Roger's Postings

Friday, August 19, 2011


Isaiah 51:1-6               As solid as the Rock                           21/8/11

 (1)  "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; {2} look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. {3} The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing. {4} "Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. {5} My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm. {6} Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.

 We’ve all heard, I am sure, the old line; ‘He is a chip off the old block.’ The idea being that you can somehow see that that person is his father’s son. Well here in this reading God uses this image in a much deeper and more profound way. Here he is saying to a fragile and hurting people to remember that they are a ‘chip off the old block:’ He says; Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn. He is saying to them, ‘remember, you are as solid as the rock from which you came, even though at the moment life is tough.’ ‘Remember where you came from, and who made you, then you can be strong in the midst of the adversities of life.’

 This then is an important message for us today as well. We too, need to remember the rock from which we were cut and look to the quarry from which we were hewn; so that we can stand firm in the midst of the uncertainties of life: Because we too, along life’s way have faced our difficulties and questions as to who and what we and the church are all about. We a living at a time when the values of our society are disintegrating at a rapid rate; and then for many of us there are our own personal issues that we are grappling with.

 As a result, we at times feel as though we are more like a clod of clay than a rock. We feel as though our lives are being eroded away and we are fast disintegrating. Is there really a good and right way for us, our church and our society to live by? Is there a positive future for us? Can we survive? Is God really there for us and for the good of our world? And much more.

 Well, Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn. There we will find that we are as solid as the Rock from which we originated. As we look to where we have come from, that Rock will give us the assurance we need in order to face the future with confidence. There we will find that we come from and are a part of something far stronger and more solid than what we can see, feel and encouraged to think about, from around us.

 As God encouraged the Israelites to look back to their Jewish roots to see how God has made them a nation and sustained them over the years; so too are we here encouraged to look back to our roots. There of course, we see not just the values and life-style that made us a great nation, but much more so we see the very core of our life and being: the very death of Jesus Christ on the cross. There we see that which gives and sustains life for us, no matter what we are facing in life. There we see God come into our world to get us out of the mess we have made for ourselves. Jesus took the punishment we deserved on himself, so that we might be forgiven and accepted back into God’s family. There he accomplished all that was necessary for us to be a part of God’s kingdom, now and forever. There is our certain hope and salvation. There also we find the morals and values that are essential for any society to survive and thrive.

 But then to make it even more solid and sure for us, Jesus gave us baptism, whereby we are connected in a very real way to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. So now we can be very sure that we are a part of him who is that Rock from which we were cut. There in baptism we are given that wonderful assurance that Jesus gave to Peter in our Gospel reading; ‘on this rock [ that is the confession “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’ We are now as solid as the Rock.

 That is also why we have been given Holy Communion, so that weekly God can continually remind us that through Jesus body and blood which he shed on the cross, we can be certain that we have forgiveness of sins and God’s presence with us each day of our lives.

 That is also why we have God’s Word, the Bible; so that we can be continually reminded of all that is important for us as we go about our lives. As we listen to him, through this Word, we will be given every assurance that we are on the right track; that we are hewn from the quarry where the rock is genuine. These Scriptures are truly the inspired and inerrant Word of God and do not change to suit the whims of a particular society or philosophy. Countless generations have found that God’s Word gives us those values and directions for living that are good for us and for our relationships to the people around us, as well as to God.

So this advice from God to, Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn, also can be a very good guide to us here at this moment when we are presented with all kinds of new and varied options for us as church. As we are confronted with a breaking down of many of the good things that have been passed down to us and with a focus that has shifted from God and what he is doing for us, to us and what we should be doing, we need to look to the rock from which we were cut. For there we know that God has been at work for the last 2,000 years. It is not man and society that sets the direction of the church, but God and his Word. Yes it is greatly upsetting and of serious concern when others around play fast and loose with that which has been passed down to us. We must be very careful in these present days, when anything and everything is allowed to happen within the church. But here again we need to keep looking to the quarry from which you were hewn.

 The same goes for our daily values for life and living. As the morals decline in our society around us; and as we are being encouraged to be more tolerant and accepting of all kinds of issues that have formerly been taboo; as money, material possessions and pleasure has become the be all and end all of our existence, again we need to remember the rock from which were cut and the quarry from which we were hewn.

 Even as we face our own personal issues and difficulties: whether they be physical, mental or spiritual we need to look beyond ourselves; our positive thinking, as well as our negativity, and all those things that tug and push us this way and that. To look first and foremost to the Rock who forgives, loves and sustains us, no matter what our situation might be.

 So again and again we are encouraged to Lift up our eyes to the heavens. To remember that the things that are really important in life come from our great and gracious God. He alone is our rock and our salvation. Let us not look to ourselves and what looks good to our society’s eyes. Instead let us remember that the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. What we have around us is not the be all and end all. What the world looks to for its life is not the answer.

 No let us remember what God says here in his final statement; my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail. No matter how difficult life may be for us, we have God’s word that as we look to Jesus and his death on the cross as the Rock, trusting that there everything has been done for us, our salvation and eternal life is secure. Jesus has made everything right for us, and nothing can change that.

 "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn. Then may you go forward with confidence and hope no matter what you face, as solid as the Rock. For to him alone belongs all glory and honour, now and always. AMEN.

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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