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Credo

‘Credo’, that means I believe. Yes, each person on this earth believes in something. Even people who believe in nothing, have a belief. They believe in - nothing.

Surveys reveal that the belief of people who call themselves Christian appears to be something very individual. When there was an invitation from ‘Public Forum’ for people to describe what they believed, those issuing the invitation were quite overwhelmed by the extent and the variety of all that made its appearance as the content of so-called Christian belief. Three whole volumes were filled with powerfully expressed opinions. And shortly afterwards a Reformed newspaper in Switzerland (“saemann”/“The Sower”) made a similar survey among its readership. I read the published responses with interest and some apprehension.

Yes, what do we really believe? Can each and every one of us really place ourselves completely behind the ‘Nicene-Constantinopolitan’ creed? What is expressed there about Christian belief we have heard in the ‘Credo’ we recite. But, hands on hearts, is that really what sums up our Christian belief, what gives us hope and what causes love to grow between people?

What do we experience there of Jesus Christ, of his life, of what he did, of his love?

Is it possible to convince someone who is not a Christian of the humanity and the love of God by reciting him the ‘Nicene-Constantinopolitan’ creed?

I should like to invite all of us to think about what Dietrich Bonhoeffer, for instance, believed:

“I believe that God can and wants to bring good out of everything, even the very worst. That is why he needs people, who will allow themselves to be given (or maybe: to accept) the best. (my reading: ‘sich dienen lassen’ to allow themselves to be served – to the best extent).

I believe, that God will give us, in every time of trouble, as much strength as we need to withstand it. But he does not give it in advance, so that we do not rely on ourselves, but only on Him. Within such a belief, all anxiety about the future must be overcome.

I believe, that God is not a destiny outside time, but that he is waiting for and responds to honest prayers and responsible actions.”

Yes, that for me too is a belief that I can connect with: God wants to be a loving and a good God for us. That is a shorthand for what Bonhoeffer believed. He saw God as little as any of us does. And I think that he would not have said more, but also he would not have said less, about Jesus Christ, if he had been among the young men whom Jesus questioned. Jesus asked them what people thought, who or what was he? You know what the young men answered: “Some say you are John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others think you are Jeremiah or one of the other prophets”. Yes, I find it astonishing to realise that not once were those closest to Jesus able to see who he was. It is really not surprising that we find it so hard today to communicate, to communicate to our contemporaries who ask us about our belief, what sustains us.

Would a profession of faith that says who Jesus was and is, not have been more believable even at the time of Jesus? If for instance the confession had been:

I believe in God.
He is like a good father and a loving mother.
He is the origin of everything and the friend of life.

I believe in Jesus, the Christ.
He is the child of Jewish parents,
a gift for the whole world.

In word and deed he gave witness
of the love of God for his people
and for all peoples.

Pontius Pilate condemned him to death
and had him crucified.
But God raised him from the dead.
His friends bear witness to this.

I believe in God’s
life giving spirit.

I belong to one
Christian Church
united in word and sacrament.

I wait for the resurrection of the dead 
to a reconciled community
of all in God.

But these days there is still too much of doctrine in this, yes, even for people who call themselves Christians. So too many cannot ‘believe’ even a creed like this. The biblical foundation is missing for increasing numbers.

And they cannot believe that people who also call themselves Christians and always speak of love and reconciliation , cannot sit together with them and with other believing Christians at one table and celebrate the meal of Love.

And I cannot believe that Jesus Christ, if he lived now instead of 2,000 years ago, would not invite all people to his table, just as he did in his own time.

And so I can understand that people will only begin to be able feel moved by a ‘message of salvation’ if they hear, for instance, the following ‘Credo’:

I believe
in something that remains for me
beyond the horizon

where no pain pursues me
where no care weighs me down
where no sadness oppresses me

and I believe 
in a dwelling place for me
under another sky

freed from earthly burdens
risen out of ashes
I believe in the defeat of death

I believe
for as long as I can believe
in something completely new

that no eye has yet seen
no ear has heard
no voice has sung

I believe 
beyond life itself
in life.

Has Jesus not said, HE is life? Has he not through his death defeated death and promised us life that lasts forever? Is it not so, that we can because of this, and for eternity, (OK, it’s one of the last entries under ‘sonst’ in my big dictionary, ‘war das auch sonst der Fall?’ – was that ALWAYS the case? – it works rather well here!) say:

I believe 
beyond life itself
in life.

Amen

Pastor Eberhard Aebischer