I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's 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,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come 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.
In our Sunday Morning Men’s Bible Study, we will spend the year looking at other belief systems, specifically to see what the problems are in light of Scripture. Before launching into this, we spent several Sundays reviewing what we believe. We looked at this, the Nicene Creed, and other creeds, and spent some time discussing them and other published confessions.
The Apostles’ Creed above is fairly brief and is structured for both congregational reading and recitation, and for personal memorisation. Whatever your thoughts on including this in our Sunday morning liturgy, I think the repetition and memorisation ultimately can only be a good thing. Rather like a condensing of the catechism… or like a company mission statement and values!
Knowing what we believe is fundamental to all aspects of life.
We sing a hymn here at Grace, The Master Has Come. It is a Welsh hymn written by Sarah Doudney sung to the Ash Grove tune. The last verse includes these lines:
“We turn from the world
With its smiles and its scorning
To cast in our lot with the people of God.”
Knowing what we believe is fundamental. Working out what we believe… well, that takes a village. One such village would definitely be our church family.
Last summer after a week of intensive church-wide ministry, our Wholehearted event, my mind was filled with a lot of thoughts about my church family. I figured I should write them down. So, I did. And shared my list on my Facebook page. I include it here:
1) Grown men run across the lawn or any gathering place inside to give each other hugs, often bear hugs preceded with jarring chest bumps.
2) Folks with gardens bring the overflow of their produce to share with anyone, leaving boxes out on the breezeway.
3) We have worship services with some regularity in which the time of testimony sharing ends up replacing the message.
4) Sometimes we laugh during communion.
5) You can see readily how the members use their gifts and abilities for the benefit of the church body.
6) How many folks can say they play Euchre often with their pastor?
7) We have our own rather skilled interior designers who do wonders with paint and accessories! The sanctuary looks great! And the hallway!
8) Folks with chickens bring their surplus eggs to share… It’s been a few months since I have bought eggs.
9) I hear, or read, “I love you” (both directed to me and from one person to another) more than I ever have in my life… as people are departing or during testimony time, at the end of phone calls, and often punctuating a text message.
10) Clearly there is a great level of comfort and support, such that all the introverts feel like they can share with the church body. The extroverts, well, we’re glad you’re a part, too!
11) What’s not to love about having breakfast together every Sunday through the summer? Thanks to all those who labour early in the kitchen to make this happen.
12) Often the process of saying good-bye after a full day takes about an hour.
13) There’s just something about singing together and reading Scripture together.
14) Discipleship and mentoring relationships are such that great friendships develop between people of all ages. I have folks who have taken me on as their son, if you will, and my closest friend is half my age. To me, that is rather a big deal.
15) Often it is quarter to 12 when Dave gets up and asks us if he should go ahead and preach, and we say yes.
16) We take the time to celebrate the significant events in our member's lives.
17) It takes a village... and I think our young folks benefit from ours!
18) People actually want to take the time to build relationships... and that could be through having lunch together, playing Scrabble, playing tennis, serving in some way, etc.
19) A two-year-old expresses to her mother that she misses "my people" and then lists members of another church family... well, that is something.
20) Couples who have been married longer develop relationships with younger married couples... marriage mentoring, I suppose you could call it.
21) We make each other cry... in a good way.
I imagine I could go on for quite some time, but these things were top of mind. Living in community involves risk, but it is how God works redemption, sanctification in us--and, these things and many others are why being vulnerable, taking that risk, is worth it.
I share this with you here to get you thinking about why you have “cast in [your] lot with the people of God” here at Grace, or in whatever setting that may be--your church family being the obvious first such setting.
The majority of my 21 thoughts about my church family capture a relational aspect. As you read the Apostles’ Creed, did you notice the relational aspects? If not, read it again!
You are part of other circles than our church, undoubtedly. Maybe you are part of a sports team, choir, orchestra, reading group… I would encourage you to take some time and reflect on why you are a part. And, really, it’s worth taking the time to write down your thoughts--in your journal, if you do that. If it is a circle, organization, group with a spiritual purpose, you really should have some strong relational reasons for being a part of it--how else will God work out redemption and sanctification in you?