An Affirmation for Just Such a Time as This
I believe in Almighty God, who guided the people through exodus to care for strangers because they were once strangers, who called them to execute justice for the orphan and widow, who called them to show love to foreigners by giving them food and clothing.
This same God spoke in the time of exile through the prophets when the people forgot to care for the poor and practiced deceit. In the midst of falsehood and greed, the people proclaimed that this was what peace looked like. God said that this was not peace. Even though the people did not blush at their behavior, God did not abandon them and continued to believe that they would turn from their ways.
I believe in Jesus Christ, a displaced Galilean, who was born away from his people and his home as a foreigner and who fled his country as a refugee with his parents when his life was in danger. Returning to his own country he preached good news for the poor and release to the captives, and he said that this message was not just for his people but for a foreign leper in Syria. He went on to heal a foreign woman from a foreign religion and then many other outsiders and outcasts.
He taught that love of God and love of all neighbors are the two commands on which all laws hang. He said that when we care for the least of these, we care for him. He suffered under the oppression of the tyrant Pontius Pilate and then was persecuted, beaten, and finally tortured, accused and condemned to death unjustly. But on the third day, this scorned Jesus rose from the dead, not as a foreigner but to offer us citizenship in God’s kingdom.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, who in the midst of our diversity brings unity in Jesus Christ, who speaks all languages, lives in all countries, and reunites all races, who equips us to do the real work of evangelism where we share the good news of God’s love, freedom, and hope for all people.
I believe that in the church we were brought from far and near into the same household of God. The church is where we learn the particular formation of a Christian life. It is where we learn that forgiveness, reconciliation, hospitality and joy are Christian norms by which the citizens of God’s kingdom live day by day.
The church is held together by Jesus Christ as the cornerstone and resists any temptation to be held together by social issue, political party or geography. It is where we encounter the Christ crucified who calls us to solidarity with those who are vulnerable and oppressed. It is where we encounter the resurrected Christ who says no to fear and gives us ultimate hope.
Hope in Jesus Christ gives us courage for the present day. Hope never bends to the forces of hate as it pursues the ideal of Christ’s love. Hope does not give into apathy but stands relentless, on the shoulders of God’s justice. It does not fall into a darkness of despair because the beacon of hope in God cannot be extinguished.
Beyond this world, we believe in Life Eternal in which no one will be an immigrant but all will be citizens of God's kingdom, which will never end.*
*the idea for this Affirmation of Faith came from The Immigrant’s Creed written by the new director of Presbyterian World Missions, Jose Luis Casal. The last sentence is his.
Brent Barry is the lead pastor of NorthPark Presbyterian Church. Brent and NorthPark have a deep commitment to working with the poor and hungry in Dallas, helping those with Alzheimer’s disease and reaching across religious and cultural lines to do their part to bring Dallas together as one.
Scripture references: Exodus 22:21, Deuteronomy 10:18-19, Deuteronomy 23:7, Leviticus 19:34, Ezekiel 22, Micah 6:6-8, Jeremiah 3:1-4:4, Jeremiah 5:20-29, Jeremiah 8:11-12, Jeremiah 30:12-17, Psalm 30, Matthew 2:13-15, Luke 2:1-6, Luke 4:16-30, Matthew 15:21-28, Matthew 22:37-40, Matthew 25:31-46, Mark 10:42-45, John 19:1-30, John 20:1-18, Matthew 5:21-26, Acts 4:23-27, Ephesians 4:1-6, 1 Peter 2:9, Matthew 28:1-10, John 18:33-37, Acts 2:1-41, Matthew 5:1-6:34, 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, John 3:16, I Peter 3:15, Hebrews 13:2, Acts 1:8, Colossians 3: 12-17, Ephesians 2: 11-22, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Galatians 3:28, James 1:27, Mark 10:17-22, Luke 6:32-36, Luke 10:25-37, Luke 12:13-34, Romans 13:8-10, James 2:8-13, Romans 8:24-25, 2 Corinthians 1:15-22, Mark 4:26-29, Romans 2:1-11, Ephesians 6:1-20, Colossians 3:1-17, 1 Peter 1:13-21, Romans 8:31-39, John 14:1-27 Revelation 21:1-4