Easter begins with Sunrise—the tomb open and empty, the faithful women first to see, first to receive the good news, 1st to spread the good news, and the glorious joy continued far, far beyond Bright Monday.
This week should be the most celebrated time in the church, yet it is often the more neglected than any other time of the church.
Fasting and grief are over; feast and joy return. Christ is Risen! Christ is Lord of All!
The week after Easter is known as Easter Week (the week before Easter is Holy Week). Monday can be called Easter Monday or Bright Monday.
I prefer Bright Monday, for Christ’s resurrection brought radiant and wondrous light to the world.
In the Germanic-based languages (of which English is the most widespread), the word Easter comes from a pagan goddess of dawning, brightening, springtime. Latin-based languages and Greek call this most important day Pascha, for the Passion of Christ, or Resurrection Sunday. The Eastern churches, the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic, says Bright Week.
The joyful spirit of Easter which continues on Bright Monday will remain in the church until Ascension, 40 days after the Resurrection. This is Pentecost. (Read Matthew 28: 8-15)
More on my Faith Journey
When I began my search for More about Christianity–more than I had encountered growing up in my plain church–one of the first things I encountered was The Apostle’s Creed.
If you grew up with the Apostle’s Creed, it probably never affected you as much as it affected me. I hope it did. And I hope it does. I hope it will do so for all the rest of the days of your life.
In my plain church, the only holy-based texts that we learned were John 3:16 and the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23. Occasionally we learned more, such as John 14:1-6.
The Apostles’ Creed woke me up to more. Hearing this Creed spoken from heart by everyone around me: that was powerful.
That changed my path. I walked beyond the plain barren and into the rooted flowering of the ancient church brought into the modern day.
More Background on the Creed
The first written documentation of the Apostles’ Creed, kept carefully by the Roman Catholic Church, is a letter from 390 AD. The Creed may have existed earlier; it certainly reached its final written form by the late 700s.
Before the Creed was an earlier and shorter version, now called the Old Roman Symbol. One of the early Church leaders, Irenaeus called it a rule of faith. Irenaeus died in 202.
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 into Heaven, / sits at the right hand of God the Father, / whence He will come to judge the Living and the Dead; / and in the Holy Spirit, / and in the Church, / the remission of sins, / the resurrection of the flesh (the life everlasting).
Tradition claims that each one of the original apostles contributed a part of the Roman Symbol. In dealing with various heresies, the Roman Symbol gradually changed into the Apostles’ Creed that we know today.
The fact that the Creed does not appear in a document until 390 AD means nothing to me. When a congregation is primarily un-lettered (as it would have been in antiquity and the Middle Ages), when memory is more important than documents (which can be forged and which not everyone can read and check for accuracy), a common saying that everyone knows is much more important.
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth;
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;
Born of the Virgin Mary;
Suffered under Pontius Pilate;
Was crucified, dead and buried;
He descended into Hell;
The third day He rose again from the dead.
He ascended into Heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.
From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost,
The holy catholic church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins
The resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting. Amen.
More Questions on the Creed?
Here are some things you might not understand and have questions about. This is what I’ve learned over the years.
“The Holy Ghost” :: Some churches say “Holy Spirit”. “Ghost” is an old hold-over in the English language; it means “spirit”.
“He descended into Hell” :: Some churches now omit this line. I don’t. I believe that Christ spent his Holy Saturday in a harrowing of hell, rescuing from Hell those who believed in Him who had died before Him.
1 Peter 3:19-20 states that Christ preached to the imprisoned spirits. Spirits can only be imprisoned in a supernatural environment. The only two supernatural environments that I know are Heaven and Hell. I don’t think any soul in Heaven considers that a prison.
“The quick and the dead” :: “Quick” is another old hold-over in the English language. “Quick” means living. Christ will judge the living and the dead at his Second Coming, when this world ends.
“The holy catholic church” :: Saying the Apostles’ Creed does not mean a person is swearing allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. Just like ghost and quick, catholic has a special meaning of universal. While we have many religions that are connected to Christianity, we all have a universal belief in Christ Jesus as our Savior through His grace.
In Ephesians 4:5, Paul writes that we Christians have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Christ is our Lord. Our faith is in Him. We are baptized through Him as a public declaration of our faith.
This phrase, by the way, is the reason that I think the religion I grew up in avoided the Apostles’ Creed like the plague. (And that’s not a cliché; that’s truth.)
“The resurrection of the body” :: At Christ’s Second Coming, the “dead in Christ will rise” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
More Belief in the Creed
Is there any part of the Creed that you do not believe? Every part has a direct connection to the Bible.
Are you like Thomas Jefferson with his Bible, picking and choosing the parts you like and don’t like? Cutting out whole sections and pasting new pages together?
Should we be like Thomas Jefferson?
Or should we take the whole Bible, using it as our guide? Even the uncomfortable parts that are there to help us grow?
The Creed helps us understand our faith.
It reminds us of the great tenet of God’s love. For what other reason would Christ have sacrificed Himself? For what other reason would we have the communion of saints? And for what other reason does He forgive us of our sins?
How to Remember the Creed
Start with God.
Then eight parts about His life and death and afterlife. Notice the sequence.
Then six beliefs we have about our faith. The third part of the Trinity, two on the community, and three things we are most grateful for.
Learn each part, then put them all together.
Tomorrow is Bright Tuesday.
As you continue through your resurrected year, make a point of learning the Apostles’ Creed. By the next Bright Monday, you should know it “by heart”, especially if you take every part “to heart”.
Join us tomorrow for a look at the “Gloria Patri”, a little song that packs power.
If you hesitate to learn the Apostles’ Creed because you haven’t officially memorized in years and it’s sooooo looooonnnngggg, I will first tell you that you memorize songs on the radio all the time. Then I will tell you that the “Gloria Patri” is a good starter for memorization.
Hopefully, Bright Tuesday’s blog will be short. (Bright Monday started to be short. Oh well.)