Similar to “Christ Our Redeemer” I adapted Colossians 1:12-23 into a liturgical, corporate recitation for our church. I titled this “Christ Our King”. Our congregation has only been using this for about two years now, but it flows nicely and works well. The first two sentence are to be said by the minister, with the rest being recited by the congregation. You can find a copy of it below.
Let us give thanks to the Father, who has delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his dear Son.
In Christ, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
By him all things were created:
Things in heaven and on earth,
things visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
preeminent in all things.
In him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
to reconcile all things to himself in Christ
things visible and invisible, whether on earth or in heaven
things visible and invisible, making peace by the blood of his cross
And we, once sinners, estranged and hostile,
Jesus has now reconciled in his body by his death,
to present us holy and blameless and righteous before him,
if we continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast,
not moved from the hope of this gospel.
A few years back I identified a gap in Reformed liturgy: a lack of well-designed, corporate recitation that rehearses redemptive history with a focus on the saving work of Christ. Sure, some churches would recite the Westminster or Heidelberg catechisms, but those confessions were not crafted to be recited in the same way as the Apostles’ Creed. After considerable conversation with a number of pastors and theologians, I completed a draft of something that worked well. The problem I ran into was its title; something that is corporately recited is generally called a creed, but labeling it “The Redemption Creed” provoked dislike of the whole project from my friends and counselors.
So, when I introduced the recitation into my current congregation, I changed the title to “Christ Our Redeemer” without any other genre modifiers. In the Reformed tradition there are no prescriptions on corporate recitations of faith, so it does not function as a usurpation of either our church’s doctrine or the primacy of the Catholic creeds. It is part of the rotation of the confessions of faith our church makes before we come to the Lord’s Supper. And it works well: the rhythm and structure are conducive to corporate recitation, it’s a good length, and it reflects the core of the Orthodox Protestant tradition on redemption. You can find a copy of it below.
Modified, from my sent folder in answer to the question “What are your best theological arguments for a weekly confession of sin?”
Pray without ceasing.
And anyone who is opposed to weekly confessing their sins probably needs to be confessing their sins more than that.
I’m assuming that you’re talking about during the Sunday worship service and corporately reciting a prayer together. If that’s the case, I would be unwilling to make the argument that the practice is necessary. However, confessing sin in the worship service is required by scripture.
1. Prayer is required in public worship (cf. WCF 21.3-4). A lot of the argument is going to hang on liturgical hermeneutics. Is prayer as described in the Bible, the New Testament especially, a private or a corporate affair? The Reformed tradition (history is theology) has said that prayer is part of worship and is corporate, not only private. “Our Father…” So when we see prayer prescribed in the New Testament, especially the epistles, it is aimed at the church gathered…
Our church just finished a month-long sermon series on the church and worship, and this was the definition of worship we used:
“Worship is the fitting and delightful response of God’s people to him, our Creator and Redeemer, for what he has done, for his glory in creation and redemption, through Christ, by the power and direction of Jesus himself through his Holy Spirit.”
It relies on the definitions provided by Gibson (Reformational and dogmatic) and Block (biblical-theological) in this wonderful little list.
Wesley Hill’s essay this morning in the Los Angeles Review of Books is troubling for the reality it exposes. Hill begins by relating a story from his college days when a classmate was in agony over her salvation status as a result of studying Jonathan Edwards. In contrast, another classmate who simultaneously studied Edwards, was about to be confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church, and Hill asked him why.
My friend was slow in replying. ‘When I was an evangelical,’ he finally said, ‘I was always wondering whether I was doing enough. Or whether I was studying enough—had figured out the Bible well enough—or praying enough. I felt that I had to sort out my theology and gauge whether I was ‘spiritual’ enough. But, being Catholic, I don’t have to figure anything out. I trust the Church to offer salvation. Communion is the body and blood of Christ, and when I receive it, I know I’m receiving grace.’
When the Roman Catholic Church’s practices offer assurances of grace and evangelical culture does not, something has gone terribly wrong. Hill is commending Philip Cary’s book on the subject, Good News for Anxious Christians, and argues that Protestants can recapture this calm through liturgical and sacramental practices. He’s right: too often evangelicals look inwardly for their own assurance of salvation, when the gospel is that Jesus is our assurance of salvation. When experience rather than the work of Christ becomes the ground of assurance, anxiety (or pride) is all that remains. The worship of the church, at least in its historic forms, was designed to root people in doxological encounter with Jesus; recovering that is recovering faith in Jesus instead of pressing for faith in faith.