Additional "From Further Afield" Articles


A Mighty Fortress is our God
Published: 9/20/2011 11:14:18 AM


Some of you may have noticed that I closed my last blog with these words (both in Hungarian and in English), and perhaps it caused you to wonder why. Favorite hymn perhaps? Obsessed with Luther? Tried to pick an enduring phrase? The real motivation behind it was, in fact, none of these. Here in Hungary, I work in a Hungarian Lutheran school and have relationships with Lutheran pastors who work to further the kingdom of God here in this place. And they all share this greeting: "Eros vár a mi Istenünk!” (A mighty fortress is our God). Some of them even go so far as to answer their phone this way. All three major ecumenical denominations here in Hungary (Lutheran, Calvinist, and Catholic) have their own specific greetings which they use when they meet other people from their same denomination. It expresses mutual belief and brotherhood in Christ.

It’s not very difficult to catch a glimpse of a fortresses in this part of the world. Hungary alone contains over 50 castles and fortresses dating from as far back as the 11th century – some of them well-maintained, others in ruins. Regardless of their level of maintenance, I always stand in awe of their size and strength. I recently had the opportunity to tour Strecno Castle near Žilina, Slovakia, with some fellow LCMS World Mission missionaries. The recorded history of the castle dates back to the 14th century, although people had settled there centuries before the castle was built. Once we ascended to the very top of the castle, we could see everything for miles and miles – towns, villages, and even the snaking of the Váh River. I stopped and examined the precise placement of the castle, and how wise it was to build a fortress in that place; those living there could easily see enemies approaching and could attack them swiftly. The very way the castle was built too – with its winding passageways and strong stone – provided added safety and security.

And as much as I was in awe of the depth and breadth of the strength of the castle, King David even more greatly extols the virtues of God as a fortress or strong place throughout the Psalms. He says in Psalm 62: 5-8:

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.”

Our Lord is the ultimate stronghold, and unlike a man-made fortress which stands in one place for centuries, God is always with us. He is a fortress around us that goes with us; through His death and resurrection we do not have to fear eternal death and the power of the devil.

I would be willing to bet that the lives of the people who lived in fortresses weren’t easy, and neither are our lives today. But it is probably also true that they felt safer than those living outside the fortress. How much more so can we be safe in the strong arms of Jesus our Savior! And once there, why not tell others about our source of strength that goes beyond human understanding? Why not share the news of our Impenetrable Fortress?

Eros vár a mi Istenünk (A Mighty Fortress is our God)

Sarah Berta-Somogyi

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