"We are God's house of living stones, Built for His own 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.
"Here stands the font before our eyes, Telling how God has received us. The altar recalls Christ's sacrifice, And what His Supper here gives us. Here sound the Scriptures that proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same, And evermore, our Redeemer."
During the coronavirus pandemic, government regulations have prevented Christians in some places from gathering for indoor worship or limited the number of those permitted to worship. In many places around the world, persecuted Christians who dare to gather may be subject to imprisonment or death. Yet everywhere believers still long to come together for worship, to listen to God's Word, to receive the Lord's Supper and to raise their voices in praise to God in "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (Colossians 3:16b).
Our hymn reminds us that wherever we are or however few our numbers, we are the church, for "we are God's house of living stones." The apostle Peter writes, "You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood" built on the "cornerstone chosen and precious" that is Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5-6a). Our hymn's title, "Built on the Rock," reminds us that Jesus is the Rock, the Foundation on whom we are built. Together we confess the truth about our Foundation, as Peter did: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16b).
Even though we are living stones of a spiritual house, we rightly hope to worship together in an earthly building of brick and wood, of stone and glass. There the baptismal font reminds us that "God has received us" by His grace as His children and heirs of salvation. Baptized in the Name of the Triune God, we were created anew as living stones and members of the body of Christ. The altar recalls the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God who was slain for us. Unlike earthly bricks and stones, living stones must be fed and nourished in faith, and at the altar we receive Jesus' body and blood in His Holy Supper.
Jesus promises, "For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I among them" (Matthew 18:20). Sometimes alone, in groups of two or three, or in congregations large and small, living stones want to hear God's Word, rejoice in the Good News of our crucified and risen Lord, and sing praises to Him. Living stones are built up together and uphold one another. Although we may be stones, we live and move and change, but the living and reigning Lord we worship does not change. Our Foundation remains rock-solid: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8).
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, fill us with the longing to hear Your Word and receive Your gifts. Lead us—as living stones—to support one another and to build up one another in faith. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Built on the Rock," which is found on page 645 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Has the pandemic impacted your relationships with others at your church? How so?
2. What kind of spiritual gifts do you receive from attending church and worshiping with others?
3. Do you look at church attendance and participation in the body of Christ differently now since the pandemic began?
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