Oh . . . if we really believed, not as an article of our creed, which has become so familiar to us that it produces little impression upon us; but as a vital and ever-present conviction of our souls, that with us there was ever the real presence of the real Christ, how all burdens and cares would be lightened, how all perplexities would begin to smooth themselves out and be straightened, all the force would be sucked out of temptations, and how sorrows and joys and all things would be changed in their aspect by that one conviction intensely realized and constantly with us! A present Christ is the Strength, the Righteousness, the Peace, the Joy, . . . the Life of every Christian soul. – Alexander MacLarenThe Presbyterian Book of Common Worship notes that the proclamation of God’s Word in scripture and sermon invites a response of faith and one of those responses is a corporate Affirmation of Faith, such as the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed.
In our church, the Affirmation comes immediately after the sermon and is a physical as well as verbal response, as the congregation, sitting during the sermon, stands to say together some form of what we believe.
The trick with things done by repetition is, as per Alexander MacLaren, is to keep such recitations “as a vital and ever-present conviction of our souls”, noting as he does, what difference in our lives that would make.
We join in affirming out faith as a reminder of what is real, what is true; as a way of internalizing into our very molecular structure, that which God would have us hold to; as a way of claiming Christ present, the very ‘Life of every Christian soul’.
And so last Sunday, we drafted our own Affirmation, our own statement of core beliefs, beginning with I believe . . . Jesus is Lord . . . in the Resurrection . . . God moves in mysterious ways . . . because He lives . . .amen/may it be so . . .
The challenge, perhaps, is to not stand at the end of the sermon, but to jump from our seats, offering our enthusiastic response to all that God has provided us, to provide our own amen of commitment as well as belief, claiming as well as receiving, of God’s own way, God’s own truth, God’s own life.