“For you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall, like heat in a dry place. You subdue the noise of the foreigners; as heat by the shade of a cloud, so the song of the ruthless is put down.” – Isaiah 25:4
We live in a world where our hearts are constantly fluctuating between prosperity and persecution. One moment we are lost in the comforts of a good home, good food, and the enjoyments of our modern world; the next, horrified and filled with fear at beheadings, random violence, and an invisible viral killer. The blessings are real, the dangers are real, and the needs are real.
However, God has not called us together today based upon our various needs and conditions. This is not simply a hospital for the sick or a comfort for the afflicted or a celebration for the blessed. It is a fortress. It is Helms Deep when Middle Earth is being reclaimed for the rightful King. To the poor it is nourishment. To the weak it is safety. To the sick it is life. To the troubled it is peace. To the downcast it is hope. To the blessed it is the fount of blessing. To the strong it is the good fight of faith. To the wise it is the guardian of truth. To us all it is the place where our King meets us in a unique way, covenant is renewed as his people, and we are sent out as more than conquerors in his name. To gather together and receive anything less is to gather in vain.