The creed of us
I am not what I would consider particularly creedal, although I am an Episcopalian. Nor am I exactly fond of articulating “my theology,” although I do hold close certain theological convictions. No, I prefer my speech about God to be contextual and circumstantial, and as I have mentioned before, I increasingly shy away from issuing sweeping prescriptions that I expect to hold for all time. The benefit I see in reciting creeds and stating theologies lies less in their ability to encapsulate who the God we worship is—for we cannot—than in their miraculous capacity to bind us together as a common creation, as ones who acknowledge and hold fast to and join together as a community (even when questioning and doubting) to express certain commitments. The creeds exist not so much that we may know God but that we may know ourselves—as ones full of grace and promise and dignity.
The beauty of creeds, the long-lasting, well-written ones anyway, is in their ambiguity. “Light from light, true God from true God?” What the hell? The assertion assumes multiple meanings throughout different ages and geographic locations; it morphs as we morph. But we morph together, as people of the creed, as people of God. We commit ourselves to searching our creation and one another for God’s presence, and in high liturgical churches, we remind ourselves of this pledge when we monotonically, stiltedly recite the words of the creed. In the midst of the everyday, though, in the hospital gift shop or the catheter lab or the Nashville freeway, we utter our creed, too: in the pensive looks we share, full of pain, worry, and hope, all at the same time, in stopping to gawk at but then hurriedly rush to the aid of the little girl who has fallen in the hallway, in allowing the frantic person to pass by us and continue on his way. In these acts of kindness, these acknowledgements of community, we remember that we are not about only ourselves; we exist as a part of a greater creation, and we experience its richness together. We bring our god into existence when we see one another, not simply as brunettes or Hispanic or tall or fat or old or plain but as fellow sojourners in our ongoing earthly discovery. If we do not recognize one another, we have failed truly to encounter God or our world.