The Creed & Homily
Standing between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Sacrament is the Creed and Homily. These function as a pivot point between what is sometimes called the ante-communion and the communion. We have been granted an audience with God to enter into His throne room through the Entrance Rite. After entering His throne room we have heard the words of the King in the Liturgy of the Word, which culminated in the very words of Jesus himself. We now seek to understand how we should live out this royal decree.
This is the function of the homily. It takes the words declared from the throne and presents them to the citizens of the Kingdom to encourage people to pattern their own lives after the example and teaching of Jesus. It is an act of discipleship. It is essentially the preacher saying, “this is what I have learned from our Great Teacher and how His teaching has changed my life; let me share this with you what I have learned so that you too can follow Him.”
The function fo the Creed is related to that of the Homily. During the liturgy the Nicene Creed is recited (see pg. 12 in your liturgy bulletin for reference). This Creed provides for us the guideposts of orthodoxy; it is the distilled essence of the Teaching of God, through the church, regarding the identity of the triune God and the foundation of His relationship with all of creation and the church. It is, therefore, a litmus test of whether or not the teaching of the homily was consistent with orthodoxy and an opportunity for the congregation, in community, to renew their commitment to the ancient faith that has been handed down to us.
The recitation of the Creed is an active process, for it is the living faith of the church. Because of this we engage in several manual actions throughout the recitation. It begins by standing and facing “liturgical east” (the altar). We then bow at the name of Jesus (which should be our routine response in worship anyway). This helps to reorient our hearts to reverence the one of whom we are speaking.
The Creed also contains a rehearsal of the incarnation, during which it is customary to genuflect. By bending to one knee we express deep reverence for the act of humility of Christ, who humbled himself to enter creation in His incarnation. We stay on a knee from the line “came down from heaven” through the line “and was made man.” We also bow our head after the line “worshipped and glorified” to acknowledge that the Creed has now fully referenced the Trinity and that we glorify not only God the Father and God the Son, but also God the Holy Spirit. Finally, after we have referenced “resurrection of the dead’ it is customary to cross oneself. This is a reminder that our own hope of resurrection is the result of Christ's own conquest of death at His resurrection, after He put to death sin on the cross. It is also a reminder of our own baptism, and the sign of the cross made over us, which makes us heirs of the everlasting hope that we gain through our entrance into the Divine Kingdom.
(As published in St. Luke's bulletin, 6/3/18)