Statement of Faith

Image

Today I was talking with my friend Jeff Richards who is being examined for ordination today in the Presbytery of Sacramento. Being “examined” on the floor of presbytery is daunting, just about anything is game- faith, theology, church, life, whatever, anything. I’ve been teasing him that my first question was about the second coming, you know… no big deal… Anyway, I thought I would share my statement of faith, (you can read Jeff’s here). The majority of it was written in seminary.  When I went to change calls and re-wrote it about 2 years ago I really didn’t have much to change, a few words here and there. It’s not that I or my connection with God hasn’t changed, it’s just that the core of my faith (which is essentially what a statement of Faith is) hasn’t. It is based of the benediction I give each Sunday, enjoy. (also, there’s no mention of the second coming- I’ll let you decide what to do with that).

I believe in God and in Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, both now and forever. This Triune God is to be worshiped and praised in our coming in and our going out.

THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST-I believe that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. I believe that God revealed God’s self to humanity through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe Christ has atoned for our sins in his death and resurrection. Through Christ’s earthly ministry he revealed the kingdom of God and brought us into a right relationship with God.

THE LOVE OF GOD-I believe that in life and in death we are never separated from God’s love. This is because of the abundant grace and mercy that God has shown us and toward all of creation through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe God calls all people into a life of service as shown to us in Holy Scripture. Scripture is the unique and authoritative witness to Christ and God’s word of love, grace and redemption to us.

AND THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT- The Holy Spirit is our advocate and our guide, through the Holy Spirit we are empowered for the work and ministry that God calls us to do. We come to know God in all God’s forms through Holy Scripture, which is revealed to us through the Spirit.

IS WITH US ALL- I believe that God’s redeeming grace is offered to all people. God adopts us into the convenantal family through our baptism, which is corporate and individual. I believe the baptismal covenant that my parents established for me in my infancy and that I affirmed when I became an active member of the church, this encouraged me to look at my life and say “what love God has for me that I am called as a child of the God.”

THOSE WHOM WE LOVE- The church is our family in Christ and as the church we are the body of Christ. It is through our faith community that people experience Christ in the world today. In the gathering of the church community we are to listen to God’s word, to baptize and participate in the Lord’s Supper and to pray and to have fellowship with others. In the celebration of the Lord’s Supper we are to be mindful of whose body we have become members. As the gathered church communes together we are reconciled with God and with one another.

AND EVEN WITH THOSE WHOM NOBODY LOVES- We live in a broken world and through baptism and communion Christ calls us to be Christ’s body for our world. I believe that Christ called us to work in the world to bring about God’s justice, especially for the oppressed.

THIS DAY AND EVERY DAY- I believe that God never leaves us and that the Peace of Christ is always with us. We may feel alone or afraid in the world, but that God is with us even when we feel empty. We are a community and that even when we cannot affirm our faith for ourselves, the church exists as a community of faith to support us and affirm our faith on our behalf through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Getting ‘Right with God’

right-withSo I’ve been thinking about this concept about getting yourself on a “right relationship” with God.  What does that mean?  I hate to say it, but the definition is kind of the same as it is for porn, no one knows, but we all know it when we see it.  (BTW- I have never understood not being able to define pornography, it seems pretty obvious, but back to God.)

When I meet someone who is wholeheartedly in tune with who they are, who God is in their lives, and knows the struggles, ebbs and flows of spiritual lives I can see it a mile away.  Actually, I can feel it a mile away.  I am going to be so bold as to say I am one of these people, some or dare I say, most? of the time.  That is not a statement of ego, but an understanding of exploration in my life.

I ache to pray each day and I cannot stand it when “life gets in the way” or I am going through a time where I have convinced myself that my prayer life is not “important right now”.  There is a physical need, a hunger, a longing to worship my God and creator, to pay homage to her with my life, to understand him more fully, and to never, ever feel without their presence.

But I do have issues.  You remember the woman that Ellen DeGenerous called who “loved Jesus, but drank a little” (if you haven’t seen it, prepare yourself for the greatest thing ever… watch it here- starts around minute 2).  Anyway, I am confident in my spirituality, I don’t have it figured out but I love Jesus, I love who God created me to be, and I try as best as my broken self can to follow the call and will of God.

All that being said, perfection is far from my description.  I have broken relationships with people, there are things that I get on myself about, a “shame tape” that plays in my head.  I struggle with my weight, with being vulnerable, with anxiety, that people won’t like me.  All the normal things.

When I was in high school I was told that if I were right with God all these other things would fall into place.  A friend worked through her issues with her mom and dropped her weight, others got over their “disorders” when they had a profound experience of God in their lives.  But as I was thinking about this the other day I realized how unhealthy this style of thinking was.  It seemed to be just another thread of Prosperity Theology.

You know prosperity theology, prosperity preaching.  If you give money to the church God will bless you with a fancy car, a nice house, a perfect family.  Think Tammy Fay Baker. Anyway, I know plenty of people addicted to exercise and health food that aren’t anywhere close to understanding who they are and who God is in their lives, who loathe themselves, who struggle everyday to feel loved.

One does not automatically follow the other.

Should we take care of our bodies, our eating, anxiety, or narcissism, and seek help for these issues- absolutely.  But that does not get you right with God.  Neither does getting on a path to spiritual awareness turn you into a swimsuit model.

God, show me what is real, teach me your paths and your ways of peace in my heart, peace in my relationships, peace in the world.  I love you (and I drink a little). Amen.