Tag Archive: apostles creed


Who You Talking To?

5bcb744a-10c4-4cc2-8468-d9f486778965Back in June I talked to a friend of mine who was using the rosary as a prayer instrument. This led to a conversation with my Dad. Not long after that conversation I received a package from my Dad, and I was thrilled to see that my Dad mailed me his rosary. I couldn’t remember all the patterns or the prayers that went with it, so I kind of made up my own pattern. I would get up early in the morning and go for a walk with beads in hand. I would pray the Lord’s Prayer on the beads with a notch and then pray for different groups of people (family, friends, peers, leaders, the hurting or neglected…) on the other beads.

In some of my classes prayer practices using icons were mentioned occasionally. I did find it fascinating how it was described that through prayer these images would act like little windows into the grandness of God. I loved how it sounded, but I had no practical experience to help me relate. When I got to the icon of Mary I didn’t know exactly what to do. I found myself reflecting on Mary. When the Apostles Creed came to life in how we believe in the communion of saints and the resurrection as I began thanking her for her witness. Allowing her stories from scripture to fill my mind. Then without realizing it I began talking to her. Not praying like I do with God, but talking like I have had a conversation with many of you.  It wasn’t a conversation where I heard her speak back to me, but in a different way it was a conversation. As I was reflecting and thanking her for her willingness to submit to God, her faithful response to the incredible I was flooded more and more with images of who God is and how we as God’s children are called to lovingly respond to like Mary to God’s grace. I thanked her for her willingness to participate in God being born in and through her. The prayer shifted as if Mary was pointing all along to God the Father and I began to pray that I would also allow God to use me so that the love of Christ Jesus would be born in me for the sake of God’s world.  I began to pray for the church that we would reflect a similar witness like Mary, who did not resist God revealing God’s self in and through her.

I am only using the beads once to three times a week now, but I felt like it opened up a whole new world as I can reflect on all the saints who have gone before us from the men and women of scripture to Athanasius, Irenaeus, Augustine, Calvin, Wesley, Martin Luther King Jr. to my Grandmother. We can thank them for their witness, and allow them to point us to God revealed in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ, you are not a god of the dead, but of the living. Thank you for the faithful witnesses that have gone before us who continue to point us by the power of the Holy Spirit to the grace of Your Father. Amen

Communion of Saints

prayer for Mexicali WP_20130825_002 Sarah Wilcox had shared with us her experience in Mexicali during worship yesterday. As apart of her summer Field Ed. experience she spent 10 weeks serving in ministry over there in a church. (You can get caught up on her experiences on her blog.) It was neat to see the pictures of church and the people. It was fascinating to hear the similarities and differences between our churches.  She mentioned attending a funeral where the Gospel was preached with passion. She shared about her experiences with varying notions of evangelism. She described how the youth were the lead worshipers using their musical gifts. In the end she told of the prayer service in which the people of her church in Mexicali prayed for us, the people of St. Paul UMC.  Sarah shared pictures of us, our block party, our coffeehouse, our youth, our church family.  The people of Santisima prayed for us. So it seemed so fitting that we ended our time of worship yesterday praying for them. With the picture on the screen and Sarah kneeling. The people of St. Paul came forward laying hands on Sarah as an intercessor who represented to us our Brothers and Sisters in Mexicali.  She lifted up concerns of poverty within the church and the church community and lifted up a concern to see more of the husbands participating in the life of faith at the church among other things.  I hope you will join us in praying for them as they have prayed for us.

When I took this picture I couldn’t help hearing in my head the communion liturgy and the Apostles Creed.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.  

and

I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints

Prayer for Mexicali WP_20130825_001

Pieces of a Prayer – Communion

For whatever reason, I have been mentally hanging out for months with one line of the Apostles’ Creed that says “I believe… in the communion of saints.”  Again and again I am reminded that I am apart of something so much bigger than myself. Now, my theology class has been pushing me to think of how ‘grand‘ God is, but specifically I have been marveling at the idea that I am participating in God’s story. A story that is being played out since the beginning of time. Everyone from Abraham, the Apostles, to Augustine, to all the members of St. Paul UMC and well all the followers of Jesus Christ that ever was, that are now, and ever will be are our traveling companions on this journey. So every now and then I catch myself in lecture hall with all 170 or so of my fellow students, or in worship with my 50 or so fellow worshipers and I look around at the faces and reflect on what we are all participating in together.

I was flipping through my prayer journal this morning and came across this prayer I wrote a couple weeks ago that echoed some of these thoughts.  Here are a few lines of this prayer:

Jesus, I love you – I sit here at my desk praying; knowing I am not alone. I am surrounded by the Great Cloud, apart of The Communion. I sit here in communion with you – my creator.
What awe, what joy!
Jesus my Redeemer we all are together because of you. My sin/our sins are cast away. My sin/our sin has been washed by the God sized flow of baptismal waters.
Communion with you, because of you and your cleansing waters. Remain in me and I will remain in you – communion forever: You-Us
-Amen

I have had many thoughts running through my head lately about the music we participate in during worship. Before I get to those thoughts let me share a little bit of background thoughts.  This last year at St. Paul one of the things I have led in worship nearly every Sunday is the Apostles Creed. Just like when you teach something you have a tendency to grasp the material better, I have been coming to appreciate elements of the Apostles Creed during this last year. It is becoming a deep and rich well that I have found myself drawing from recently. (It also helps that my Theology class has been spending a couple lectures talking about it also.)  I have led us in saying together “I believe in … the communion of saints” I have come to appreciate that I am apart of something greater than me – something eternal. All those guys we were studying in my church history class(Ignatius, Athanasius, St. Basil…) , the heroes of the Bible, followers of Christ yesterday, today, tomorrow… we are apart of this communion of saints. I have found myself as we are singing thinking that we are worshiping God the Father, Jesus Christ the son, and the Holy Spirit, the God three-in-one along side all these saints.

So now back to my original thought.  It is pretty amazing to think that we are singing songs that were written by Charles Wesley back in the 1700s along with many other songs some older some newer.  We are approaching 300 years after some of these songs were written that we are singing today. This seems pretty amazing and it leads me to wonder. What I wonder about is what songs of today will the followers of Christ be singing 300 years from now.  I wonder about the followers of Christ 300 years ago, what their reaction was when these songs  were new. I don’t know if it is true, but I have always heard the story that some of these old Methodist hymns were actually bar tunes that John and Charles Wesley just changed the words. What makes music sacred? What kinds of music does God enjoy? Is God still inspiring musicians today to write songs of worship? What songs are worshipful? What makes a song a worship song? Is it the tune or the words or a mystical combination or the heart of the composer that makes a song a worship song?

Whatever we are singing in worship whether a new song or old, it is awesome to think we are worshiping shoulder to shoulder with each and every living follower of Christ including many that speak languages that I cannot. We are worshiping shoulder to shoulder with centuries of the saints who have gone before us from family members, to the Wesley brothers and their mom, to St. Augustine, to John Calvin and to the twelve disciples. Then to think of all the faithful men and women of the Bible we are worshiping with including King David, whose songs we are still singing today and these songs are much older. (How’s that for being a popular lyricist.)  All of us, the communion of saints, standing shoulder to shoulder, lifting all our voices in mystical unison praising our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer in song.

...And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Then again, we might not be standing….in awe of Jesus the Christ, we might all be bowing, but I’m telling you THERE WILL BE SINGING!