Happy Monday, Friends!
Continuing with the creed: “We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” The first sentence of this passage of the creed is known as the four marks of the church. The Church is one. The Church is holy. The Church is universal (“catholic” being from the Greek meaning universal). The Church is apostolic. For the Church to be the hands and feet of Jesus, for the Church to be valid in its ministry, and for the Church to express the fullness of its ministry, the Church must be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The Church hasn’t always lived up to its call.
Before we get too far down the rabbit hole of calling out organized religion, we need to remember that the Church is the people of God. Rather than think of the institutional church as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic; let’s think of the people of God as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.
The People of God are one. The people of God struggle to be one. Martin Luther King, Jr., called 11am on Sunday morning “the most segregated hour in Christian America.” We allow racism, homophobia, transphobia, ablism, xenophobia, aporaphobia (fear of poor people), and many others separate us on Sunday morning and throughout our lives.
The People of God are holy. The people of God struggle to remember that they are holy. We are holy. Let that sink in: we are holy. Between our own self-doubt and external messages about what is beautiful and successful, we often forget that we are holy and beautiful beyond all measure.
The People of God are universal. The people of God struggle to be universal. As humans we are part of a magnificent, interconnected network of existence, but our focus only on ourselves, our families, our communities, and, ultimately, our comfort, rather than recognize the harm our actions cause each other’s existence.
The People of God are apostolic. The people of God struggle to be apostolic. Many of us simply don’t know what it means to be apostolic particularly in a world where sectarian protolyzing is rarely welcome. But apostolic need not only be religious, we can be apostles of our values and of the world we want to create.
How can you be one with others? How can you be holy? Where can you be universal and a part of the web of existence? How can you be apostolic?
Let us pray: God, we are your people, but we struggle to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Give us the grace to live out each of these calls throughout our lives. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who gave us an example of being all four. Amen.
Blessings, friends, on your week! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.