3/7/2016 9:52:55 AM
A Reflection on Deuteronomy 6 and Creeds
Our first reading this week is Deuteronomy 6:1-6,20-25.
Every week in worship, after the sermon and the song that follows, we receive a creed. Why? Creeds (as my confirmands have heard me share) are teaching statements. They are formed when communities define not only what they believe but what they teach. As the early Christian church began to grow, communities struggled with what to teach. Through the process leading to baptism (called catechesis), baptismal candidates would memorize creeds as a way of discovering more about what Christianity is about. Creeds don't limit the possibilities of faith or exist as litmus tests for what we need to believe, right now, to be a true follower of Jesus. On Sunday morning, as we recite these translations of creeds written hundreds of years ago, we might be hard pressed to truly believe every part of it. If asked to explain every detail and nuance of what we say, we probably would never give a truly satisfactory answer. The Creeds interact with us, providing a language for our experiences with God and Jesus. They help expand the reality of God instead of limiting it.
Today's first reading from Deuteronomy includes one of the smallest (and earliest) examples of a creed. Deut 6:4 is a central part of Jewish identity and liturgy. In this short verse, God's identity is affirmed. There is a God who doesn't have partners or siblings or parents like the gods of ancient pagan religions had. There is a God who cares about the universe, the world, and its people and creatures. There is a God who doesn't comfort to only our point of view or understanding. There is a God - and we aren't it.
If someone asked you what you believed, what would you say? What would your personal statement of faith be? Would it sound like the creed we recited today or maybe a little more like Deuteronomy 6:4? When we dig deep, who is Jesus to you?
This is a question we might not always be able to answer. We have doubts. We have questions. We have experiences that don't match up with the experiences we think faithful Christians are suppose to have. But Jesus is with us. Jesus is here. Jesus is with you. So let's carry this question - and see what God teaches us next.