My church is firmly part of Reformation heritage and Reformed tradition. This partly means that our worship is architecturally and theologically oriented toward coming into God’s presence, hearing what God has to say, and responding to God in gratitude, witness, and service.
Worship components within this framework can vary to one degree or another, but I am always blessed by the weekly presence of two bedrock elements: Confession and Affirmation. Corporate confession offers all and each of us concrete opportunity to tell the truth about ourselves, and to name with our lips what God already knows is in our hearts. Corporate affirmation orients us around what together we believe, and how that shapes who we truly are.
We most often articulate our Christian tenets of faith through use of historical or universal statements such as the Apostles’ Creed or Nicene Creed. Regular use of these texts grounds and includes us in what most of the Church has affirmed for the longest time.
Occasionally we use statements more particularly tailored to a worship service or season at hand, for example, use of portions of a psalm, words of our Lord himself such as The Beatitiudes, or excisions from other creeds such as the Heidelberg Cathechism:
Question One: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
Answer: That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
During the Advent season my congregation sometimes uses a statement of faith written far more recently. It can be adopted as an “Advent” or “Christmas” Affirmation during this holy season of contemplation and celebration.
We believe in one God, whose almighty word brought forth the universe,
who speaks to us by his Spirit through what he has created
and through what has been written for us in Holy Scripture.
We believe that at just the right moment in time,
God’s Word became flesh in the life of Jesus of Nazareth,
who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit,
and born of the Virgin Mary.
We believe that this good news of great joy which heralded Jesus’ birth
also points us to the cross on which Jesus died, and to his empty tomb.
There the angel’s message “He is risen!”
heralded the glorious good news of Christ’s resurrection.
We believe that this same Jesus is alive to meet us every day,
and to offer us new and abundant life.
We rejoice in the knowledge that he will one day return
to rule in righteousness, to renew the earth, and to claim us as God’s own.