By H. Boone Porter
During the past years, the editor’s column of this magazine has been a place in which the editor could express his thoughts and feelings on a variety of topics, and share his reflections on his wide reading and experience. Generally, the matters discussed have had some relation to the Christian faith or current events in the Church, but sometimes the editor chose to comment on something primarily because it was interesting, curious, or entertaining. Let it continue to be so.
Yet, since this is a very personal column, it will be different when it expresses a different personality. The new editor will be content if it can be as effective a channel for communicating his reflections as it was for expressing those of his distinguished predecessor.
For some people, religious concerns and spiritual insights emerge from the fabric of life and its many responsibilities and opportunities. For others, consciousness of spiritual realities has been most directly tied to the knowledge of our Lord, his teaching, and perhaps most of all his Cross. Christian biography abounds with the accounts of men and women of every era whose lives were transformed by an intense awareness that Jesus died to save them. Dame Juliana of Norwich, the fifteenth-century English mystic, is a classic witness to this particular kind of twice-born Christian spirituality:
And this has ever been a comfort to me, that I chose Jesus as my Heaven, by His grace, in all this time of Passion and sorrow. And this has been a lesson to me that I should evermore do so… (Revelations, chapt. 19)
Another port of entry into the spiritual world is provided by creation: the fact of our existence and the existence of other beings and other things around us, and the realization that we did not make ourselves or the world. For many of us, the awareness that life is a gift brings us in gratitude to the Creator. The knowledge of the infinite variety, wonder, and beauty of the universe, and of each part and portion of it, brings us before God in awe and admiration.
A mature Christian faith and well-balanced spirituality requires more than one approach. At certain times in our life, redemption may be more important to us than creation, or vice versa. Or some other emphasis may need to be uppermost. Each of us, however, probably finds some particular strand most congenial, at least as a starting point. I am one of those who find it most natural to begin with creation. I do not suggest that everyone ought to agree with me, but evidently many do, for the Bible itself starts off in Genesis with the portrayal of God as the maker of all things. Similarly both the Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds begin with the basic affirmation of belief in the one almighty God who is maker of all that is, both in heaven and on earth.
It was the old-fashioned custom to divine the Apostles’ Creed into twelve affirmations, or “Articles of the Christian faith.” It is the first article, the affirmation of belief in God as our creator, that we use as the title for this series of essays.
Creation is a broad subject, for by definition it encompasses everything. It has to do with how everything began in the first place, eons ago, at the beginning of time itself. It also has to do with now, for everything that is continues to exist because it is upheld in the hand of God. One of the fascinations of creation is the interconnectedness of past and present on the one hand, and on the other hand, those sorties into the future, the promises, the new births which spring forth from what has been and what is, and reach forward into what is yet to be.
During the weeks ahead, I look forward to many ventures with you, to many explorations and excursions together in these broad meadows. I will try to share my thoughts with you, and I trust some of you will be good enough to share your thoughts with me. In any case, whether it is fair weather or foul, I will be with you again next week.
The Rev. Dr. H. Boone Porter was editor of The Living Church from 1977-1990. This article was first published in our October 2,1977 issue.