Greetings, and Happy Easter to you all!
Christ is Risen Alleluia!
I said during Lent that questions about our faith are welcome! I truly mean that. From our questions come a deeper understanding of God and God’s world, and a deeper understanding of our faith and relationship with God and others. From new understandings can spring new birth, new beginnings and new life – Easter! And so, to help us better understand parts of our faith and belief I am going to include a new section in each months Newsletter called “Faith Facts”. I encourage you to submit your questions about religion or faith either in writing (to Pastor Dan at House of Prayer) or via email and I will do my best to shed light on your inquiry.
Recently I heard what sounds like confusion or misunderstanding about the words ‘holy catholic’ church used each week in worship in one of our three Creeds – the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed or the Athanasian Creed. These creeds are statements of our faith that help us to both understand what we (all Christians) believe and to confess what we believe to others.
Did you know that when we say in the Apostle’s Creed that we “…believe in the Holy Spirit, the ‘holy catholic’ church…” (notice these are all small letters) that we are simply saying that we believe in the holy universal church of Christ. When we confess these words from the Creed we are simply saying that we, as Christians, all believe in the same God and are part of one larger Christian church. This does not mean that we believe in the “Holy Roman Catholic” church. These are our brothers and sisters in faith in the Roman “Catholic” (big C) church, and, yes, we as Lutherans do disagree with them on some things. We do, however, believe in the same God even though we are part of a different denomination or branch of Christianity.
In John 10:16 Jesus says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” Here Jesus is talking about one day bringing people of other faiths (non-believers), and for us today other Christian denominations, all together so that Christ is our shepherd. One way to look at this would be that non-believers are not even part of the flock yet. And that Catholics and Presbyterians are part of different flocks. And one day, we will all be part of one flock.
So, next time you are reciting the Apostles Creed, do not worry that you are saying you believe in some other form of Christianity or religion, you are not. You are simply saying that you believe in the one universal church of Christ! – Thankfully, our God –the Triune three-in-one God believes in relationship, unity and new life! Happy Easter ! – Thanks be to God!