Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sermon - Pentecost 20 2009

This past Sunday we introduced a change to the liturgy. Eric and I were unhappy with the noticeable drop in energy that would happen on Sundays when we recite the Creeds together. Both the Nicene and Apostle's Creed get recited with very little enthusiasm or conviction. I think there are several different reasons why this may be the case, but regardless of the cause we needed to do something to revive this part of the service.

So after talking about in a staff meeting Eric and I both went to our books and read up what various people had to say about the history of saying the Creeds in worship and the principles behind sustaining the practice. We noted that although including the Creeds in the Liturgy has been a gradual and piecemeal evolution, there seems to a consensus (including Marion Hatchett and Richard Giles) that saying some sort of Affirmation of Faith is desirable. However, it doesn't necessarily have to be one of the conciliar Creeds (Apostle's, Nicene, Athanasian, etc.). Common Worship 2000 (a set of liturgies used in the UK) has a whole series of alternative Affirmations of Faith, most taken straight from scripture. As Giles points out, it's hard to argue that 4th century philosophical jargon written by a committee of bishops is superior to Holy Writ for expressing what we believe.

We decided to take our lead from the Book of Alternative Services liturgy for Morning Prayer, which gives the Shema with the Summary of the Law as an alternative to saying the Apostle's Creed:
Hear, O Israel,
the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

This is the first and the great commandment.
The second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself.

There is no commandment greater than these.

There was another issue at stake for us--hospitality. Specifically, we were thinking of the event we are having for Holocaust Education Week on All Saint's (November 1st). We already getting calls from Jewish folks that will be attending that day specifically to hear our guests do a "Musical Presenation of the Jewish Spirit." Jenny Eisentein, a concentration camp survivor, will be singing. Anna Venesyan and Omer Strumpf will be accompanying her. This will take the place of the sermon.

Although the service is not intended to be a real "Interfaith" Liturgy as that is normally understood, we can still be good hosts and pay a little more attention to the heritage we have in common as children of Abraham and Sarah.

Here's the audio...

Here's a direct link to the MP3 file...



Felicity Pickup said...

re "noticeable drop in energy that would happen on Sundays when we recite the Creeds together."
Yes, it's certainly a downer for me, even though I like singing it, as we do chez nous. I thought I was the only one who drops off at that point.

re the summary of the law "Hear O Israel..."
Nostalgia! Got it every Sunday in the church where I was confirmed.

Tay Moss said...

As I said the sermon, I've heard of a priest asking people to do an experiment. He read the Creed slowly and asked people to stand for parts that were in any way meaningful to them and sit for those that weren't. At no point was everyone in the congregation all sitting or standing--a powerful reminder that faith is a corporate enterprise.