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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

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Apostles’ Creed

I BELIEVE IN . . .ADJUSTING MY VIEW OF THE APOSTLES’ CREED

 

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I believe in. . .thus begins the Apostles’ Creed, the oldest of Christian creeds. Millions of Christians around the world recite these words in church weekly, others more often, some never and some use other Christian statements of belief [Nicene] to collectively declare the tenets of their faith.

IMG_6107I grew up in a church tradition where such liturgy had been discarded as unnecessary and frankly, a bit suspicious, especially if it was merely rote recitation or used as standard for acceptance or rejection for church membership or access to Communion. From an early age I heard, ‘no creed but Christ’, no book but the Bible’, ‘we are Christians only, but not the only Christians’. I grew up believing and still frankly do that Jesus established Holy Communion [The Lord’s Supper] as a Sacrament, though I admit I never heard that particular word until I was well into my teens. We celebrated Communion every Sunday and often at special services. Baptism was by immersion at the age of ‘accountability’ [usually 11 or 12 years of age following a Pastor’s class] on a statement of faith—did they sneak a creed in on us—that went something like, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and do you accept him as your personal Lord and Savior?” The appropriate answer of course was, ‘I do.’ After which baptism occurred.

So while other Christians were baptized with less water and some as infants, while others celebrated their first Communion around 7 years old, followed by Confirmation classes at what my tradition called the age of accountability, I have discovered that we are more alike than different. Some of us have drifted from the faith of our childhoods, some have deepened faith, some struggle to find their faith footing among a plethora of world views, many non-Christian or even anti-Christian.

I am sharing this so that whoever reads this can understand that the path I have traveled to embracing the Apostles’ Creed as a powerful way to succinctly express Christian doctrine.

As I age, rather than closing up, huddling in my self built bunker, I want to open my heart and mind and body to receive ALL God has for me to grow in Love. . .His Love, His Grace, His Power. I want to firmly plant my feet in the concrete of Jesus, but to open wide my eyes to see and embrace life rather than just waiting for ‘Heaven’. Living here, eyes open, heart open, loving, laughing, suffering, from the hour I first believed prepare me for EVERLASTING LIFE. I won’t say heaven will be less wonderful, if I waste time or hide out here on earth, but I do believe personally it opens my eyes to the blessings here and now. I want other Christians and even those who have other faith traditions or no tradition at all to see and understand God’s love and action in their lives. And as I age I have more opportunities to bless others, even if it is only to pray that they might know God loves them.

That is one reason I presenting this commentary and Terry and I are hosting a two week Lenten Study on the Apostles’ Creed at 6 PM EDT, Sunday in our home in Florida. And for those of you in Kentucky, I hope we can do this for a longer period of time when we return. Among other resources we are using Matt Chandler’s study guide along with the Bible. This is not a lecture, but a sharing group and all are welcome. This is not a gathering that seeks to pull anyone into a specific church tradition, but instead to celebrate the Oneness with Have one with the other as Christians.

IMG_1105The Apostles’ Creed is not merely words generated by men, nor does it have special mystical power, like an incantation. The words find their origin in Scripture, both [and this may surprise some] Old and New Testament. The words for me embrace the whole of the Bible beginning with Genesis, ‘In the Beginning, God’, the ‘Word became Flesh’, and ‘Come, Lord Jesus, Come’. Not only do they center me on the Trinity, but on the importance of the Church [the Body of Christ with its many parts, UNITED, UNIVERSAL], the reality of our own accountability before Christ and EVERLASTING LIFE.

SO consider yourself invited.*

*NO ONE PUT ON THE SPOT OR PREACHED TO–PROMISE!

 

What I Believe Makes Me Who I Am–Theology on an Icy Morning

I am not the most succinct person in the whole world, so boiling things down to a few words about something as all encompassing as “My Theology” is mind boggling. I could point to the Bible and say I find it there and be truthful, but even in there I find more to explore about the world, history, and people. God has planted himself everywhere, if only we could see. Paul wrote in Romans that God is evident in all creation, so none of us are without knowledge of Him.

I encountered a Aborigines’ account of creation and the fall of man in which the evil one was a bat! The Biblical account and this tribal story are remarkably parallel. No wonder that the symbol of death is the “Bat”. We also were visited by retired missionaries, the Eubanks, to Thailand, who shared the story of entering a classroom in Thailand to share Jesus with a group of children for the first time. The majority religion in Thailand is Buddhism. As they spoke to the children, Mrs. Eubanks noticed one child who listened closer, her eyes growing brighter and brighter until her body could not contain what she had to say. She waved her hand excitedly and exclaimed, “I know this Jesus! I just didn’t know his name.” The Eubanks expressed how God surprised them by already working in the hearts of the people of Thailand. He was there a long time before they arrived.

So, the enormity of God and of my meager theology cannot be boiled down easily, but as I consider His Scripture, I realize my basics from cover to cover are there. God’s Love, Justice and Mercy with which I form not only by theology, but my worldview. I am a Christian, but I am not the only Christian.

And so on this cold, December morning, Here is my paraphrased theology in a bursting nutshell:

In the beginning God created and it was good. God existed before all creation, before the beginning and in creating used the words, “Let us make….”, so the One God has more than one person. Human beings with free will sinned and while the good God created remained, weeds grew, blood was shed, storms brewed and sickness with death entered history. God chose Abraham to bless ALL the peoples of the earth.

Emmanuel
Emmanuel

At the perfect time in history The Word (Christ Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Out of his life, death and resurrection we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

The Holy Spirit remains within for the believer and in the world to call non-believers to Christ. But this time, this earth has an expiration date known only by God. We are therefore called to be His witnesses to all the World. And until then I pray “Come Lord Jesus, Come.”

I know too that others seeking also to boil things down have done a better job than I. So I turn to “Creed” Rich Mullins’ theology song from the Apostles Creed:

I believe in God the Father almighty
Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ
His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried

CHORUS:
And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man

I believe that He who suffered
Was crucified, buried, and dead
He descended into hell and
On the third day, rose again
He ascended into Heaven where
He sits at God’s mighty right hand
I believe that He’s returning to
Judge the quick and the dead
Of the sons of men

CHORUS

I believe it, I believe it
I believe it
I believe it, I believe it

I believe in God the Father almighty
Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son,
Our Lord
I believe in the Holy Spirit
One Holy Church, the communion of Saints
The forgiveness of sin
I believe in the resurrection
I believe in a life that never ends

CHORUS

I believe it, I believe
I believe it, I believe
I believe it, I believe it

The Word became Flesh and Embraced me with Grace
The Word became Flesh and Embraced me with Grace

Should have just gone to that first, RIGHT? So At Christmas…Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Here’s the Utube link: http://youtu.be/H-61MaWETiU

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