The Apostle's Creed in a Time of Pandemic
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, people were unable to join together physically in their churches last Sunday. However, many individuals tuned-in online with their congregations, confessing together The Apostle’s Creed as part of a larger service.
The Apostle's Creed is a statement of belief that outlines the teachings of Jesus’ original apostles and it is accepted and affirmed by many Christian denominations. It originally stems from the Old Roman Creed and is mentioned by its present name by the Church Father Ambrose around the year 400 A.D. Martin Luther used it in his Small Catechism as teaching outline for the Trinity.
People derive comfort from both faith and routine, especially in a time of upheaval and uncertainty. This easily-recited statement of faith, based on the clear teachings of Scripture, gives great comfort. Here are some additional thoughts about the Apostle’s Creed, informed by Scripture and Luther’s Small Catechism, as they apply to today’s pandemic.
“Teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12).
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.
I believe that God created me. He created all the people in this world. He created everything in the whole universe. Nothing in this world is an accident; everything in this world is allowed by a good God with plans beyond my own understanding.
“By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3).
I thank the Lord for His good gifts, including every person’s body and each and every part of that body, including the immune system. I pray that through the good gift of reason, each of us will do what we can to serve one another, both body and soul, whether that is isolating with the potential to stop the spread of illness, or going out to provide for the physical needs of others. I ask God’s special blessing on those with jobs in the front-lines of defense against this virus.
“There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. … As the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. … You are the body of Christ, and members individually” (1 Cor.12:4-6, 12, 27).
The Creator provides everything I need, both richly and daily. There is an abundance to give thanks for, even during a pandemic. I pray that those who have extra share willingly with those who are without, and thus serve as God’s providential hand to others.
“The eyes of all look expectantly to You, And You give them their food in due season” (Ps. 145:15).
The same God who created humankind also has authority over the world He made. He offers physical protection as He wills, and offers spiritual protection to all through the blood of Christ. God’s role in the world is not afar off, but active and involved, purely out of His love. Everything good, true, and beautiful in the world comes from the hand of God, the source of all goodness, including opportunities to serve one another.
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out” (Rom. 11:33). “‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
Even amid suffering, tragedy, uncertainty, and death, because of my redemption in Christ, there is so much for which I can thank God, so much that, until now, has been easy to take for-granted, unrecognized as gift.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary...
God became man and dwelt among us. My Savior knows the frailty of the body, and He was tempted with all of the fears and anxieties humans face. He was once a baby growing within His mother, and a child living on earth. He understands the special concerns I have over this delicate population, and also for the elderly. He watches over and protects everyone His hand has knit together.
“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139:14-16)
[Jesus Christ]...suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
My Savior was humiliated and died on my behalf, with me in mind! He gave His life instead of letting God punish me for my sins. I have peace with God through Jesus! Pestilence and disease are not a sign of God’s feelings toward me, but rather a result of sin in the world. However, Jesus’ death defeated of sin, death, and the power of the devil, as well as sin’s guilt, punishment, and power (Rom. 6:14). There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace” (Rom. 5:1-2).
He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty.
Christ burst His prison-tomb! Because He did this, I know death is not the end of life, but the passageway into Life eternal! Jesus has all authority over sickness, disease, and even death! He is in Heaven now, victorious, preparing a place for me to dwell after my sojourn on earth.
“I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26). “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2,3).
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
Jesus may come back any minute, any hour, any day. Because Jesus will judge righteously, I have no need to judge the actions or hearts of others. I repent of my sins, both known and unknown, and I have a sense of urgency to share God’s unconditional forgiveness and eternal hope with others.
“At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11). “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church.
The Holy Spirit creates and strengthens faith through the Word within each member of the Church, wherever he or she may be. We may be separated from physical fellowship with one another during this time of isolation, but we still cling to one another in the same faith and confession from afar. While I most often think of my contemporaries, the holy Christian church is not limited to the present. It transcends time: My life is intertwined with all of the believers who have gone before me, as well as those who will come after. In many cases, I do not even know their names, but God knows them all.
“Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20)
[I believe in] the communion of saints.
There are those in my midst and in the scattered Church with weak faith, but God will not forsake us (Is. 42:3). I pray for my dear friends in the faith who are anxious and struggling at this time. I also remember to consider my thoughts against others, and be humble. There is so much for which other Christians could be judgmental about with one another; instead, we are called to communion and patience.
“Walk...with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, ...one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all…. [B]e kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:1-6; 32).
[I believe in] the forgiveness of sins.
Christ has forgiven me for all of my sins of cynicism, worry, selfishness, despair, impatience, and anger. He empowers me to live my life in thanksgiving, saying no to the temptations of the flesh. He opens my eyes to the diverse motives and needs of my neighbors, strengthening me to forgive them as I have been forgiven.
“The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn.1:7-9).
[I believe in] the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
Even though the chances this virus causing my death are slight, unless Jesus comes back first, I will die of something. I do not know when that day or hour will come, but I do not have to be afraid. For me to live, is Christ, and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). I am God’s own beloved child, eager to see the wonders He has in store for me in Heaven, a beautiful, happy place with all of the wonders of earth, but none of the sorrows (2 Peter 2:3; Rev. 21). Comforted by the sure hope of my eternal home, I want others, especially at this time of fear and uncertainty, to know that same peace.
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14).
Lord, have mercy. Christ, come quickly! Amen.
You might also be interested in The Lord's Prayer in a Time of Pandemic
or Devotion: Sanctifying Fear (Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood)
Mrs. Marie K. MacPherson, vice president of Into Your Hands LLC, lives in Mankato, Minnesota, with her husband Ryan and their children, whom she homeschools. She is a certified Classical Lutheran Educator (Consortium for Classical Lutheran Educators), author of Meditations on the Vocation of Motherhood (2018), and editor of Mothering Many: Sanity-Saving Strategies from Moms of Four or More (2016).
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