Transcript of Discussion with Marjory McPherson
I believe in the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body
and the life everlasting
Question: To what extent do the three lines of the creed we looked at today call us towards the present rather than being about the future…
They are very much about the present. In all our christian living there is a need to focus on the now. When I was a chaplain at Strathclyde there was very much a debate about when we talk to students should we talk about Jesus or Christ. When we talked about Jesus we talked about the daily life of Jesus: healing and community. When we talked Christ we talked more about what is next and our thinking was then around ‘The Saviour’ and ‘salvation’ and about the life to come. The church has gone through a lot of different periods in its history and at times the concern has been about what next or and at others it is about the here and now. If you were to think about slavery and the songs that come from that time, the songs of freed were about next life because their expectation was for the future for there was nothing tangible happening now for freedom. If look to Basic Christian Communities in Latin America and Liberation Theology, then we are in a Jesus land: this is about power for people now, not life to come. For those poor and oppressed we believe Jesus calls us to make a difference to that situation now.
Question: Is that what the writers of the Creed were imagining?
When the Creed was written they had an eye on both present and future: forgiveness of sins is so critical in the relationships we have: we’re human so a lot of things go wrong and estrangements and pain. Forgiveness sets us free to rebuild those present relationships.
When the Creed speaks of resurrection of the body: when writing that at the time there were heresies around saying you are a spiritual creature first and the body has ensnared you and you need to escape the body. The Church, therefore says the physical body matters and you need to feed it for your sake and another for we are, as Jesus was, physical people. So when talk of resurrection of the body it is about the present.
The sense of eternity in the Creed is about a quality of life rather than a quantity of life and that is also important in the present.
Question: This is the 5th week and it has been very liberating. When we distance ourselves from absolute literalism it is helpful. There were people there today who are not in habit of attending church and the wording we use is somewhat estranged from what people might understand. What scope is there to adapt for those with no church background and enable us to communicate better?
Marjory: I used to tutor a training course organised and written by the church called Training, Learning, Serving. It was centred round a number of weekends and one weekend was about what we believe: we’d write a creed and sent it out to students and ask them to write their own. It seems audacious to put something like that in your own words but people found it liberating and freeing for you say: here’s what I don’t believe and here are the things that really matter. Once you have done that, at a later stage, say 10 years later, you can look back on it and wonder: would I say the same thing after life has done things to me.
Often the language we use in church is like a secret: things we know that others don’t, particular rubrics, rituals, responses. Saying things in everyday language is the right way to go and be conscious what you are saying that if our doors are to be open people who come in would understand. What would I write? What is really precious to you now that you would you want to share with others.
Question: I’m minded to recall at one of the #Creeds: descended into hell and rose dead. There is a difference between resuscitation and resurrection. In many situations in the bible like with Jairus there may have been resuscitation but the resurrection was only to Jesus.
Marjory: With so many miraculous accounts of the events of Jesus there is a struggle to know what is going on. Jesus attached new meaning to things in terms of what he wants us to understand and know so the resurrection of Jesus is a point at which God says: love gives itself and says it is not over. What has been devastating to the disciples there is now life and not death. The word of God is all about new life and we can take that into all situations. We’re at an anniversary of Dunblane and we say we will not give the last word to what has been done. Resurrection makes that possible.
Question: There as so many parts the to Creed. What is the part that speaks most to you and is what you’d want to say you love most?
Marjory: The creativity of God: I believe in the creator. That has impact of everyone. We are co-creators so that is my favourite part. The creativity of people is amazing and we are part of that with God.
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