Creeds

An Affirmation of Faith (St. John’s-Grace Episcopal Church, May 2005)

We are a community of faith. We share a vision of God: a God whose spirit is love, accessible to all yet beyond our knowing, the source of all being, the way leading to wholeness, the spirit which pervades everything. We search for the meaning of God and our own experience revealed in those sacred stories which have been passed down to us. We tell them again and again: Of God the Creator, the Almighty, who made everything that is, and saw that it was good. Of Jesus of Nazareth, who in history lived among us, healed the afflicted, taught, suffered and died. Jesus forgave those who crucified him. In the mystery of the resurrection Jesus continues to live more profoundly through the ages, the Incarnation of Love, the Christ, to whom his disciples have responded “My Lord and my God!” Christ shows us the Way, which leads to the reconciliation of all things, saying:  “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” It is the Way of love, compassion, justice, forgiveness and peace. Of the Spirit, the Breath, the Wind of God, the Giver of Life, the Holy Wisdom, who inspires the people of God to cry out for justice for the powerless and oppressed, to see the presence of God in every created thing, and to respond with love. Of the communion of saints: all the people of God, living, dead and yet to be born, who are empowered to recognize that they are, and always have been, brothers and sisters, one family in God. We are reborn in the Spirit, followers of that Way shown by Jesus: to love God with our whole being; to love our neighbors as ourselves; to treat others as we would have them treat us; to strive for justice and peace; to have respect and compassion for every person  and for the whole of creation; to forgive those who do us harm; to love one another as Christ has loved us. We journey together on this Way towards reconciliation with the whole creation. We break bread together and pray together. We reach out to one another for strength beyond our own. This is our community. This is our faith.

Liturgy Out of the Box Katherine Hawker 2007

Respecting divine mystery beyond our human knowing revealed but not contained in the stories of our faith we strive to walk humbly with God. Celebrating the fullness of Jesus’ witness flowing from the baptismal waters at the river Jordan and the stories of bread broken and shared, we confess the God made known in the one we call Christ. Believing Jesus about God and trusting his example, we accept the cost and joy of following Christ; welcoming the unwelcome-able, speaking the unspeakable, touching the untouchable, and suffering the insufferable. Honouring the Spirit revealed in the scriptures, we live the questions of our faith, open to the continuing revelation of our still speaking God. Discerning strength in vulnerability, we acknowledge our interdependence and mutual accountability with all of creation. Claiming God’s grace abundant in our common life, we covenant together to cherish inquiry, embrace diversity, and honor vulnerability.

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Affirmation of Faith                     Smiles

 

We believe in God, who made the world, loves it and smiles upon it.

We believe in Jesus Christ who has shown us the human face of God, and a love that refused to be limited, who calls us to a life that even death cannot end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit through whom God reaches us, surprising, prompting and questioning us; who is the life-breath of creation, and the source of nurture, humour & hope.

We believe in ourselves, as people made in the likeness of God, capable of great creativity and great destruction but called to choose between them.

We believe in salvation through Christ; salvation from all that would degrade or destroy; salvation won when Christ, having succumbed to the powers of death, burst free again, forever ensuring that tragedy could not entomb love and hope.

We believe that Christ leads us now, calling us to a life that is absurd by the standards of the world; calling us to resist evil and to create and protect love, justice, freedom and peace.

We believe in God’s mysterious presence; with us in church and home, with us in bread and wine and water, with us in hugs and handshakes; yet always beyond our comprehension and appearing foolish to the world. And we believe that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of the world: and we rejoice that God has made it so.  Amen.


Affirmation of Faith: Justice

 

We believe it is a matter of faith to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

We believe it is a matter of faith to recognize equally and love all members of God’s human family whatever their race, creed, color, gender, sexual orientation, marital status,  physical or mental capacity.

We believe God’s creation is good, beautiful, sacred and therefore to condemn any portion of God’s creation is to condemn a portion of God.  This is sin.

We believe Jesus Christ came to us to free all people from sin and to make disciples–people willing to live Christ’s discipline of love and justice for all.

We believe the Holy Spirit is that power within us that gives us courage and stamina to face the truth and to live it, even to die for it, as Jesus died.

We believe in the resurrection, the victory over death, the truth that is life for all in Jesus’ name.

Glory be to God, the One in Three:  Creator, Saviour, and Holy Power of Love.  Amen.

 

The New Creed:  United Church of Canada

 

We are not alone, we live in God’s world.

We believe in God: who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,

to reconcile and make new,

who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God. We are called to be the Church:

to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,

our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death,

God is with us.

We are not alone. Thanks be to God.

 

Affirmation of Faith: Creation

 

We believe in God, the Creator, who moved upon the face of the deep at the beginning of  creation, who created all that is, and who spoke through the prophets of old.

We believe in Jesus Christ, into whom God’s Spirit was poured in fullness and in power, that the whole creation might be restored and unified; and who promised that the Spirit would come and fill the faithful with power to witness to the mighty love of God.

We wait on that Spirit today with longing hearts, seeking to be empowered to witness to God’s love and hope.  Glory be to God — Creator, Christ, and Spirit, One–now and always.  Amen.

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My “WHY?” Shattered my idol and my eyes were opened to a new reality. I’m talking about THE great big existential WHY? – a sermon for Lent 4A – John 9:1-41

Listen to the sermon here

Their baby was stillborn. Their pain was unbearable and so they asked, “Why?”

