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Saturday, October 11, 2014

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.

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

“The Church’s One Foundation”—what a strong and martial hymn. What an uplifting and hopeful hymn. What a familiar and easy-to-sing hymn. And yet, read the words alone as a poem. Read the words alone as a profession of faith. I learned while “Googling” this hymn that it was written as part of a series to illustrate and enrich understanding of the Twelve Articles of the Apostle’s Creed. This hymn in the series is meant to reflect on the “holy catholic church and the communion of saints."

This is the fourth stanza of the hymn and it speaks to us of toil, tumult, tribulation, and war; peace, glory, victory, and rest. For each of those words, a picture: toil—a farm worked bent over in the sun; tumult—a protest rally with bullhorns and chants; tribulation—the all-too-common homeless person with a cup and a cardboard sign; war—bombs, bodies, blood in the dark of night.

But in this hymn, amongst all these terrible things, the church “waits.” Waits? We can’t wait. We can’t sit by. We need to act. We need to create the other pictures, the ones for peace and glory and victory and rest. Create them now with me. Turn the farm worker in the field into a family day on the beach. Turn the protest rally into Grant Park on November 4, 2008. Turn the homeless person into someone who helps others as a crossing guard near an elementary school. Turn war into Love.

A few weeks ago, Shannon asked us who we think Jesus is. For me, Jesus is Love. And if Jesus is Love, his church is Love, and we should strive to be Love and act Love. Create Love everywhere for everyone. Then we (and the church) will have earned our rest.

Dear Jesus, help me to bring Love forth in the world in every way and with everyone I meet today. Bless us and our church as we work to earn our rest in you. Amen.

Written by Jean Marie Koon, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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