In the final part of The Lord of the Rings story, The Return of the King, Gandalf and Pippin are huddling together during a grim point of the siege of Minas Tirith. Pippin looks to Gandalf and admits he had hoped for a different end to their lives. Gandalf sees Pippin is discouraged with fear and weariness, that the hobbit is on the edge of hopelessness. It is a dramatic scene; one that many persecuted Christians experienced before their martyrdom, or during terrible battles in war.
In the story, Gandalf offers a comforting smile to the hobbit, "End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take." Then Gandalf proceeds to tell the young hobbit of the celestial, undying lands that await them after death. Indeed, many Christians under duress were also comforted by such words of hope-words with true value; words that a fairy tale can only echo. Those words are the Apostle's Creed.
Although the Creed is commonly understood as a confession about our faith, this is not its primary function. The Creed is the summary of the whole Gospel, which comes from Christ Jesus our Lord. Through the Creed, God places His saving acts into our mouth for us to speak. Thus, it is appropriate to recite the Creed during private confession with your pastor. In the Divine Service, the Creed is spoken after the sermon but before Jesus' Words consecrate bread and wine, where we receive Him into ourselves for the forgiveness of sins, and renewed spirits in the True Vine.
Through the Creed, our Father provides us a sanctuary from attacks against our faith by the world, the devil, our rebellious nature. Through the Creed, we are reminded that our salvation was obtained in real history; it is not a myth or a legend. Moreover, through the Creed, God reminds us of His promises given to us, by grace, in Holy Baptism for the sake of Christ: justification by faith alone, in Jesus alone; the preservation of our faith and the Church, by the Holy Spirit; the resurrection of our bodies at the Last Day; eternal life in the new creation.
We are reminded in Scripture and in our hymns that hardship, suffering, and struggles of the spirit will remain throughout our lives; sometimes it is because of the sins we commit, sometimes it is from the cross we must bear as Christians, and sometimes it is simply because we live in a broken cosmos that can only beget more brokenness. Whatever the instance, the devil hopes to use these to ambush us like a murderous thief, to rob us of Christ and the fruits of His cross given to us in God's Word and Sacraments. As often as these times come, seek refuge in the words of the Gospel; bear the shield of faith in your Lord God and speak the Creed, and the arrows of the evil one shall be extinguished.
Created: May 7th, 2015