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For our Liturgy reflection today we are looking at the Creed, specifically the Nicene Creed and why we confess it during the Divine Service. There are three ecumenical or universal creeds, the Apostle's, The Nicene, and the Athanasian Creed. However, the creed that is associated with the Divine Service is the Nicene Creed.
The Nicene Creed flows from the Council of Nicaea which took place in 325 A.D. Constantine called for this council in order for the church to gather in the aftermath of the Edict of Milan, or the Edict of Toleration, in which Christianity would no longer be allowed to be persecuted. However, the church was not a unified assembly. There were some who believed that Jesus was not truly God, but was a creature that became God. The leader of this belief was a North African pastor named Arius. He believed that there was a time when the Son of God did not exist, and then the Father created Him just like He created all other things. However, this belief denies the Divine Nature of the Son of God, and makes Him nothing more than a creature like us. His opponents were Alexander of Alexandria and his deacon, Athanasius. They defended the Words of Scripture that says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). They confessed that Jesus was of the same substance with the Father, true God of true God, begotten, not made. They defended the belief that the Son of God is true God, who became man, and died for us on the cross for our salvation. Though Alexander and Athanasius won the day in the long run, at their time they were the minority and Arius' followers spread their false gospel throughout the Roman Empire, with even Constantine being baptized by an Arian Christian. However, Jesus remained with His Church and the true confession abides still today and will until He comes again to judge both the living and the dead.
This is why we confess the creed in the Divine Service. We confess, not man's opinions, but the very Word of God, the assertion of Who God is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We confess that there is one Father, who created and sustains all things, those things we can see and those things we can't. We confess that there is one Son, one Savior, who is both God and Man, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true Man, born of the Virgin Mary, who is our Lord. He did all the work for our salvation and continues to abide with us today. We confess that there is one Holy Spirit, who gathers the church together in the means of grace, delivers the forgiveness of our sins, and will keep the Church until the Last Day, when all the dead will be raised. WE confess the Creed because it is the universal confession of The One True God who creates us, rescues us, and sanctifies us. We confess the creed during the Divine Service because this is where God comes and meets us to save us and forgive us. We confess the creed after the reading of the Gospel because this is where we hear and receive the message of our salvation. What a joy it is to confess the doctrine of our faith together as we receive the gifts that our good Lord desires to give to us.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the voice of your Savior Jesus who says," Take heart, for in Me you have peace, come, let us depart to paradise together," Amen.