What’s your favourite flavour?
Remember as a child poring over the ice-cream counter trying to choose that flavour? In my childhood they didn’t have ‘cookies and cream‘or ‘rocky road’ or ‘walnut-caramel- blue cheese and pear with hundreds and thousands!! (I made that last one up!).
This week we’re considering what changed as a result of the Reformation. One change was a proliferation of Protestant denominations. Once one group broke away from the existing institution, a precedent was set which others followed.
When you break away from anything, you need to define your new position. So a major task in early Protestantism was writing confessions of faith (sort of long creeds of belief.) The Presbyterian Church of the USA has a Book of Confessions listing several written since 1517.
They include The Scots Confession,(1560) The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), The Second Helvetic Confession,(1566) The Westminster Confession of Faith,(1647) The Theological Declaration of Barmen, (1933), The Confession of 1967, “A Brief Statement of Faith– Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”(c. 1983) and The Confession of Belhar (1986). Whew!
It’s tempting to make do with something as simple as Leunig’s translation of the Golden Rule (The Golden Rule appears in all Abrahamic faiths)
These days we’re not so interested in believing a bunch of propositions, creeds or confessions. We’re more inclined to embrace the spiritual journey with an unknown destination but known companions, and to trust the journey itself.
‘Belief’ in the ancient world did not mean subscribing to a set of ideas, it meant trusting the object of your belief. Remember in David Griebner’s story The Carpenter and the Unbuilder the Unbuilder helped the carpenter let go of the need to build houses in which he could hide from the journey? The story ends this way:
Silently they sat through the morning in the carpenter’s front yard. Slowly it began to seem as though they were already on the journey. As that feeling grew and grew, it suddenly didn’t seem like any decision needed to be made; it just happened. With a deep sense of freedom, they were off.
Many of the days went just like that, new steps out of silent beginnings and pure desires. They simply waited until the sense of journeying wrapped itself around even their waiting, and then they were off without worrying whether they were on the “right” path or not. In the stillness of their hearts they made room for the paths and the path seemed to come to them.
Of course the carpenter still felt the need to build a home from time to time. The unbuilder made sure he understood what he was doing and then let him do it if he really wanted to. While the carpenter laboured, the unbuilder, his guide and friend, would continue the silent waiting in the yard under the tree, and soon they would unbuild yet another house and begin the journey again.
Thank you for your company on the Reformation path we have taken in October. I’ve enjoyed the month – hope you did too. If you didn’t, don’t worry it won’t happen for another 500 years!
Next week, Nov 5, we will farewell Karyn Bishop within the Gathering. There will be the usual cuppa, then we will gather after the service for the AGM. See you there, Susan
What’s your favourite flavour?