“The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord”
When I first walked into the narthex of the church I currently serve, the western wall is what I noticed first. It’s a wall of stones of varying size, shape, color, and texture. And of course, there in the lower right-hand corner, is the cornerstone. It’s an apt representation of the words from 1 Peter 2:
As you come to him, the living Stone, rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him, you also like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture, it says:
‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:4-9).
This western wall portrays not only the Scripture passage, but the members of the church as well. They all have different shapes, colors, and sizes, as well as varied gifts, talents, interests, and backgrounds. And yet, they are all being built together like living stones into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
“She is his new creation by water and the Word”
Dr. Rod Rosenbladt used to say that the only reason to go to church was the water and the Word, the bread and the wine, and the gospel preached into our earballs (a funny euphemism driving home the importance of hearing the gospel). The foundation of the new creation in Christ is Holy Baptism, where we are brought into the family of God through water and the Word in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
“He saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
“Do you not know that all who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3).
“From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride”
God made Israel to be his own people, his segulah, his prized possession. He loved her and cared for her as a faithful husband would. But then Israel strayed and disobeyed and went whoring after false gods. But even when his bride was faithless, God was faithful, for he cannot deny himself. So Jesus came from the heights of heaven above to the depths of earth below to rescue and redeem his long-lost love. He came to remove the veil, replace the headdress, and restore her pure white dress of righteousness.
“With his own blood he bought her and for her life he died.”
From the first sign of blood at his circumcision, to sweating drops of blood in the garden, all the way to the shedding of his blood on the cross of Calvary, Jesus gave his lifeblood for the life of the world. For the life of his bride, the church.
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Heb. 9:22).
“It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin” (Heb. 10:4).
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
When I visited the western (wailing) wall in Jerusalem, I knew about the paper prayers that people would stuff into the crevices of the rock. But what I didn’t know was that it wasn’t just the Jews doing it. It was everybody - Jews, Christians, Africans, Asians, Europeans - people of all sizes, shapes and colors, of all tribes and nations and languages. And if you get really close to the wall and look up, you will not only see the paper prayers stuffed into the side of it; you will also notice that birds have made their nests in some of those crevices as well.
It reminded me of Pentecost and the early church. It reminded me of my church and the holy Christian Church on earth. It reminded me once again that the one church which has one foundation in the life, death and resurrection of the son is also first and foremost Christ’s church.
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.