Not Evangelical, evangelical!

As a dissident Anabaptist, may I explain, in spite of many accommodations to our culture, Anabaptists remain a unique group of people— centered on Jesus, grounded in the gospel, practicing discipleship and service—certainly that should qualify as Evangelical, yes? Or no?

Anabaptists in North America exist in a seductive culture of American and Canadian Christendom which seeks to define a Christian belief system that will: a) provide a faith-based security through a formulaic set of religious beliefs, b) assume the moral high ground on two or three issues as litmus tests of purity while overlooking major areas of unfaithfulness to the teachings of Jesus; c) attract people from a hedonistic consumer culture, d) accommodate to an imperialist, military industrial based economy. For many, Evangelicalism fulfills all of these and more.

As Anabaptists, we passionately love, live by, and share the Evangel, but we pause before we subscribe to the “isms” included in and essential to Evangelicalism. We pause because we do not care to narrow the wideness of God’s mercy to a minimal definition, especially when Evangelicals stress these selected points so hard that they are extended beyond the other equally important truths of the Gospel—such as the resurrection and the resurrected life—and radical love for neighbor that does not excuse such things as taking the neighbor’s life to protect our interests.

Evangelicalism—Four “isms”

The most commonly accepted and quoted definition of Evangelicalism is that of historian David Bebbington who outlined four distinctive points—the four ‘isms’ that define Evangelicals.

Conversionism: the belief that lives need to be transformed through a ‘born-again’ conversion experience, a dated, remembered and reported second birth crisis event that becomes a pivotal point for the rest of one’s life, an experience that certifies a secure salvation.

Biblicism: a high regard for and obedience to the whole Bible as the ultimate authority. The Bible in entirety and totality is authoritative, final and unquestionably without error—every promise, every word, every line—equally authoritative for life and practice.

Crucicentrism: a stress on the cross, on the substitutional sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as making possible the redemption of humanity. The death of Christ satisfies the demands of an angry God upon us as erring and sinful creatures.

Activism: the expression and demonstration of the gospel in missionary and social reform efforts. The salvation of souls is our primary mission, the alleviating of human need is a means toward that end.

Those who espouse Evangelicalism must hold these four “isms” in common to be part of the Evangelical world. Critics of Evangelicalism point out that it is also a faith shaped by the dominant “isms” of American Christendom–individualism, materialism, pragmatism, political populism, Western imperialism, emotionalism, and subjectivism. Evangelicalism is still strongly influenced by the fundamental “ism,” fundamentalism, which sold its soul by embracing nationalism, militarism, sexism, anti-intellectualism, dogmatism in use of scripture.

Evangelicals must hold to the four essential “isms” or face criticism and ostracism.

Anabaptist vision—fourfold vision

One of the best brief summaries of the Anabaptist vision (a vision, note, not an ‘ism’ we must cut the ‘ism’ off  ‘Anabaptism.’ We did not choose the name) is in Palmer Becker’s three terse phrases: Jesus is the center of our faith; Community is the center of our life; Reconciliation is the center of our work.  We practice this vision by being Jesus centered disciples living out the gospel in loving service. We call this practice “discipleship” realizing that it takes many forms because we do not try to nurture people as duplicate copies of one “ism” or another. God created rich variety in the universe and in the church (we are diverse members of a body, remember?)

We do not have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand.

The key question is, “Are we following Jesus? So what is this Anabaptist vision? How does it offer a focus? How is it a center? The vision is four fold: 1) discipleship 2) to Jesus 3) whose story is central 4) creates a community of servants.

A Vision of Discipleship to Jesus: “To know Christ truly is to follow Him daily in life; none truly know Him except those who follow Him.”(Hans Denck) A radical commitment to follow Jesus in all of life may begin with a crisis experience or may grow from the nurturance and support of the community of faith, but in the life of faith we are born again and again and again and again in “following Jesus,” the journey we call discipleship.

A Vision of Jesus as Christ: We look to Jesus. We live by Jesus’ incarnation, Jesus’ life, Jesus’ teaching, Jesus’ suffering, Jesus’ death, Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus’ living presence in our midst as His Holy Spirit . All of these are salvic, all are crucial, all are essential. He is the way; His way of non-violent, self-giving love is our way. He is truth; we cannot be false to anyone. He is life; in trust we risk all.

