Following Michael’s suggestion, I picked up the book Political Worship by his PhD supervisor, Bernd Wannenwetsch, to help me think through the connection between ethics and worship. I’m yet to really get under way. But expect some quotes and reflections over the next little while.
For the moment though, have a chew on what John Webster says about the act of confession in ‘Confession and Confessions’ (Confessing God, p 69):
In that act, which is constantly to characterize the life of the church, the church binds itself to the gospel. Confession is the act of astonished, fearful and grateful acknowledgement that the gospel is the one word by which to live and die; in making its confession, the church lifts up its voice to do what it must do — speak with amazement of the goodness and truth of the gospel and the gospel’s God. Creeds and confessional formulae exist to promote that act of confession: to goad the church towards it, to shape it, to tie it to the truth, and so to perpetuate the confessional life and activity of the Christian community. In this way, creeds and confessional formulae are the servants of the gospel in the church.
What I find helpful is the way this avoids both an irreverent functionalism — which does away with formal guards for gospel truth (like saying the Creed together) — and an arid formalism — which treats holding onto the forms as adequate in themselves (even if they are failing to serve the life of the confessing community).