm.org/email/register.asp.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries