Monday, February 22, 2010

Our Liturgy - 8 (Jubilee Bulletin)

Our Liturgy - 8

Profession of Faith

Every afternoon service we profess our faith, usually with the words of the Apostles’ Creed. It is one of the last things we do in our Sunday services. It seems appropriate to do so after having heard the Word of God proclaimed twice. We have heard the gospel, even twice, and we respond with a confident declaration of our faith as we prepare to enter the world once again as believers.

   The Creed is the briefest and most ancient statement of the Christian faith (for more information on it, please see the Book of Praise, p. 437). In just over 100 words, the gospel of salvation is summarized.

   Our practice is either to sing or recite in unison the Apostles’ Creed. This creed is very personal in that it is cast in the first person singular: “I, me, my.” It seems more appropriate for everyone to be saying it, together, rather than only the worship leader. As Romans 10:9,10 says: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” We believe with the heart and confess with the mouth.

 The Nicene Creed, which we use once in awhile, is cast in the first person plural: “We, us, our.” Hence, it is appropriate for the worship leader to read it on behalf of the congregation much like he prays in the first person plural on behalf of the congregation.

  Abraham Kuyper mentioned a third way in which the Creed could be recited in such a way as to show that it belongs not to the pulpit but to the congregation: by having a member stand and recite it on behalf of the congregation. Interesting, however, he preferred either that the congregation sing it or, especially, having the congregation speak it together (Our Worship, p. 158).

   We have a beautiful rendition of the Creed in Hymn 1A and a hymn based on the Creed in Hymn 1B. It’s fine to use Hymn 1B once in awhile, but we need to remember and realize that it’s not really the Creed but a hymn based on it.
~gvp

2 comments:

Frank E said...

Dear pastor, I enjoy your writings about these aspects of the liturgy.
I was struck by your PRO-fession of faith. Most pastors are using the word CON-fession of faith.

In Dutch there is only one word "belijden" but in English there are two words and that's why I am interested in knowing the difference.

My feeling is that CON-fessing has to to with admitting sins, guilt. PRO-fessing I experience more as testifying, proclaiming.

In a few months young people do again public *profession* of their faith in a morning service and in the afternoon we *confess* that same faith as a congregation.

Could you say some more about this?

Frank

George van Popta said...

Frank, confession of faith and profession of faith mean about the same thing. "Confession" of faith suggests that you are expressing your faith in agreement with the church; "profession" of faith has more the idea of stating the faith and of speaking it outward. Subtle differences. I said "profession" because that's what we call it in the "Orders of Worship" (p. 581ff, BoP). I usually say something like, "Let us together with the church of all ages make a profession of our faith."