November 6, 2018 – We Believe! The First Article, of Creation- Genesis 1:1-5, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Isaiah 40:28, John 1:1-5

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The Apostle’s Creed is one of the major ecumenical creeds of Christianity.  Lutherans recognize all three of the ecumenical creeds- the Apostle’s Creed (most commonly used,) the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed.

The Creeds are all summaries of orthodox Christian faith, derived from the Bible. They help us to understand and define what we believe about God.

The First Article: (of Creation)

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

The belief in God the Creator is found throughout the Bible from the very beginning of Scripture.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. Genesis 1:1-5 (ESV)

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”- Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (ESV)

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:28 (ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 (ESV)

For those who would argue the Creeds are not Biblical, we discover that every concept in the Creed is supported by Scripture. In the opening chapter of the Bible- Genesis 1- we learn that God created heaven and earth.

God the Father is not only one of the Persons of the Trinity, but with the Son and the Holy Spirit He is beyond time. With the Son and the Holy Spirit He is the Author of all things. He created the universe and all things in it. Though we cannot fully understand the concept, God is Three in One- all three Persons are and were present in creation.

All good gifts come from the hand of God. We do not believe creation just showed up by random chance but that creation is purposefully designed by God for His good purpose.

We believe that the First Article gifts of creation are good. The earth and sky and material things are given to us by God.

Martin Luther teaches us in the Small Catechism:

Of Creation.

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

What does this mean?–Answer.

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them; in addition thereto, clothing and shoes, meat and drink, house and homestead, wife and children, fields, cattle, and all my goods; that He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me; for all which I owe it to Him to thank, praise, serve, and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

December 6, 2016- They Will Call Him Emmanuel, God With Us – Matthew 1:22-23, Isaiah 53:3-5

Nativity

All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” – Matthew 1:22-23

The reality of Jesus- God the I AM, coming to earth to live as a human being, along and with human beings is difficult enough to wrap our heads around.

Imagine what it would be like to be Mary.  She was a teenage girl, likely only thirteen or fourteen, when God’s angel came to her and told her that she was going to be Jesus’ earthly mother.

Teen pregnancy is difficult enough today, but imagine coming to your parents with her announcement:  “Hey everyone, I’m pregnant.  But don’t worry, it’s God’s Son.  I’m still a virgin. I’ve never been touched by a man.”

How many parents would fall for that line?  Better yet, how many fiancés would believe it?

Mary was telling the truth, but even so, there would have been stigma and shame.  No doubt the community would be casting aspersions upon her family, and wondering if Joseph was being taken advantage of.  People snicker.  People talk.  People say not so nice things about other people’s morality, even if they don’t know the whole truth.

He was despised and rejected by others;
    a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him of no account.

Surely he has borne our infirmities
    and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
    struck down by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
    crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
    and by his bruises we are healed. – Isaiah 53:3-5 (NRSV)

Yet the messy and lowly manger is how God entered this complicated and often insensitive world of humanity- born under what some might consider questionable lineage, raised in the home of a modest tradesman.  He was not born into a house of royalty or nobility, but in a stable surrounded by farm animals.

When we think about God’s possibilities and how he enters our lives, do we put limitations on how we think God should enter in?  Or do we seek him in the lowly and unlikely places?

 

December 5, 2016: In the Beginning Was the Word – John 1:1-5

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In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,  the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.   Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.- Genesis 1:1-3 (NRSV)

In the beginning, God.  The writer of the book of John does not have what we would call a Christmas narrative like the one in the books of Luke or Matthew.  He simply echoes what God tells us in Genesis.  In the beginning, God. Jesus came to earth in human flesh, but Jesus always is and always was, too.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being  in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.  John 1:1-5 (NRSV)

So Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us, is with us now, and has been since before the beginning of time.  He is One with God the Father, and One with God the Spirit- as if we can ever really get that concept of the Trinity. That’s a hard thing for finite and fallible humans to wrap our heads around.  Jesus’ life did not begin in the manger at Bethlehem, because He has no beginning. He was before the beginning, and He has no end, because He will be after the end.  And when you think on Jesus, if you want to add the concepts of omnipresence (God is everywhere all the time, in every place, in all times) and omnipotence (God has infinite and complete power over ALL things) then you can really just sit and think and blow your mind.

Here’s a thought.  God the I AM (who has always been and will always be,) who created and sustains the universe, came to earth not just to live with finite, fallible and imperfect humans, but to become one of us- to feel our pain, to know our joy, and to walk in our paths with us.

How amazing is that?