Aloha Friday Message – July 23, 2010 “Credo … “

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Happy Aloha Friday, Beloved!

I will start with today’s Bible passage – another of my all-time favorites – Romans 10:9-10.

NIV That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord, “and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
KJV That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

In all the Rites of the Catholic church, as well as in every Christian denomination I know of, at some point in the liturgy the people in the assembly make a public confession of faith. In the Catholic churches this is generally a form of the Nicene Creed. In non-Catholic congregations, it is generally a version of the Apostle’s Creed.

As a boy, growing up at Corona Presbyterian Church in Denver, I learned the Apostle’s Creed, and felt a strong association between the creed and today’s bible verse. By the time I was 10, I knew my life was no longer my own and so believing in my heart that the resurrection was in fact a fact was already part of my personal creed. The opportunity to publically confess that was a bonus – even though it was done in a safe setting – in church with a whole bunch of other people who were doing the same thing.

As I grew older, I challenged those feeling – I’ve told you in past messages about reading the 200 section at our branch library one summer – and I stuck with the “faith of my father.” His was a formidable faith which was proclaimed in thought, word, and deed. And even as I worked my way through my process of conversion from “Baptiterian” to Catholic, the important, the power, and the wonder arising our of recitation of the Creed – in either format – continued to be a bulwark of my faith.

As the years rolled on, I continued to meditate on the articles of the creeds – the 12 sections normally considered as natural divisions in the body of the text. I often thought about doing a series of studies, or sermons, or messages about the content and meaning – as I see it – in the words with the text so often recited by Christians all around the world. I still think about that, but I no longer feel little my little light shine on that immense topic is something the world truly needs. I guess you could say I’ve outgrown my desire to show off what I think I know about the power and potential in reciting the Creed.

There is one topic, however, I cannot get out of my head, and that topic is associated with the word recite. Often in liturgies we recite the Creed. That particular rite in the liturgy is often called The Profession of Faith; but it is often merely recited – rumbled and rambled through superficially as a sort of choral reading, more as a habit than a profession, sort of a bridge between two parts of the worship service. When this happens we are not engaged in the creed; we are saying the creed instead of praying the creed. Perhaps saying it is all that we need to profess our faith, to achieve the effect in “with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

To me, that sounds too easy, too good to be true.

I’m going to give you a little example of what I mean. I’m going to put the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed in this document, and show you how I think sometimes God hears them. I’m going to use both out of fairness – no Rite or Denomination has a lock on righteousness during the Profession of Faith – nor do I of course. I just imagine that sometimes the secret, silent, brief prayers we make during this time n our worship are heard just as clearly (perhaps more clearly since they are more personal?) by our Lord. Here then is the first Creed I learned, The Apostle’s Creed, as it is often recited “during church.” It comes out as a long string of strung-together words that are barely more than a stream of sounds.

It seems to me we can do better, that we could pay attention to the words, the phrasing, and especially the meaning of what we are reciting. I think if we were engaged in praying instead of saying or reciting the creed, it would become not only an external and public profession of faith, but also an internal and transformative act of worship. It is more likely to affect our hearts if it originates in our hearts in a heart-felt sacrifice of adoration and praise rather than something we “know by heart.” I think sometimes a worship leader can influence the way our hearts and minds work when we move through the Credo. If the leader rushes it so that you have to really take a deep, fast breath so keep going and you still miss being able to recite a portion of a phrase or article … well, maybe that leader is not engaged in praying the Creed. That would be understandable, forgivable, but also changeable.

Sometimes during very routine things, our minds wander. I’m sure everyone has had that experience when singing a song, reciting a prayer or series of prayers, or trying to meditate on a scripture passage. “Things” pop into our minds; the world intrudes; we think or say things that are not intended to be part of our worship experience. When this happens during the Nicene Creed, this is how it might look if the speed of speaking were the same and also if we could visualize all the “background noise.”

I “go there” sometimes, too. I wonder how someone can be talking about a track meet while the rest of us are saying the creed. I wonder how kids can be pushing each other back and forth while their parents ignore them. I wonder how a teen can be texting in church. I find humor in the fact that the gecko on the window over the front of the church is always there for every mass. I wonder why I am paying attention to the things I should be ignoring. I try to listen to me praying the creed and to do it justice. And I sometimes wonder why I wander though the Mass without actually landing anywhere. The one thing that most often helps me find a landing place is The Creed, because it is indeed what I believe, what I confess, the very kernel of my faith, the summary of scripture and tradition that makes a stark difference my profession of my faith. Next time you have an opportunity to pray the creed, don’t think about this letter; think about the Creed. I believe it will change your life.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

Please remember in your prayers:

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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