This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:11-12
* On October 12, 1492, the day Columbus first set foot on the soil of the Americas, St. Elijah's Monastery in Iraq was 900 years old.
* On November 27, 1095, the day Pope Urban called for a crusade to rescue the Holy Land, St. Elijah's had already been around for four centuries.
* Indeed, the Monastery was in existence before Mohammad claims to have been directed by Gabriel to write and speak about his new religion.
Founded in the late-sixth century, St. Elijah's Monastery of Mosul is the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq. Sorry, that statement isn't very accurate. It would be better to say St. Elijah's Monastery of Mosul was the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq. The change is necessary because sometime between the end of August and September 2014 the monastery was completely leveled by ISIS. As Jesus said about Jerusalem, "Not one stone was left upon another" (see Matthew 24:2).
Now that's a sad thing. When American forces were there, they tried to protect the place; for years, archaeologists have done their best to restore the place, and for Christians of Iraq the Monastery symbolized their culture, their community, and their church.
But the Monastery, along with all it represented, is gone now and the barbaric band of ISIS thinks it has won a victory. They haven't. Now I can try to explain why I say that, or I could let Nicholai Gruntvig do it for me. He wrote:
"Built on the Rock the Church doth stand, Even when steeples are falling;
Crumbled have spires in every land, Bells still are chiming and calling,
Calling the young and old to rest, But above all the soul distrest,
Longing for rest everlasting.
"Surely in temples made with hands, God, the Most High, is not dwelling;
High above earth His temple stands, All earthly temples excelling.
Yet He whom heavens cannot contain, Chose to abide on earth with men,
Built in our bodies His temple.
"We are God's house of living stones, Builded for His habitation;
He through baptismal grace us owns, Heirs of His wondrous salvation.
Were we but two His name to tell, Yet He would deign with us to dwell,
With all His grace and His favor."
Today, even though St. Elijah's monastery is gone, all of God's grace and favor remain. It is something for all of God's people to remember in these times when the devil is doing his best to undermine our confidence in the Christ who gave His life to give us life.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may the light of the Lord Jesus Christ penetrate and dispel the darkness of men's hearts. Grant that all Christians, and not just those of Iraq, be given an unshakable faith in the risen Redeemer. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries