Saturday, June 2, 2012

Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, June 3, 2012

Christians do not worship a creed. The Nicene Creed was written some three centuries
after Jesus taught his followers to love God and their neighbors. For the first three
hundred years of church history the followers of Jesus worshipped God, served others,
preached, taught, baptized, and evangelized the world without the benefit of a formal,
universal doctrinal statement. The creeds developed in the context of a living, transformative,
prayer-filled, risky, and active spiritual life— not the other way around. Indeed, a creed
is considered a “symbol” of faith, not the faith itself. The words function as an icon, a
linguistic picture of a divine reality beyond the ideas and concepts, a window into the world
beyond words. Creeds are not unimportant; they are important only in the right order.

Bass, Diana Butler (2012-03-13). Christianity After Religion: The End of Church
and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening (p. 131). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

[ The Collect and Readings for Trinity Sunday can be found at:

I always smile at the beginning of the Liturgy on Trinity Sunday when we get to the Collect … the prayer that gathers us together for our worship. And in the days when the priest alone said the Collect (most of the places I know, everyone now says the Collect together), I could barely get through it (or the Proper Preface, the seasonal prayer added in the Sursum Corda); I knew it was supposed to be “solemn” … but it’s tongue-twisting convolution amused me as I thought about what the congregation was making of it!

The Nicene Creed (developed at the Council of Nicea in 325) became a test of “right belief” … and, in my view, it has become a “stumbling block” on the path to the God of Love. I would encourage Christians on this Sunday to remember that they are not a council of theologians debating obscure theological fine points. We are people gathered to … among other things … give thanks for the mysterious working of the Mystery of Love in the Universe and in our lives. Yes, it was the purpose of the bishops and the Emperor Constantine at Nicea to establish that Jesus of Nazareth was God, “equal” to the Father and the Spirit. But, as Dr. Bass points out (read her book!) the Nicene Creed is essentially an expression of TRUST in the great power of Love at work in all Being.

Think on that this Sunday. When you get to the recitation of the Creed, substitute in your mind:

I trust in God the Father/Mother
I trust in Jesus Christ
I trust in the Holy Spirit
I trust in the Holy Catholic Church
I trust in the Communion of Saints
I trust in the forgiveness of sins
I trust in the resurrection of the body
I trust in the Life everlasting.

And then strive to live day by day into that Trust. This is the Gospel Path.


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