Faith & Family
The Creed and our Children
In my church, we recite the Apostles’ Creed every single Sun- day during our traditional worship
service. To introduce the creed each week, we say something like this: “Please join me in professing our faith in the words of the Apostles Creed.” The beauty of liturgy and repetition is that it gives us stability and comfort in a world that is often chaotic. The challenge with liturgy and repetition is that it can, for some, lose its mean- ing as we end up repeating it as a sort of “going through the motions.” This is one of the many reasons that it is important to teach the meaning of the Apostles’ Creed in our churches, homes, and especially with our chil- dren and youth.
Our confirmation process does not include a lot of assignments, and only has a handful of things to memo- rize. Memorizing the Apostles’ Creed is one of those things. The reason we do this is because the creed is import- ant and relevant. It is a succinct sum- mary of the basics of what we believe. There are diverse views on a wide variety of theological, political, and philosophical issues in my church. That diversity is a gift. Yet, unity in the midst of diversity is essential.
This is where the creed can be excep- tionally helpful; it gives us a starting place, laying out the essentials and allowing us to proclaim these truths in community rather than isolation. Christianity is both an individual and a communal faith. It is public and pri- vate. It is so critically important that we model all of these things to our children and youth, and encourage them to practice them alongside of us and the rest of the congregation. The survival of the church depends on our intentional efforts to pass on the faith.
In thinking about the first article of the creed, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,” many things come to mind, especially as they relate to our children and youth. Explaining the Trinity in a way that makes perfect, complete, and logical sense is a near- ly impossible task. There is an aspect of the Trinity that is almost unex- plainable by our minds, and there is, of course, a beautiful mystery that we must embrace by faith.
This first article of the creed is ultimately about two things: God the Father and creation. Understanding God as the Father is critical to our understanding of faith, the words of Jesus, and the order that comes in creation. It can also be the hardest. Those who had fathers who hurt them, have been absent or abusive, can make this imagery of God very difficult. Those who have a bad relationship with their father can struggle deeply with this concept. Certainly, teenagers in their rebel- lious phase might be resistant to this imagery as well. It is important that we understand this and graciously and patiently work with these chal- lenges, allowing God the Father to redeem and reclaim their flawed, worldly ideals of father. God is the perfect Father. Our earthly fathers are imperfect. I am a father and, as desperately as I want to be a great father, I am human and have my momentary flaws. I can say with great pride that I am not a perfect father, but I do know the one who is the perfect Father. My job is to constantly be in connection with God the Father, just as Jesus was. As a parent and a pastor, it is my job to point everyone, especially children and youth and in particular, my children and youth to the perfect father, who is God the Father almighty.
This first article of the creed is also about creation. Creation is some- thing that I think we have lost sight of in North American Christianity. Creation consistently displays the beauty, power, and love of God the Father. We know who God really is through revelation. This revelation is found in Jesus, the scripture, and creation. What is most problematic about our view of creation in the church today is that we avoid it for fear of being too scientific. We also have a tenden- cy to blame God for the bad parts of creation (especially weather and natural disasters) and take the good, powerful, and beautiful things for granted. I have always loved creation and its beauty and as a result, I have been blessed to enjoy and give God thanks for even the simplest thing in creation.
My family and I live out in the country on 10 acres. Our property includes fields, hills, woods, swamp land, and a creek. We see lots of creation just on our own property, some like deer that we are excited to see, and others such as possums that we are less excited to see. We have a family of cardinals that we see each and every year. So often, one cardinal appears in our window as if it is checking in on us. The cardinal is beautiful and is my wife’s favorite bird. The reason the cardinal is her favorite bird is two-fold: first, it was the favorite bird of a family member who was near and dear to her who has since passed. The second reason Jessica loves cardinals, is the belief (right or wrong) that cardinals are a reminder of a loved one who has passed away, and is a symbol when they visit that the loved one we have lost is still with us. Now, I have never found this in the Bible, but I still think it is a beautiful and meaningful thing.
My favorite bird is the Oriole. In the almost 5 years we have lived here, we have never had an Oriole. Each year I keep talking about getting an Oriole feeder to attract them, but I never do. This past weekend, my wife Jessica spotted the first Oriole on our property since we have been here. She came running into the house like she was on fire with pure excitement and pictures. I
think she was more excited than I was. But let’s be honest, Orioles are just birds—not worth screaming over, running around, or special feeders. Yet, there is something beautiful about having joy over a Cardinal and an Oriole. There is something wonderful about enjoying
even the simplest of creation. It is part of the reason God created it and made us.
As parents we need to teach children and youth about the beauty and power of creation. We have to help them see creation as one more thing that reveals the power and love of God to us and to the world. We need to teach our children about creation and its power. We need to help our children know the creator, the all-powerful, almighty, loving, God the Father. That is the gift of the first article. It points us to creation and the creator, God the Father Almighty. How wonderful is it for us to know and for our children to know that the God who hung the stars knows them and loves them? It turns out that this one sentence has much to show us about God and ourselves.