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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

09042016 15th Sunday After Trinity - Apostles Creed - “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth”

September 4, 2016
“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth”
If you have ever heard, Larry the Cable Guy, famous for the Prilosec commercials as well as his movie fame and comedy routines, he had a bit when he was a part of the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour”.  He would start, “I believe” and then rattle off something that he really believed.  His friends, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Ron White would join in his antics.  Though some of the things they believed in were at times funny or even a little off color, the premise of ‘believing in something’ is important.  For we who gather here today at Emmanuel this is especially true.
For we who gather here today, in a few minutes after the sermon and hymn, we will be confessing one of the Ecumenical Creeds of the Church.  Just as a refresher, there are three creeds that Christendom agrees upon and confesses in most liturgical churches, whether Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal or Anglican.  They are the Apostle’s Creed, the “I” or personal creed used mainly and specifically at Holy Baptism. The Nicene Creed used on communion Sunday’s like today as a “We Believe” or common confession.  And last the Athanasian Creed, which is used only once a year, because it is so long, but also it specifically confesses about the Trinity, the catch phrase being “Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity”.
Martin Luther used in his Small and Large Catechism the Apostle’s Creed and wrote clear explanations.  You remember “What does this mean?”  The Apostle’s Creed is the baptismal creed and was the first creed that was taught to new believers and converts prior to their baptism.  It clearly confesses Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, between now and Advent we will be exploring the Apostle’s Creed in order not only to more fully understand our faith, but to hear and see the biblical connection that can clearly be made with our confessing “I believe”.  This morning we begin with the First Article.
The First Article deals with God the Father and we confess, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”  So clear is the expression and connection of our faith that both the Apostle’s and Nicene Creed begin with the true confession, of “I believe” and “We believe” respectively.  With the Apostle’s Creed being taught historically in the early church the week before Holy Baptism, this confession not only solidifies the stories from the Holy Scriptures, but clearly connects the stories and the beliefs that have been passed down from generation to generation to our generation and to each of us today.
The First Article about God the Father encapsulates the importance of a personal faith in God.  When we confess it, we not only give a ‘nod’ to what the stories say, but they clearly refer to what God has clearly done, not only in creation, but also sustaining our world today.  Jesus even did this when He was asked by the Scribes and Pharisee’s what was most important.  Jesus refers back to the Old Testament and the teachings of the Law and what Moses, leader of the Israelite people wrote in Deuteronomy, “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!”  This confession of the Shema by Jesus and our confession in the Creeds by we today connects us with God in the most clear and unmistakable way.
Yet, why is this in question today?  For what purpose or reason would belief in God be an issue for Christians today?  The next part of the First Article of the Apostle’s Creed makes the connection for us in our day.  When we confess this Creed we boldly believe and Confess that God made heaven and earth. 
Our current culture doubts and even at times denies that God not only exists but that God created the heavens and the earth.  If you go to some museums whether in Denver, Kansas City or even Hays you hear about evolution and how plants and animals evolved and how the earth is billions of years old.  Its in our school curriculum and even television shows use evolution as not a theory, but a belief.  In fact, this week there was an article on a recently discovered fossil that showed life nearly 3 billion years ago.  Some place the blame on scientists for evolution.  But truthfully, that is more a philosophical question for another time.  As Pastor, I’m here to say, scientists are not to blame.  The real blame should rest on one individual.  This individuals’ first appearance came in the Garden of Eden.  It wasn’t Adam or Eve, but it was Satan.  Hence why when we confess our faith we begin with “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”  And with our Confession, Satan at every corner attempts to get us to doubt.
Satan wants us to doubt and deny God.  So when we boldly profess our faith with the Apostle’s Creed we not only thumb our collective noses at Satan, but we clearly confess and connect the biblical stories we have heard from our youth to our beliefs today.  For the real reason why we find in Holy Scriptures a clear connection and application in the Catechisms of Martin Luther is not only the truth found, but the boldest confession of faith.  This is why the stories of the Holy Bible were told to new believers first and not until they could retell the stories and then were preparing for Holy Baptism would the Apostle’s Creed not only be taught but explained in full.  Not only would this solidify the stories, but would clearly connect with the biblical doctrines and the faith that was being professed.
One of the most poignant examples of the connection of the stories of the Bible and how God the Father not only created the heavens and the earth comes from the most prolific writer of the New Testament.  Paul, convert to Christianity on the road to Damascus in Acts 14 says the following, “15 Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”

Paul is calling the people of Lystra to turn to the living God Who made heaven and earth.  The God we confess in the Apostle’s Creed.  Paul and Holy Scripture are trying to help empower each of us to confess our living God, and be empowered to boldly confess what Jesus Christ, Son of God did on Calvary.  For what we have heard today is not just the beginning of a belief in God, but a clear connection to the stories of Holy Scripture and a true confession of faith of all Christians in what We Believe when we boldly confess “I Believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.”  AMEN.

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