If you’ve followed my blog over the years then you know I love the writing and teaching of Brian McLaren. This turns some people off, but many, many more people are finding in his books the kind of Christianity that they’ve longed for, that they’ve searched for, that they thought was all but dead. The good news is that it’s not dead at all, and is in fact growing and touching many more people everyday.
Anyway I’ve just been reading his brand new book “The Great Spiritual Migration.” It’s great so far, and you can probably expect to hear more about it here on the blog. One of the central themes of the book is the thought that we need to stop defining Christianity as a system of beliefs and start defining it as a way of life. What would that way of life look like? Well it would look like Jesus, of course, and Jesus was all about love. It was his main message. In this vein he talks about how our churches should become “schools of love.” One way to do this is to reinforce love in our services and liturgies.
I love liturgy. Even though I’m not Catholic I spent years as a cantor in one of the big Catholic churches here in northern Utah, and it instilled in me a deep love of liturgy and celebrating the mysteries of God and faith. McLaren suggests that one way we could reinforce love in liturgy is to write new creeds (or confessions if you prefer) that incorporate the phrase “We Love” instead of “We Believe.” Well, what can I say? Challenge accepted! Here’s one I wrote this morning taking as a basis some of the most famous words from scripture on love: 1 John 4. I call it the “Amor Credo” or “Love Creed.”
A confession of Love of God and Neighbor based on 1 John 4.
Leader: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”
People: “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another God abides in us and His Love is perfected in us.”
“We Love God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He has created all things and loves all things. He desires all to love him, and to learn to love like him.
We Love The Earth: For God created all things and saw that they are good. We are charged to care for His creation, to value it, to sustain it, and to use it’s resources responsibly when required.
We Love Our Church: Our brothers and sisters in Christ whom God has given us as companions to walk the path of life and love. We seek to love in perfect community where all are welcome.
We Love Our Family: Mothers, Fathers, Spouses, Children, and siblings. They are blood of our blood, flesh of our flesh, and love of our love. In these relationships we strive to love like the Christ in every way.
We Love Ourselves: However difficult that may sometimes be. Each one of us is perfectly and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator, blessed with different gifts and abilities that are to be utilized in His service to love as He loves.
We Love Our Neighbors: Whether close friend or stranger passed on the street. Like us, each of these people are made in the divine image of the Creator with the value inherent therein. All are to be loved and cherished.
We Love the Oppressed: We love and stand with those whom life has disadvantaged in different ways. Through this love, we strive for justice and mercy for all as required by God and instructed by the prophets.
We Love the Sick and The Dying: For these are perhaps the most vulnerable of all of God’s children. We seek to give them the care that they require, the comfort that they need, and the dignity that they deserve.
We Love The Hungry and Poor: We know that many of us still go without basic necessities. In a world blessed with so much, we know that this is a great wrong. Through our love we strive to feed them, to help them, and to respect them as people made in the divine image as well.
We Love The Prisoner: For none are beyond the grace, mercy, and redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We seek mercy and reconciliation in the name of Love.
We Love Our Enemies: For we know that even the lives of those who seek to harm us and others can be renewed and transformed when confronted with the sacrificial love of Christ. We strive to turn the other cheek and respond in love and mercy instead of violence and vengeance.”
Leader: “Beloved, we do not fear, for there is no fear in love, and perfect love casts out fear!”
People: “We love, because He first loved us and did not withhold his only son from us, who came to show us how to live, how to die, how to rise, and how to be redeemed.”
ALL: GLORY BE TO THE FATHER, TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING, IS NOW AND EVER SHALL BE, WORLD WITHOUT END, AMEN, ALLELUIA.
So there you have it. I picture this confession as something used in ordinary time. However, with a little tweaking I think there could easily be variants for Advent, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and Pentecost. As we approach the different seasons of the coming liturgical year, I’m going to try to adapt it (or write something similar) for these seasons.
If somebody out there sees it, likes it, and feels like they want to use it in a church, small group, or devotional setting: go for it. I’d be tickled pink if somebody actually did, and I’d love to hear about it! I put a lot of thought and effort into it, so credit would be cool, but ultimately the goal is for Christ to be glorified and for love to be taught and pondered, so I’m not stuck on it. It’s written to be used!
Be on the lookout here on the Path of Grace for more on Brian McLaren’s new book, reviews of some of the many great books I read over the summer, and even some more original liturgy and reflections upon the themes of our lives.