One of the many elements we employ in our liturgy are prayers and creeds from church history. The “low hanging fruit” in this area are certainly the foundational creeds that all Christians (let’s be honest, all Christians can’t agree on anything) hold as helpful, true, and clarifying. The top three most widely accepted and accessible would inarguably be the Nicene, Apostles’, and Athanasian Creeds.
The Nicene Creed, so named because it was adopted by the Church in Nicaea (modern day Turkey) by an important meeting known as the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. The Nicene Creed’s history is fascinating, particularly that it has weathered the test of time so well. Very few things have endured the combative and complicated path of church history as well as this creed. Most creeds were penned to combat specific heresies on the rise, in this case Arianism, which posited that Christ was created by the Father and as such, less than the Father in “godness”.
One of my favorite effects of using creeds in our gatherings is the unifying power it brings, not just historically but even to those in the room from different backgrounds.
The version we used last Sunday is formally called the Reformed Version, and I believe it to be helpful in its choice of terms, particularly with how the word Catholic has changed over time. Consider using this in your gatherings sometime!
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy universal and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come.