November 18, 2017

My Outlook, My Faith, and My Hope

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Abraham and Three Angels, Chagall

When people ask, “What do you believe?” I recite the Apostles’ Creed. In my opinion, there is no better summary of the gospel than that simple, narrative-oriented statement. This is my story.

But I was thinking today that I might like to have a more personal statement, one that not only outlines the objective story I believe, but also reflects the specific promises in Christ which I have found hold me fast and give me strength.

So, I came up with the following.

The first four lines are a direct quote from Frederick Buechner that I have cited many times before. The rest is designed to give it a fuller eschatological perspective.

My goal is to craft a statement that is simple yet comprehensive, realistic about life and death, and focused on God’s gracious promises in Christ. I will use it in prayer and contemplation to assist me in keeping my focus on what is truly important.

This is my outlook, my faith, and my hope.

Abraham and Isaac, Chagall

Abraham and Isaac, Chagall

Here is the world.
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid.
I am with you.
Trust me,
And I will free you to love and be loved.
This is the life I have for all my children.

One day, you will be gathered to your people.
But even there I will not forsake you.
For Christ has died,
Christ has risen,
Christ will come again.
Because he lives, so too shall you.
And all will be well.

Comments

  1. Our men’s bible study was going over the following passage: Php 3:8-12 Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant–dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ (9) and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ–God’s righteousness. (10) I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. (11) If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it. (12) I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.

    I especially like the wording of verse 11. Our hope is in the resurrection, but to get there we have to become like Christ, including sharing in His suffering.

    This may be off topic, but your words CM brought this to my mind…

  2. Nice job, Chaplain Mike.

    I like it.

    I only wish I could trust it a bit more.

    But I have my moments.

  3. Tears of love dampen my desk this morning. What a beautiful statement.

    • The three lines after the first four and here is Our Father. Father, when I say this word knowing what it means to me today it is said with such respect and love that it is changing every part of who I am yet He was always here. It is in the freedom to be loved and to love that I find life and the words Thank You Jesus

  4. This reminds me much of the short, beautiful Celtic prayers of David Adam . . . much appreciated this morning. We been singing “We Believe”, the song recorded by The Newsboys in our worship services which has had me reflecting on The Apostles Creed the last few weeks. I’ve never thought about creating a personal statement of belief, but your post has me considering it. Thank you.

  5. David Cornwell says:

    I’ve always considered the Apostles’ Creed to be the centerpiece of a statement of faith, and the core around which everything else exists. You personal statement is very beautiful, poetic and like a hymn sung from the heart. Thank you.

  6. Peace From The Fringes says:

    Interesting! I stopped attending church when I realized I could no longer recite the Apostles’ Creed in good conscience. I no longer believed many of the specifics, and a feeling of hypocrisy weighed on me.

    However, if I could recite Mr. Buechner’s four lines instead…….well, I could live with that.

  7. Chaplain Mike, I love it every time you quote that line from Buechner, and your elaboration on it (with a sprinkle of Julian!) says so much. If you do not mind shameless thievery, I am writing it down.

  8. Good stuff!!

    I’ve been thinking about my faith lately, my own belief, and mulling on Matthew 11:1-18. It’s a point in John the Baptist’s life when he’s in prison awaiting execution. His faith is at its “wobbliest.” He sends some disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

    Jesus’ response: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

    In other words…”Yep, I’m Him.”

    I’m finding this a nice chunk of scripture to hang onto when I find my own faith wobbling. “Jesus, are you Lord?”

    Jesus says, “Yep, I’m Him. And don’t let circumstances be reason for you to believe otherwise.”

    • Do you get K.W. Leslie’s blog More Christ. Read what he wrote on this today it is eye opening in a way I have not seen before but the love that it implies is powerful.

      • w…I don’t, no, but since you pointed me there, I just read it. Interesting take on it. I guess whether it was for John’s wobbly faith or the wobbly faith of John’s followers, the point is: “Yes, I’m Him.”

        Leslie’s take is interesting for it suggests John had his disciples ask Jesus…for THEIR benefit. Almost a “Look, I could tell you what I know and believe to be true, but so that you know for yourselves, go ask him.”

        I love God’s timing. I’m helping lead a men’s retreat this weekend and this was one of the verses I am using. Now I get to throw in Leslie’s “twist” on things! Love it! Thanks for sharing, w!

        • Even more curious regarding the timing of this is…

          So the gist of the men’s retreat is looking at the gospel accounts and the things Jesus says and does and asking, “Jesus, what are you telling me about yourself here?” The whole point being, “Look, I could tell you what I think, but I want you to ask Jesus what HE’S telling you.”

          Funny how it seems to fit with Leslie’s take on John telling his disciples, “You go ask Him”…!!

          • This kind of love John exhibited in humility is extraordinary becoming less and less. Imagine the love it would take to say to those so close go and see. Seems he was very much in tune but of the earth and Jesus of Heaven and we are of both. I would have had a hard time leaving this mans side. Something Like Jonathan and his father. I would have probably fell by his side in battle too. Paul does it too, always pointing to Christ. Just my take on things. I always say I would not want a bunch of me running around.

          • Oh by the way I love His timing it is so cool. Watch the expressions on the young mens faces when He touches them.

  9. Trust me
    And I will free you to love and be loved.

    It took me a lifetime to discover that this was central to life, to my life, to my life of faith. Finding this sooner would have kept me from inflicting much pain on others, and myself.

    It’s a good life-statement, Mike.

    • To piggy-back on your post, Mark…

      “Trust me,
      And I will free you to love and be loved.”

      Sure seems like Jesus-shaped spirituality to me. And like you said, it’s a good life-statement, too!

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  12. Thank you for this, CM

    One can rarely go wrong with Buechner, and I’m glad you finished out the statement in a way that matches both the simplicity and depth that marks his writing so often.

    It’s a beautifully clear statement of faith and love. That’s something we sure need more of.