"Built on the Rock the Church shall stand Even when steeples are falling. Crumbled have spires in ev'ry land; Bells still are chiming and calling, Calling the young and old to rest, But above all the souls distressed, Longing for rest everlasting.
"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."
We may imagine steeples falling and spires crumbling everywhere, even though the church buildings that support those towers are still standing. In many places, church attendance has dwindled. The pandemic kept people away, and many have not returned. The tempting voices of the world drown out the bells that summon people to worship. A growing segment of the population is sometimes referred to as "nones" because they mark "none" as their choice of religion on surveys.
Yet the nones are still "souls distressed." They long "for rest everlasting," even if they are unaware of, or deny, that distress and longing. They are not really nones—as if they did not exist. They are people loved by God, people for whom Jesus died and for whom church bells "still are chiming and calling."
The church may be a building, but it is much more than that. "We are God's house of living stones." All who trust in Christ for salvation are the "temple of the living God" (2 Corinthians 6:16b). It is not the bells in church steeples that ring out the Good News, but our own voices calling out in witness as our lives reflect Jesus' love. We invite others, including the nones, or however they may define themselves, to find rest in Jesus, who suffered and died on the cross for their sins and who lives to grant them forgiveness, hope, and eternal rest.
Church buildings, with spires and steeples intact, are still standing. We love to gather for worship in those beautiful structures and long to see them filled with people. Yet wherever we are, we are the church, the living, breathing, actively loving body of Christ. In the power of the Spirit, an offered prayer, a quiet word of encouragement in Jesus' Name, and the proclamation of the truth of the Gospel ring out louder than crashing steeples or ringing bells. We may not be able to keep up with a loud, tempting, and rapidly changing culture, but we know and proclaim an unchanging truth. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead and in Him alone we have life and hope! It is a message that will not be silenced.
WE PRAY: Jesus, help my voice to ring out with the Good News of salvation. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Built on the Rock," which is number 645 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. Churches may dwindle and fail, but the body of Christ, the true church, will prevail. Do you take courage in that fact?
2. How does God support and provide for His body of believers?
3. Just because people don't attend church doesn't mean they're not seeking God. How can we be authentic reflections of Jesus in the lives of others?
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