Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


The Church's One Foundation

The following was written by the Rt. Rev. Henry W. Shipps, retired Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia. These words originally appeared in Spiritus Gladius, the Weekly News Letter for Saint Paul the Apostle Episcopal Church in Savannah, where the Bishop and his wife frequently attend.
Hymn 525, "The Church's One Foundation" always has been one of my favorite hymns, largely because it's five verses speak so accurately of the Church, even today. The music is by S.S. Wesley. The words were written in 1866 by a British priest, S.J. Stone, during a time of great concern in the Church over the issue of higher criticism of the Bible (something we assume today). Charles Darwin and evolution also were causing much unease.

Christian Churches today all have a large measure of anxiety and controversy to deal with, the Episcopal Church being in high profile. The faithful become anxious: "Where will all this lead?" I know of at least two new books that are dark and foreboding about the future of the Christian Church. Hymn 525 notes we are "by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed."

click here to find out more about this imageThe 9 October issue of TIME has a helpful feature article concerning religious certitude, and how such a stance is causing much distress and suffering throughout the world. The article observes, "If God is really God, then God must, by definition, surpass our human undersatnding." We have Scripture, tradition, and reason, as well as our own experience, which hopefully guide us into all truth. But TIME goes on: "There is still something we will never grasp, something we can never know—because God is beyond our categories....And if God is beyond our categories, then God cannot be captured for certain....There will always be something that eldues us. If there weren't, it would not be God."

It may be humbling for us to accept our fallibilities, but it may also be healthy and good for the soul. Are ambiguities all that harmful? We can only see so far into God's creation. We delude ourselves if we think we can put God in a box, or if we think we have the gift of amniscience.

Hymn 525 goes on to assure us of God's blessing and final peace. His Church will enjoy "mystic sweet communion."

"The great Church victorious shall be the Church at rest."


+H.W. Shipps
a cheap visual pun—King of Peace's concrete foundation is poured
The photo above links to a related sermon
from the archives


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