“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:6-7
Each and every person was created in the image of God and therefore is precious and valuable to Him. Each and every person is also one for whom Christ Jesus died upon the cross. Our Lord declares in Scripture that He desires that all would be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. The words above from Isaiah also make clear that God wants every gathering place for worship to be a house of prayer for all nations. Sadly, we live in a world that focuses so much on those things that divide and separate us. It carries over even into the Church. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’ clock on Sunday morning.”
A few days ago I was struck by an ordinary sign in front of our local fire station that I have driven past hundreds of times. The yellow sign had the simple words – “Safe Place.” We want our churches to be safe and welcome places for people from all walks of life and with all colors of skin. No matter what else is going on in their lives, our churches can provide a place of security and hope. The significance of the main seating area of a church being called the nave is that we rest securely in the ark of the Christian Church. By God’s grace, our churches can be places of prayer and peace for men and women, young and old, rich and poor, blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, the broken and the hurting, the lonely and the desperate. May the Spirit, working through the Word, conform our will to be like God’s will so that we love not just with words, but in action and truth.
In Revelation 7, St. John beholds the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s words when He sees the throne room of heaven and people from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before Jesus, the Lamb who was slain, by whose blood He ransomed people for God. May we aspire that each Divine Service would be a foretaste of the feast to come and fulfillment of these words from Isaiah and Revelation alike so that our churches will be houses of prayer for all peoples.
Prayer – Almighty God, You have called Your Church to witness that in Christ You have reconciled us to Yourself. Grant that by Your Holy Spirit, we may proclaim the good news of Your salvation so that all who hear it may receive the gift of salvation; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan