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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No More Fishing for People! – Luke 5:1-11 – Epiphany 5C

I went to high school on the West Coast in a small town called Ladner. Today, Ladner is pretty much a suburban bedroom community from which people commute to their jobs in the city of Vancouver. But back in the early 1970’s, Ladner was a small fishing village. It was a terrific place to go to high school; that is if you were white, middle-class and male. I don’t really know how it was for the handful of folks who weren’t part of the white majority. I remember when I was in grade ten; a new girl showed up in our classes. I’ll call her Shirley for the purposes of this sermon. Shirley, we were told, came from somewhere way up north in British Columbia. Shirley wasn’t part of the majority, back then we called Shirley’s people “Indians.” I remember our homeroom teacher introduced Shirley as an Indian who had travelled south for her education.    We were told that there weren’t any high schools where Shirley came from, so she had to leave her family behind and come down to Ladner all by herself. She was boarding with a family in Ladner.

About all I can remember about Shirley’s first days with us is the unusual way that Shirley dressed. Back then there was a sort of dress code. We all wore the same stuff, blue jeans, not just any blue-jeans, mind you, we wore a brand called Seafarers which had bell-bottoms, that dragged on the ground. Both boys and girls wore white tee-shirts and you just had to have the latest thing in foot wear: leather adidas running shoes. We thought we were so cool, with our anti style, which in our rebellious naiveté we didn’t realize was actually a style in itself. Shirley didn’t fit in, because she wore what we openly mocked as stylish clothes. I remember that all her cloths looked new and expensive as if someone had taken her out and bought her an entire wardrobe of old people’s cloths; and by old people I mean 30 somethings. She just didn’t look like one of us. But that didn’t really matter because Shirley wasn’t one of us and so we never included her in anything we did.

After Shirley had been in our school for a few months, I remember a social studies class in which the teacher asked Shirley to tell us about her life in Northern British Columbia. The tale that Shirley told us about the reservation on which she lived was unbelievable to our young ignorant ears. Shirley claimed that she had been forced against her will to leave her family behind and travel all by herself to live with a family that was only interested in the money that the Indian Affairs department paid them for her room and board. She said that her parents would be thrown into jail if she wasn’t in school even though there was no school anywhere near the reservation. She said she’d run away several times, but that she’d always been caught, and her family was punished because she’d missed so much school. She claimed that her family hated living on the reservation. Shirley told us that it wasn’t safe on the reservation because most of the men drank.

My classmates asked all sorts of questions, but there was something in the way they asked the questions that made it clear that none of us believed a word Shirley was saying. After all, how could any of this be true? Nobody would ever take kids away from their families by force. Back then we cut class all the time. It was a different world and as long as you kept your grades up nobody cared whether or not you went to every class. Cutting classes was part of our culture, so the idea that parent could be thrown into jail because you skipped school was crazy talk.

Why we wondered out loud, would the government send you to a school so far away; why not just send you to a school nearer the reservation so that you could go see your folks on weekends? Well, according to Shirley, the government picked schools that were far away so that the Indian kids wouldn’t just run away from school and head back home. The only way home for Shirley was on an airplane and the government only gave her two tickets a year. When the teacher asked Shirley about conditions on the reservation, Shirley spoke really softly about there not being enough water and food to go around. One of us said, that was because they spent all their money on booze and cigarettes. Shirley got really quiet then and the teacher ended the conversation.

Later in the cafeteria there was a lot of conversation about the lies we were convinced Shirley had told us. We simply didn’t believe a word she said. I mean really, this is Canada after all. Canada is a great country, a good place. My parents brought us to Canada because it’s the land of opportunity. If Shirley’s people were having a tough time it wasn’t the government’s fault. Like my classmates, I believed Shirley’s people had only themselves to blame for their troubles. From our position of privilege, we insisted that all “they” had to do was work hard and to get ahead. We believed that we Canadians are good people, we are not prejudice at all.

I remember an actual conversation about the many ways in which Canadians take care of “our” Indians, because we are not like the Americans. Canadians didn’t declare war on Indians, Canadians took care of Indians. Our ignorance was matched only by our arrogance. I, like my privileged classmates, had a naïve understanding of this country. We had been taught to look at Canadian history through rose-coloured glasses. I believed what I was taught about the honour and gallantry of the early settlers of this land, hard workers one and all;

good honest people who’d left the hardships imposed on them in their homelands to build lives for themselves here in Canada. I knew nothing of the world that Shirley was describing. We weren’t taught anything about broken treaties, or the abuses perpetrated by the Indian Affairs Department and we’d certainly never heard about the travesty of residential schools. The conditions Shirley tried to tell us about and the circumstances in which she found herself sounded ridiculous to us, so we assumed that Shirley must be lying. Ignorance and denial were not just our collective responses to Shirley’s story, in my own heart of hearts I was convinced that it that Shirley’s stories could not be true, and I was comfortable passing judgement upon her.

So, the good people of Ladner marginalized Shirley. We weren’t bad, no not us. We weren’t prejudiced, no not us. We simply could not, nor would we believe that the Canadian system could or would inflict such hardships on Shirley’s people. “They, those Indians” must be doing something to bring down the wrath of the Indian Affairs Department. We convinced ourselves that if “they” would just get themselves together and live more like us, things would go a whole lot better for “them.” Just look at Shirley and you’ll see what I mean. Shirley never finished grade ten, she started taking drugs and hanging out with men; older men. I heard that she tried to kill herself not once but several times. Shirley was messed up. From where I was standing, it sure looked like Shirley brought a whole lot of trouble upon herself.

Looking back on the young girl that I once was, I am ashamed of the self-righteousness that blinded me to Shirley’s pain. Sure, I can tell myself that it was a different time and we just didn’t know any better. I can let myself off the hook with all sorts of rationalizations, but the truth is that not a whole lot has changed, even though we all know better. The truth is that to this very day, I continue to find it difficult to accept the reality of my white privilege.  I grew up with all the privileges of a world where everything was interpreted from the perspective of a paradigm of Empire and make no mistake about it, that Empire was ruled by white people who were mostly male. Every aspect of our culture was controlled by an Empire that bestowed privilege upon the tribe that I just happened to be born into. Continue reading

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