A Vision of Jesus as Center: We begin by meeting Jesus in the Gospels, through the lens of the gospels we read the epistles, and through them read the Hebrew Scriptures just as Jesus, John, Paul, Peter and James read and used the scripture (the Old Testament texts) which they followed. “Whatever (throughout Scripture) thrives and flourishes in light of the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus is God’s inspired word by which we live and die. Whatever wilts in light of Jesus, is revelation about our human frailty and pathology.” (Manfred Brauch)

A Vision of Service in the name of Christ. Living out loving kindness is the concrete practice of imitating Christ the Servant. Following Jesus who came to serve is making our daily work an act of worship, a visible witness to love. Service validates any words of explanation we have to offer, this includes caring acts of compassion, sharing acts of giving to human need, risking acts of faithfulness in times of threat, sacrificing acts in situations of pain, loving acts in reconciling. We love each other as fellow disciples, our neighbor as fellow human, our enemy as co-humanity.

Living out such a counter-cultural vision is not easy—we lose the vision to the seductive formulaic spirituality of our culture, a culture that assumes faith is about finding a formula of “isms” —i.e. date of contract, assent to book of rules and conditions, purity on several select issues, reducing Jesus to a payment, soliciting friends and money for institutional growth. We lose it, recover it, lose it, recover it, lose it. Creating a community of visionaries who accept variety and diversity in practice while following a vision together is no easy task.

Anabaptists continue to ask, “Do you see Jesus? Are you following? Do you see life thru Jesus? Are you following?”

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Surprise Encounter in Bordeaux, France

Verbatim written the same evening documenting an intriguing dialogue, October 2014

Notre Dame Cathedral, Bordeaux, France, is a noisy, not silent sacred place, since stone masons are reopening the sealed royal portal once reserved for the grand entrance of the king. Now workmen are chipping away centuries old mortar and stone. Soon the great Gothic arch will be fitted with massive doors that will admit commoners where only royalty dared enter.

Leann is watching their work through a protective window, when two English speaking men include her in their viewing and translating of the story posted in French.  She summons me to join the circle and soon a lively conversation about monarchy, hierarchy, Catholic Christendom, Constantine, Jesus and the awful mess of church history ensues.

“I’m an atheist,” announces the more portly man, a retired attorney from San Francisco, now proprietor of a Bordeaux B and B.

“An atheist? Wonderful. I so rarely get to meet an authentic atheist.”

“Why not, there are many of us all around.”

“Not so many, they usually turn out to be agnostics who no longer believe the god of their childhood. I soon discover that the god they no longer believe in is a god I do not believe in either.”

“Well, I gave up on religion after reading the Koran, then starting to read the Bible to compare. I got as far as the story of Aaron going up on the mountain to talk with god for days . . . “

“Perhaps you are referring to Moses and Mount Sinai?”

“Yes, Moses. And while he is up there, the people he is leading make a bull of gold.”

“The golden calf, you must mean?”

“Yes, that’s it, the golden calf, and they worship the thing—they sing and dance, and god gets really mad and decides to kill them all, men, women and children, every living soul,  until Moses gets him to change his mind. A very fickle sort of god, it seems to me, a rather petty god, to be sure. But why am I telling you the story, obviously you know the whole ugly thing. How could anyone believe in a god like that?”

“So you got as far as Exodus. You should have read a couple of books farther and taken a look at Joshua and Judges where the god they believe in commands them to commit genocide on all the offending pagan tribes. Now that’s ugly.”

“Really?”

“The Bible is a collection of books written over a couple thousand years, and different persons in different periods saw god in very different ways.  So, the god you no longer believe in I do not believe in either.”

“How can you say that? That is the god of the Bible, and one important principle of logic I learned in law school is that you can’t pick and choose. Either you buy into the whole kettle of fish, as Richard Dawkins put it, or you throw it out.”

“That may work on legal documents, but it doesn’t work in interpreting art, literature, philosophy, or theological texts. We all pick and choose. It is how humans sort through great heaps of data. The point is by what criteria we pick, by what principles we choose. What is our hermeneutic?”

“So how do you go about it?”

“In reading the Bible, since I am a follower of Jesus, I look at how he read the Hebrew Scriptures. He chose particular persons to quote such as the prophets Isaiah and Micah to tell us what God is like. You, he, and I do not believe in a genocidal war god, even though we are standing in a cathedral built by those who did.”

