Do you remember playing the telephone game as a child? It was always fun to hear how the message would be completely different from the original message by the time it reached the last person. A change in the message might be fun in the context of the telephone game, but when a message becomes changed or distorted in other circumstances questions, confusion and even controversy can result.
Imagine for a moment what sharing the good news of Christ might have been like in 325 A.D. In those first three centuries Christian churches were being organized, the message of Jesus was being shared in many cultures, and the Bible was being translated into many languages. Early Christians were often forced into secrecy and seclusion. As a result, there were theological disputes and questions as to how to say who Jesus is and how to say it in each of the languages. In an effort to bring unity, Roman Emperor Constantine gathered a group of church leaders in the city of Nicaea (now northwest Turkey) and devised what we now know as the Nicene Creed.
A creed is an historic declaration of the faith which unites all Christians across the boundaries of geography and time and reminds us of the heart of the Christian faith. The Nicene Creed is a historic statement of belief which described the key affirmations concerning the Christian faith and served as a guide for early Christians in contending with heretical or false teaching. United Methodists are not required to believe every word of the affirmations, so why are they in our hymnal and often part of our worship services? “Affirmations help us come to our own understanding of the Christian faith. They affirm our unity in Christ with those followers who first wrote them, the many generations who have recited them before us and those who will recite them after we have gone.” (Rev. Richard J. Peck, Interpreter, September 1999)
As we begin our journey exploring The Story at Faith UMC, we begin a journey exploring how our story intersects with God’s story. We begin a journey digging into a chronological exploration of the Bible to generate questions that will help us to discern and understand what we believe and how God is calling us to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in our world today. So as we begin our journey into faith, we invite you to consider how the stories of our Christian faith that we will explore this year will help to shape your faith story.
How does your story fit into God’s story? How would you describe your affirmation of faith? Spend some time this week prayerfully reading The Nicene Creed.Imagine those followers of Jesus who first wrote these words. What do you think inspired them to write these affirmations? Imagine those future disciples who will recite these words long after you are gone. How might future disciples interpret these words? Imagine that you were part of the Council at Nicea. How would you have helped to shape The Nicene Creed? How might you rewrite The Nicene Creed in your own words? What do you read that stirs your heart and inspires you to share with others? What do you read that you struggle with or find difficult to understand? What do you want to learn more about?
We invite you to bring your questions as we journey into faith this year through our church-wide sermon and study series, The Story. How does your story intersect with God’s story? Enjoy the journey as we get to the heart of God’s story and discover how our story fits into God’s story.
This is your story. This is the greatest story every told. This is God’s story.
THE NICENE CREED (880 in the United Methodist Hymnal)
We believe in one God,
The Father, the Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
True God from True God,
begotten, not made,
of one being with the Father;
through Him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
He came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
He suffered death and was buried.
On the third day He rose again
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.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who with the Father and the Son
is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic* and apostolic church. (*universal)
We acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen