Built on the Rock the Church doth Stand
A Hymn On and For the Church
#467 in The Lutheran Hymnal
The congregations of the Church of the Lutheran Confession worship in a variety of settings. Most hold their services in their own houses of worship, which may be large or small, ornate or plain, traditional or modern in design. Others worship in a rented hall or perhaps even in the home of one of the members.
Our hymn reminds us that the setting in which we worship is not important, for the true God is not confined by temples made with hands. His dwelling place among mankind is in the hearts of those whom the Holy Spirit has brought to faith in Jesus Christ. “He whom heav’ns cannot contain Chose to abide on earth with men, Built in our bodies His temple.”
And our Lord has promised to be present wherever His disciples gather in His name. Wonderfully, “Now we may gather with our King E’en in the lowliest dwelling.”
What matters is that God’s Word is truly taught and the sacraments rightly administered in our worship. “His truth doth hallow the temple.” Christ’s Church doesn’t depend on buildings or on massive cathedrals with stained glass windows and pipe organs. It is built on the Rock who is Christ, and it stands because it is built on Him as its one foundation.
This is not to say that building churches is unimportant. “Still we our earthly temples rear . . . .” The hymn beautifully expresses why our places of worship ought to be precious to us. “They are the homes where He draws near And little children embraces. Beautiful things in them are said; God there with us His covenant made, Making us heirs of His kingdom.”
The baptismal font reminds us of God’s grace given to us in Baptism. The altar reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice which we receive in Holy Communion. And the pulpit is the place where God’s Word is proclaimed. “There sounds the Word that doth proclaim Christ yesterday, today, the same, Yea, and for aye our Redeemer.”
This majestic hymn teaches us that there is no better place to be than God’s house where He is worshiped and His truth proclaimed.
–Pastor John Klatt