Faith is always done together. As the saying goes, it may be personal but it is never private (Jim Wallis, Sojourners). Because faith is about how we love God and how we love one another, it is by necessity a shared conversation. How you speak about Jesus matters to me; and the language which we share in prayer impacts upon our neighbours and our enemies because it shapes how we seek to be in the world (Matthew 5). There are community-based and public implications of what we believe and how we believe.
That’s why the creeds of the church matter. Not, in my opinion, so that we can control one another or have only one version of faith, but so that we can have a common language with which to write our lives in praise to God. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.” John 13:34
Tradition has it, that the Apostles Creed is the teaching of the original disciples of Jesus. Whether that is true or not, we know for certain that is was in reasonably wide use by the 4th century CE. Since then it has been one of the foundation stones for churches of all variation and stripe, seeking to ground us in something formational and essential.
For the first few months of 2020, we will be exploring the Apostles Creed together in worship. Our challenge will be to bring the best of our thinking and reasoning, and yet not to reduce the creed to scientific historical knowledge; to bring the humblest of prayers and yet not forget our doubts. The creed is there to remind us that we belong to something bigger than ourselves; not a monolithic set of laws, but a wide and deep river of faith.
May we quench our thirst and learn to swim.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
NB: For some excellent resources on the Apostles Creed, see Dr Ben Myers wonderful little book here or read an interview with him on the subject here.
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