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Before this year, I wasn’t familiar with the Nicene Creed. I knew about Creed, the vaguely Christian rock band of the early 2000’s, but apparently the two aren’t related…

The Nicene Creed (according to the Roman Catholic Church):

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

What I find incredibly intriguing about this particular creed is it is the only one accepted by the three major branches of Christianity. It is one of the few things that the Protestant Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Orthodox church all agree on, though each church has their own translation of the creed.

This creed was created as a sort-of foundation of belief. It is a the basis of Christianity, and in liturgical churches, it is recited every Sunday.

Coming from a non-liturgical background, it is slightly amazing to me that people just say these words week after week without another thought. The words in this creed leave little to interpretation. When I speak them out loud each Sunday, I am declaring that I do believe in one God. I do believe that Jesus is the only Son of God, and that he came for my salvation. I’m affirming my belief that he was born of a Virgin and crucified for my sins. I’m vowing that I believe that he rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, and that he will come again. I’m confessing that I believe in one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

(Side note: Did you catch that? One Baptism – not one Sinner’s Prayer – for the forgiveness of sins. Interesting fact that I will probably come back to at a later date.)

In churches worldwide every Sunday, millions of people speak these words out loud. But I can’t help but wonder how many really understand and believe what they are saying, and how many are simply repeating words they learned as children.

The Nicene Creed isn’t just another set of words to say on Sunday. It is a serious affirmation of faith. Saying these words out loud in some countries is illegal, yet many flippantly mumble them each week. These words are controversial, life changing, and unequivocal.

If you attend a liturgical church, pay attention this Sunday when it is time to say the Nicene Creed. Speak each word intentionally and remember the seriousness of what you are saying. And if you have never spoken the Nicene Creed out loud, I encourage you to do so now. Go back to the top of this post and read it slowly.

When we take the time to understand what we are saying, I think we will realize these words were not meant to be said half-heartedly. These are words to live by.

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Image by John the Photographer – used under Creative Commons License.