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The Church's One Foundation

This morning social media was too much. I needed to go for a walk. So I asked if folks had prayer concerns that I could lift up on my walk. There were several. It was good to step away. It's not that I thought it would get magically better on my walk but I needed to center myself with God. When I sat down to pray the hymn The Church's One Foundation immediately came to mind. We sang it a few weeks ago. Text: Samuel J. Stone, 1839-1900

The church's one foundation

is Jesus Christ her Lord;

she is his new creation

by water and the Word.

From heaven he came and sought her

to be his holy bride;

with his own blood he bought her,

and for her life he died.

Elect from every nation,

yet one o'er all the earth;

her charter of salvation,

one Lord, one faith, one birth;

one holy name she blesses,

partakes one holy food,

and to one hope she presses,

with every grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder

we see her sore oppressed,

by schisms rent asunder,

by heresies distressed,

yet saints their watch are keeping;

their cry goes up, "How long?"

And soon the night of weeping

shall be the morn of song.

Mid toil and tribulation,

and tumult of her war,

she waits the consummation

of peace forevermore;

till, with the vision glorious,

her longing eyes are blest,

and the great church victorious

shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union

with God the Three in One,

and mystic sweet communion

with those whose rest is won.

O happy ones and holy!

Lord, give us grace that we

like them, the meek and lowly,

on high may dwell with thee.

I thought I knew exactly what it was about - that Jesus is the foundation of each and every church. Little did I know that this hymn was written while there was a great debate about the Bible. You can read more about it here ( Mr. Stone wrote it as a part of Lyra Fidelium: Twelve Hymns on the Twelve Articles of the Apostles’ Creed(1866). This hymn in particular was written about the Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and the Communion of Saints. The Church's foundation is not the physical building but Jesus Christ and that together we are the Body of Christ. We are a part of the Communion of Saints. We are living and breathing. So what would Jesus do today?

A colleague reminded me this morning that Jesus had compassions on the crowds (thanks Justin). He taught them, he healed them, he fed them, he moved through them. When the crowds were calling for him to be crucified he prayed for them. We as disciples of Jesus are to do the same thing. When the disciples were with Jesus an argument broke out among them about who was the greatest. This story is found in Matthew (18:1-4), Mark (9:33-36) and Luke (9:46-48). So what was Jesus' response to the disciples who were arguing about greatness?

"18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, are to change and become like children welcoming & being humble. I do not have all the answers. I do not insist on my own way. I try to welcome, even people who I disagree with, into my life. I try to be humble. I am not perfect and trust that through my confession and the grace of God that I am forgiven and try again each and every day striving for being made perfect in love. I know I am not there yet and will continue to strive.

On the night in which Jesus gave himself up for us, he gathered with his closest friends, who were his disciples and washed their feet. It was uncomfortable. In fact when he got to Simon Peter he refused to let Jesus do it. Jesus taught him "that unless I wash you, you have no share with me." After he washed their feet, he for-told his betrayal by one at the table and when Judas had left gave the new commandment: "that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35).

Jesus at the end of his time on earth taught us clearly, that we should be humble servants who love. And what are that marks of love? The Apostle Paul wrote in his 1st letter to the people at Corinth (13:4-7), who were deeply struggling with authentic love & unity said this:

" Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Friends, we have work to do as we are called upon to show who the foundation of the church is. We have work to do to show was it means to be great. We have work to do as we called upon to show compassion to the crowds. We have work to do as we are called upon to live into the new commandment and love. Jesus does not give us the option of who to love - we don't get to love only those who we like or agree with. We are called to love each other. We are called to show what that love looks like. Now more than ever.

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