The "One" That Matters

It has been quite a week for The United Methodist Church.

Unless you’ve been on a news fast, your news feed likely included a headline about the Special Called Session of General Conference to vote on the denomination’s stance on homosexuality. At the conference’s end, that stance remained the same with the approval of the Traditional Plan. Some people were relieved with the outcome. Some were angry. Some were confused. Some were fearful. The emotions were many and vast.

Leading up to the Conference, throughout its duration, and in the days since it ended, one particular hymn has played in the background of my mind. Not surprisingly, Samuel J. Stone wrote “The Church’s One Foundation” during a time of unrest in the Church of England, “mid toil and tribulation and tumult of her war.” One hundred fifty years later, Stone’s words are still a good foundation for uncertain times.

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The congregation that I serve in West Point, Mississippi, has a beautiful sanctuary with a stained glass window of Jesus on the building’s northern side. Most folks note its beauty from the inside, when the lights are on, and his face shines. However, the window is equally as beautiful from the outside when the lights are off, too. The window’s brilliant colors are shadowed, and Jesus’ face seems veiled. Directly under his feet is the building’s cornerstone.

From the inside, from the outside, in the darkness, and in the light, the Church’s one foundation is still Jesus Christ her Lord. Not only is he the foundation, but he stands as Lord of the Church throughout space and time.

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.
— ~Samuel J. Stone, "The Church's One Foundation"

At last week’s Special Session of General Conference, much disappointment stemmed from the defeat of the One Church Plan, which was one of three plans considered by the Conference, along with the Traditional and Connectional Conference Plans. Some people saw the One Church Plan as the best option for the denomination to remain united. When the One Church Plan did not pass, some supporters saw it not as a defeat of one plan but rather an ominous defeat of one church as we know it.

Yet, Samuel J. Stone’s hymn calls to us from one tense era to another with the “ones” on which we need to focus…

One foundation

One Lord….

One faith…

One birth…

One name…

One holy food….

One hope…

As we approach Transfiguration Sunday, the “one” that matters is the One whose glory is revealed not in a plan but in the person of Jesus Christ. So let us fix our eyes on the north window, on the one Author and Perfecter of our one faith. Let us move forward in one hope built on the strong foundation of Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us come to the one table to partake of one holy food.

And the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian