Year C – Third Sunday after Epiphany – Christ is Made the Sure Foundation

Summary–“Christ is Made the Sure Foundation” comes from one of England’s great hymn translators, John Mason Neale (1818-1866).  Although called to serve as a parish priest, chronic illness forced Neale to work as the warden of an almshouse, a charitable residence for the poor.    While serving in this capacity, he translated hundreds of ancient Latin, Greek and Russian texts into hymns for the Church of England.  Today’s text comes from a 7th century Latin poem on Ephesians 2:20-22.

Insight–We live in a world where many church denominations claim that they are the one true church.  Hundreds upon hundreds of churches fight for their particular teachings of the Bible, all claiming there’s as truth.  The Apostle Paul lived in a world of divisions as well.  But his divisions didn’t fall between Presbyterians and Methodists or Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox.  The divisions of his day fell between Jews and Gentiles.  Our hymn uses the teachings of Paul to argue against such divisions, both in his day and in ours.   Christ is the foundation, the chief cornerstone of the Church who reconciled the Jew and Gentile into one new and complete man.  The stone laid beneath the two walls which diverge at right angle from each other now binds both together and gives strength and cohesion to the whole.  In fact, by His death, he broke down the middle partition seperating the two walls.  The foundation stone which binds and unites the two walls has been laid.

Our hymn this week uses the picture of a temple, built on the foundation of Christ to exhort us to live together with other Christians as one building; one people of God.  There are so many people who love God but look and act differently than we do.  But if they put their trust in Christ then they are a part of the same building as we are.  They put their weight on Christ, their foundation, and so do we.  They take their direction from the cornerstone, and so do we.  Walls can’t work against each other if they are to remain standing.  We must see that all those who put their faith in Christ, who lean on His strength and follow His word are a part of His temple.  Sing loudly that Christ is our foundation, that He is binding us together as one.  He is doing this for His glory and that we will reign with Him forevermore. 

1 Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
Chosen of the Lord and precious,
Binding all the church in one;
Holy Zion’s help forever,
And our confidence alone.

2 To this temple, where we call You,
Come, O Lord of Hosts, today;
With Your wonted lovingkindness
Hear Your people as they pray.
And Your fullest benediction
Shed within its walls alway.

3 Here bestow to all Your servants
What they ask of You to gain,
What they gain from You forever
With the blessèd to retain,
And hereafter in Your glory
Evermore with You to reign.

4 Laud and honor to the Father,
Laud and honor to the Son,
Laud and honor to the Spirit,
Ever Three and ever one;
One in might and one in glory
While unending ages run.

Contributed by Mike Fenimore

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