The Apostles Creed
I Believe In :
Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary
The Apostles' Creed
- In God the
Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
- In Jesus
Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of
the virgin Mary,
under Pontius Pilate,
crucified, died, and was buried;
- He descended to the dead.
- On the third
day he rose again,
- He ascended into heaven,
- He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
- And he will
come to judge the living and the dead.
- In the Holy
Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
communion of saints,
forgiveness of sins,
resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary
I believe in God the Father Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth. And in Jesus
Christ his only Son our Lord Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the
Familiar words, which we recite regularly. But how much help are they to us
at this time of year as we take time to ponder the mystery of the Incarnation?
It's a central tenet of our faith, that the second component in the Trinity
also known as the Son or the Logos (Word), "became flesh" when he was
miraculously conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The
Incarnation represents the belief that Jesus took on a human body and nature
and became both man and God -the divine nature of the Son was joined with, but
crucially not mixed with, human nature. In the Bible its clearest teaching is
in the Gospel of John, where it says in Chapter 1 verse 14 "And the Word
became flesh, and dwelt among us."
I suppose it's important, and comforting, for us as humans to know that
Jesus had a truly human body and soul. They could be separated - as they were
on the cross, when he died. They could be reunited when he rose again. Being a
human means that he can be a credible role model for us as we strive to follow
his example. If he could do it, why can't we? The virtues he displayed as a man
are the attributes of God in human form, and the more we can become like him in
his life as a man, the more we can enter into the mystery of God.
But he was also God. The Christian experience is, I think, best articulated
by St. Paul - who started writing his letters before the Gospels were written.
He affirmed that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to God."
In the person of Jesus, humanity met, engaged and interacted with the presence
of God. Later, the Gospel writers wanted to get across this same message. When
people met Jesus, they saw he had so many of the qualities of God that they had
no doubt whose son he was. They were convinced that he resembled God so much in
what he said, what he did, how he was with people, what he set out to do, that
this went beyond mere coincidence. This could be no accident. This really was
God among us. No longer distant, but dangerously close.
It's really an illogical idea, isn't it? God comes to earth not as a
powerful king surrounded by angels and renting the stones asunder, but as a
weak defenceless baby, totally reliant on other human beings for his survival.
That's just as we come ourselves, and therefore something that we can instantly
relate to. Babies also represent hope for the future - and that's certainly
what Jesus was during his ministry, and even more so for his followers today.
God coming to earth as one of us, to live as one of us, and inevitably, to die
like one of us - and to die for all of us - has a magnificent appeal. It's so
revolutionary, so illogical, that it could only come from a God who is beyond
logic, beyond theology.
In many years of reflecting about the mystery of the Incarnation, I still
haven't quite got my head round it! More and more it seems to me that the words
of the creed smack of theologians tying themselves in knots trying to come up
with a synthesis of what the different gospels say about Christ's incarnation,
and in doing so ignoring the bigger picture. There seems to be too much
emphasis on the mechanics - the how - of the incarnation, and not enough on the
human significance - the what and why. Maybe it's time we re-addressed that
balance, maybe introducing some new wording that make it more relevant in our
increasingly secular age. Something along the lines of:
I believe in God the Father Almighty
Maker of Heaven and Earth.
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord
Who came to earth to show us what love means
So I invite you to focus on that aspect of the Incarnation - a stunning
commitment by God to humanity. He became flesh to show us love in action, to
help us understand him and how we should live his ideals through our lives.
More important it was a promise to us - a promise of love, a promise of
forgiveness, a promise of ultimate victory over death, a promise which covers
all peoples. Love - for that is what I believe Jesus represents - O Love of God
Incarnate - came down to earth in a form we can all identify with - a baby -
but a baby who would grow up to feed the hungry, heal the lame, free the
prisoner, live the most shining life of love and faithfulness we could imagine,
and ultimately save us all.
And to the extent that we can follow his example, opening our spirit to the
movement of God's spirit, loving enemies, creating a just society, caring for
the sick and oppressed and so on - then the Messiah really will have come and
the Incarnation and the words of the Apostles Creed, really will have something
to say to the world!
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