The dialogue continues. God contributed most to the conversation in the Proclamation section of the liturgy. In this section, we do most of the talking as we respond to the Word and the Grace we received from our Father’s hand.
Song or Hymn of Response
The song we sing after the sermon is not just a song. At least it shouldn’t be. It should be a song that articulates musically and poetically, the appropriate response to God’s Word and Grace. Which song we sing depends on the sermon, for the service is a unified whole.
In some churches, a great deal of thought goes into the choice of this song. The content of the lyrics is a significant determiner. Some churches just sing one of the ten songs that we’ve been singing for the last few months. What the song says doesn’t matter as much as the feelings the song generates.
The concern here is the dialogue of worship. God says something, presumably significant–let’s say today’s sermon was about “Gracious Giving”–and our response is, “Glorious Day.” It’s nice to have conversations each Christmas with dear Aunt Martha, they are beautiful and relational, but because of their lack of coherence, they don’t really go anywhere. In this analogy, we are dear Aunt Martha.
The Apostles’ Creed
Although many proclaim it, there is no such thing as a “No Creed But Christ” church.
Either you affirm one of the traditional creeds, or you will affirm another more organic creed that rises up out of your context and your interpretation of the Bible within it. The problem here is that culture tends to influence the formation of this creed. Either way, you will be a “creedal” church. And your creed will be reinforced with ritual.
I suggest that we might as well adopt the traditional creeds of the Christian tradition. The Apostle’s Creed is the one that reviews the foundational doctrines of orthodox Christianity.
The Apostle’s Creed affirms
- the Trinity,
- the historical facts of the gospel,
- the person and work of the Holy Spirit,
- the existence of a “holy” universal church,
- the communion of saints,
- the forgiveness of sins,
- the resurrection,
- and life everlasting.
This creed is not infallible, but it is based on the Bible within a long tradition. It is old, and in this, there is some merit. New is not necessarily improved.
Even with the regular recitation of a traditional creed, we are still in danger of ritualizing other non-biblical cultural beliefs. But without this practice, what is to prevent the church from sliding away from the basic tenets of Christianity without even being aware of having done so?In the absence of a Creed (or despite one), here are 12 organic creedal statements that some churches may have passively adopted. Click To Tweet
Here’s a partial list of organic creedal statements that rise out of context and a particular interpretation of the Bible.
- “New means improved.”
- “We experience the Holy Spirit in worship through our feelings.”
- “The most important aspect of the Bible is its inerrancy.”
- “It is better to be married than to remain single.”
- “There are spiritual things and then there are sacred things.”
- Sin is doing bad things.”
- The worst sins are sexual.”
- “Christian living is about striving.”
- “All people are created equal”
- “The worshiper’s experience is important in the Sunday service”
- “Worship is singing and singing is worship.”
- “Efficiency and practicality are Christian virtues.”
Would you add anything to this list? The comment section awaits.
If you don’t recite a creed, take a long hard look at the implicit creeds that have been ritualized in your church. This is a good practice for every church, even those who regularly recite a traditional creed.Either you affirm one of the traditional creeds, or you will affirm another more organic creed that rises up out of your context and your interpretation of the Bible within it. Either way, you will be a 'creedal' church.Click To Tweet
Other posts in this series:
The Order of Worship (6):
The Order of Worship (7):