Each Sunday during Lent, our congregation has been saying an affirmation of faith adapted from the United Church of Canada. We aren’t a particularly creedal congregation, so we don’t do affirmations very often. However, I wanted everyone to know this one. Unfortunately, we are one of those modern congregations in which people don’t come every Sunday, so I’m not sure it is having the desired effect.
This past Sunday, as someone was going out of church, they held their bulletin in their hand and said they were taking it home so they could read the “poem” again. Seeing the puzzled look on my face, she pointed to the affirmation and then asked if I had written it. I tried to explain what it was, but I gave up pretty quickly. I did tell her, though, that memorizing it was exactly what I had hoped for. I didn’t add that my delusion was that people would come to church often enough that the phrases would plant themselves in their memories.
It is interesting how often phrases from old hymns, scriptures, or liturgies from when I was young float to the surface. I guess I attended church with enough regularity that they engraved themselves upon my soul. I generally am grateful for that, though there are a few I’d just as soon forget.
As we move toward the end of Lent, I think about Jesus upon the cross crying out, “My God, my God, why hast though forsaken me?” which, of course, I remember from the old King James Version of the Bible. Jesus was quoting the 22nd Psalm of his childhood. I’ve always wondered what song or psalm or quote will rise to the surface when I come to the end of my journey.
I know I can’t determine that for other people, but I want to try to offer some good options, which is why we have been saying the same affirmation of faith every Sunday during Lent. I don’t know what my congregation will think about or remember in a moment of crisis, but they could do worse than to remember these words with which the affirmation ends:
In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.
Rev. Michael Piazza
Affirmation of Faith Adapted from the United Church of Canada
One: Together let us affirm our common faith:
All: We are not alone, we live in God’s world. We believe in God who has created and is creating; who has come to us in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new; who works in us and others by the Spirit. We trust in God. We are called to be the Church, to celebrate God’s presence; to live with respect in creation; to love and serve others; to seek justice and resist evil; to proclaim Jesus’ message of hope, inclusion, and grace. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God.