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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TODAY! Set free from a Three-Tiered Universe!

Yesterday, I travelled out onto the frozen surface of Lake Simcoe. Somehow, these long busy days working in my office at home, while we all do our best to cope with what we hope will be the last tidal wave of this pandemic, somehow this created a longing in me, strong enough to push me out on the ice despite the -23º which threatened to rob me of my breath. So, longing to escape the confines of my cozy isolation, out onto to the ice I trudged, as the cold air sharpened my vision. It didn’t take very long before the many layers of clothing, with which I had hoped to insulate myself from the dangers of the cold, failed to keep me moving very far into the expanse of white snow drifts which glistened as the Sun’s glorious rays danced incapable of warming much of anything but my heart. Standing beneath a clear blue sky, looking out towards the horizon, I tried to breath in some of the vastness which stretched before me. Alas, such a deep breath choked on the frigid air, as if my lungs rejected their own impulse to breathe, lest they themselves freeze as solidly as the lake beneath my feet. A momentary panic began to surface as my mind questioned the wisdom of standing on ice not knowing what lay below. How deep? How solid? How safe?

A quick glace toward the shoreline confirmed that I was well beyond where I would safely swim on a summer day and a strange sort of vertigo began to take hold over me. It was as if my body was teaming up with my mind to convince my spirit to abandon this peculiar excursion. Such a strange dualism to entertain on the surface of a frozen lake, beneath a clear blue sky, staring out at a horizon, I have all too often entertained. Ice and water below me, the Sun shining before me, and behind me the Moon rising, all holding me in the embrace of a Cosmos the likes of which exceeds the farthest horizon of my ability to comprehend.

Imagining the horizons of my ancient ancestors, I could see in my mind’s eye a familiar worldview, a three-tiered universe, complete with an omnipotent god smiling and then frowning down at me. Heaven above the Earth and Hell below, all depending upon a smile or a frown from the omniscient god, Himself confined to sit in judgement in a celestial realm from which He sent His Son, to save creatures of His own creation from their own depravity. I stomped my feet upon the ice in a vain gesture of defiance until my stomping evolved into a dance of freedom, as I gleefully celebrated our liberation from the captivity of a three-tiered universe.

Suddenly, the Cosmos reminded me that freedom from ancient ways of knowing does not mean freedom from REALITY. Indeed, it can mean freedom to BE in ways which affirm REALITY, the REALITY we long to know, the ONE which IS BEYOND the BEYOND and BEYOND that Also, this LOVE which we call “GOD”. No sooner than I felt the freedom of union with the DIVINE, than it was time to seek the confines of my car to warm up.

All week long, I have been emersed in the anonymous gospel-storyteller we know as Luke’s account of Jesus’ first sermon, in which Jesus declares that he has been anointed to bring Good News, and it wasn’t until my own frozen epiphany set me to dancing on ice that I actually noticed that part of the Good News of which Jesus speaks involves the proclamation of “liberty to those held captive!” Listen to the way the anonymous gospel-storyteller recounts Jesus’ words:

“Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and his reputation spread throughout the region. He was teaching in the Galilean synagogues, and all were loud in their praise. Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. Entering the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was his habit, Jesus stood up to do the reading. When the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him, he unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: “The Spirit of our God is upon me: because the Most High has anointed me to bring Good News to those who are poor. God has sent me to proclaim liberty to those held captive, recovery of sight to those who are blind, and release to those in prison— to proclaim the year of God’s favour.” Rolling up the scroll, Jesus gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Jesus. Then he said to them, “Today, in your hearing, this scripture passage is fulfilled.”  (Luke 4:14-21)

We are told by the gospel-storyteller that after his one-line commentary on the words of Isaiah, Jesus’ hometown congregation were so incensed that they decided to hurl him off a cliff. What could possibly compel Jesus’ friends and neighbours to consider homicide? This question has generated more than a few sermons of its own. That’s the thing with stories, one story, if it is even remotely engaging, that one story will inevitably lead to many more stories. So, I will not presume to answer for Jesus’ hometown congregation’s murderous intentions. I will only attempt to take you where this story took me out there on the ice of Lake Simcoe.

