Rev. Heather J. Blais, Rector
Every Sunday after the sermon, we rise together and say the Nicene Creed. Why is this important?
This ancient statement of belief was created in the early days of the Christian Movement at the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E.
At that time, there were still wide variations in practices and distinctly different understandings of the nature of God held by bishops in different localities. Bishops across the Church gathered for this special council, and at future councils, to sort through and articulate their shared common beliefs. These leaders made decisions about what would be considered 'officially Christian' and what would not.
It was not a perfect system. And given they were responding to particular teachings popular at the time, we may notice things in the Creed today that seem strange or even objectionable. Yet the Creed does not need our belief in every precise word to stand up on its own. You may be annoyed with one clause, or confused by another. You might change the gender pronouns, calling Father- Mother, Creator, or Parent; or refer to the Holy Spirit as she instead of he.
When we rise together to reaffirm our faith, we are rising together with other Christians across denominations and across time; those who have gone before us and those who have yet to come. That is part of the beauty of the Creed--not the exact words but the common experience of rising together and reaffirming our faith across time and place.
The Creed is also beautiful because it is an attempt by God’s children to articulate the mysterious relationship of the Holy Trinity. It is a bit like a young child’s drawing of their family. It’s imprecise and imperfect, if we are measuring it by artistic standards. Yet when you look at the drawing through the eyes of a loving parent--the drawing is a masterpiece ready to be hung and framed. Because in the drawing, your child gave it their all as they sought to understand their place and relationships in their family.
I imagine that is how God feels about the Creed. The Creed is the way we attempt to understand our place and relationship with the Holy Trinity. It is our imprecise and imperfect way of articulating what we hope we understand about the nature of God and the relationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Somehow our God is three in one and one in three.
The Creed tells a story about God the Father, “...maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen” (BCP p.358). It says the universe is good and is the work of a single, loving God who creates, sustains, and redeems (BCP p.846).
It is a story about God the Son, Jesus; in whom God literally becomes flesh like ours to show us the nature of God is love, love, love.
It is a story about God the Holy Spirit, where God is at work in the world and in the Church, even now.
In truth, we will never fully know or understand the inner and outer workings of the Holy Trinity.
So, I cut eight pages from my sermon....
Because in the end it is a mystery.
Yet we have experiences throughout our spiritual journey, where for a moment, we gain an awareness, a deeper knowing of God. A sense of clarity, peace, and love.
As a child, I found comfort and strength in the unconditional love of God the Father. My dad didn’t know how to be a parent or how to stick around, but this heavenly parent would never go away, and there was nothing I could do about it.
As a teenager, I felt like I was on a rollercoaster ride yo-yoing between good and bad choices, sometimes by the hour.
Yet I always felt heard, seen, and understood by Christ. In every teaching of Jesus, I could see it didn’t matter how worthless I might feel, Jesus was telling every single person, that might only half be listening, that we are valuable, we are worthy, we are loved. And once that news has sunk in, go and do likewise. Help others.
As an adult, I have felt the Holy Spirit guide decisions, big and small, over and over again. First would come prayer, giving God all the uncertainties, and then, eventually, a peace that surpasses our understanding. And even when there was not peace, a trust, that the Holy Spirit was with me.
In the church year, today is Trinity Sunday. It's when we sing all the best hymns. Once a year, we join St. Patrick of Ireland in picking up that three leaf clover as we try to gain a deeper understanding of the Holy Trinity. The Celtic tradition believes that all of creation is sacramental because God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Sustainer are in every living thing. God is right here with us, our Companion in this life and the next.
As we prepare to make our way back into the world today, I invite us to go deeper in pondering our relationship with our Companion.
Some possible questions for reflection:
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