Tomorrow, us Lutheran’s commemorate Martin Luther, one of the first reformers of the 16th Century. While known for writing the very first translation of the bible into the German language, Luther was a prolific writer, beloved professor, astute Bible scholar and a hymn writer. Most people have certainly sung that great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” based on Psalm 46.

I find the words of this psalm especially appropriate for these days of a lingering pandemic and the various consequences it has ushered into our daily lives, whether political, social, or economic in nature. In Luther’s day, the majority of folks were predominantly poor and struggled daily to put food on the table. The kings and church officials ruled the day and set the agendas for the masses. Just imagine Luther massaging the ancient words of Psalm 46 to create this regal hymn which the cathedral organ would belt out at full volume, the people standing to sing from the bottom of their hearts.

A mighty fortress is our God, a sword and shield victorious; he breaks the cruel oppressor’s rod and wins salvation glorious. The old evil foe, sworn to work us woe, with dread craft and might he arms himself to fight. On earth God has no equal. (vs 1)

No matter how poor, despondent or outcast a person may have felt, lifting voices aloud to proclaim God’s sovereignty and power over the forces of the world must have been an amazing statement of faith and energy boost.

In the psalm, we read twice that “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge (verses 7 & 11).” How comforting it is to hear these words again and again. When the earth changes, mountains shake and the waters rage, there is comfort amidst the chaos for God gives us refuge, in fact, God is our refuge! Absolutely nothing can take away the refuge one finds in the God who makes wars cease. Yet we forget, or get caught up in worries or the chaos itself, such that the psalmist encourages us to take a deep breath to “be still, and know” beyond all doubt that God is real, God is in charge, God has a plan that exceeds all the chaos and disruption.

In these days of facing an unknown and uncertain future, let us lean on God, the ultimate refuge. Let us find times to disengage, to be still and know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is in charge, for the Lord of hosts remains a refuge for us today.

The Rev. Keith Anderson is pastor of First Lutheran Church


Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.