Posted by: dacalu | 3 November 2013

Applied Orthodoxy

This past Friday was the Feast of All Saints, when we celebrated those past and present individuals who have, through Christ and the fellowship of the church given us a good example to follow.  We celebrated today in church with prayer and song and four baptisms.  As part of the ritual of baptism, Episcopalians reaffirm our commitment to the Apostle’s Creed, perhaps the oldest statement of faith in Christianity.  Why, you might ask, in a church that prides itself on what we do (orthopraxy) rather than what we say (orthodoxy), would a creed be so important?  Isn’t it a little inconsistent?

Not at all.  I have said before that I distinguish between knowledge – things we think for a reason – and belief – things we think which have consequences.  The creeds (Apostle’s, Nicene, and even Athanasian) have a place in the Episcopal Church because they are beliefs, and they have consequences.  They say something important about who we are and what we do.  One of our primary practices is to say the creeds together, to assert that these are things we believe that have consequences for us as a community.

With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the consequences the Apostle’s Creed has for me.

I believe in God

…so that I talk to God and listen for God’s voice in the world

the Father,

…so that I greet all things (or try to) as his children, my brothers and sisters

the Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

…so that I need not fix anything, though I can better it

and I can rest assured that the universe has a good beginning and end

and by talking to God, I can begin to understand how to participate in that goodness

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son

…so that that I see Jesus’ life and teaching as the surest way to understand God

Our Lord

…so that I (try to) act in his interests as a faithful vassal

and (try to) follow his instructions

He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary

(He was both fully human and fully divine)

…so that I must view salvation as something that happens through the flesh,

through real people, specific communities (with all their flaws), and tangible sacraments.

He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

(He actually allowed others’ will to dominate him at a concrete time and place in history)

…so that I too allow myself to be vulnerable to to the will of others,

which is part of the process of community and salvation

was crucified, died, and was buried.

…so that I too accept there are things more important than my life and my dignity,

even more important than the life and dignity of my community and my God.

He descended to the dead.

(His reconciliation extends past the bounds of our life and understanding)

…so that I keep faith with, pray for, hold myself in community with those who have died

and strive for the reconciliation of all

On the third day he rose again.

…so that I hope for resurrection for myself and others,

and I recall that even accomplishing this grand feat,

he returned to personal, physical interaction with humanity

He ascended into Heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

…so that I trust in our inheritance of a place in the final disposition of the world,

and do not fear death as the end

He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

(At some point there will be a reckoning, but it will be judged by someone

with the fullness of divine mercy and human experience)

…so that I strive to prepare myself and others to greet him joyfully,

with open minds and loving hearts

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

(that God lives in the world, in living things, in humans, and in the Church

as their breath and essence)

…so that everything that has breath has dignity, through the breath of God

and so that to be the fullest deepest self is to let that wind blow through you

the holy catholic church, the community of saints,

…so that I hold my self accountable to and for the one, concrete universal

communion of believers past and present

…so that I listen to their counsel and strive to build unity and concord

the forgiveness of sins,

…so that I let go of the past, allowing change in myself and others

the resurrection of the body,

…so that I treat my body with the same respect as the breath that is in it,

and I treat others’ bodies with the same respect

(Care for bodies and care for souls are inseparable.)

and the life everlasting.

…so that I connect this life with eternal life,

my life with the life of the community,

and the Spirit with each and all.

Spirit, Church, communion, forgiveness, resurrection,

and life are all part of the same breath of God.



I don’t know if the creed has the same meaning for you.  I don’t know if it has the same consequences, but I hope this gives you a better picture of its place in my life and my community, why it is important, and why it is critical to my idea of what it means to be a saint.


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