February 2019 - The Caller

New Banners in church
Two banners are hanging in the back of the sanctuary. They are among the collection of creedal banners our church has in the liturgical room. Each banner comes with a deep history and meaning. The two banners were chosen because of the ease of understanding the symbols of our faith. Other banners have historical markers which need explanation to be thoughtfully understood. Our Reformed Tradition relies on God’s symbols and meaning as an expression of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Apostles’ Creed Banner

Our Apostles’ Creed banner begins with an intentional somber brown background fabric. Brown represents the difficulty and rigor of early Christianity under persecution as well as the respected monastic tradition.

The purple arches 
represent the entrances to caves or catacombs, where early Christians first met in secret. They are also the shape of Gothic church windows. Two holy meeting places: the high holy and grounded awareness.

The fish 
was an ancient symbol for the Christian faith, perhaps a secret code mark. In Greek the letters of the word for fish can be used as first letters in the phrase, "Jesus Christ God's Son Savior."

The Chalice, or Cup of Salvation, was used in the Lord's Supper and is still used in our Eucharist celebrations. It remains the constant symbol of the earnest and simple fellowship of the early and present church.

The upside down cross represents St. Peter, of whom Jesus said, you are the Rock upon whom the Church will be built. Ancient Church tradition says Peter was crucified upside down because he thought himself unworthy of a death like his Master's.

An introduction to the creed:

The Nicene Creed and Apostles’ Creed (watch where you put that apostrophe because the Creed is a compilation of wisdom from more than one Apostle) are our foundational Church statements of faith. They were written at a time in history when definitions and even some limits were needed to help define what the Church of Jesus Christ stood on in the third century.

Ancient Israel was accustom to reciting their creeds – statements of faith – as a way of remembering God in their lives past, present, and future. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 is the best example of a foundational statement claiming and teaching God’s presence and love: Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.”

The Apostles’ Creed is not found in the New Testament. Instead it represents a collected understanding of God in our lives, something the early Church called a rule of faith or as Tertullian wrote, “the canon of truth.” Jack Rogers writes, “The personal tone with which the Apostles’ Creed begins has its roots in the convert’s being asked at their baptism, ‘Do you believe in the God and Father Almighty?’ – the same question asked of the congregation during our sacrament of baptism – “The person would answer ‘I believe’ and then be baptized.”[1] And so the Creed as statement to the unasked questions began in the early Church.

SECOND HELVETIC CONFESS – 1566

The blue and white represent the colors of ancient Switzerland. The cross is dominant in the banner because of the cross of Jesus and his grace to save being such a significant part of the Confession. The hand and the burning heart are a traditional symbol of fellow Swiss Reformer John Calvin, though Zwingli was preaching and had died before Calvin converted to Protestantism.

The lamp is a symbol of knowledge and discipline. A major theme in the Creed is to learn and know scripture and grow as a disciple of Jesus rather than as a disciple of the church. The shepherd’s crook and pasture, or field, represent pastoral ministry and care for the flock of God by ministers and members. Lastly the chalice and the waves represent what became the two sacraments of our church: the Lord’s Supper and the warm waters of Baptism.

This is not one of the better known creeds. Ulrich Zwingli and Martin Luther were contemporaries. Luther was a monk and professor at the well-known University of Wittenberg and Zwingli was a parish priest in a simple town in the Swiss mountains. He was known as the “people’s priest” preaching the word of God to the people of God. He became one of the Zurich reformers and published a Bible translated into common language 4 years before Luther’s translation and the newly invented printing press.

As a simple parish priest, he had profoundly advanced and revolutionary ideas. “Zwingli believed that Christ was spiritually present, not in the communion bread but in the people who received Christ by faith. The congregation was the body of Christ.” One of the results of Zwingli’s enthusiasm for scripture is that non-clergy – lay people – began to own their own beliefs about the word of God rather than following just the dictates of the church.

These are not revolutionary ideas for us today, but part of our Reformed theology because of the Reformers. This was not a smoot process, there were reformers to the reformers, but Zwingli faithfully put himself out on a faith limb by challenging the tradition of the Church. He was not alone; his close friend Heinrich Bullinger was a steady ally long after Zwingli’s death. It was Bullinger who wrote the first and second Helvetic Confession and he did so in relationship with other Protestant (newly Protestant) clergy, making it an ecumenical Creed. It was Bullinger’s hope to reconcile the German Lutheran Church and the Swiss Reformed Church.

Helvetic is Latin for “Swiss” and as the confession came out of the Swiss Reformed movement it was so named. The churches in Switzerland adopted the Second Helvetic Confession as their creed, and then it became honored throughout Europe.

 


[1] Jack Rogers, Presbyterian Creeds: A Guide to the Book of Confessions, 1985, p. 61.

http://creeds.net/reformed/banners/apostles_creed_banner.htm

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UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Wednesday Bible study, 1:00 pm, completing our study of Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray

  • Boy Scout Sunday, February 10 with troop 877 assisting in worship

  • Soup Luncheon and Sale, Evangelism and Fellow has prepared lunch and all are invited, February 10

  • Valentine Luncheon, Mission committee will have supplies to make homemade valentines to share with residents at the Ridgewood Care Facility.

MARCH

  • Ash Wednesday service, beginning with a simple soup and bread meal in the social hall at 5:45. The service, with imposition of ashes will be in the sanctuary at 6:30.

  • Lenten Bible study & meal - each Wednesday in Lent a simple meal will be provided at 5:45, followed by two studies from 6:30 - 7:30. The adult study, led by Jane, will use Adam Hamilton’s 24 Hours That Changed the World. The youth and children study, led by Faith, will be on the names of God and how that changes us plus games, crafts, and tons of fun.

Looking Ahead:

  • Celebrating Women Tea - a Victoria Tea and a program about hats will be held on Saturday April 13 at 11:00 am in the social hall. Tickets will be on sale in March.

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Jane Esterline