In this week’s reflection on the Apostles’ Creed, we get into the first half of the middle part. Let us begin by noticing something about it: this part is by far the longest (hence me breaking it into two). I wonder why this is. Is it because the 2nd person of the Trinity is the most important? That doesn’t quite resonate with me. I wonder if it is rather because in Jesus the mysterious and transcendent God is in some way the most knowable and accessible to our understanding.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord.
I believe in Jesus, I trust him, I love him, the Son of God, my Lord – two of the numerous names that I and countless others have used for Jesus. Some of the other names that have been used for him include Saviour, Word, Teacher, Mother, Healer, Friend, Guide, Redeemer, Criminal, King, Servant, Troublemaker, Lamb, Hight Priest... the list goes on. I wonder what names you use for Jesus.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
The Church has long taught that Jesus is mysteriously fully God and fully human. There has been a lot of disagreement over that claim, or what it means exactly over the years (and to this day), but I don’t want to get into that very much here. For me, it is a healthy and helpful paradox of my faith. Also, just a note, I love that Mary is named (one of only two people, besides Jesus, mentioned by name in the Creed). I love Mary – she matters; she is mighty; she is the model for a Christ-bearing life.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
The only other person mentioned by name in the Creed is Pontius Pilate, strange decision, don’t you think? Also, why do we skip from the beginning of Jesus’ life to the end? Well, just because his actions and teachings are not mentioned in the Creed explicitly does not mean that they do not matter. In fact, it was his teachings and actions that led him to be tortured and executed by an oppressive, imperial government – something that is important to name and remember. Inremembering this part of Jesus’ experience, I see the humble, self-giving nature of God – a God whose desire for loving solidarity with humanity led to him to walk alongside us right to death, even death on a cross.
He descended to the dead.
In an older version of the Apostles’ Creed, it says that he descended “into hell.” Is there anywhere that God’s love would not go? No. That’s what I hear in this, that God’s love, mercy and goodness have been everywhere, even to those places and situations that we think must be absent of God. In truth, there is no thing and no place that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
That seems like enough for today. Tune in next week for part four of a reflection on the Apostles’ Creed!
Thank you, and thanks be to God! CG+