Friday, August 28, 2009

The end of the Creed series

This Sunday marks the end of the "summer season." That means it's our last Sunday with only one service, and it also means that Pastor will be finishing his sermon series on the Creed. Because of that, I'll be bringing back a prelude that I played on the first Sunday in June.

Over the course of the summer, I've played many composer's versions of the Creed. The very first one was composed by Samuel Scheidt, who was an early Baroque composer from Germany. He was a contemporary of Luther and a member of the generation that created an entirely new sound of German organ music. Of course, that style would flourish and reach its apex with J.S. Bach.

The piece itself, I must admit, is not particularly memorable. It's a simple three-part, fugal arrangement that is pleasant and meditative. I'm playing it not for its musical complexity but for the symbolism and the opportunity to pray and think back over the summer generally, and the Creed in particular. It brings us back full circle, and wraps up one season as we prepare for the next.


  1. Again, I would like to add that this ideas of the circle relates so powerfully to the Native American ideals, and to those of many other ancient religious views as well. Modern society tends to think that everything is linear, but then we see the seasons (if we ever actually go outside for more than a minute), the moon cylces, and the many other natural circles. Even our own live are circles: "ashes to ashes and dust to dust."

  2. Thomas Cahill in his book, "The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels" argues that the one of gifts of the Jews is linear thinking. Cahill contends that before the Jews everyone thought in terms of circles, cycles, and eternally re-occuring events. It was the Jews who first described time in processive terms (his description) of past, present, and future. He takes exception with Joseph Campbell who calls all religions cyclical, mythical, and ahistorical, by stating that "All religions are cyclical, mythical, and without reference to history as we have come to understand it - all religions except the Judeo-Christian stream in which Western consciousness took life" (p. 247-248).

    He also ties this linear processive view of history to the quest for social justice. If history is not just an eternally re-occuring series of events, then we can and are called to work to make a better tomorrow. As Cahill writes, "In the Torah we learn that God is working his purposes in history and will effect its end, but in the Prophets we learn that our choices will also affect this end, that our inner disposition toward our fellow human beings will make an enormous difference in the way this end appears to us (p. 251)."