It was the first Sunday of the month. I was preparing for worship at about six in the morning. I come to church early to be alone with the Lord – to quiet myself and get focused.
Sometimes I think I am like a ballplayer who has a routine before each game. I need to walk, pray, review everything and get set up before 8:30, when teachers and musicians arrive.
That Sunday, I was having a hard time quieting my mind. I was thinking about a pastor I’d heard about who didn’t believe in the Blessed Trinity but told a church board, “I can preach it.”
Finally, I said out loud to both the Lord God and myself, “Get your head in the game. You are about to lead the people of God in worship, and you are about to invoke God Almighty in word and sacrament. You must be focused!”
The best way to focus is prayer. Pray to God, and in this instance, pray through what I believe in order to call myself a Christian. Pray in order to lead these Presbyterian/Reformed Christians in worship.
So I began to pray through my “Essential Tenets of Faith.”
When we Presbyterians are ordained, one of the vows we make is to “sincerely receive and adopt the tenets of the Reformed Faith. Tenets are the theological beliefs I hold to be true.
In my prayers that day and in my heart for always, I begin with the simplest and most profound: Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. To Him I dedicate my life forever and always.
Other essentials are:
God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: The Blessed Trinity. I once took a whole semester course on the Trinity, and I still don’t really get it. I don’t have to get it, all I need to do is believe.
Sovereignty of God: God is creator of heaven and earth and “Our Father who art in Heaven.”
Jesus Christ is “My Lord and my God.” Jesus Christ is fully human and fully God, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
The Holy Spirit leads, guides, prays with and for us and is God with us.
The sacraments of the baptism and the Lord’s Supper were given to us by Jesus Christ, and he commanded us to celebrate them.
The Bible is the word of God guided in its writing and reading by the Holy Spirit.
We have been predestined to be loved and saved by the perfect love of God.
By faith alone we are saved. “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
We are God’s people: Elected and God made a new covenant with humanity through the life, death and resurrection of His Son.
It isn’t what I do, but who I believe in that assures me that: We have a future. The Kingdom of God is at hand, and the completed Kingdom of God is our heavenly promise.
Because He loved and saved us, we have responsibilities to Him and to this world: worship, ministry, stewardship, the right use of resources, and to make disciples of all people.
These are a good many of my essential tenets of faith. I invite you to pray through yours not only to prepare yourself for worship, but also to strengthen and deepen your relationship with the Lord God Almighty.
Steve Nofel is co-pastor at Montezuma Valley Presbyterian Church in Cortez.