And All the People Say
Here we find ourselves having arrived at the closing line of the Nicene Creed. After many weeks of unpacking the nuances of the foundational words many of us speak aloud in community each week, the writers of the Creed leave us with the shortest–yet perhaps one of the most impactful–thoughts: “Amen.”
At its most simple definition, “amen” is a term of agreement, a universally accepted method of verbal support, sometimes translated as “so be it” or “certainly.” It was translated directly from Hebrew into Greek and then many other languages, making it “a most remarkable word… It is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). At this point in history, I find it both comforting and thrilling that a word that existed in Jesus’ world–and long before–is still used and understood the world over as an expression of absolute trust and confidence.
Saying amen was a custom passed from Jewish synagogues to early Christian meetings. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon explains that after someone had read from the scriptures and “offered up solemn prayer to God, the others responded Amen, and thus made the substance of what was uttered their own.” The beauty and weight of this tradition means that when we speak “amen,” we’re taking on the meaning of the words as if they’re our own, coming into complete alignment with them, and even taking on responsibility for them.
I’d like to take a moment today to give you the opportunity to make the Nicene Creed your own, and to align yourself with the apostles, the creed writers and all the believers that have followed. If you would, slowly read the words of the Nicene Creed below, allowing the truth of them to sink into your mind. When you get to the end of each phrase, I invite you to whisper/think “Amen.” This small (somewhat strange!) act can be our way of acknowledging the great truths that make up the faith that we have chosen to claim as our own.