This Meditator's Personal Creed: A Letter and Response
As a Catholic I have always been challenged by the words that I felt required to recite during Mass. For example, as a young adult beginning to think more seriously about my faith, the words “Glory be to God” troubled me. I felt hypocritical saying them (what did these words actually mean?) but yet felt obliged to.
Furthermore, over the years at Mass I have thought about The Apostle’s Creed, most often struggling to say all the words with sincerity and acceptance as my tenet of belief. I am now nearing retirement age and the saying of the Creed is still a challenge.
Recently, in order to go some way towards resolving these dilemmas I decided to write down what I believe I do believe. It’s not perfect, as I can see questions in some of the words I use; it’s a work in progress, but it feels more honest to me than just reciting words that someone else has written for me to believe. I do, however, thank the person or persons who did write them as they have given me something to work around.
Before you read the following, do you know what you would write?
This meditator’s personal creed
I believe in one God, the father he is called, maker of everything, of whom I am part and to whom I shall return.
I believe in Jesus Christ, of God, who was born of Mary, was crucified, died, was buried and then rose again to show me the right way of life and that I shall not die for ever but live eternally.
I believe that every sin is redeemable but that I need to acknowledge my responsibility for it to be forgiven.
Only you and I are able to not forgive me, God always does.
I believe in the Holy Spirit who always guides my path should I choose to ask for guidance and relinquish my assumption that I know how it should be done.
I believe in church as community where we all strive to follow truth and to love each other. I also believe in church as a space where this community can express its love for and thanks to God and say yes to God’s sacramental gifts.
I believe in faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.
I feel for the writer of ‘This Meditator’s Personal Creed’.
The predicament of many Christians, who find much of the orthodox framework of belief in our churches to be unbelievable, is a growing reality. As a retired Methodist minister I cannot view things from a Catholic standpoint, but I am aware of a variety of organisations responding to this need. ‘Progressive Christianity Network’ www.pcnbritain.org.uk is nationwide. St Mark’s Centre for Radical Christianity in Sheffield www.stmarkscrc.co.uk has attracted major scholars to come and speak, with hundreds attending its conferences, and ‘Free to Believe’ www.freetobelieve.org.uk is a URC based organisation which publishes regularly. The most radical is ‘Sea of Faith’ www.sofn.org.uk started by Don Cupitt, and though this may go well beyond the ideas many of us would feel comfortable with, the reality is that there are many who want to continue as Christians but want to question much that is orthodox. As Methodist Ministers in Rutland, together with some lay preachers, we have run a group for the last five years called ‘Living the Questions’ attended by Methodists, Anglicans and Quakers, where people are free to look at their questions about the faith in an environment of mutual trust, free from embarrassment and criticism.
Nothing could be more relevant than the understanding that beliefs divide us and faith unites us. Tradition is important to many but there must be WCCM members who struggle with the difficulties of worship which involves creeds, prayers and hymns that cannot be embraced with a clear conscience. The sad reality of the above article is that whoever wrote it felt the need to be anonymous. People are afraid of voicing their doubts and the church has a horrid history of trying to control people.
For me the experience of meditation and John Main’s ‘Mysterious Presence’ fits perfectly with my own outlook. I would like to thank the author for the creed and give the assurance that others are striving to express their faith in terms meaningful to 21st century life.
This letter was printed anonymously in the Summer 2013 issue of UK News and the response from Chris Bamber was printed in the following issue, Autumn 2013. Their message, though, is as relevant today as it was in 2013 and we have left it here in the hope that someone who is challenged by the words may find it helpful.