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28 December 2019 | Vicar Writes

Of Creeds and Covenants

By Terry Wong

We need to reaffirm our creeds and renew our covenants (i.e. our promises and vows) from time to time. Our lives will be drifting, free-floating or going down the rabbit hole aka Alice in Wonderland - often heading into disaster zone - without these creedal anchors and the "ties that bind”, may it be family, marriage, friendships, church commitments or faith.

Coming to creeds, the important ones are the The Nicene Creed, The Apostles Creed and our Baptismal Creed. We don’t read The Apostles Creed enough, which ironically is better framed for a public confession. In part, this is because it is found in our Morning Prayer (Matins) liturgy but we don’t do Matins on Sunday. As for the Baptismal Creed, we get to reaffirm it during Easter Sunday and our New Year Services.

Why are these Creeds important? The most obvious reason is because they frame our Christian beliefs. As with all creeds, we need to reaffirm them as our beliefs can get unclear and woolly with time. Some of us may have been experiencing an overload of pain and suffering. Sometimes these tragedies can void us of any sense of meaning and purpose in life. There is just no energy left to carry on. Reaffirming these creeds steadies our lives, reminding us of the timeless grace and faithfulness of God.

The Creeds also join us with the communion of saints in space and time. Like Elijah, we realise that we are not alone (see his lament in 1 Kings 18:22 and the Lord’s reply in 19:18). In time, we affirm with believers through the ages. In space, we are reminded that we are part of a much wider Body. It is strange how narrow-minded some parts of the Christian family can be and we are so easily divided over many secondary issues. The Creeds remind us of what truly matter and what can bind us together regardless of race, culture, church affiliation and nationality.

If creeds remind us on what we should hold on to, covenants focus on our resolve to have a “long obedience in the same direction.” Confessions are one thing but it can be quite another to live them out consistently. The way promises and covenants work is that they are meant to be kept all the time. Imagine telling your spouse that you would like to remove your ring and have a short vacation from your marriage! If we only keep our promises some of the time, we know we have failed. This is one reason why we confess our sins, failures, shortcomings and renew our covenants regularly. It is confessing how much we need His grace, that we may be forgiven and renewed to live out our promises.

May we renew our faith and commitments as the year turns.

Have a Blessed New Year!