The final part of our song is billed as the 'Twelve Articles of the Apostle's Creed'.
Now I don't know what people out there know about the creed (Credo - to believe) but there are three such beasties and the first, the Apostle's, is the one that begins with the words, 'I believe' and this is an important consideration. Important because this is a personal confession of belief (I, not we) and was part of the act that saw the new believer baptised (how timely in the light of Michael Nazir Ali's words today).
The other two creeds being the Nicene* creed, which is the first 'ecumenical' (meaning everyone who is 'Christian' should be able to say it without any theological concern) and because it is for every Christian it begins with 'We believe'. The other creed, the Athanasian creed, is a great example of how you can make something simple totally unintelligible when you try to explain and clarify every step of the process.
So here we are - twelve articles, let us play:
1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
Just as our faith begins with God the Father, so too does the creed
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
The incarnacy and the Trinity emerges as we state who we believe Jesus to be
3. who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary,
Enter the Holy Spirit and the 'theotokos' (Godbearer), Mary
4. suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;
Wounded and pierced for our iniquities, died for us
5. he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again;
And having broken the power of sin (death) makes resurrection a reality
6. he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and
Job done - back where He began
7. he will come to judge the living and the dead.
Yep - we believe in the Second Coming
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Not a spook or bloke in sheet - but part of the Trinity - one substance, three natures
9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
One Church, One body - Catholic meaning 'universal' - that's all of us in communion
10. the forgiveness of sins,
Jesus died to take away our sins - all you need do is look in Jesus' eyes and take your ticket
11. the resurrection of the body, and
When the end comes we'll find that our end wasn't at all - resurrection is to be expected (and awaited)
12. the life everlasting.
And when it comes, we'll be with Him for ever (and those who don't know Him can enjoy eternity apart from Him) - Bargain!
And there it is, the basic beliefs of being Christian - in a nutshell: virgin birth, incarnacy, death and resurrection, eternal life, sins forgiven, Trinity, creator and all that stuff in a simple to learn and remember statement.
* Council of Nicae, 325 AD - when the Church came together to deal with heresy and dodgy thinking in general and come up with a way the whole Church could be united and at peace - theologically and practically!