“Well, they needed an almighty power, and sometimes we may need a vengeful god to pull us together in times of war, to help us take action to set limits in places like Iraq and Iran.”

“Funny you should mention them at this point, could you be picking and choosing from the doctrines of George W Bush?”

“Well he wasn’t all wrong about Saddam Hussein.”

“We were all wrong about Saddam, wrong from the beginning.”

“How were we wrong?”

“The West made him, supported him, financed him, used him, armed him, then scapegoated him for what others did in 9/11. We choose scape goats that no one will defend and he was the best available scape goat to serve our purposes since no one liked him.”

“He may have been a scape goat but he certainly had everything coming to him that he got. We had to protect our interests.”

“Our interests? Can you by any chance be referring to oil?”

“Oil is of primary interest to the whole world.”

“Tell me again who you used to work for . . .That sounded very much like the policies of Halliburton.”

“Halliburton wasn’t all wrong either.”

“I wouldn’t have any idea how to pick and choose from Halliburton policies.  If you can explain how they were right in peace-building and nation building in Iraq, I would be interested in hearing it.”

“Now that you asked, I’m not sure that I can and you may have a point there.

“As I said a moment ago, we all pick and choose. I recall you said a moment ago that you found it helpful to pick and choose from the guidelines of Richard Dawkins, and work in a few bits from Halliburton. Did I hear you rightly? “

“That about sums it up.”

“May I say the obvious? I prefer the Jesus of the gospels.”

“No comment.”

“What a conversation. It is worth going to a cathedral to have an exchange like this.”

“Never happened to me before.”

This is a test, only a test of the Koinonea Alert System

As I slip into the folding chair, the front leg drops into a hole under the canvas floor. The chair tips forward throwing me face forward into the center aisle. I lie, sprawled, Mennonite World Conference bag, note pad and all.

Last to enter, I found the workshop tent full, the presentation begun, French translation following the speaker sentence by sentence. Hearing issues drew me toward the front to the third row where there was an empty chair. I gratefully pulled it forward, sat, and then my back-wrenching descent. I catch my breath, slowly pull up on bruised knees, flex the vertebrae pinching a sciatic nerve, then painfully reclaim my chair.

“Koinonea is defined as sharing in mutual concern for the other in Christian community,” I am hearing said in English and repeated in French.

I stifle a chuckle. A white haired man in his seventies flat out in the center aisle—not a pretty sight. Yet no one in the chairs around or across the aisle offered a hand, no one noticed. No blood, so no bother. As the workshop ends, and we chit-chat our way out, it is clear that I have no need to be embarrassed, so my blunder was invisible. Over dinner I recall the fall and tell Leann who suggests:

“You might have jumped up and said, this is a test, only a test of the Koinonea alert system.” (Nothing makes us wittier than a painful pratfall—not our own, of course, but another’s.)

The workshop, in spite of my bad back, was truly good. Tom Yoder Neufeld was inspiring. What I heard most clearly was the contrast between the New Testament root word koinoo meaning “common, dirty, unclean,” and its opposite, koinonea, meaning “common life, communion, community.” Rejected rubbish vs welcoming relationship.

Critical differences become compost to nurture community. For example, Jesus said about putting pure/impure labels on stuff, “not what goes into the mouth defiles (koinoo) but what comes out defiles (koinoo) a person.” Old laws about purity and sanctity that defined what objects are clean or which persons are unclean are replaced by an ethic of loving relationship (Mt 15:11); or then there’s the vision of Peter where God’s grace accepting the marginal, the outcast, the excluded challenges all kinds of entitlements and special interest groups. God accepts folks we do not, loves those we find annoying, includes those we exclude. “What God has called clean do not call unclean,” the voice says. (Acts 10:11-18). Who are we to reject any one whom God accepts? Can we improve on God’s taste in people?

Let me see if I got it. In true koinonea, the stranger is welcome, the odd are not out but in, the “ick factor” no longer works, community is not a matter of being comfortable. If there is room for us there is room for anybody.

A moment of koinonea-vertigo—(like a tipping chair) up is down, down is up, out is in, taste is not how we choose our mates, ick is no way to do ethics, dirty is a misnomer, unclean may be a matter of tradition and/or opinion. Not purity but charity should serve as greeter at the door. Love of others, love of strangers, love of the least of these should open the margins of community, that is what koinonea is about.

