Ponderings! A message from Rev Gloria
Greetings, as we enjoy the season of spring!
We are close to Holy Week and journeying through the final days of Jesus’ life and then his resurrection. While we have looked closely at the Christian life and attitudes we are to hunger and strive for while on earth, Lent and Easter also ask us to ask ourselves; ‘Who do we say, Jesus is?’
Historically, the universal Church has required specific beliefs Christians were expected to belief and profess. One of the most significant was (and is in some denominations) the Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was adopted by the Ancient Church Fathers in 325 CE and later amended during a Council in 325 CE. Mainline Denominations currently use a modified version of the Nicene Creed that was prepared by the English Language Liturgical Consultation. In regard to Jesus it says:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
The United Church of Christ holds the following belief concerning creeds:
“The United Church of Christ embraces a theological heritage that affirms the Bible as the authoritative witness to the Word of God, the creeds of the ecumenical councils, and the confessions of the
Reformation. The UCC has roots in the “covenantal” tradition—meaning there is no centralized authority or hierarchy that can impose any doctrine or form of worship on its members. Christ alone is Head of the church. We seek a balance between freedom of conscience and accountability to the apostolic faith. The UCC therefore receives the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith. (https://www.ucc.org/who-we-are/about/general-synod/general-synod-resolutions-regardingenvironmental-justice/beliefs/)”
The United Church of Christ also has a Statement of Faith but it does not hold a position of authority buy guidance and a document of reflection.
United Church of Christ Statement of Faith—adapted by Robert V. Moss
We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, who is made known to us in Jesus our brother, and to whose deeds we testify:
God calls the worlds into being, creates humankind in the divine image, and sets before us the ways of life and death. God seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin. God judges all humanity and all nations by that will of righteousness declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord, God has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the whole creation to its Creator. God bestows upon us the Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races. God calls us into the church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be servants in the service of the whole human family, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
God promises to all who trust in the gospel forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, the presence of the Holy Spirit in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in that kingdom which has no end. Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto God.
The United Church of Christ does not give us dogmas to accept without understanding or reflection. Each person must do the work to establish a relationship with God and Jesus according to individual beliefs.
I hope you will take the time to reflect on the Nicene Creed, Statement of Faith, Scriptures, and your own spiritual inspiration to answer the question: ‘Who do you say Jesus is?’