"We Believe” is a six-week sermon series exploring the Apostles’ Creed as a framework for Christian belief. The creed is not a checklist of things that one has to agree with in order to be a Christian. It is the place where we begin our conversation about what we believe God has done in Jesus Christ and what that means for the church and us as disciples in our own day and time.
Week 1- God
Genesis 1:1-5; 1 John 4:7-13
We affirm that God is the “creator of heaven and earth," and yet the way we articulate who God is to the world often communicates a vision that falls short of God’s greatness and ultimacy. Like the parable of the blind men feeling the elephant, each describing their own experience but making the mistake of assuming there can be no other experience or something beyond the reach of their senses, we, too, paint a picture of God that is far too small. We must recognize our own limitations and not be too quick to cram God into a box in the shape of our own prejudices or keep God on a shelf, to be taken down only when we need it.
Week 2- Jesus
Isaiah 43:1-7; John 1:1-14
How is it that Jesus can be fully God and fully human? Isn’t impossible to be 200%? We often think of those two things as being contradictory, separated by a wide gulf because of our sin. But God created human beings in God’s own image, and nothing can change that. The Word that was present with God from the beginning is able to be made flesh because our flesh was already made in that image. In the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God shows us just how close we are to one another and demonstrates the full potential that God created in each of us.
Week 3- The Holy Spirit
After Jesus gave the Great Commission, died and returned, Jesus shared that He would be departing forever. The Holy Spirit, he said, the Counselor, could come and live with people forever, if they invite the Holy Spirit into their hearts. Peter, John and others had invited the Holy Spirit to live within and were able, by the power of the indwelling of Christs' Holy Spirit, to perform with boldness, miracles and healings. The people expressed amazement at the changes in the Apostles. Peter and others explained that if the people could profess their belief in Jesus Christ and confess their sins, then they could ask for and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as well. The bold new style that Peter received as a gift from the Holy Spirit continues to encourage people to this day as people seek to live spirit-filled lives for Jesus Christ.
Week 4- The Church: the Communion of Saints
Acts 4:32-37 Matthew 28:16-20
The church is called together and empowered by Jesus to carry on his ministry in the world. We do this through our example of freely sharing all we have with whomever has need, just as the three persons of the Trinity fully share of themselves with one another. Through that example, we demonstrate that discipleship is a way of living, not merely giving assent to a certain set of ideas.
Week 5- The Forgiveness of Sins
Romans 5:12-21; Matthew 5:38-48
God offers us free grace and forgiveness that is beyond our ability to comprehend our grasp by our own power. We repent and begin to allow grace to change our life in response to the grace we have already been given. The person who truly grasps the depths to which they have been forgiven then extends it to others who may not understand their need for it or unwilling to repent, trusting that God’s grace will work through us and be made known to them.
Week 6- Resurrection and Life Everlasting
Ezekiel 37:1-14; Luke 24:36-49
The bodily resurrection of Jesus demonstrates that the ultimate power of our world, death, does not have the last word in creation. That last word belongs to God, who continues to redeem and shape this world to the Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed.