Mass shootings in New Zealand. When there are no words, church creeds act as ballast in the storm.

Posted: March 15, 2019 in Uncategorized
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Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand logo

“There are really no words to adequately convey the gravity of this situation where people have lost their lives and been injured in such a senseless and violent manner,” said the Rt. Rev. Fakaofo, moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand today in the wake of Friday’s double mass shootings in his country that left at least 49 dead and another 20 seriously injured.

He’s right, of course. Sometimes, there just are no adequate words that can express how we feel in times national crisis, or even personal tragedy. The church, however, has thoughtful and collectively agreed upon words that speak even when our own words fail us. 

When there are no words, or when we find ourselves praying in sighs too deep for words, the church’s creeds and confessions can offer great hope. Sure, some weeks we just go through the motions, mumbling through our creeds the way, as kids, we mumbled through the Pledge of Allegiance or our dinnertime prayers. But in times of crisis, our creeds offer a unique power to strengthen, comfort, and unify us.

In the midst of the storms, our creeds act as the ballast that gives us assured stability against the rough seas and turbulent chop of national crisis. Our creeds articulate what we believe to be true no matter what is going on in the world at any given time. They remind us that even though everything in our lives may be spinning apart in this particular time or place, God’s plan and God’s truth rise above it all; they are much bigger and more profound than even our most tragic moments which are temporal. When we recite or read our creeds together, while acknowledging the magnitude of our human suffering, they have a tendency to keep us “steadfast and sure while the billows roll” to quote the old hymn, Will Your Anchor Hold.

The church I serve in downtown Cleveland, Ohio regularly uses creeds from other denominations and churches of other countries. Using a variety of creeds helps keep us connected to our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world, and to different ways of understanding our great God of grace and mercy. By reciting creeds from other nations we confess that we are one in God, and we bind ourselves to each other whether it be in times of crisis or celebration.

This Sunday we will stand beside our fellow Christians in New Zealand by saying together the 1993 Affirmation of Faith from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. We invite you to join us by streaming online or worshipping with us in person at the Old Stone Church on Public Square.

May the Spirit intercede on all our behalf with our sighs too deep for words, and may we join hearts everywhere by reciting our creeds and confessions and be as one with the good people of New Zealand in their time of suffering.



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