Her husband went out for his regular run; something he did every morning as part of his effort to stay healthy so that he would live long and prosper. Her husband was run over by a car and was dead by the time she arrived at the hospital.  To this day she asks, “Why?”

She was raped. The pain of violation refuses to leave her even after nine long years, during which her marriage fell apart. She could not and she cannot stop asking, “Why?”

On Friday, I watched a news briefing about the massive famine that encompasses much of Africa. Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Ethiopia are suffering from the ravages of starvation. More than 20 million people, many of them children are about to starve to death; 20 million people. It is the largest humanitarian crisis in the history of the United Nations. As I watched the horrific footage from the comfort of my living-room, all my being asked the question, “Why?”

This “Why?” was and is so much more than all the other Whys. This aching “Why?” is not the same as the other Whys. The Why that groans in me, that cries out for an answer is not: Why are babies still-born? Why do accidents happen?  Why is there so much violence? Why are millions of people, so many of them children, starving to death? These whys we can seek and find answers to. The Why that groans in me, is the Why that has haunted our ancestors for generations. I’m talking about THE great big existential WHY?

Why does God allow some people to suffer while others escape suffering? There must be a reason that you and I were born. There’s got to be a reason that we were born here and not in Africa. There simply must be a reason that some of us escape suffering while others of us can’t seem to catch a break. Why? Why God? Why? Nearly two-thousand years have passed and still this great big Why screams out from the deepest darkest places of our being. Why?

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I even prayed like a child. I prayed to God to save me and mine from all sorts of suffering. I believed that God heard my prayers and that God saved me and mine. But when I grew up, I put away my childish notions as I began to see some of my dear ones suffer. I saw the suffering but I refused to see what the suffering did to my carefully held beliefs about the god I chose to worship. My faith blinded me to the idol that I had created. Out of the stories handed down to us from our ancestors I, like so many of the members of my tribe, I had carefully constructed an idol which I believed was worthy of my worship; an all-powerful, all knowing god, whose wisdom was more powerful than my reasoning; who loved me beyond measure and just as surely loved all those dying babies and suffering victims.  Mine was not to reason why. Mine was but to trust and obey. The “big guy in the sky” would work it all out in the end. In the sweet by and by all would be revealed; no more blindness, no more doubt. In the meantime, all we could wonder, “Why?”  as long as we didn’t let our questions draw our attention from the idol we chose to worship. Blind faith was the only answer that could keep our attention firmly at the feet of the god of our creation.

Then one day a child died; a child I knew and loved, a child who had suffered most of her short little life and I was overwhelmed by the “Why?” that screamed out from the depths of my being. I, we had put all our faith in the omni god, this omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient god, the all-powerful, everywhere, and all knowing god that we willed into being, confident that by worshiping our idol, our precious little one would not be subjected to such suffering. When she died, the idol of my worship died with her. I was blind but now I see the folly of worshipping a god of my own making. My omni idol, had all the answers. No mystery, just reassurances.  Nothing beyond my ability to imagine or conceive. Like the Pharisees before me, I could not see beyond the parameters of the Law and the traditions handed down to me. But once my eyes had been opened, my vision changed and I could no longer see the way I once saw. My WHY? Shattered my idol and my eyes were opened to a new reality. Where once I could only see death as an enemy to be conquered, the death of one so sweet, so dearly loved, revealed to me the precious beauty of life. My eyes were opened to the reality of death as a part of life, the part that makes life so very precious. It took a long time, and more questions than I can begin to recall, but slowly, I began to see the contours of a MYSTERY beyond my wildest imaginings.

There is no sin in blindness. Blindness can be a safe haven from the tremendous MYSTERY that lies at the very heart of all that IS. But there is beauty beyond the darkness. Beyond the shattered pieces of our idolatry Beyond the horizon of our limited views, there is an EMBRACE the likes of which the mystics longed for; an EMBRACE that comes from the Source of all that IS, the great I AM of which our ancestors insisted permeated all that IS. An EMBRACE that is so much more that we can ever begin to express, and yet an EMBRACE whose contours stretch beyond the heavens to permeate all of life.

This MYSTERY that some of us call God, is the LOVE that is the ground and source of all being; the RELATIONSHIP that touches every life and lures us into being more than we dreamed possible. This MYSTERY may shatter our idols, but it also compels us toward a faith that opens the eyes of the blind to possibilities that deepen life by deepening relationship in ways that broaden our vision so that we too can become all that we are created to be. This MYSTERY invites all our WHYs. This MYSTERY is powerful enough to walk with us and all our questions into the dark clouds of unknowing that make life so very precious.  This MYSTERY does not demand blind faith. This MYSTERY opens our eyes to the beauty of becoming, over and over again, ONE with the MYSTERIES of LIFE.

These days, the great big WHY continues to overwhelm me and I confess that I am so very grateful to be overwhelmed because every time I am blinded by the idols of my own creation, Jesus comes along, heals my blindness, and disturbs me with visions that lead me Beyond my wildest imaginings. WHY? I do not know the answer. But I can see a way Beyond the WHYs a way that does not deny the pain or the beauty of the quest, a way that deepens and expands the beauty of the journey, a way that compels me toward the MYSTERY that is the LOVE some of us call God.

That LOVE empowers us to reach out in love to those whose whys overwhelm them; those who are grieving, those who desperately trying to recover from violence, and to do what is necessary to feed those who are starving. May your WHYs open your eyes so that you too can see BEYOND the BEYOND, and BEYOND that also, to the MYSTERY that is LOVE.  Amen.

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