When I was a young girl there was an old upright piano in our garage. Only the top third of the keys worked, but I took to that piano like a duck to water. When my father came home in the evenings from working in the oil fields, he’d clean up in the garage before coming into the house for dinner. I would serenade him with a very high-pitched version of “Silent Night,” whether or not it was the Christmas season.
I thought about that old piano after an experience I had one Sunday in church. After the homily we all stood, as usual, to recite the creed. I have recited the creed so many times that most Sundays the words come out without much thought behind them.
But this Sunday was different. My appreciation for who Jesus was, who the Christ is today, and how I relate to all of that, had been turned on its head by reading Fr. Richard Rohr’s powerful book, The Universal Christ. That Sunday, when it came time to recite the creed, I locked onto every word and filtered each statement through my personal belief matrix. How much of what I was reciting did I believe on a soul level? What didn’t resonate with me? My inner dialogue went something like this:
“I believe in God” - (check)
“The Father Almighty” - (no longer understand God this way)
“Creator of Heaven and Earth” - (no serious problem here, but not in a creationist way)
“And in Jesus Christ” – (check)
“His only Son, our Lord” - (check, but not the way I used to understand it)
“Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit – (getting into troubled waters here)
“Born of the Virgin Mary” - (hummmmm)
“Suffered under Pontius Pilot” - (check)
“Was crucified, died and was buried” (check, check, check)
“On the third day he rose again from the dead” (check, with an explanation)
I understand that creeds are streamlined statements and are not intended to include all of revelation, or all of the Church’s teachings. But, for me, leaving out the ministry and mission of Jesus is like playing that old piano in the garage. Lots of keys are missing - so many that the creed no long sounds right to me.
After that Sunday, I wrote a version of the creed that I could own. It gets tweaked here and there as my life and faith experiences evolve. But right now, when I read these words, they ground me and express my deepest faith beliefs.
My Personal Creed
I believe in Jesus the Christ,
who is co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
I believe that he preached a radical love
of inclusion, reconciliation, and peace,
was crucified and died for it,
and was buried.
I believe that on the third day, those who loved him
began to encounter Jesus as the Christ.
Alive in God, Christ is now present in the world:
in the Eucharist,
the community of faith,
in the love and actions of
all sincere people,
and in physical creation itself.
As his disciples
we are compelled to follow his teachings
and love as he loved.
His truths and mission are eternal and are
the hope of the world. AMEN
Claire Henning, D.Min.