"I cannot hold up any book and say, ‘Here. This is what I believe.’ I do not know of any church where I would feel at home. But I do believe that what people call God refers to something real… I would even go so far as to say that this God of mine makes demands. To learn, to teach, to engage. To be aware of and respect the world around me. To acknowledge that there are things greater than myself and to be humble in their presence." — Dan Jackson
I spent last evening reading the faith statements….the creeds…of our confirmation class of 2008. These sixth graders have spent the past year getting to know one another, learning to work together, studying the Bible and the history of this tradition and generally learning to be the church. They have served in mission together, gone on retreat, and played tons of games and eaten lots of pizza.
This past weekend they went on retreat and talked about what they ‘believe’. What did you believe when you were eleven or twelve years old? Can you remember? Could you have written it down and then stood in front of an entire sanctuary full of people and read it? am far from twelve but my stomach starts to get queasy at the thought. But this Sunday that is exactly what they will do.
I can tell you that there are some very deep thinkers in this group. There are also some fine writers and even a politician or two. Some write what they think they should and most all write from their heart. For this moment in time the words they have written will define the day and their enfolding into the community of this church, this time on their terms not just their parents’.
Two weeks ago when Bishop John Spong spoke in our sanctuary, someone asked him what he thought of the Apostle’s Creed. He said he had no problem saying this historic statement, words many can recite from memory. He said he didn’t have a problem reciting these words because ‘creeds are love songs.’ Now there was a statement that stopped me in my mental tracks. Love songs?
I’ve thought long and hard about that statement. I’ve spent more time reflecting on those words than perhaps anything else he said that morning and he made some mighty bold statements. The creed as love song captured my imagination. What might I say I believe to be my relationship with the Holy, Jesus, the Spirit, the church, if I were to think of it as a love song? I might say things like "I believe the Sacred is alive in every cell, every atom, every breath, every thing in ways known and unknown to me." or " I believe following the Way of Jesus is to walk the path of peace and unconditional love, no matter what." or "The church is the place where I come to know and be known in ways that nurture who I am as a child of God."
Or I might keep it simple and say, "I have given myself to the Love of Mystery and there is no turning back."
What love songs are living in your heart waiting to be written? What is your creed?
"The question does not lie with whether or not the Creed is believable. The Creed is about the mystery of life, and its mystery is apparent. The question is whether or not the Creed is meaningful to us, here, now." Joan Chittister, from In Search of Belief