Have you ever wondered why we do what we do during worship? What’s up with the passing the peace? Why do we have a community confession? What exactly are we saying when we profess the creed?Maybe you’ve wondered if there’s more to the offering besides collecting gifts for the church. If you’ve been asking, if you’ve been curious, if you’ve been wondering, this is the blog series for you!
Now here’s my super short caveat:
1. These posts are based on the book of Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW), on my understanding of our tradition as Lutherans, and the ways scripture has influenced our practices.
2. And worship is super contextual. That means that every context may have different practices for their worship time, different understandings of the whys behind what happens, and that’s okay!
3. Also, even if you worship in the same context I do, your understanding or feeling might be different. And that’s okay too!
So here is part 3 of Ask the Pastor – Worship Stuff: The Creed
In our church setting, for nearly every Sunday service we say the Apostle’s Creed. It’s not the only creed that we use in worship.
Sometimes, on our children’s Sundays, we profess the “Children’s Creed” together. There are even very occasional Sundays where we pull out the Nicene Creed. My favorite is our shortest creed we often use for special services, claiming to be the oldest statement of faith: “Jesus is Lord!”
So there are lots of different kinds of creeds, but what exactly are we talking about here?
What is it?
A creed is simply put: a statement of faith or belief. One of my favorite confirmation exercises for youth is to invite each of them to write their own. It always amazes me the ways young people articulate what they believe, and even where they still have questions.
There are lots of places that go into detail what the popular Apostle’s Creed means for us as Lutherans (there’s an app for that). And there are lots of places that go into detail of what each line of each statement means, the history, the background, and the reason we profess our faith with these particular words. But I’d rather talk about why.
Why is this part of worship?
I know people who hate saying it each week. Sometimes the language can feel foreign to us, or we’ve forgotten the meaning behind the words we’re saying. We might worry that it puts off visitors, maybe because it puts us off.
I get it.
There are lots of churches and worship services that don’t contain the creed per say. Some churches will have a sung declaration of faith instead. Other churches skip it all together. And as I’ve said before and will continue to say – that’s okay. Everyone worships differently.
But I will say I’m grateful to be in a tradition and at a church that still has a statement of faith in worship.
For me it’s about community, about sharing our faith together not only with those gathered for worship, but with all the people across time and space who have spoken these same words.
When I returned to church, I wasn’t put off by this statement of faith declared by the congregation. I was curious. Most of my Sunday school teachings hadn’t stuck, and this was a starting off point for me in my own faith. What does it mean to believe in God? In Jesus? In the Holy Spirit? And it was together with other wonderers that I began to grow in my own faith as I said these words each week. Some of the wonderers were like me and new to faith, others had been part of the church and saying the creed every Sunday.
We share together our faith, and I thank God for that.
What are some statements of faith you have made in your life? Do you have a favorite creed? A least favorite? How does stating together our faith encourage you?