Monday, May 9, 2011

The Apostles Creed

I am doing a series of sermons on the Apostles’ Creed. We say it every Sunday at church and with our modern fear that we will do something twice, some may have concerns about overdoing it. That is, if you say it too much, you won’t appreciate it. It will become rote and lose its meaning.

People used to be afraid of communion that way. So, it was argued that if you had communion too much you wouldn’t appreciate it. If you had it only once a quarter or so, then you would more likely know its true meaning. Of course, it’s not true that we necessarily lose the meaning of the things we do a lot.

There is always a danger that something will become too routine and lose its orginal meaning, that we will just get tired of it. To avoid this, some try to do something new in worship every week. Variety, while a good thing, doesn’t necessarily give us more of God. We try new things all the time in worship. But, there are things that we do over and over again.

We say the Apostles’ Creed every Sunday for several reasons. One, as someone has said, “You don’t’ know what you believe until you say it…” So, we say what we believe to remind ourselves of the basics of our faith. Sometimes we come to church through struggle and we stand together in church and say the words that are a comfort to us. We say them in church to remember that we are not alone. Even when we can’t say them easily, the others in church help me to say them out loud.

Another reason that we say the Creed every Sunday is because of the age in which we are living. Everything, almost everything, works against our belief in this God of the Christian faith. Also, we are living in an age when many are not reared in the church, as in past times, and they do not know what we believe. So, when they come to church or visit, the Creed helps us say in a few words what we believe.

I have often said that I like to say it every Sunday if for no other reason than to say: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins…”

The Apostles’ Creed comes from an earlier version, probably called the Roman Creed. It probably was put into its current shape by the 8th or 9th century. Originally, we believe that it was a baptismal creed. Persons who were converted to Christ were trained in the substance of faith, belief in the trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) to be able to say it at baptism. “I believe in God, the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth…”

I have in my ministry run into some persons who resented any creed, remembering a time when they felt forced to say the right words. Maybe that’s true for some. Maybe some have come from a setting in which they were manipulated and “made” to say something. However, for most of us the creed stands as a guard against believing in a generic god.

Our God is specific. What we know about this God is what has been revealed to us through the scriptures. Our God is a god who has done certain things and made certain moves in history and in our lives. We proclaim it gladly and offer it joyfully.

I believe. Stand up and say it boldly, freely, I believe. It’s a good feeling to believe.

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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