Easter 2021 Letter


In the Baptismal Covenant the pastor asks, “Do you believe in God the Father?” The congregation answers with the first two lines of The Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” The pastor asks two additional questions, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” and “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?” Each time the congregation responds with the appropriate and succeeding lines from The Apostles’ Creed.

According to folklore, The Apostles’ Creed was piecemealed together by Jesus’ apostles. Historically, The Apostles’ Creed was used in the early church to summarize the important doctrines of the Christian Faith. The Apostles’ Creed functioned as a kind of catechesis (a fancy word for teaching) that prepared believers for the waters of Holy Baptism.

I am drawn to the ancient words of The Apostles’ Creed; they are time-tested having stood through various pandemics, revolutions, cultural shifts, technological advances, economic depressions, the fall and rise of nations, famine, and massive storms. The seventeen (17) lines of The Apostles’ Creed continue to stand as a powerful and sturdy witness to the Faith, especially in uncertain times.

I was surprised to notice that over half of the ink used in The Apostles’ Creed is centered on Jesus. According to my calculations, nine (9) lines or 52.941176460588% of The Apostles’ Creed is dedicated to telling us about Jesus. When the pastor asks, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” our response ought to be more than a mere affirmative. There is plenty that the Apostle’s Creed does not say. Nothing is mentioned about Jesus’ walking on the Sea, providing a surplus of bread to the multitudes, or healing the infirmed. No references are given to Jesus’ top ten parables, best sermons, or even his recruitment strategies. Instead, the Creed skips like a stone across a still pond, touching some of the important highlights when the church collectively says:


I believe 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, died, and was buried;


he descended to the dead.


On the third day he rose again;


He ascended into heaven,


is seated at the right hand of the Father,


and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

If the books on my shelf are any indication, there is plenty more that can and probably should be said of Jesus. However, The Apostles’ Creed provides us with the core of what needs to be said of Jesus. The Creed rapidly moves from Jesus’ miraculous birth to locate Jesus squarely in history (hence, the reference to the politician, Pontius Pilate). On Holy Thursday, April 1st during a Service of Darkness (7pm @ Mayville UMC) we are invited to recall the events that led to Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion. On Good Friday, April 2nd, we are welcome to retrace the steps of Jesus carrying his cross and his final breath (Noon @ Westfield Presbyterian). On Holy Saturday, April 3rd, may each one of us spend time in contemplation of Jesus’ descent.

On Easter Sunday, April 4th, my prayer is that we will gather (Sanctuary @ 10am) to celebrate the longest running holiday in the Christian faith. On Easter morning, with masks on and socially-distanced, we will hear the great hymns of our Faith declare in their own accents what the Scripture and The Apostles’ Creed have long proclaimed: “On the third day he rose again…” For those unable to attend Easter morning (or any Sunday service), recorded sermons are posted on the church’s Facebook prior to worship on Sunday’s and to the church website on Mondays. 

In the meantime, until we gather again, let us take our queue from The Apostles’ Creed and turn our hearts to Jesus Christ. Today and in the days to come, let us spend quiet time in prayer with Jesus. Let us read the Gospel accounts of the things Jesus said and did. Let us lift Jesus’ name on high as we listen to or sing-along to worship music on Youtube.com. Let us serve our neighbors and community members who are in need, and in so doing catch a glimpse in their faces, the face of Jesus. I suspect, if we attend to these “means of grace” the next time the pastor asks, “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” we might offer far more than the recital of an ancient creed.





Nicholas Perry, Pastor