Why Do We Recite the Creed?

About a month ago, King's Cross introduced the Apostle's Creed to our regular Sunday Worship liturgy.

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
*the universal church of all times and all places

And while we are still adjusting to the new elements (we'll figure out the projector issues... I promise) and service order (I'm sure it will feel very natural soon!), I've had a number of people ask me, "Why do we recite the creed?" It's a very fair question, especially if you did not grow up reciting it at church every Sunday morning. I have many answers for this question but I'll try to limit myself to just a few.

It gets into us and is formative for us as a church.

I believe the practice of reciting the creed is formative for us as a church. There is something in the practice of what we do that shapes us internally through repetition. If you've been worshiping with us for a while, perhaps lines from The Lord's Prayer have made their way into your daily life? (e.g. "Lead me not into temptation..." or "[maybe a sigh here]... Thy will be done.") In my early childhood, my parents put me in preschool at a neighborhood church and every morning we recited Psalm 23 in the King James Version---I had no idea what it meant! For example, the very first verse is, "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." As a four year old, this was extremely confusing; why would I not want the shepherd? It wasn't until high school that I found a translation that, instead of "I shall not want," had, "I shall not be in want."---and then another: "I have everything I need." But as a child, I recited it anyway and while I may not have understood it and had merely recited itas an exercise, I cannot count the number of times this word has taken life in me and reminded me, "Even though I walk through the valley... I will not fear for you are with me."

It is my hope that our regular practice of the creed will get into us to remind us daily of---and challenge us regularly in---our faith.

It is public witness

Not only is it something that forms us, it is also a very succinct proclamation of our faith. It expresses the content of our faith when many today may want to associate religion and faith as something that we feel or experience (it includes that, but it also has content). When the nation of Israel gathered for worship (and this continues today), they often rehearsed their faith together, "Hear Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one!" (Deut 6:4) not just to remind themselves but also so that the surrounding nations and peoples would know the LORD, the God of Israel. It is a practice that God's people have rehearsed through the ages and is still a practice that continues today.

It reminds us of our corporate identity

The last reason I'll highlight is that this practice, which has been exercised through the ages, reminds us that our faith is beyond us. We have the faith because God has sustained it in his church through his people by the Holy Spirit. We have the faith today because people have suffered for the Gospel in order that the message may come to us untarnished. It is a gift from the church to the church, and as we recite this creed, we join and identify with the historical church that has preserved, protected, and proclaimed this faith all over the world, throughout time, and in every language. Before we recite the creed, the presider of service often will likely say something to the effect of, "And now let us confess our faith together, joining with the church in all times and places." It comes quick, but there's a lot in that statement for us to chew on.

Again, this is by no means an exhaustive list of reasons, but it is my hope that as we grow as a church, that our worship would also grow in breadth and depth as we live into our identity as the Body of Christ.

Portraits of Grace: Amy (2 of 2)

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

Photo by Minnow Park

I was catching up with my friend one day and suddenly came to a point where I said, “It’s difficult going to therapy and facing all these things, but I am proud and happy to be a woman of God.” That was probably the first time saying that specific thought out loud. I started to laugh uncontrollably. It’s similar to when you’re first dating someone and you say, “Yeah, we’re dating” with that giggle and it’s a little awkward. It’s kind of like that, but it’s better because it doesn’t change; it just is. I’m still working on things and it’s not perfect, but now I’m comfortable saying it - that I’m a woman of God.

Prayer Beyond Petition Towards a Person

Dear King's Cross Friends,

This Sunday we kicked off our new sermon series called “Considering Prayer: A Pilgrimage Through Psalms, Epistles and Gospels.” It was something that was stirred as we approached our third year anniversary as a church congregation that we as a community have so much to give thanks for. For the way God has grown the church, the depth of community that is centered on conversations on the gospel and also a deep conviction that our faith is to be engaged with a larger Flushing community. Over the last three years, we have seen our Flushing neighbors from different walks of life enter into the life of the church. Friendship were formed from spheres that I am convinced would have never crossed into. I saw a group of unchurched nomads get rooted in our community and sought to bring others into a covenant community of worship and also to serve our neighbors in a meaningful way of self giving.

As I look back, there were so many moments when we gathered as a church to pray; Our community Praise and Prayer that people gathered to pray for the church and for its witness to the Flushing community, in our Community Groups at King’s Cross, we would have joint prayer meetings, then in our Sunday service, I am always moved by the rich corporate prayers as well as the time of reflection at the end of service.

I realized that so much of what has stirred in the life of the church has been through a constant thread of consistent prayer. It was not something that was evident but like all precious things, they are often hidden and whispered instead of being trumpeted or proclaimed. I know that as a church men and women were gathering weekly to pray; it was not driven by a program or an obligation but a disciplined of grace.
So, we are going to go on a pilgrimage towards an intersection of the divine with the earthly. I pray that the sermon series will be a time of directed attention to how God brought us through as a community and also individually. It is with a great expectant heart that I hope these weeks will be one of nourishment to the grace that is availed to us in prayer.

Prayer Beyond Petition

One of the first instinct of prayer is to pray of petition, to ask God for something. Usually it is a simple personal desire or sometimes is a crisis that has moved us to a sense of helplessness that only God can rescue us. It is through that moment there is a clarity…Who we are and how little control we have in our circumstances and God draws us near. It is He who initiates and in that initiation, He is bringing us close. Not as some cosmic fast food cashier who is there to take your order of what you want to have this particular day; But a God who drew near so you can commune with him and to not simply conduct the activity of prayer but rather to have a posture of prayer that is shaped by intimate dependence, desperation, delight and desire for God.

