Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
You all have probably noticed that I’m not here tonight. Tomorrow morning, I’ll head down to the airport and fly to Mexico. Many people don’t like to fly in planes. People hear stories about planes crashing down into the ground with no survivors left onboard. One time when I was flying back from Washington DC., there was so much turbulence that a lady behind me kept yelling “Save me Jesus” during the flight. It’s fair to say this was not a pleasant travel experience! My last plane trip out to Vegas encountered some fierce gusts of wind that had people reaching for the vomit bags. While anything can happen on a plane, I don’t fear flying, I figure it’s an equation of basic math. I’m much more likely to get injured driving to Zup’s than crashing down on a 747. My comfort level doesn’t mean that flying requires no sense of faith in the pilot or the airlines or even the weather. I believe my faith is in good hands because planes have landed successfully, so many times before.
As we look tonight to the meaning of the Apostles Creed in the Small Cathecism, we consider the meaning of our faith in the hands of the one who conquered death and grave.
Let me tell a joke, A number of years ago, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld had a bit called “What is the deal?”. One of the better Seinfeld bits entitled“What is the deals” had to do with fear.
Seinfeld remarked, “According to most studies, people’s number-one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
Seinfeld’s funny observation leads us into the lesson tonight on Creeds. Creeds in some way make little sense. To many churches, creeds are an unnecessary distraction to the real work of the church in interpreting the Bible. I want to let you in on a funny secret for tonight. If you were to ask ten people what they believed about the Bible, you might get ten different answers. In fact, when it comes to the Bible, there’s probably someone out there who believes that it says God is a little green man hiding out on the moon. So everyone can talk about the Bible, but what creeds do is say exactly what we believe about the Bible.
Some of the most important passages from within the Bible are “creeds” or statements of belief. Our lessons for tonight have the Apostle Paul giving us a couple of important creeds
“That if you confess with your mouth,”Jesus is Lord,”and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”- Romans 10:9
“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”-1st Corinthians 15:13-14
Take verses like these out of the Bible, it is merely a collection of stories and sayings that might or might not apply to our daily lives. When we think of the Bible in terms of the creeds that it gives to us, we express its very promises of salvation for all the world to hear.
For it is impossible for a church to exist without creeds or statements of belief. For example, tonight we sing a couple of hymns in “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, and “Bind Us Together”, when we sing these hymns we make statements of belief or creed regarding the Christian faith. These songs speak to what we wish for the church to look like in the years ahead.
The thing about creeds is we do not own them. Tonight, we study the Apostles Creed. The Apostles Creed is the oldest of creeds. The Apostles Creed came into prominence due to its simplicity as a statement of belief for Baptism in the Early Church. The Apostles Creed came into prominence even before we had the Bible as we know it today.
There is one line within the Apostles Creed that is worth noting it’s a statement regarding whether it’s the holy “Christian” church or holy “catholic” church. I always prefer saying “catholic” church and I’ll tell you why. Catholic means universal. Catholic has a way, broader meaning than Popes or Priests. Catholic means that our faith is the same one that was said by the earliest of Jesus’ followers when they said the Apostles Creed for the first time. Catholic means we are not merely a set of individual Christians, we rather are one body shaped through the generations and incorporating all of God’s chosen people. You see when you call the church “Christian,” what you are saying is that Christians make the church. Just like the hardest workers with the most talent end up in the NBA, the most devout of God’s people constitute the church. The Church is not an exclusive club made up by individual Christians who can set their rules and regulations to go with the time. A church dependent on our ability to follow through would be the wrong understanding of the Church. The Church is instead “catholic” in nature, for the church that we belong to is the same one that the Holy Spirit formed on the day of Pentecost. When we say that the Church is “catholic”, what we are saying is that the Church does not belong to our whim, wishes, and desires. When we say that we are a part of the “catholic” church, we are saying that we belong to something much bigger and more powerful than our own sake of individual achievement.
The thing about Luther is he would have hated having a church with his name “Lutheran” upon it. Luther never would have considered himself to be worthy of such-esteem. Luther instead would wish for the Church that as broken and imperfect as it may be in the present age that it eventually beome one just as “The Father” and “The Son” are one.
For what the Church is a Communion of Saints, who believes in the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. What the Apostles Creed does is tie together the complete work of God in all our lives in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
When we say the Creed, we say it together because we do not gather as individuals separated by beliefs, color, gender, money, or even own good or bad behavior. We gather together as One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church joining with the witness of Jesus’ earliest followers. What we confess is that we will soon reunite with those who have ultimately gone before us.
Tomorrow, I’m gone to get on a plane. Planes can be exciting. Whenever a plane experiences turbulence, one’s live flashes before their very eyes. These types of moments take many forms. Scary moments when we might not know what kind of prediction that the doctor might make, uncertain moments when we might be called to leave behind our homes to pursue our dreams, and moments of celebration when we hold our child for the very first time. We look to creeds as a way to draw from seemingly hopeless situations. We look towards the creeds as a reminder that God’s plan is much bigger than what we can often grasp. We look towards the Creed as a reminder that the unknown has been made known through the death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why do I believe creeds are so important? I close with a story. When I was young, I was really close to my great-grandpa Arvid. Arvid would always provide me plenty of pizza and candy to eat. If it wasn’t for Arvid being in my life, I doubt I would be standing here. Arvid gave me a comfort level of being around old people that many people don’t get as a young child. What I remember is being there the night that Arvid died, surrounded by my Mom and Dad, Grandma, Aunts and Uncles. As I was shedding tears, I looked towards Arvid’s grave with hope. The hope came because as Arvid was about to be declared dead and be buried, this was not the way the story was going to end, I believed that the story would end with an “ascension up into heaven”. At Arvid’s funeral, we sang the song that we sing tonight in “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” as a reminder that in the midst of Arvid’s life through the loss of two children in child birth, through the suicide of a son-in-law, through the alcoholism of his own children, through business ups and business downs, through the death of his wife, and through old age as his body quit doing what he wanted to do. Arvid in these times would not get discouraged, because he knew the difference between this life and the life-everlasting. There was nothing more important for Arvid than his creed, and it was this creed that guided Jesus’ very own apostles through the ups and downs of their own lives, just like it should guide ours’ tonight.
 “ ‘What’s the Deal with..’ 15 Jokes from Jerry Seinfeld on His Birthday”. WCBS101FM.1. New York’s Greatest Hits. 23.Sept.2013. Web. March.2.2015.
 The Old Roman Symbol on which the Apostles Creed is based was formulated within the 2nd Century; the Biblical Canon was not completed until well into the 4th Century.
 This was inspired by the reflections of arguably the greatest preacher of the my lifetime in Robert Farrar Capon. Capon writes about the “catholic” vs “Christian” distinction on pages 115-116 of his book Kingdom, Grace, and Judgment. I was pointed to this connection by Ethan Richardson over at Mockingbird (MBIrd) in an October, 10, 2011 article entitled “Church Saltiness”
 This play on words is based on the High Priestly Prayer especially John 17:21.