Yesterday we introduced two new documents to our congregation in worship and at the Congregational Meeting. The first is new wording for the Apostles’ Creed which is a Statement of Faith we recite regularly in our worship services at First Pres. You will recall that during the sermon series on the Apostles’ Creed we did last fall and this winter, we experimented with some new wording to try and slow us down whenever we say the Creed and also help us get at the meaning of what the Creed is actually saying which can sometimes be lost or obscured by older less familiar words in a traditional rendering of this historic Statement of Faith.
The new words for the Apostles’ Creed we introduced on Sunday are from the official version which our denomination (the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians) adopted early this month at its bi-annual Synod meeting in Dallas and which was approved for use in our church by the Session at their meeting on February 17. At the Synod meeting our denomination also voted to approve versions of the Nicene Creed, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Confession, and the Barmen Declaration. These are the confessions that make up ECO’s Book of Confessions, and they are the official theological documents which guide our church and denomination along with the Essential Tenets. If you want to learn more about all this or have any questions or concerns, ask one of our pastors to explain more to you. I’m excited to see the way in which our saying of the Apostles’ Creed will be more accessible to people who don’t have a background in church and to our children and the way it will help each of us understand and affirm the timeless truths of our historic Christian faith in contemporary ways.
The second document I want to mention is the Paper on Biblical Reconciliation and Justice which I wrote and the Session approved last fall. I made reference to this paper in my sermon on Sunday February 23, and at the congregational meeting that day. It is available online on our church’s website, and you can access it here. There are also hard copies of the paper available in booklet form at the welcome centers on Sundays and in the church’s front office during the week.
The purpose of the paper is to provide the biblical rationale for reconciliation and justice and also serve as a guideline for our congregation and staff as we take seriously God’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves. You cannot read very much of the Bible without coming face-to-face with the reality of God’s concern for reconciliation and justice. It is at the heart of what the Gospel is all about, and it is the fundamental calling of every Christian. If you missed the sermon, you can access the message here. And if you missed the congregational meeting, we also have a recording of it here.
We have also developed a series of questions for group discussion or individual reflection to help you engage with what the Bible says about reconciliation and justice, and you can find a link to these discussion questions here. In addition, we have plans to hold more opportunities for community dialogue about these matters similar to the ones we provided last Spring. Take advantage of these round table discussions if you would like to explore these important issues more with people who may not agree with you. We live in challenging and divisive times, and not everyone agrees on matters of reconciliation and justice. It’s important to have honest and respectful conversation as we seek to follow Christ together.
Thanks for being a church which isn’t afraid to delve into thorny issues or to embrace change and to do it with grace and truth. I’m proud of the way our church seeks to follow Scripture and take seriously what the Bible says, and I’m grateful to be one of your pastors.