Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Cornerstone

Early in the week, on an evening when I was feeling powerless to help someone in need, I was drawn to Psalm 118. I got there by means of the bulletin cover for next Sunday: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."
"The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure." Wikipedia
Psalm 118 is a wonderful testimony of Gods eternal love when enemies swarm "like bees." "I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation!" "Give thanks to the Lord," it says "for he is good and his love endures forever." Because this Psalm was last one used at the Jewish Passover celebration, it may have been the last song sung by Jesus and his disciples. "I shall not die, but LIVE, and proclaim what the Lord has done!" It was also Martin Luther's favorite.

This was a very full week. Late this afternoon our youth director, three adult "guides" and I returned with a busload of sophomores from a confirmation retreat. The goal of the retreat was to help the youth appreciate what it means to be Lutheran. Pastors from Gethsemane and North Crow (Triune) Lutheran churches and I did some teaching, and the youth saw most of a movie about the life of Martin Luther. Preparing for the retreat and seeing the movie made me realize why "Brother Martin" needed the consolation of victorious Psalm 118.

What do you do when you feel down? Where do you turn? There is great power and comfort in God's Word. Start with the Gospels, and let them lead you to the rest.

In his commentary on Psalm 118, written while he was waiting for the "Augsburg Confession" to be presented to Emperor Charles V, Luther wrote:
The neglect of Scripture, even by spiritual leaders, is one of the greatest evils in the world. Everything else, arts or literature, is pursued and practiced day and night, and there is no end of labor and effort; but Holy Scripture is neglected as though there were no need of it. Those who condescend to read it want to absorb everything at once. There has never been an art or a book on earth that everyone has so quickly mastered as the Holy Scriptures. But its words are not, as some think, mere literature, they are words of life, intended not for speculation and fancy but for life and action. By why complain? No one pays any attention to our lament. May Christ our Lord help us by His Spirit to love and honor His holy Word with all our hearts. Amen
Taking time to watch the Luther movie isn't a bad idea either.

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