CUPC NEWSLETTER // March 2017
pastor's pen | from the session | announcement
PASTOR'S PEN/// What You Believe...
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves."
- 2 Corinthians 13:5a (New Revised Standard Version)
With Ash Wednesday (March 1), the Christian church embarked on the 40-day journey of Lent. Lent is the season in the church calendar where Christians are encouraged to 'give up' or 'take on' certain spiritual disciplines to intentionally prepare oneself for the celebration of Jesus' resurrection on Easter. In the Early Church, converts spent the season preparing for their baptism on 'Easter Eve' by engaging in various spiritual disciplines and learning the teachings of the faith. The Apostles' Creed is said to be one of the creeds that was used in teaching the Christian faith to those early converts.
During this Lenten season, our church is using the time to examine this Apostles' Creed - based on the book by Adam Hamilton: Creed - What Christians Believe and Why. The Apostles' Creed is one of the earliest 'creeds' that Christians developed and has been used over the centuries. To me, the Apostles' Creed is important NOT because every Christian can (and will) embrace every single aspect of the creed. It's important because it speaks to the importance of understanding how/why creeds have developed over the course of the history of Christianity and how what you believe affects how we live our lives as Christ's followers.
Throughout the history of Christianity, creeds were developed as Christians tried to articulate their various understandings of who God is, who Jesus was, what the church is and what it is called to do, among many others. The context of the time shaped the way in which creeds were formed and what was being articulated. Over time, newer creeds might restate or reinterpret what was said in older creeds. Sometimes, they developed a certain aspect of a creed more fully. Sometimes, they 'corrected' or 'contradicted' what was said earlier - again, based on the context of that particular creed. In a way, creeds are a living proof that our faith is alive and God continues to reveal Godself constantly in new and different ways.
It is interesting to examine the Apostles' Creed because it's the first formal creed that we have (second/third century). It's short, but you can see how the early Christians needed to clarify certain beliefs as the number of followers grew and the faith passed from one generation to the next. For example, they needed to clarify that God was a relatable, personal Being who longs to have a close relationship with us like a father (mother/parent/etc.). They needed to clarify and profess that Jesus was the Son of God, their Lord, who was human, but was also God who conquered death. And the list goes on...
It's important to know what you believe about God - it changes the way you see your relationship with God if you see God as a loving parent, as opposed to a distant deity that's unknowable. It's important to know how you see Jesus - if you believe that he is really your Lord, his words will most likely have a bigger impact on the way you live your life in relationship with God and others. If you believe Jesus as the divine Son of God who died and was resurrected, you'll most likely see life and death in a different light.
By examining the Apostle's Creed in depth this Lent at CUPC, my prayer is that it will help all of us examine our own faith and what we believe. If we aren't able to articulate what we believe and why (even if it isn't fully developed quite yet, or we don't know for sure), we certainly can't share or pass on our faith to others. If we are able to reflect and articulate what we believe, it also helps us to make a connection between what we believe and how that may affects the way we live out our faith. This then could lead us to developing more of, or shedding away the attitudes, words and behaviors that we find life-giving or life-depleting.
As in the Bible verse above, it's important to examine ourselves. It's important to examine what you believe and why - because ultimately it helps us to mature in faith and cultivate a deeper relationship with God and with others. It enables us to live more faithfully to the calling that God calls each of us to. Much like the numerous creeds in the history of Christianity, our faith (hopefully!) will continue to develop, be challenged, expand, re-stated over our lifetimes - but in every moment along that journey, I think it's such an important discipline to be able to reflect, articulate, and live out what we truly believe. So...what do YOU believe and why? How does it affect how you live out your faith? Hope you can come join, reflect and discern with us!
Pastor Grace Kaori Suzuki
pastor's pen | moments from CUPC session | announcement
FROM THE SESSION///
The session, acted on the following item on February, 2017:
Everyone is invited to attend our regular session meetings. The next regular session meeting is on March 26, 2017 at 12 pm. If you are interested in how the session, our governing body, discusses ministry at CUPC, please come and join us! You are also welcome to read the minutes, which are public documents. The minutes are available in the church office.
- Approved to put a business size ad in the Rosa Parks Japanese Bilingual-Bicultural Program annual celebration program on 3/11.
pastor's pen | moments from CUPC session | announcement
Come hear Rev. Ron Chin!
Please come to the Midweek Fellowship & Study on Wednesday, April 19th at 7 pm. Rev. Chin will talk about his book A Stanford Degree Won't Get You into Heaven. Rev. Chin is a graduate of Stanford University (BS Industrial Engineering) and UC Berkeley (MBA) and worked in the Silicon Valley for over ten years before answering God's call to ministry. If you want more details, please contact Rod S. at (415) 567-3988.