The Mentor and the Manifesto

The Liturgy as Narrative

Part IV

Act II Scene I

The Sermon and the Creed

Our hero, confident in the path he’s chosen, picks up his pack and throws it over his shoulder. With a smile on a his face and a song in his heart, he steps through the door into the great wide world. He practically skips down the path to adventure. His goal nearly complete and the prize basically won and he’s only just getting started.

And then the path ends without even a sign for direction.

“Which way?” our hero asks, but no one is there to answer. The adventure is over.

This would be a great time for someone like Gandalf to drop in out of nowhere and say, “This way, my boy.”

And the adventure continues.

Mentors are necessary in stories to keep the plot rolling. In life the plot keeps rolling whether you have a mentor, or not, whether you know which to go, or not. Frankly, all the more reason to have a mentor.

A mentor does many things, but there is one part distinct to mentors; relating experience. Teachers train us in a given discipline. Parents guide us in ethics and morality. A mentor is a guide on the path we’ve chosen. They are the trailblazers and it’s their experience from which we benefit.

In the liturgy, the pastor takes on the Mentor role when he preaches. The sermon is even placed appropriately in our liturgical narrative; we’ve accepted the Call to Adventure, and we’ve gone Through the Door, bringing Act I to a close. Act II opens and our hero has to learn the details needed to accomplish the goal; the sermon.

Storytellers give this plot point different names. Something simple like “learning”, or as playful as “fun and games.” Depending on the preacher, it could be either.

What we expect from the sermon is for our pastor to relate to us their knowledge of Scripture and guide us in how we would apply it to our own lives. The Bible is a big book we can read and apply for ourselves, and we should, but we’re not in this alone. The pastor, as mentor, shows us how to get started. He also fills in the gaps and details we miss on our own. Like any mentor, their time is limited. A good pastor will not waste time, but focus their preaching on Christ and the Scriptures.

Time is limited. It’s a key point.

The Pastor cannot preach on the whole Bible every Sunday. We can’t read the whole Bible every Sunday, yet we want to keep God’s Word always at the forefront of our mind. Individually, we read the Bible daily, but when we come together for worship on Sunday, it’s just not feasible.

This is where a manifesto, a creed, comes into play.

One in particular, the Nicene Creed(1)Our church uses three creeds, the Nicene, Apostles and Athanasian. We recite the Nicene every Sunday, the Apostles on occasion and the Athanasian once a year. The Nicene has been the creed of choice, if you will, largely due to historical context. The Apostles Creed was developed prior to the Arian Controversy. The Nicene Creed accounts for this controversy and speaks against it by expanding on the description of the nature of Christ. The Athanasian Creed is exceptionally long for a creed and awkward to read aloud, so it only comes up once a year., is one we recite every Sunday. We recite it as a group to bring us together as a community in our common faith.

The Nicene Creed hits the highlights of the Christian faith in three succinct stanzas.

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only‐begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made; who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried. And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, and I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Nicene Creed(2)Each claim in the Nicene Creed has a scripture reference. For a wonderful chart listing the truth claim, the Scripture reference and even a hymn, check out Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds According to Scripture at Steadfast Lutheran.

With this foundation we can move forward in our story with confidence. Not that it’s easy. Conflicts are coming. Better to be prepared for them, then caught unaware.

(3)Picture Credit: Photo by Fabrizio Conti on Unsplash

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