We believe…

murdockforwebDepending on whether you are in Rite One or Two, there is a choice of first person singular or first person plural when saying that great declaration of faith, the Nicene Creed. This means you say that “I believe” or “We believe” with the first words that Christians have been proclaiming for 1800 years.

For unknown reasons, the Creed has been said in the singular for many generations. Tradition can be a good thing but there is only one problem with this – the Creed was written in the plural. The Greek text (which was the language of commerce, culture, and theology of the 4th century) clearly begins with the words: “We believe…” It is understandable that people want to state what they understand. Perhaps this included moments of silence or mumbling when faced with a theological statement. We do not want to be disingenuous when speaking of belief about God.

So we have this conundrum between intent and practice, what was written and what is said, and the singular and the plural. I grew up with “I believe” but came into ordained ministry with “We believe.” It was not an easy transition but a necessary one, necessary because belief and its living expression, the Church, is not about me but about us. Church as Christ present in our world is not defined by me alone but about we together.

Whether the statement is “my salvation is dependent upon yours, and yours upon me” or “I am because we are” does not matter. What matters is that we are defined as Church when two or more gathered in Jesus’ Name. Our journey is not one done alone for we absolutely need one another. This is not an “I” journey but a “We” journey.

Give thought and prayer of the profound difference between the singular and plural. We can and do live and minister on own. Put it alongside the journey done with others. So much more can happen. It is richer with the presence of the people of God, and blessed with the voices of the saints of before saying “We believe…”

–The Reverend L. Murdock Smith, Assisting Priest