Why Recite a Creed Every Week?
Every week, before we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we recite together one of the ancient Creeds of the Christian Church. Most of the time we use the Apostles Creed, but we also use the Nicene Creed and occasionally parts of the Heidelberg Catechism. Why do we do this?
First, reciting a Creed names and gives substance to the God we worship. In a pluralistic society such as ours, people use the term ‘god’ to refer to any number of things that they have chosen to believe in. By reciting a Creed, we are leaving no room for ambiguity which God we worship and serve, The Triune God revealed in Scripture - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Second, reciting a Creed connects our worship with the generations of saints that have gone before us, and with those who will come after us. The Apostles Creed, for example, was composed no later than the 4th century, and has been used in the Christian Church since that time. Thus, when we recite it in worship, “we are verbally joining the venerable communion of saints… confessing our solidarity with the Church of all ages.” Reciting the Creed also reminds us that the church is bigger than our denomination or even the American church, as it unites us with believers in other parts of the world who have a different language, culture, and customs, but who share this common faith.
Finally, reciting the Creed as part of our preparation for the Lord’s Supper reminds us that personal faith in the Triune God is necessary if we are to benefit from the Sacrament. In this regard, our reciting of the Creed is not meant to be merely an exercise in mental assent to certain doctrines, but a personal statement of trust. As one writer has said, “When we say ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty,’ we are not stating an opinion or even assenting to a doctrine; rather, we are confessing our personal trust, our faith in the Father almighty.” The supper does not work “automatically” in the sense that God imparts grace to us without personal faith in Christ. If we come to the table without personal faith, we will not receive the grace that God promises to give. Only those who believe what the Creed says, whose trust is in the Triune God for salvation, can appropriately dine at the table he has set.