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.
The Church shall never perish!
Her dear Lord, to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish,
Is with her to the end.
Though there be those that hate her.
False sons within her pale,
Against both foe and traitor
She ever shall prevail.
Though with a scornful wonder
Men 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,
Til with the vision glorious
Her longing eyes are blest
And the great Church victorious
shall be the church at rest
And when all the people heard Him,
Even the tax collectors justified God,
Having been baptized with the baptism of John.
But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves,
Not having been baptized by him.
And the Lord said,
“To what then shall I liken the men of this generation, and what are they like?
“They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, saying: ‘We played the flute for you, And you did not dance;
We mourned to you, And you did not weep.’
“For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine,
And you say, ‘He has a demon.’
“The Son of Man has come eating and drinking,
And you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’
“But wisdom is justified by all her children.”
Rest – 44 measures of rest
If you play a musical instrument in an orchestra, sometimes you are playing and sometimes you are not. There are times when you rest. The times when you rest are just as important as the times when you play. Sometimes it is time for other instruments to be featured.
Rest is not a time to do nothing. It is a time to very vigilant about what is happening. It is time to take a small break but to prepare yourself to enter the music on cue. You count the measures – 1,2,3,4; 2,2,3,4 – 27,2,3,4, – 41,2,3,4 –get ready, get your instrument in place, get your eyes on the director, watch for the cue, 44,2,3,4 – rest is over – cue comes your way, enter and begin your part of the composition.
If you are not ready, your contribution will not be made. If you miss your cue, you will not enter at the right time. Timing is critical. The right notes at the wrong time are not the right notes.
How like life. We are part of God’s grand orchestra. We are called to participate and to bring the gifts God has given us into the music. We need to know our time to play and our time to rest.
Life is not a solo. Prepare yourself. Be ready when He calls. Be quiet when it is time to be quiet. That is how His music is made.
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
Even we ourselves groan within ourselves,
Eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope;
For why does one still hope for what he sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see,
We eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.
For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought,
But the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us
With groanings which cannot be uttered.
“Tug of War” – again – when will we learn?
One of my favorite pictures is a picture of two tractors. One tractor is a John Deere G and the other is a Farmall Super M. They are chained drawbar-to-drawbar and trying to out-pull each other. Beneath the chain is a line someone has scratched in the dirt. Hanging directly above the scratched line is a white handkerchief tied to the chain.
Both tractors are obviously straining at their limits. The smoke is pouring from their stacks. Their rear tires are digging into the earth. Their drivers are leaning into their loads. Much energy is being expended. Neither tractor is going anywhere (except deeper).
Each machine has a cheering section. This contest of mettle has brought them together (and is keeping them apart). Each group seems to know which tractor should win (and which should lose). These groups are obviously losing no love on one another.
While much energy is being expended – no plowing is being done. No discing. No planting. No cultivating. No harvesting. Valuable fuel is being exhausted. Expensive tires are losing tread. Powerful engines are being stressed. Delicate gears overloaded. Useful life shortened.
Intriguing but convicting. Does it matter which tractor wins? Imagine how much work could be done if these powerful machines would return to their respective fields of labor. The operators, with a vision of a goal accomplished, could wave to one another across the fence row as they passed. If one had more power than the other, what would it matter? They could work together (albeit in different fields) to feed a hungry world.
Our churches have so much to offer the community and the world. It has become apparent that tensions have weakened our ministry and limited us to a debilitating degree. There is too much at stake to continue the struggle. Both “tractors” are being damaged while their mettle yet unproven.
Why can there not be an amiable agreement so that we can work together or so that we can work in separate fields? There appears to be huge open fields where all can find places to work. Certainly some of the persons involved in the present struggle would feel quite comfortable in some other, related fields of labor. Is it not possible that we could “unhook the chain” and employ energies in gainful, meaningful, productive accomplishment? In this way, we could finish the work without the damage and disruption which will be hurtful to us all.
Can we not “rather suffer wrong” if we feel that we or someone we are supporting has been wronged? Will not the polarization and escalation of present attitudes existing at all levels prove destructive to all? What about the people we are here to serve? They are the ones to whom we owe an apology. What are we teaching them? What are we demonstrating to them? Are we not hypocritical to teach the Bible while “biting and devouring” each other as our physical and emotional energies and our very spiritual lives are being consumed? Can we show the people that we are disciples by the way we love one another?
A peaceful resolution will certainly not be nearly as exciting as all the smoke, noise, and clamor of the “tug of war.” But it strikes me that a peaceful solution would be closer to what the LORD intended when He gave talents to each of us and told us to “occupy until He comes.” Then each of us will need to give account of how we used His talents. Are we working the fields or playing “tug of war?”
Frank Reed – Written in 1997. Published in 2013. Published in 2016.
YOU – O LORD
Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep; O LORD,
You preserve man and beast. How precious is
Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of
Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of
Your house, And
You give them drink from the river of
Your pleasures. For with
You is the fountain of life; In
Your light we see light. Oh, continue
Your lovingkindness to those who know
Your righteousness to the upright in heart.