Liturgy in the Local Congregation VII

[Previous entry here]

The Creed (p. 22)
The Creed (First Lutheran uses the Nicene Creed on Communion Sundays and the Apostles’ Creed on non-Communion Sundays) is a condensed summary of salvation. It contains the basic pieces of Christian belief, and all Christians confess what is contained in these creeds. When we speak these words, we are joining our voices with the Church of all times and all places in a confession of the faith that has been handed down from Jesus to the Apostles and all the way to our own time.

The Apostles’ Creed, or the basic parts of it, was originally used as a baptismal creed. When someone was baptized, they would answer the questions, “Do you believe in God the Father?” “Do you believe in God the Son?” “Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?” with the words we now use in the creed. The Nicene Creed, while similar in wording, contains aspects that were formed in the heat of controversy with heretics such as Arius, who claimed that Jesus was less than God the Father.

When people became members of the Church, the Creed was “handed over” and memorized by the one seeking to become a member (catechumen), and when it came time to be received into the Church, the catechumen would recite it back to the bishop. While we do not keep the Creed a secret anymore, memorizing the Creed is still basic to becoming a member of Christ’s Church. It contains the essence of the “all” that Jesus directed His disciples to teach (Matthew 28:20).

The Children’s Message
This part of the service is not used in every congregation, and it was only added very recently, perhaps in the last twenty to thirty years. While it is possible that a separate message for children could encourage the mistaken idea that the rest of the service is “not for children,” it does not have to be that way. The children’s message is possibly harder to prepare than the regular sermon, because it is very easy to merely “moralize” at children (i.e., be a better child, son, daughter, student, etc.). But children, no less than adults, need to hear that they, too, have a Savior who loves them and died for them. It is no accident that Jesus was born as a baby and grew and learned as any other child does (Luke 2:52). His redemption is redemption also for children (Acts 2:39).

It is clear that Jesus is a friend to children. They are often His example of what godly faith looks like (Matthew 11:25; 18:3-4; 19:14; 21:16; Mark 10:14-15; Luke 18:16-17), and He welcomes them into His arms and blesses them (Mark 9:36, 10:16). Following Jesus’ example, we welcome children to gather at the front of the church, not as the only part of the service that applies to them, but as a part that applies specifically to them. Often this will take the form of simply repeating the love of Christ in ways that are straightforward and understandable to young children. What they most need is to become familiar with the stories about Jesus and what He has done for them.

[Timotheos]

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2 thoughts on “Liturgy in the Local Congregation VII

  1. Timotheos,

    I disagree. I believe children’s sermons are a terribly slippery slope. Their inclusion in the service is not liturgical and implicitly denies that the means of grace provided by a liturgical service are equally effective for children. The Word of God provided in the Gottesdienst has a power all its own. It does not need to be made understandable to children. Certainly the education of children (catechesis) should occur on their level, but this is not the purpose of the Gottesdienst. The catechesis of children should occur primarily in the home at the direction of the father (or wherever and with whomever the parents feel the necessity of delegating some of this responsibility to; confirmation classes, Sunday school, VBS, etc.). Catechesis of children should not under any circumstances be part of the liturgical service. This is an innovation which must be resisted (and eliminated where it has not been resisted).

  2. You wrote: “Catechesis of children should not under any circumstances be part of the liturgical service. This is an innovation which must be resisted (and eliminated where it has not been resisted).”

    I don’t understand this. Is there any sense in which the service is catechesis for adults? If so, why should catechesis for children not be part of the liturgical service?
    I’m sympathetic to not having children’s messages (maybe because I don’t like preparing them?), but I haven’t heard a convincing argument why they shouldn’t exist. Sure, they’re an innovation. That doesn’t mean they’re inherently bad (although many innovations are).

    “Certainly the education of children (catechesis) should occur on their level, but this is not the purpose of the Gottesdienst.”

    Of course it’s not the purpose of the service, but if children are there, education (in the sense of learning about what goes on, and how one should behave, etc.) certainly takes place.

    I really don’t have strong feelings one way or the other; I understand that some people do. I love the liturgy, but if a congregation does a children’s message (I’d be fine if they didn’t), I don’t think it’s the hill on which to stake the entire war.

    Tim

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