The universe has a Creator. Its physical laws have an Author. Our conscious souls were brought to life and are sustained by a great Spirit. Our moral laws were given by a King. These things are real, and these names all signify attributes of the supreme being we call God.
Among the ancients, it was the Jews who first understood God in these terms. At a particular time and place, God chose to be born into their midst, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus arrived in poverty on the periphery of Empire, yet became the central figure in history, around whose birth the common calendar pivots. This impact and His many miracles, as recorded in the Gospels, testify to His identity as Christ (the anointed one), Son of God.
Conscience hears His voice, quietly and persistently inviting each of us to follow Him. His perfect ethic of love was not only ahead of His time, but also ahead of ours. He honored the spiritual ancestry of the Jews, and fulfilled the hopes of their Scriptures, but also corrected the excesses of hypocrisy, pride, self-righteousness, and legalism to which all religions, then and now, are vulnerable.
His teaching (to borrow a phrase) comforts the afflicted, and afflicts the comfortable. He made some powerful enemies, but responded in non-violence of both body and heart, and commanded His followers do the same. On Good Friday, He was put to death, while blessing those who carried it out. On Easter Sunday, He came back. Our reason is given enough evidence of this to be encouraged, but not enough to be compelled. It seems God wants us to choose to love Him for what He is like, not just for His great power.
Jesus left no autobiography, no detailed code of rules and regulations. Just two commandments (love God and love your neighbor), His own example, and the Holy Spirit. In parables and sermons, Jesus taught about justice and judgment, but also about forgiveness, mercy, repentance, and reconciliation. He taught us how best to pray, calling God Our Father. He asked us to remember Him when we take food and drink together. He encouraged us with the promise of life after death. He also warned us of a dark power loose in the world, a dangerous adversary to man. Out of love, Jesus offered up His own life, as a ransom, to save us from our sins.
The New Testament records how the early Church supported one another in love, how they came to understand Jesus’s message, and how it spread throughout the Roman world. Over the years, the Church has grown immensely and like any family has experienced its joys and triumphs, and also suffered from shame and internal division. When it is most true to its message, the Church extends an invitation of fellowship to all people, cares for the least of us, and prays patiently for the healing of the whole world.
So I join with believers down through the ages in saying the ancient creed:
I believe in God the Father almighty;
and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord,
Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried,
on the third day rose again from the dead,
ascended to heaven,
sits at the right hand of the Father,
whence He will come to judge the living and the dead;
and in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Church,
the remission of sins,
the resurrection of the flesh,
the life everlasting.