This past Sunday we started on a long, perhaps even permanent, process of finding words that express our faith. People of faith have been doing the same thing for centuries. No sooner had Jesus returned to His Father than his friends started talking and writing about what they believed about Jesus. Groups of the faithful followers would get together and talk endlessly and write copiously about the faith Jesus had awakened in them.
Some of those documents are still with us after hundreds of years. You may know one of those statements as the Apostles Creed. It was spoken of as early as the fourth century, but many believed its origins were with the twelve friends of Jesus who first followed him. You may have said the Nicene Creed each week in your church. It was written in 325 AD in Nicaea, Turkey, by a group of faith people who had met to talk about what they believed. People have been meeting, talking and writing about their faith ever since.
In talking about our faith at Soul Café we are simply continuing that ceaseless tradition.
No doubt our statement will not supplant the Apostles or the Nicene statements. However, the words we use about our faith may have some differences that could be seen as advantages. Not because our words are better, or more precise, or more correct but because they will be our words. They will be our Ledbetteran dialect. They will be in the metaphors that have meaning to us.
Secondly, our words of faith will not be words that come from the top down telling us what we MUST believe. They will be words that come from the bottom up about what we have come to believe through struggle and doubt, the birth of new calves and the planting of gardens, hard knocks and beautiful sunsets as seen from our front porches. They will be words used in humility. Like a creed without dogma. Like a statement of faith that opens a door for people to come in rather than a test of correctness to keep them out. Here is the reality: We don’t know almost everything. A good statement of our faith should remember that.
Here will be a big difference that will perfectly picture the kind of people you are. It will be a faith expression connected to a real world. An expression that will connect us not just to God but to our work, to our play, to our family, to our neighbors and ultimately to our world. We will have no time to talk about abstract theological ideas that cannot shake hands with a neighbor and make a deal that is as good as your “word”. Our talk about our Heavenly Father must connect us to our earthly neighbors and to our earthly habitat. Words of faith that do not make that connection soon turn moldy green with rancid smell. All God talk must become talk about how we treat and behave toward one another.
There is no telling what this process will produce. It will be messy because we are a mess. It will be incomplete because we are incomplete. So, we will make certain to write our words with a number 2 pencil on the pages of a Big Chief tablet to facilitate the inevitable changes we will want to make following our next illness or loss. After the birth our next kiddo or after our next fishing trip. After all the things that give opportunity for our faith to grow and mature.
No one will be asked to sign this document. I wouldn’t even sign a document that I had written. This is just an attempt to find common ground from which we can take our next step toward God and toward our neighbor.
We started this past Sunday with the most elemental beginning. God IS. That’s it. It’s not all. It’s just where we can begin. Let’s get together Sunday to talk about what difference that makes.