160605 – It’s “A” Celebration

Yr C ~ Pentecost 3 ~ A New Creed

Today we are celebrating! Our Joyful Noise kids program is finishing up for the year, we’re honouring teachers and volunteers, we’re welcoming new members, it’s communion, we’re having a potluck lunch, and there’s going to be fun and games after. It’s a celebration! [scroll to the bottom of this page for some fun!]crest-creed-words

Nothing is going to rain on our parade today – well, except for the rain of course! Plus, we’re marking the 91st anniversary of the United Church today (which will actually be on Friday). So I thought instead of our usual exploration of a scripture reading we’d celebrate by digging into one of our most treasured United Church things: A New Creed.

A New Creed was first adopted in 1968, then changed in 1980 from “Man is not alone” to “We are not alone” (can you even imagine saying it the other way now?), and then it was changed again in 1984 when the “to live with respect in Creation” line was added. (Can you imagine it without that line?) Then, in 2012, something wonderful happened to it. Do you know what it was? A New Creed was elevated to the status of being part of our church doctrine – not just a nice worship element but part of our doctrine.

Do you know what its official title is? The answer is “A New Creed.”
It distinctly and importantly is not called “THE New Creed.” Do you know why?
It’s because the United Church is not a creedal church. That doesn’t mean we have no creed and don’t believe anything – it means that unlike some other denominations we don’t require members to accept and affirm their agreement with any creed. We require a profession of faith, but not assent to a creed. So our creed is “A” creed that you can affirm if you wish and make use of as you wish but you don’t have to agree. That’s very United Church!

We have “A” Statement of Faith from 1940, “A” New Creed, and “A” Song of Faith from 2006. We are a people of the indefinite article! It seems like the only thing we’re definite about is that we’re THE United Church of Canada. 🙂

A creed is a way to say what you believe. The word creed comes from the Latin word credo which means “I/We believe.”
Our creed is unique in that the first half is about that but the second half is about our mission. We believe this and this and this, and we are called to DO this and this and this.
I like to say that the first half is us breathing in and the second half is us breathing out! Breathe in God, Jesus, and Spirit – breathe out being the Church.

Do you have a favourite line? So many of them have become such a part of our language. “We are not alone!” “To live with respect in Creation.” “In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us!” As you can imagine, I particularly love the line that says we are called “to celebrate God’s presence!”

Which parts of this creed do we do well at? Celebrating presence, seeking justice, loving and serving.
Which parts do we need some work on?

One of the powerful aspects of a creed is that we get to say something that we collectively share.
WE are not alone.
WE believe.
WE are called.
God is with US.
There is power in being the body of Christ.
There is strength in numbers. We is stronger than I.

But the danger in this is that WE can hide in the crowd and say that WE the church are believing this and doing that so I don’t really have to.
“Those folks over there have that bit covered so WE are all good!”
“The Church is doing justice work, the Church is doing reconciliation, the Church is proclaiming Jesus.”
WE rock! Do I?

Now, I don’t want to take anything away from the WE, but I think it is absolutely critical that we also own the “I” here. It has to be both/and. Both we and I. This isn’t just OUR faith journey, it’s yours and yours and yours and mine. We are all individuals!

So I’d like to do something a little odd. I’m going to reframe our creed by changing all the WE language to “I” language. (I’ve also changed the second part for the sake of emphasis.)

A “New” New Creed

I am not alone, I live in God’s world.

I believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in me and others by the Spirit.

I trust in God.creed-I-language2

I am called to be the Church:
I am called to celebrate God’s presence,
I am called to live with respect in Creation,
I am called to love and serve others,
I am called to seek justice and resist evil,
I am called to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, my judge and my hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with me.
I am not alone. Thanks be to God.

How did that feel?
Everybody say “I am called.”

For me, that makes it really personal. The “I” means I can’t hide in the crowd. I am called. Me. Larry.
I’m supposed to respect Creation.
I’m supposed to love people.
I’m supposed to do justice.
I’m supposed to proclaim Jesus.

So are you.
So, are you?

I bet you do more than you give yourself credit for. One of the reasons WE get to celebrate being the United Church is because of all the faithful “I”s.

We have so much to celebrate here – kids, volunteers, new members, bountiful food, bountiful Spirit – and maybe the best thing about this place, and the thing most deserving of celebration is all of you faithful “I”s, loving, serving, learning, working, and worshipping together.
WE are called to be the Church – and we, individually and collectively, answer enthusiastically.
Faith United is “A” wonderful church. So let’s celebrate!

We are not alone. We live in God’s world.
Thanks be to God!