Common things and common people when seen on common turf and common ground can share communion in community. The word comes to designate participation, partnership.

Did I get it? Yes, I think so.
Is there more? Yes. L Harold de Wolf, theologian and biblical scholar suggested something that was overlooked in the workshop. “The highest form of love in the New Testament, the highest word for love, is not agape, it is koinonea.” Of the Greek words for love, eros (erotic love), not used, phillea (brotherly sisterly love),often used, sorge (to care), frequently used, agape (equal regard) very often employed, but the last word is koinonea (mutual, reciprocal, communal love in the community of the Spirit in the circle around Jesus). Isn’t that what we are confessing when we join St Paul in praying “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the koinonea of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2Cor 13:14)

Perhaps this word, koinonea, sums up best the central commandment of Jesus teaching—“Love of neighbor is the way we practice the love of God.”

This is a test, only a test of the Koinonea Alert System.”

Breakfast at the Garden Street Inn

The Garden Street Inn, one of the quaint 19th century hotels in San Luis Obispo, has become a charming B and B. After a strange night, we welcomed the scent of breakfast. We joined an international group of guests for a Central California coastal morning menu. A Japanese family on our left, an Australian group of women to the right, a San Francisco mother and two daughters on a weekend outing in the bay window, an English couple straight ahead, and we two California couples near the door.

All are talking softly as a collective group about the midnight disturbance.

“Did you hear all that profanity? I was shocked!” asks the late 80s mother. It was hardly what she had expected in this tony place on her weekend jaunt with her daughters. “It was so awful.”

“What the problem?” asked the Japanese father.

Someone explains about the two girls screaming in the hallway because neither was able to fit key in lock because of alcohol or chemistry unknown. “They were…” someone began.

Sudden silence.

The two girls in question are descending the staircase. All forks freeze in midair. Total attention, although everyone is avoiding eye contact. Not even the sound of hurried swallowing of the last bite of omelet with fine herbs, or the whisper of chewing of a fresh hot biscuit.

Everything is on hold.

The startling event that was being discussed, took place at about 1:45 am long after all known guests had retired to their quaint rooms. Ours was on the second floor where a dozen rooms circled a massive grand 24 step central staircase.

Exhausted after the road trip along the Santa Barbara coast and north through the lush vineyards, with a few stops for fragrant wine tasting, we had dropped off into peaceful slumber.

It was the screaming that jolted one suddenly awake, “Help me you M—–f—–, Oh s—, Don’t touch me you a——.” The argument and colorful language increasing in volume as they neared the upper floor.

Leann is out of bed, cracking the door, whispering her report.

“Two twenty-something girls, halfway up the stairs, struggling. One is dragging the other, both are turning the air blue. There, they are on top, one is flat on the floor, cursing madly, the other is dragging her. Now they are in front of the door just across the stair well, the one on her feet is stabbing with a key, but can’t find the lock.”

I peak over her shoulder. The most vocal one, now prostrate on the floor, is moaning, swearing at full operatic volume, then mumbling incoherently. The other, after failing to open the door proceeds from door to door around the hall trying to open other doors. We close our door to let her pass. Going to rescue people who are high on meth, or stoned on heroin, or drunk… no, they seem to be holding onto their dinners if they had such. So it is not alcohol but their drug of choice. Rushing to help does not seem wise.

After three quarters of an hour, the manager, summoned from blocks away, helps them into their room. The closed door muffles the final sounds before mercifully, they fall silent.

Now, here they are, descending the grand staircase. The one, obviously suffering most from the half-life of the potion, heads straight out the lobby and into the street. The other is forced to thread her way among the tables to the counter by the kitchen to return her key.

Foreboding silence fills the room. Will it explode with the grandmother’s shrill censure? Or will someone else find a way to put her down?

She returns, downcast, her whole posture an embodied expression of embarrassment, perhaps the bent neck is an enacted word of regret? No one has spoken. Is there no way to say or do something redemptive?

As she passes the last table, ours, one person speaks.

“Excuse me?”

“Yes?”

“Perhaps you would like to offer an apology to your fellow guests for the disturbance in the early morning?”

“Oh.” (pause) “Yes, I am sorry, so sorry for what we did to disturb you all.”

