Friday, May 29, 2020

“I Am Your Rock And Castle”

To me He Said:
Stay close to Me,
I am your rock and castle.
Your ransom I Myself will be;
For you I strive and wrestle.
For I am yours, and you are Mine,
And where I am you may remain;
The foe shall not divide us.
Copyright © Edward Riojas

Parallel trains of thought ran behind this illustration in “Dear Christians One And All Rejoice” (Kloria Publishing), and a section of the “Te Deum Polyptych” I created for Our Savior Luther Church, Grand Rapids, Mich. I hit a visual roadblock with the Te Deum’s “...we therefore pray Thee to help Thy servants...,” until I was reminded how the Lord helps us through an inundation of Word and Sacraments. Even observant artists don’t always see the obvious.

Martin Luther’s stanza in ‘Dear Chrisitans’ gave me similar pause when thinking of visuals. Unlike the understated phrase in the ‘Te Deum,’ however, Luther’s verse is packed with almost too much theology to illustrate. I understood what the words meant, but I could not easily envision it.

The solution lay again, in part, with Word and Sacrament. I also appealed to the historical approach I was using throughout the book by giving a nod to ancient architecture, and by using the type of decorative embellishment Luther might have seen in his day. But the slightly over-wrought design is more than simple decoration.

The last lines of the stanza echo Christ’s analogy of ‘The Vine and branches,’ illustrating how we are inseparable from our Lord. It takes a little straining of the eyes, but behind the Host, the Vine is cruciform in shape, hinting at greater truths behind the words, “ransom” and “strive and wrestle.” The complexity of leaves and tendrils point to the whole Christian Church that is nourished by The Vine.

See how true it is that, especially in these days, The Word and Sacraments  – and our longing for them – are our rock and castle! See how by them there is abundant life that flourishes beyond the telling! See how nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!”


Giclée prints of images from ‘Dear Christians’ are available for purchase in two formats. To order or for more information, please e-mail me at

Sizes/prices for giclée prints of “Dear Christians: Chalice Spread:”
30” x 19” / $140
24” x 15.2” / $110
16” x 10.1” / $75

Sizes/prices for giclée prints of “Dear Christians: Chalice Vertical:”
18.8” x 24” / $120
12.5” x 16” / $75

“Dear Christians, One And All Rejoice,” (Kloria Publishing) is available through Concordia Publishing House and 

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