Eugene Peterson writes, “there is a difference between praying to an unknown God whom we hope to discover in our praying, and praying to to a known God, revealed through Israel and in Jesus Christ, who speaks our language.” It is a God who is there. That is what is so profound about this precious moment of prayer, God is making Himself vulnerable to us. He is giving of His presence to us.

Towards a Person

Last night, as I tried to teach our boys ( 5 and 7 year old) to pray through each finger of the hand that represents an item for petition. The thumb is the closest finger so we pray for those who are closest to us; index finger, because it points to pray for those who points us to something we can learn from, so we pray for teachers; the middle finger because it is the longest and tallest, we pray for the leaders of government here and abroad; the ring finger because it is the weakest finger, we remember to pray for those who are sick, poor and weak (they boys loved this one because they were reminded to pray for my parents who are suffering a cold this week) and lastly the pinky finger to pray for ourselves because we are to consider others before ourselves. This was a practical way to cover different spheres and the kids really caught on. Throughout scripture, God invites us to raise prayers for the concern for His kingdom and we should be driven to resist coming to God for need but rather for a prayer that is “kindle by grace.”

After we put the boys to bed, my wife Jamie said there were all petitions and we need to teach our kids about who God is. His attributes and His character of sovereign grace, tender mercies and intimate empathy as our prayer is fused into the presence of a God who has shown his character. That is why the opening Psalm, the writer sings “Blessed is the man … [whose] delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2). The law is the instruction and it points to knowing and finding delight in the character of God. The Psalm doesn’t start with a prayer of petition but rather a prayer of showing our delight and later in Psalm 2, our refuge. So, we come to God knowing who He is and also who we are; we are not beggars, slaves or enemies but rather as sons and daughters of the living God.

So today, let’s take a moment to consider who we are praying to today. Consider who He is and what He desires for us to know about Him. Think upon that attribute and give praise for that. If you are in a distant place with God then consider…Is the God of the Bible ever considered distant…If you feel shame for what you have done this past week, then where does God shame us beyond what was accomplished on the cross? If you are feeling angry because God didn't come through for you in a situation you asked for…Is it your will or His? If it is His then is His will ever been shown to be bad?

Let’s warm our hearts to God. Not just simply for what we want but rather for who He as revealed to us in Christ.

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday Worship as we consider this invitation to pray and it is my desire that it will strengthen our church to His will for us to be Kingdom Minded, Kingdom People.

Remaining in Him,
Peter Ong

Portraits of Grace: Amy (1 of 2)

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

Photo by Minnow Park

A defining moment in my life was finally deciding to go to therapy. I was afraid to admit certain desires I had, such as being married and wanting a family. It all seemed to be the perfect mold of a “Christian life”. I used to think I wasn't meant to get married or have a family; I was going to remain single. But when I was honest with myself, I did have desires of committing to marriage and having kids. So that was the ultimate push. I stepped into therapy to grow in faith, to help others, and ultimately not hinder my future family. It was helpful to see that therapy wasn’t just for me. (1/2)

Portraits of Grace: Rob (2 of 2)

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

Photo by Minnow Park

Growing up in a Christian family with a dad who’s a pastor- my adolescent life was consumed with doubt . Every night I asked God to save me because I thought, “I sinned today so I must not be a Christian. I don’t feel God. I don’t feel like I love him. I’m not experiencing him. I need to ask Him into my heart again." I’d go through this cycle and this didn't change until college. God started putting people in my life and opening my eyes to what the gospel really was about. That it was not me holding on to Him but Him holding onto me. That I was able to leave that doubt behind, and have the full assurance of knowing that I can rest in Him. But as long as I was trying to base my faith on what I experienced- there was so much doubt. (2/2)

The blog is coming back (and other things too)

Today marks our actual three year anniversary. On October 14, 2012, a group of young adults from Living Faith Community Church planted a new congregation in Downtown Flushing: King's Cross Church; it has been a very eventful three years. Yet, while we have been serving our community and growing in knowledge and practice of the Gospel, we have not had shared much of that here, on our website.

As we approach pass this three-year milestone, we want to start sharing more of our story here on our blog and we invite you to follow us as we highlight the work the God is doing in and through the lives of our people at King's Cross.

We will also be introducing a new project called Portraits of Grace, where we introduce you to members of our church as they share stories from their lives. We look forward to sharing that with you all.

Portraits of Grace: Rob (1 of 2)

Portraits of Grace is a snapshot into the lives of the people at King's Cross Church. As "kingdom minded, kingdom people," we recognize God's work in every detail of our lives. We invite you to meet the people of our church.

Photo by Minnow Park

I was so angry at God during my teen years that I stopped going to church. I basically said “I’m going to do my best to be an agnostic- to believe that there might be a God but he’s unknowable." I was pretty wild in college and a lot had to do with this anger, this rage. I think that was ultimately aimed towards God for not providing me with a "steady Christian experience". I felt like he was letting me down. I had played my part. I was reading the Bible and going to church and why wasn’t he giving me this feeling that I wanted. So there was a lot of anger at God that he had to overcome in me. (1/2)