“Thank you, but one more word. Don’t do it again. You deserve better. We are not the real concern here, it’s you. You are worth so much more than all that. Go live a better life.”

“Uh, OK, uh, yes.”

She hurries out. The silence holds, then breaks with an explosion of air from breath held much too long.

“Good,” says the Japanese father. “Good.”

“Thank you, oh thank you,” says the 80s mother, “we all needed that.”

“Yes, we did,” someone says.

Drama ended, the breakfast continues with each table resuming its own conversations.

At our table, we are reviewing the intervention. “Did you see how she entered the room, like she needed to say something but had no words?” Marlin asked. “And the posture, like a sheep dog who has just been caught stealing sheep.”

“Like someone who was caught stealing sleep,” Robin corrects him. We smile in release.

Leann is squeezing my hand.

“You just did another ‘David’,” she says.

Dinner at the Noriega Hotel, Bakersfield, March 13, 2014

“I believe you were just now saying ‘grace,’ so you must be believers?” I said to the little couple seated across from us at the long communal tables stretching forty feet down the dining hall of the Noriega Hotel Basque Restaurant in Bakersfield, CA.

This is community style not family style dining where a hundred guests now sat wall to wall. The first of seven courses (Basque bread, salsa, soup and beans) was already on the table. Before we had all found our napkins, he had shyly taken her hand, they quietly bowed their heads for thirty seconds, then looked up to meet our watching eyes..

“Believers? Oh yes, we are Pentecostals,” he replied.

Mid-eighties, she with grey hair tightly pulled back into a bun, he with galluses over a buttoned white long sleeved shirt, They could have been two plain Mennonites from Lancaster County Pennsylvania.

“Wonderful,” I say, adding, “We are also believers. In a restaurant, we raise our hands and say, “Do you solemnly affirm, before God and these witnesses, that you are grateful for the food you are about to receive and for the friends with whom you share it?’

All down the table a dozen people within earshot raised their hands and said, “We do.” Then we all said “Amen,” and began the multi-course Basque dinner. Even more stimulating, we continued an amazing, warm and friendly conversation among the fifteen or twenty in the mid-table stretch.

“Pentecostal? You folks are growing in amazing numbers. I have a close friend who is the Pentecostal representative in conversations with the Vatican on the massive conversions of Catholics into Pentecostal churches in South America—you are growing exponentially down there.”

“Yes, we are. We are the fulfillment of prophesy. It is all foretold in the book of Revelations. We are the manifestation of the final sign of the end of the age,” he began and then quoted John the Revelator with finality and authority. Darby would have been proud of his clarity and certainty.

“It is the promise of ‘all nations’ and we are the fulfillment.”

“Now isn’t this fascinating?” I replied. “Here we are a whole group of us talking over dinner at the Noriega about The Revelation to John.”

“It is the most fascinating, the most revealing book in the Bible.”

“I’ve found that many Pentecostals tend to read the gospels through the lens of the Book of Revelations. As a Mennonite, I read Revelations through the lens of the Gospels. We see it from two different ends. It looks surprisingly different, if you look at faith and life through the teachings of Jesus or through the eyes of John.”

“Never thought about it that way,” explodes the tattooed Goth style black T- shirted 300 pound young man seated on his left—my image of a gang banger—“but it does make sense. I think I try to wear the Jesus lenses, to ask what Jesus taught.”

I look at him in incredulity—this rebel in scary clothing is talking about Jesus.

“What do you do?” I ask, more than a tad surprised and much impressed by his response.

“I direct a street ministry for abused women and sex trafficking in Bakersfield,” he said. (So much for my stereotyping by appearance.) He soon reveals what a gentle spirit and caring heart he has for the forgotten and ignored. He is non-denominational, he repeatedly says, (a growing denomination, I failed to point out.) Later as he is getting up to leave, he would offer his final word to us, “Just let me tell you all to be ready, Christ will return in 2017. The Scriptures have given us the clue to know the date. Definitely, it will be in November, 2017. He is coming back.”

“What is even more exciting, He is here now,” I say, and am surprised by the “Yes” responses from a half dozen voices up and down the table.

“I didn’t know when I came to the Noriega tonight that it would be a ‘come to Jesus meeting’,” Leann says, and we all laugh in recognition.

