I politely stood when the congregation stood and hoped no one noticed my mouth wasn’t moving. I read along in my bulletin as they spoke the words, a little off on the beat here and there.
But I wouldn’t say things I didn’t believe, and I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of chanty, culty, brainwashy stuff this was.
“I believe in one God…”
I didn’t realize this Lutheran church recited one of the creeds every Sunday, just like I hadn’t realized they took communion every Sunday. It took a few repeat visits before I caught on (I’m liturgically slow).
Every Sunday, I read the words and thought about what they meant. I’d heard about credal churches. Suffocating places that made you say certain magic words before you could join the club. Extra-biblical, they’d told me.
But how were these words anything but a summary of the Bible?
These creeds didn’t contain any deal breakers for me.
They didn’t say, “We believe God created the world in six days” or “We believe you have to take the most literal interpretation of scripture that you can possibly find”.
They didn’t say anything at all about a woman’s role or pacifism or faith healing.
There were no doctrinal stumbling blocks for me in these creeds.
I started to understand that the creeds didn’t say, “We believe only this…” but rather “We believe at least this…” Where some people see restrictions, I see freedom.
Christians all over the world, in different traditions that wouldn’t normally agree on much, stand up together on Sunday mornings and as one body recite the same words Christians have recited for centuries. And that’s a powerful thing to be a part of.
And even though I’m a denominational orphan, and I’m not sure which tradition could possibly stomach me, I can stand up on Sunday morning with the church and I belong.