I continue my search for ways to talk about Millcreek Lutheran Church (MLC) in ways that are both accurate and memorable. I am very appreciative to those who have shared their memories and insights with me. I will take the space in this short article to talk about a recent time when we all enjoyed a great moment.
It came on Sunday, August 27, when we gathered for worship in the MLC parking lot. The gospel reading for that day—and the one on which I preached—is the one where Christ promises to build his church on rock. The anthem our musician, Deb Tice, chose for the service was one that came from the “Quake” events attended by the congregation’s youth over the years. The theme of the anthem, which we heard in its recorded form, was “Jesus is the rock that never fails.” Here’s why that is a great thought for our congregation to carry around in these days we feel a sure foundation is sorely needed.
First, as Lutheran Christians, we can never go wrong when our speaking of the church is done with Jesus as the subject of the sentence or the source of whatever we do. Indeed, this is what makes the Christian faith distinctive. We say that—in Jesus Christ—God became human and—because God became human—Jesus Christ, truly divine and truly human, unites us to God in a way that finds not only a firm foundation, but that also never fails. That is a connection our youth found and that continues into our present life as a congregation where we all grow older but we all remain connected to the past witnesses to God’s love.
Second, short sentences that help us engage faith by centering us in Jesus Christ are good tools for receiving life. As a preacher, it is always easy for me to make Christian faith more complicated than it needs to be. Short affirmations, such as, “Jesus is the rock that never fails” help us to remember that—especially when trying to share faith with others—shorter is better. (Trust me—as a trained theologian—this is a tough one for me and I always appreciate the reminder!)
Lastly, I appreciated the way in which the song connected us to the wider world. The tune is a Nigerian folk tune, which gives our worship a global feel that is helpful and reminds us that people who look and worship differently than we do are also part of the church. For example, there are 24,000,000 Lutherans in Africa, which is about 6 times more than are in North America.
Here we have some great ways to share our faith and our love for the congregation that is MLC. We stand on the rock of Jesus Christ. We realize that small things (words and acts!) make a difference. And—we celebrate that we are part of a larger Lutheran community and a larger Christian church. Because—in the end—the song rings true. “Jesus is the rock that never fails.”
Live as children of light!
Pastor Scott Paradise