But in between the first prayer or the announcement of the schedule for the rapture there were many warm and often funny exchanges. Like when the sliced pickled tongue vinaigrette salad was served, the Pentecostal brother turned up his nose asking “What is that?”—so I offered him the plate first saying, “Brother may I give you the gift of tongues?” And he declined ruefully. As he did when we passed around the red wine the Basques serve.

The family on the right soon entered the conversation to tell of teaching high school in Shafter, Leann’s alma mater, of Mennonite colleagues and shared friends. Then we learned that the man across the table is church organist at First Methodist, Los Altos up near San Jose. We discussed Buxtehude, Widor and Bach. I mentioned my former colleague Orlando Schmidt who could play Widor so presto that he emptied the chapel in quick step.

At some point I told of how Orlando and his Catholic priest friend toured Europe to see all the organs Bach played and getting to play several of them. As a musician, he loved the story, somehow I added that Orlando was a man who had suffered deeply, his wife and son burned to death in front of his eyes when their Pinto was rear-ended on the 55 near Bloomington Il. “It was not the divinity of Jesus that saved my sanity through all that, it was His humanity,” Orlando would say often. I mentioned that as years passed his witness was highly respected even though it became clear that he was gay, his having suffered so much so faithfully silenced any who might have criticized him.” Leann heard the Pentecostal man ask his wife, “ Should we leave?” when a good word was said about a godly gay man. She shook her head “No,” after all, the garlic chicken was arriving as the fifth course, to be followed by the pork ribs. And then the blue cheese plate (our Pentecostal friends tasted blue cheese for the first time, but it was not pleasing to their tongues). The topics returned to their comfort zone.

Our Goth garbed brother tells of intervention into sex trafficking and I realize how valuable tattoos are in identification, solidarity, and connection with many he serves. As we are talking about sharing Jesus, I mentioned what I learned from the late Clarence Bauman quoting, “I often wonder when folks talk about Jesus, which Jesus? I have learned to ask: 1) do you have clear beliefs about Jesus? 2) do you believe in Jesus? 3) do you believe Jesus? 4) do you believe what Jesus believed? The first is orthodoxy, the second Pietism, the third discipleship, the fourth is doing what you do ‘on the streets of Bakersfield’ caring for the oppressed and the misused and abused.“

“Now that is good” the Pentecostal man said with conviction. “That’s where it’s at, the Goth said,

To the right a family from Alhambra had brought a guest newly arrived from Berlin to eat Basque food, so then a few lines of Deutsch were exchanged. The ice cream came and we passed all the left over blue cheese from the whole long table down to the German man who wanted it instead of the “Eis.”

As people rose to leave, we got the final parting “heads up on the second coming 11/17. It was a bit like saying goodbye after a church potluck. The Methodists and the Mennonites stayed behind to reflect on the mystery of how different faiths meet. We were still chuckling together as we got into our cars in the parking lot and waved “So long.”

Now that we are getting closer to 2017 and the “second coming,” I reflect on the many comings of Jesus, surprising us as we break bread.

The Anabaptist Comma

Walter Bruggemann once said, “The Apostles Creed leaps from the words, “born of the Virgin Mary”—to—“suffered under Pontius Pilate” with nothing but a comma between. “Only a comma, nothing more than a comma, but Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh what a comma!” We Anabaptists confess His life as well as His death and resurrection. We are saved by it all, or incarnation means nothing at all.

Our church Peace Mennonite Fellowship created this liturgy which adds what we call “the Anabaptist Comma” to the Apostles Creed.

I believe in God , The Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary,

Welcomed by shepherds,
Greeted by Magi,
Pursued by Herod,
Sheltered in Egypt,
Nurtured by Mary,
Taught by Joseph,
Baptized by John
Called by the Father,
Anointed by His Spirit,
Tempted by Satan,
Rejected by Nazareth,
Followed by disciples,
Heard by multitudes,
Understood by simple,
Despised by clergy,
Praised by lepers,
Touched by the ill,
Seen by the blind,
Hosted by outcasts,
Rejected by siblings,
Obeyed by psychotics,
Rebuked by Martha,
Embraced by Mary,
Anointed by prostitute,
Cheered by crowds,
Loved by John,
Denied by Peter,
Abandoned by all,
Hated by the Powers,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, died, and was buried;
On the third day he rose again;
He ascended into heaven,
He is seated on the right hand of the Father,
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
The holy catholic church,
The communion of saints,
The forgiveness of sins,
The resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.