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 redemptive 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 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.
This past year I began hosting a monthly book club with the leaders (mostly elders) of my congregation aimed at theological and biblical development, conversation starters for ministry, and growing in a shared, cohesive vision for our church. This was a new idea for our church, but it seemed to have gone well. For year one I was aiming mostly at what church life and mission looks like. We’ll pick up again in September for year two. Below are the books we read together.
All ordained officers in the EPC are required to vow that they “sincerely receive and adopt the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of [the EPC] as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures”. Like many other Presbyterian denominations, the EPC has long debated how to handle its officers disagreeing with parts of the Westminster Standards. For Teaching Elders (pastors), the EPC has determined they may declare disagreements (exceptions) and the Presbytery may allow those exceptions (see BoG 12-4). The exceptions have to be stated and the Presbytery has to vote to allow or disallow them…
One of the advantages of the Heidelberg Catechism over the Westminster Shorter Catechism is the former’s 52-week layout. The Heidelberg Catechism’s 129 questions are divided into 52 Lord’s Day segments so that its topics could be easily arranged into a yearly preaching schedule. The Westminster Standards don’t have anything like that. This is my first attempt at crafting a 52-week topical preaching guide using the Westminster Shorter Catechism…