Tuesday 14th July Basis of Union 2
Scripture Ephesians 5: 25 – 30
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body.
The one Church of the one God is holy, because he has redeemed and consecrated it through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and because there Christ dwells with his people. (2)
The Church likes to describe itself as holy – in the Creeds we say we are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic but even a cursory glance at Church history calls most, if not all, of these descriptors into question – not least our holiness. Despite many of God’s people having lived lives of heroic sanctity, there are those in every age whose love of wealth, power, and status have led to persecution, hatred, and murder. In our own age we’ve seen the horror of clerical abuse unfold across the Church which, again, makes the claim that we are holy a difficult one.
Our Basis of Union situates our holiness in Christ. We are holy as Christ, our head, is holy and He dwells in our midst calling us to sanctity. Paul wrote that the Church would be presented to God radiant, without stain, wrinkle, or blemish – that is a vision of the future when the sanctifying work of Christ is complete. We are holy because Christ our head is holy and because He calls us to holiness. Our faltering, often pitiful, steps towards sanctity are made complete by Christ and are seen in the lives of the saints – past and present – who responded to His call to be holy just as our Father in Heaven is holy. Of course we get it wrong, we fail, and we can be spectacularly unholy yet Christ continues to call, sanctify, and perfect us until we, with the rest of the Church, are presented to God with Christ in our midst.
God of the Church,
help us to be holy,
to face up to the times when we’re not,
when we love power and prestige more than you,
give us time to repent,
that we may be formed into the image
of Jesus Christ,
your son, our Lord,