Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Statements of Belief - A Post About Creeds

Greetings all! I am honored to be among such great and esteemed company as a guest blogger for the very great Doorman-Priest. My name is Fran and my blog is FranIam. A visit to said blog will introduce you to a place that is at once sacred and profane, which is pretty much how you will find me practicing my faith and living my life.

I am what many might call a progressive Roman Catholic, which perhaps sounds like an oxymoron! It is one not at all, I can assure you. Frankly I think that while we are connected with our various denominations, I believe that what the Holy Spirit might have in store for us will not be driven by the minutiae of our denominational boundaries, as we understand them.

I live in the US, in upstate New York. I am originally from and have spent most of my life in the New York City region, but moved last year after I got married. It is also a gift that I have traveled far and wide, which has deepened my faith, increased my hope and showed me things I could have barely imagined. My life feels truly and deeply blessed.

My faith is at the center of my life in every way. As I write this, I am about to begin a Masters program in Theology, a far cry from the corporate life I lived until 2007. Currently highly underemployed -well make that UN-employed and a bit worried about finances, I am trying to discern what my place in this world is.

Also, for the record, I do have a blog for my parish which I will not link to here. Today's piece is inspired by something I put up there the other day.

Peace and blessings in abundance to one and all!
Statements of Belief

The Masai Creed

We believe in the one High God, who out of love created the beautiful world and everything good in it. He created man and wanted man to be happy in the world. God loves the world and every nation and tribe on the earth. We have known this High God in the darkness, and now we know him in the light. God promised in the book of his word, the Bible, that he would save the world and all nations and tribes.

We believe that God made good his promise by sending his son, Jesus Christ, a man in the flesh, a Jew by tribe, born poor in a little village, who left his home and was always on safari doing good, curing people by the power of God, teaching about God and man, showing that the meaning of religion is love. He was rejected by his people, tortured and nailed hands and feet to a cross, and died. He was buried in the grave, but the hyenas did not touch him, and on the third day, he rose from that grave. He ascended to the skies. He is the Lord.

We believe that all our sins are forgiven through him. All who have faith in him must be sorry for their sins, be baptized in the Holy Spirit of God, live the rules of love, and share the bread together in love, to announce the good news to others until Jesus comes again. We are waiting for him. He is alive. He lives. This we believe. Amen.

When I practice the very non-spiritual (or maybe it is...) act of working out at the gym, I listen to various podcasts. More often than not, I am listening to an episode - possibly for the first time and possibly for the fourth time or tenth time - of the radio program Speaking of Faith.

The other day I listened to a podcast for the first time and it was an interview with the late Jaroslav Pelikan.

Many of you may already be familiar with Pelikan, he was a scholar of Christian history. His writings are vast and prolific and highly recommended. This particular podcast was about the need for creeds.

It got me to thinking about how and why we say what we do. Add to that the night before I had been speaking to my pastor and he commented on a frustration that he often has. We have a very large parish and the church is often, and gratefully so, quite full. However, he said he feels discouraged when he looks out and sees blank faces and people not even moving their mouths when we say the Creed.

That is kind of sad but not very surprising.

Sadly I think that many of us who grew up in denominations practiced by rote and not with any passion. As with all things, what needs to happen is dynamic and communal and somehow we must find common union and engagement.

It got me to thinking about what words move me. I mean, I do say the Creed out loud at church and I don't think I look too bored or disengaged. That said, do those words really resonate for me? I am not sure.

However, when I heard and then read the words of the Masai creed on Speaking of Faith, they blew me away.

But they are not my words.

The pastor at my church, which is a rather large parish says one thing that is very discouraging to him is that when he looks out over the congregation during the Creed, for every pair of lips that are moving, many are not.

So what are my words? Well here it is - my personal creed and statement of belief. I hope that you might consider writing your own creed and sharing it here or with your faith community. It does not replace what is, but it may help when you are mouthing those words in your church.

I believe in God, the Father the Almighty
and the Mother All Loving and Compassionate
Maker of heaven and earth and all that is.
I believe in Jesus Chist who is the Son -
God from God, Light from Light, Forever and Eternal.
One with the Father and Mother
Through such pure love and incarnation all things were made.
For us Jesus was born of the power of the Holy Spirit
and born to Mary, as a human.
For such is the power of incarnation - God comes to us in the form of
a human and in pure love.
For us he gave up his life through suffering
and human death. He was buried after that and the world grew dark.
Three days later, as promised, he rose again as was said in the Scripture
and Light came back to world.
Jesus sits at the right hand of God.
He will come again in glory, he is glory.
When he judges the living and the dead
we will be redeemed by his great mercy and compassion.
That is Life Eternal and how grateful I am for this,
so I live fully now as much as I can, with God's help and with your help.
God's Kingdom has no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
who gives life and moves with Father/Mother and Son in harmony as One.
The prophets have spoken to us, moved by the Spirit in the work of God.
I believe I listen, but I know that I often do not.
I do believe in my Catholic church, but I also know its wounds.
I believe that the Holy Spirit will lead us all to new places-
New life. We must be able to let go, holding our arms
open as if on the cross and our mind and our hearts along with that.
I believe in one universal church which unites us all,
invited by and bound by love that is beyond what we know.
That is our faith made manifest. We can only encounter God,
love, redemption and salvation through and with each other.
I believe in baptism and I believe in forgiveness
and reconciliation that goes far beyond what I can
do on my own, but with Christ and with you -
I can understand, we can understand.
I look forward to the resurrection and the life
of the world to come, we will rest in peace and rise in glory!
However, I believe that I must live now as Christ compels me
and that means the Kingdom is now.
That is what I believe.