By Monica Berndt
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 (LSB 644 v.1).
This image of Christ and the Church has been stuck in my head for a while now. It is a wonderful image to think about- that Christ gave up the glory of heaven to come down to earth to redeem His bride, the Church, from the powers of sin, death, and the Devil. However, as the first stanza of this hymn points out, the price to redeem the Church was high, so high that the almighty, immortal God had to be sacrificed on the cross to buy back His bride.
Why? Why go to all that trouble? The Church is made up of people, and it’s not as though church people are better than other people and deserve to be saved. In fact, often we look at what goes on in the Church and see a bunch of miserable, sinful people constantly hurting each other and running after all kinds of idols. Like the children of Israel, we are so quick to run to God when trouble occurs, but the minute everything is going well, we turn away yet again to our own selfish desires. So, why did God want to save us?
Jesus gives us the answer to this question in the Gospel of John. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. God loves us poor, miserable, unfaithful sinners. Jesus came down to earth to suffer and die because He loved us too much to let us die in our sins, separated from God. He comes and seeks out His bride, the Church, and holds fast to her though the waves of sin, death, and the Devil threaten to tear her away from Him.
In all this trial, in all the pain of sin and being hurt by sin, the Church’s foundation is and always will be Christ. Yes, we are still sinful and yes, we will still hurt each other and sin against God, but Christ has bought us back. He has already sanctified us with water and His Word in our Baptism, and strengthens us for the fight with His own body and blood. We need nothing else, for Christ has done everything that we might be with Him.
Yet she on Earth has union, with God the Three-in-One and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won. O blessed heavenly chorus, Lord save us by your grace! That we like saints before us, may see you face to face. -LSB 644 v.5