Down from heaven

Having made it absolutely clear that Jesus is of one being with the Father, the Creed moves on to the Incarnation - how God takes on human form and flesh.

It begins by explaining why God took such a step - it was for us and for our salvation - an act of love as God reconciles us to Himself.

"He came down from heaven" may cause a few problems in our day - we now know that heaven is not on the clouds. Again, it is a sign that as our human knowledge expands so does our sense of awe at the Mystery.

For the writers of the Creed, it was as incomprehensible that anyone should come down from the heavens as it is for us to work out how to explain heaven in our own time.The writers knew in the depths of their beings the truth of the psalmist words "as the heavens are high above the earth - so far are My thoughts for your thoughts - My ways beyond your ways..."

Standing gazing at something they could not touch and seeing it as the dwelling place of God filled them with the same awe as we might feel gazing into the stretches of space and speculating if other sentient beings live there.

Our awe is further stretched now in realising that, vast though the Universe is (remember the writers of the Creed thought the stars were set in a dome above the earth - not suns countless millions of miles away) -
and how old it is (remember the writers thought the world was just over 4000 years old!) -
that God cannot be contained in it....

The writers of the Creed had an image of God that was huge - we are challenged by an even greater image - of God who is beyond time and space.

So, our knowledge may be greater - but that only expands the Mystery - it does not diminish it.

As it stands, the phrase "He came down from heaven" may no longer seem as powerful as it did to the early writers - at least, if we allow ourselves to close the door on it. If we dare to explore what it might mean - that the God who is beyond time and space took on human form and frailty - then perhaps it still has the capacity to challenge us to take our Understanding to its limits and stand and gaze into the Mystery and allow ourselves to be expanded by it...

Drinking from the Wellspring

  • Go out on a starry night - and try to see the universe as the writers of the Creed would have seen it.
    Try to sense something of their wonder that God lived in the heavens.

  • Now bring your own knowledge about what you are seeing - is the wonder any less?
    Where is God?

1999 Wellspring

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