I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
And born of the virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
And sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy Christian church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting. Amen.
~The Apostles’ Creed, as recited by the Lutheran Church
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
Even though our brotherhood doesn’t recite it much, I love the Apostles’ Creed. And even though I believe many more things than are found in the Creed, I believe everything the Creed says. It’s a constant source of edification and comfort.
Yesterday, I stopped to visit a man who has a terminal illness. He told me his disease is so far advanced that he has requested that the doctors stop all treatments. Hospice has been called in. He told me of his constant, never-ending pain, and how much he has suffered.
I never know what to say in a situation like that. After all, there are no words that will fix the problem. But you have to try to say something. So I asked him if he recited the Apostles’ Creed at his church. He told me he did, every Sunday. I asked him if he believed in “the resurrection of the body” that the Creed tells about. He told me he most certainly did. I asked him if it was a wonderful promise, a promise that would make all things right again. He told me that the resurrection of the body was the most wonderful promise of all — and that he was looking forward to that Day.
Do you have guest towels in your bathroom? You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that are monogrammed, that the kids aren’t allowed to use. Truth be told, not only do your kids avoid using them, nobody uses them — not even guests. Although they’re beautiful to look at, they don’t dry anything very well. And if anybody ever dries his hands on them, the towels are really never the same again. They’re just for decoration.
I’ll bet along with the guest towels in your linen closet, you also have old towels. These may be a bit faded and frayed, but, my goodness, aren’t they handy? These are the towels you use to mop up chocolate milk when it gets spilled or to put under the wastebasket when somebody has the stomach flu. These rectangles of tattered cloth can take on a new-puppy-puddle, become an impromptu bib for a visiting toddler, or a cape for a young superhero.
So what’s the connection between the towels and the Creed printed above? Most of the time we use the words of the Scriptures and of the Creed as if they’re a set of guest towels. They’re beautiful to look at and to admire, but they don’t get much practical use. But, these beautiful, holy words are not just for decoration. They are sturdy enough to take on anything life dishes out — even terminal illness, pain and grief. We know these words a’re rugged and reliable because they’ve been tried and tested over the centuries. This week, whatever the need or trouble, be wise, and reach for and rely on the never-failing words of the faith. They’re not just for decoration.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 26 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he has a desk-job at a public school and teaches Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 20) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where a little girl stepped out on an “old towel” last Sunday after she was buried with Jesus in Holy Baptism.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.