by Rev. Bill Denham
I remember learning my ABC’s in kindergarten. I remember learning my times tables, with flash cards, in the 3rd grade. I don’t remember learning any creeds. I don’t remember learning any because I was not reared in a church which had them. I am glad that each of my children has learned and that each of my grandchildren will learn the Apostles’ Creed.
We are blessed that we have creeds, several of them in fact. The one we say most often is the Apostles’ Creed.
Repetition is key in learning. Repeating over and over and over again our ABC’s and two-times-two-equals-four cemented in our minds the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics. The repetition of saying the Apostles’ Creed in our worship services on Sunday mornings cements in our minds the basics of our faith. We believe in a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We affirm our faith in this Triune God when we recite this creed. More importantly, it gives us a concrete description of our faith that we can share. If someone asks us what we believe in, we have it in a nutshell. It’s there. Because we have said it so many times, it comes easily off our tongues as it expresses the sentiment of our hearts. We have it so ingrained that we can use these words as the foundation of sharing the “good news” with the rest of the world.
We are walking with Jesus in these last days of Lent, as he makes His way towards Jerusalem, the end of his earthly life, and his glorious resurrection. Twenty-one words in the Creed deal with these specific events. We know what is going to happen with Pontius Pilate. We know that Jesus was crucified. We know that Jesus was buried. We believe that Jesus rose on the third day and ascended into heaven. When we profess this every week, we remember, and are drawn ever closer to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Through the centuries men and women of God have presented the Holy Trinity in ways that people could remember. When St. Patrick began his quest to convert the Irish to Christianity, one of the tools he used to explain the Holy Trinity was the three-leaf clover, found all over Ireland. Three petals, in equal parts, but all part of the other. It was simple and effective.
For this same reason, the early fathers constructed the Apostles’ Creed. The three parts of the Trinity, each identified, and combined in a statement of faith in ninety-two words. How blessed we are to have this verbal-three-leaf-clover to memorize, to take to heart, and to share with others, not only during the season of Easter, but every day of the year.