Sunday, April 08, 2012

Christ is Risen Indeed!

Christ is risen Indeed! The celebration of the most joyous day of the Christian calendar begins with these words at worship services throughout the world. Jesus has overcome death, and on the picture to the right painted by Flemish painter Gerard Seghers at about the time the Pilgrims came to America, Jesus holds his resurrection banner aloft, looking quite European.

We have been looking at what Chistians believe and statements of faith for the past few days of Holy Week. The following statement of faith is often used in Congregational and UCC churches:

Statement of Faith

We believe in God the Father, infinite in wisdom, goodness and love, and in Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord and Savior, who for us and our salvation lived, died, and rose again and lives evermore; and in the Holy Spirit who takes the things of Christ and reveals them to us, renewing, comforting, and inspiring the souls of men.

We are united in striving to know the will of God as taught in the Holy Scriptures and in our purpose to walk in the ways of the Lord made known or to be made known to us. We hold it to be the mission of the Church of Christ to proclaim the gospel to all mankind, exalting the worship of the one true God and laboring for the progress of knowledge, the promotion of justice, the reign of peace, and the realization of human brotherhood. Depending as our fathers did, upon the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, we work and pray for the transformation of the world into the Kingdom of God; and we look with faith for the triumph of righteousness and the life everlasting.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday: A Sad and Solemn Day for Christians

Good Friday. The saddest and most solemn day in Christendom. It is only in the past few years in the United States that commerce has not stopped completely on this day, its official commemoration ruled as  an illegal linkage between church and state. In this painting, the unknown Hungarian painter has made the scene of Jesus' crucifixion look a great deal like 1476 Hungary. Note the castles in the background of the picture and the pointed shoes on the men to the right of the cross.

For over 2,000 years, Christians worldwide have been united in their faith. (Well, that may greatly overstate the unity, as Europe was overrun with religious wars for quite a while, and even America was begun through religious backlash.) Generally speaking, most Christians agree on great principles of the religion.   The Nicene Creed, over 1,00 years older than the painting is one summary:

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The picture above is from the vast collection of important paintings at the Web Gallery of Art, a virtual museum, which also features a mobile application for viewing its contents from your cell phone.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Maundy Thursday: Jesus Washes the Feet of the Disciples

It's Holy Week, and today, Maundy Thursday, commemerates  Jesus washing the feet of his disciples (The Apostles), an act of humility. It is also a day linked to the Apostles Creed. an ancient statement of the Christian faith attributed to the disciples of Jesus.

Apostles Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,[31]
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

The picture of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples is from the website of the Holy Transfiguration Skete, a Catholic Monastery of the Byzantine rite, in Eagle Harbor, Michigan, who strive to work for the upbuilding of God's Kingdom through the arts.