I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
*The Apostles’ Creed (ecumenical version)
Credo is the first word of the Apostles’ Creed in Latin. It means “I believe.” What do we mean when we say we believe? How does belief affect the life of the believer? What are the reasons for belief? The word believe can have many multiple layers of meaning and can be applied to everything from the silly to the profound. For example, I believe that the Pittsburgh Pirates might make it into the postseason again this year. In this sense belief expresses my hopes, which may be at least partially rooted in my assessment of the skills of my home team. Often we use believe to express our preferences or opinions or predictions about things that are not of ultimate importance. I believe that a particular car brand is a better value than another. I would not die for my convictions about a car brand, and these might be easily changed if the right new product from another car maker came along.
There are deeper and more important beliefs we all carry. You might believe that small government is important, or you might believe that government must do more to ensure the welfare of the people. There are a number of people in our country today, on both sides of the political spectrum, who are acting upon their deeply-held beliefs. Many such beliefs have the power to motivate us to action, sacrifice, and service.
From the earliest times Christians made attempts to summarize their essential beliefs. Beginning in the late second or early third centuries these summaries of faith are found in the creeds of the church. The most enduring of these, still studied and recited today, is the Apostles’ Creed. We’ll be considering the words of this ancient statement of belief during the upcoming season of Lent. In the early centuries of Christianity, converts to the faith participated in a three-year process of learning and faith formation. This process culminated in the season of Lent, when such persons received the most precious and central tenets of the Christian faith – the concepts that are contained in the Apostles’ Creed.
It is most appropriate, therefore, that we spend this Lenten season studying these same concepts for ourselves. Whether you are new to the faith, or an experienced believer, you will find something that is fresh and new in these ancient words, as we study them together during each of the Sundays in Lent. This sermon series will begin on Sunday, March 5th. For those who would like to go deeper, I invite you to join us at our Terrific Tuesday gatherings, beginning on March 7th, when we will consider Adam Hamilton’s new study, Creed: What Christians Believe and Why. You can find more information concerning this study elsewhere in this newsletter. We’ll see you in church throughout the upcoming season of Lent!