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  • Ellen Romer Niemiec

Begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father

Begotten is not one of those words we use very often. Not all parts of the creed offer a clarification, but here we get a little bonus: not made. God is a marvelous creator! God made the world and all things in it. But here - when it comes to Jesus - God begets and does not make. For as personal as creation is, God becomes even more personal. As easy as it can feel to wonder if God is close, if God is far, or where God might be moving and working in our life, our very creed insists again that our God is up close and personal.



I often relate to Mary when I consider my own experience of begetting. It is difficult to fully convey to someone who has not been pregnant the experience of a new life stirring and growing within you. What begins as mere cells within me grows into its own unique life that is made from my own matter and substance. For my children, it was months before they consumed any sustenance that did not come from my body. This small line in the creed is an invitation to think of God as one who begets and with whom I can relate my experience of forming a life that is both a part of my existence and an existence unto itself. That shapes and moves the world on its own, still a part of you but ever more clearly its very own person.


We have a God who begets, who shares their very existence, the very stuff of which they are made. We were created by and share our humanity with a Begotten and Begetting God. We are made of substance - both fleshy and tangible but spirit and heart woven into that same flesh. We have a God who decided that being close to us, in the flesh and able to be touched, but also wholly shared in God’s very substance. It’s easy to forget that kind of closeness. That our own flesh and our own stuff isn’t foreign to God but intended and desired.


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