I’m convinced that the temperamental Mr. Wesley would spontaneously combust if he were alive to see what’s happening in the movement that was birthed through his influence.
The United Methodist Church has fallen on hard times. With the hopes of being more inclusive and open-minded, their recent theological stances have had just the opposite effect. Their numbers are decreasing and many life-giving evangelistic churches are closing because the foundational truths of the Gospel are absent. They no longer believe in some of the truths found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, with that being acknowledged, I will forever be grateful for what was the Stone Drive United Methodist Church at the bottom of my street in Kingsport, TN. This little church was a bright light in my youth.
It was there that I saw my Dad transformed into a new man. It was there that two youth pastors, Bill Fry and Brad Scott, patiently loved me and my neighborhood hooligan friends with a kind of love that only Jesus could give. It was also there that I was given two crutches to lean on as grace-gifts; the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” and the Apostles Creed.
“Holy, Holy, Holy” was my go to every time I was fearful. Bill, the one mentioned above, once told me that he sang it when he was in a spiritual battle, so I figured it would work for me too. I must’ve repeated it 1000 times in my head before I overcame my fear of planes.
The Apostles Creed has proven to be another grace gift. In actuality, it was one I almost forgot to use. For years I didn’t value it. The churches I served weren’t creedal churches and since I don’t have a very formal bent, I never saw the need to pull it back out and use it as a teaching tool. Until recently.
A friend gave me The New City Catechism, which is a teaching tool being used to teach children and congregations some very foundational biblical truths. I was skeptical about it at first, for reasons not worth mentioning, but I can at least say I admire the effort and commend churches trying to pass on the truths of the faith.
Question 49 in the Catechism asks, “Where is Christ now?” And the answer is, “Christ rose bodily from the grave on the third day after His death and is seated at the right hand of the Father, ruling His kingdom and interceding for us, until He returns to judge and renew the whole world.”
What believer wouldn’t want their child to be able to recite that? What pastor wouldn’t want their adults to be able to recite that?
The answer is true and it also has a triumphant tone.
The same can be said of the Apostles Creed. Below is the version I learned. Read it aloud if you can’t recite it.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy *catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Saying these powerful truths aloud – in triumphant tone – is a good idea. I’m so thankful for the Methodists at Stone Drive UMC who taught it to me.
This weekend, of all weekends, I encourage you to restate your belief in the risen, reigning and returning Jesus. Recommit yourself to pass on these truths to as many people as possible.
He is Risen!
* The word “catholic” means “relating to the church universal” and was the word used in the original version of the Creed. It does not mean the Roman Catholic Church, but the church, the body of Christ, as a universal fellowship.