A Statement of Faith: The Rev. Joan W. Gandy
First Presbyterian Church of Natchez, Mississippi
I am a Christian. With that claim, I affirm that Jesus Christ is Lord and – to borrow language from the Heidelberg Catechism – that I belong body and soul not to myself but to Jesus Christ, my savior. Christ sets me free to live joyfully, gratefully, and confidently as a child of God even in trying times and even though I am a sinner. I am confident of God’s love for me. I am confident of God’s love for the world. God is one. God is three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
At Creation, God spoke and God’s Spirit blew across chaos and made sense and beauty out of it. God created men and women, who defied God, choosing in their God-given freedom to disobey their Creator. God loved humankind still; and God continues to love his children.
Early on, God chose a people called Israel to show the world divine love and light. Then, in time, God did a new thing, coming among humankind in the man Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus taught radical new ways for men and women to live, to love one another, and to love God. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, writers long ago recorded God’s way with the world, telling Israel’s story as well as the story of the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These words now are our Holy Bible, the living word of God, fresh and new for every generation.
Jesus, Son of God, fully human and fully divine, offered himself in sacrifice to redeem the sinful world through his death on a cross. He was raised from the dead, and then he appeared to some of his followers before ascending to God’s realm. Jesus exhorted his small band of followers to take God’s message of love, hope, and redemption throughout the world, promising that he would be with them always and that the Holy Spirit would direct their paths.
Even today, God gathers people as the Church, equipping them through Christ in the Holy Spirit to exhibit God’s kingdom to the world through worship, fellowship, and acts of love, justice, and hospitality. The caring deeds of the Church in the world are acts of gratitude for God’s benevolence and are testimony to God’s promise of redemption and life eternal. God calls every generation to pass on the faith as a God-given inheritance.
The triune God created the world good and intends the broken world to be mended. God calls us to respect the entire created world and act as stewards of it. We sense God’s purpose in the grandeur of mountains and oceans as well as in the tiny flora of early spring. We see the face of Jesus in the stranger and in the downtrodden. God continues to work out his purpose for creation. With Jesus Christ, God’s kingdom entered into human history. In the fullness of God’s time, the in-breaking of the kingdom will be complete. Christ will come again. The broken world will be made whole. Creation will be healed. There will be no more tears and no more pain. The world then will be ever reconciled to God, and we will live in everlasting light and beauty in the company of God and angels.