Today on Facebook, my friend and colleague Rev. Charles Allen shared his own interpretation of – or perhaps I should say variations on or versions of – two traditional components of Christian liturgy, prayer, and devotion, namely the Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer. Charles offered them with some comment, which I also include below. He emphasizes that if we were to begin the process of articulating our faith today, we would inevitably not come up with what ancient people did, but something different -and this is his attempt to do just that, not in order to replace what went before, but to contribute to the process of reenvisaging it and its significance. For none of the creeds or prayers in question were entirely original, nor were they the end of the process of the making of creeds and prayers in the Christian tradition. I am sharing them below in the hope that some may find them useful and inspiring, but that all readers of this blog may find them worth reflecting on an discussing.
The Apostles' Creed & the Lord's Prayer As I Hear Them
Charles W. Allen
As an Episcopalian I regularly recite the Apostles' Creed and pray the Lord's Prayer. In doing so, I stand with Jesus' early followers as they struggled to find words that could frame how their lives were being renewed beyond comprehension. My life also is being renewed beyond comprehension, or so I'm convinced, as I try to live out the self-giving embodied in the common life Jesus began. But I live in a vastly different time and place from those of Jesus' early followers. My everyday assumptions about the world and how it works are vastly different, not final truths, mind you, but still different, and just as inescapable as people's everyday assumptions back then.
So when I stand with Jesus' early followers, using the words they used (or their English near-equivalents), I hear them differently. I find basic agreement with what they were trying to say, but if I were starting over today, with my and many neighbors' current assumptions, I would often use different wording, and so would many other worshippers if they stopped to think about the meaning of what they just said.
What I offer below are not substitutes for the traditional versions. I have used both devotionally, but only because I still recite and pray the traditional versions. The versions offered below simply convey how I hear what I recite and pray when I use time-honored liturgies.
The Apostles' Creed As I Hear It
I awaken trustfully to God,
ever-present yet incomprehensible,
from whom, through whom and in whom all things are.*
I awaken trustfully to the one light enlightening everyone,**
personally embodied in following Jesus as the Christ,
whose full humanity originates with the very life of God.
He was executed by the powers that be, sharing death and rejection faced by us all.
But neither death nor rejection could end or contain the common life Jesus began.
This self-giving life is again one with God's life.
Much more is to come beyond this story,
yet again and again all past and present lives are weighed and renewed in this self-giving common life.
I awaken trustfully to the moving of God's Spirit,
the holiness of sharing God's common life with all,
God's unconditional embrace,
and the receiving of every moment
into the boundless life of God. Let it be.
The Lord's Prayer As I Hear It
in, among and beyond us all,
defy us when we invoke your name to serve our own ends.
Open us and our world to the new life you are bringing,
and sustain us through our daily cares.
Bring peace to our conflicts with you, with others, with ourselves,
and shine through our fears of failure and death.
For our life together dwells always in the radiance of your empowering.
Let it be.