Rock and No Roll
Monday of Easter 5
30 April 2018
What do you think of when you hear the word, "rock?" When I searched literary references to the word, the majority of the quotations were about "rock and roll." Aside from the obvious problems with this use of the word, it is diametrically opposed to the way that Jesus used the word in Mt 7:24-27.
If the rock is also a place to roll, then it is not much of a rock. It is hardly steady, well-founded, a place upon which to build a house so that when "the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock" (Mt 7:25). Perhaps, the indeterminacy of the term "rock and roll" leads us away from being established in Christ. Now, don't misunderstand, I am not suggesting that you smash all your rock and roll CDs or long-playing record albums (depending on your age) or erase all your hard drives. Plastic does not make sin or take it away, but what our hearts are set on. If you have made rock and roll your god, then woe unto you.
While touring Greece a few years ago, my wife and I visited the ruins of the temple of Apollo at Delphi where the famous oracle offered her enigmatic answers to difficult questions. The site is built into the side of Mount Parnassus. To reach the town just below the site it was necessary for the tour bus to wend its way up a switchback infested road. There was some rock and roll on that bus as we picked our way up Mount Parnassus. The limestone Mount Parnassus at 8,000 ft. is what the Greeks called a rock. Despite the ebb and flow of the oracle's fame and finally her demise, Parnassus still stands as a rock against all comers. It is an unassailable rock.
The New Testament almost never uses this word in the plural; the rock is too big for there to be more than one. In Matthew's Gospel, this rock makes an outcropping here and in the middle and at the end. The Gospel has filled in around the peaks of the rock that we might approach them. Rough places have been made a plain and the valleys have been filled in, that we might approach where Israel could never go at the time of Moses. There, if anyone approached the mountain, he was to die (Ex 19:12). Now we approach the rock of our mountain hand in hand with Christ. The propitiation and atonement cover leads us into the presence of God, conceals our sin from the face of God and thus we are delighted to see him face to face and to have his face shine upon us. This is a rock with no roll.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"'Everyone who hears and practices [Jesus'] teaching is a fine, smart builder, who does not build on sand but first finds a strong rock as a foundation. Once he has this, he builds on it so that his house may last and stand firm. Then when the storms and rains strike around it and above it, and when the floods and winds strike beneath it to wash away the ground and upset the house, it stands immovable against all of them as though it were defying them. But everyone who erects his building on sand will discover that it will stand only until the rain and the floods wash it away and the wind upsets it, so that it lies in a heap or collapses by itself.' With this analogy Jesus intends to give us a faithful warning to be careful that we hold tight to His teaching and do not let go of Christ in our hearts, as our only sure foundation (1Co 3:11) and the cornerstone of our salvation and blessedness (1Pt 2:6), as St. Paul and St. Peter call Him on the basis of Is 28:16. If we stand grounded and built on that, we shall remain unconquerable. We can let the world and the devil and all the false teachers and schismatic spirits send rain and hail and slush on us and storm and rage around us with every kind of danger and trouble." 

 Martin Luther, Sermons on The Sermon on the Mount, 7.27
Psalm 62

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence? They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work. (ESV)
Lord Christ, You are my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. Set me high upon You that none of the storms of life might shipwreck my faith. Keep me steadfast in Your Word, that I might not be enticed into the shifting and sinking sands of human opinion. Amen.
For President Matthew Harrison of the LCMS, that the Lord His God would grant him strength and confidence in Christ His Lord
For all young people searching for gainful employment, that they might find work that will be of service to the world and of benefit to them
For all church musicians, that they might not grow weary in making a new song to the Lord
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias,  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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