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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

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.

Samuel John Stone’s “The Church’s One Foundation” (tune: Aurelia)
from Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

“Here is the church, here is the steeple . . .
. . . open the doors and see all the people!”

As a young boy, I used to recite this rhyme (accompanied by hand motions) almost every week in Sunday school. I especially liked how I made the steeple with my index fingers pressed together, only to turn my intertwined hands over to wiggle my fingers to represent all the people of the church.

As an adult, I now frequently talk about “church” as an actual physical building, a structure with a solid cement foundation, made of bricks and mortar. “I’ll see you at church,” I say to a friend during a weekday encounter, or, “Tuck in your shirt; we’re in church now,” I commanded my four sons just prior to entering the Sanctuary on a recent Sunday morning.

This Samuel John Stone hymn about the church being “one foundation” with its construction imagery prompts me to remember the wisdom of the simple children’s rhyme: We—the universe of all believers; not a building—are the church.

Jesus died for us so that we could live and form a living church. We only become a church when we share meals with those who are poor and marginalized, help those who are sick, when we listen, repent, confess, forgive, are forgiven, when we sing, embrace others, love those different than us, when we witness and love in the world.

In short, each of us makes us a church, God’s one church.

Dear God, please help us understand that whenever and wherever we gather together, and whenever and wherever we do your work, we are your church. Amen.

Written by Phil Calian, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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