Exposed to the vastness of the Cosmos, it was the ancient story of a Three-tiered Universe that inspired not murderous intentions in me, but rather the euphoria of freedom from captivity to the limitations of our ancestors’ imaginations. Limitations which the evolving nature of our understanding of reality compel us to reject. For “GOD” is not safely ensconced in the Heavens and we do not need saving from our own depravity by a human sacrifice because there simply is no Hell below us. We are free from the captivity of a way of thinking which insists that we believe what our own experience confirms is no way to live in the very reality our ancestors were struggling to fathom. For we have been blessed with the ability to grasp so many more details about the Cosmos in which we live and move and have our being, than our ancestors could ever have imagined. Today, we, ourselves and our neighbours, no longer live captive to the contours of the very tiny universe in which our ancestors confined their thoughts.  

Today, like Jesus, we too can proclaim liberty to the captive minds and recovery of sight to those who have been blinded by ancient ways of knowing. The SPIRIT of DIVINITY is within us!  The SPIRIT of DIVINITY is within all Creation, permeating all of the Cosmos! The SPIRIT of DIVINITY is BEYOND Creation, BEYOND the Cosmos, even as it is in, and with, and through, all of Creation, all of the Cosmos. Infused, inspired, and incarnating as CHRIST’s body, as LOVE here and now in this place and in this time, we are anointed to this bring Good News to the poor and to free the captives! Free from images and idols created by the inhabitants of a universe of misconceptions, we can abandon lives devoted to a god preoccupied with judging our journey’s end, dispatching us to Heaven or Hell. We are free to live in the abundance of life here and now, in a Cosmos permeated by the DIVINE MYSTERY which is LOVE. Free from misguided struggles to appease the idol god of our design, we are free to see beyond our blind self-centered desire for a life beyond this life, free to see the face of DIVINITY in our neighbours’ face, free to see DIVINITY in the majesty of the Cosmos, and in the beauty of the Earth.

Heaven is ours to create out of the hells we have made. We are free to imagine the grace of the MYSTERY capable of exquisite intricacy, unrelenting intimacy, magnanimous generosity, and evolutionary complexity; a MYSTERY which is the very embodiment of LOVE, the LOVE which is eternally becoming. We are free to seek, to know, and to become this LOVE in which we live, and move, and have our being. Our very freedom from ancient ways of knowing and being sets of a chain-reaction of freedom which can, if we let it, become Good News for the poor, as we finally begin to understand what Jesus knew all along, when Jesus insisted, “I and the ABBA are ONE.” For if Jesus and the ABBA are ONE, the Good News is that you and I and our neighbours, we are ONE with ABBA. I can hear them now, those held captive to by our ancestors’ limited understanding, I can hear them. They may not want to hurl me off a cliff, although some have wished me dead, or at the very least judged and punished by their god of eternal torment.

I can hear them tut tutting at the audacity of my taking such liberties with the Gospel. How dare I flirt with new ways of understanding REALITY, new discoveries about the Cosmos, new theories about the nature of human consciousness? How dare I posit a GOD who is LOVE? How dare I claim freedom from the old-man—in the sky-god only to embrace half-baked notions of a MYSTERY which is called LOVE, as if LOVE is the answer? How double-dog dare I? Well, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek let me blame it on a dog.

After warming myself on my car’s heating vent, I caught sight of sundog begin to emerge as the Sun was still setting. I fumbled for my phone and hopped out into the frigid air desperate to capture a photograph which has always eluded me. I failed to capture the sunset. Instead, I was blessed by two, I don’t know if they were my brothers or my sisters or one of each. I only know that they appeared to follow in my footsteps in the snow as they ventured out to the place where the Cosmos had made itself known to me. Our kinship warmed me as I imagined their delight at our Sun’s sensuous self-giving display as it set. They must have seen me gazing at them, or at least I like to imagine they did.  So, I waved and was gifted by their own energetic response.

There we stood, we three kindred creatures, waving together as ONE, held in a vast Cosmos touched by the MYSTERY which is the LOVE which permeates ALL that IS, including us, for we are ONE, ONE with DIVINITY. We are free to embrace this LOVE, to walk in this LOVE, and to be this LOVE. This, dear ones, is Good News indeed! Now, today, let us become Good News for the poor, let us embrace our freedom to be LOVE in the world! Let us be LOVE. Today!

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