Do you know the Apostles’ Creed? Many who have attended worship or participated in a confirmation  program have committed these words to memory, but its origin may not be as familiar. A creed is a statement of belief, and the apostles were the original eye witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Though these words summarize a belief about God for multitudes of followers of Jesus Christ, the original authors remain anonymous. This summary of Christian teachings about God probably originated in Rome in the third century, and was standardized by Charlemagne not long after that. Creeds in general have been used to defend against false teachings about God, and to create a lens for understanding the Bible. Creeds pushed church leaders to truly focus on what it is that they believe when it comes to God. The historic creeds, like the Apostles’ Creed, have been essential documents for worship and preaching in the church for centuries. The Apostles Creed has been the standard statement of faith used in baptism. The Apostles’ Creed and     baptism represent two important ways that Lutheran Christians are connected to the larger universal Church and examples of the common beliefs we hold with our sisters and brothers in the Roman Catholic Church.

As we prepare at the end of this month to mark the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we have much to remember. A central blessing is that we thank God for the reforming work done in His church through the theologian Martin Luther. Luther’s dedication to the importance of scripture helped countless Christians to know the essential place of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, and the power of faith to change the world. His emphasis on getting the Bible into the hands of the common people, and the importance of God’s Word and the sacraments at the center of corporate worship cannot be emphasized enough. Through Luther’s teachings all people are invited to see their lives as priestly, holy work serving a loving God through loving service to the neighbor. These realities are indeed reason for rejoicing.

We do, however, regret that the evils of human sin led to a split in our Lord’s Church, and that       violence, bloodshed and conflict have remained all too common for centuries between those who profess to follow  Jesus Christ. As we remember the legacy of the Reformation, we are called to remember that there is work yet to do. Forgiveness and reconciliation may remain the most important work that remains unfinished in our relationships with our sisters and brothers in other expressions of the universal Church, especially with our siblings in the Roman Catholic Church. The Apostles’ Creed and baptism remain two of the most important gifts of God’s grace that we share. I pray that we can celebrate these gifts as one body in Christ, and look for the ways that the life giving Holy Spirit will continue to bring healing and a richer, more vigorous effort for shared mission in the gospel for the sake of the world. May our common prayer at this time and  always be “come Lord Jesus and make us one in you!”

– Pastor John Holliday