This week we are gathering to conclude our discussion of the Nicene Creed. Please read chapter 8 “One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church” of Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Creed: What Christians Believe and Why it Matters.
In the Creed we profess that we believe in God the Father, we believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, we believe in the Holy Spirit, and we believe in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Throughout Christian history, much ink has been spilled seeking to define what is the church and, more importantly, who is the church. At its most basic level, the church is the body of Christ in the world. As the exalted Jesus pleads in his encounter with Paul on the road to Damascus: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me. . . I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Act 9:4-5. Paul, of course, never knew the earthly Jesus and was on his way to Damascus to persecute those Jews who recognized Jesus as the Messiah. It is the Church that Christ saves. As Paul will later write “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Eph. 5:25-27. The creation of the Father, the work of Christ, and the life of the Spirit culminate in the Church. For it is in the church, that salvation itself lies.
One of the more lovely expositions on the nature of the church is found in Book 4 of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvin begins his teaching with the understanding that just as God is Father, the Church is Mother. For it is the Church in which we are conceived and given spiritual birth. It is the Church that nurses us in our infancy, brings us up as children in the faith, and guides us into mature perfection. Like a mother, the Church is there to pick us up when we fall and to encourage us when we lag. The Church provides us with encouragement and confirmation found in the sacraments and the scriptures. If you have time, read through the first few chapters of book 4.
SCHEDULE: This week we conclude “The Creed”. February 28 is Shrove Tuesday and we are not gathering here. March 7 we begin C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. If you need a book, please let us know.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is BBQ pork and mashed potatoes. Discussion at 6:45. Hope to see you here.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.Ephesians 3:30-21.