Last night at St Paul’s Cathedral

Though I worked in the Diocese of London for a few years before beginning my formal ordination training, I’ve never considered myself a member of the Church of England. Thus, it is always interesting for me to go to worship down there and encounter their little ways.

Last evening I was at holy mass in St Paul’s Cathedral, London. It was a splendid service, in the round under the dome. There was a visiting choir from St Mary’s, Nottingham who were singing Kodály Missa Brevis, which I just love. It was a good service and there were hundreds of people at it. Modern without lacking in dignity, thoughtful without being stuffy. (All this was in honour of good St Bartholomew, whose feast day was yesterday).

What brought me up a bit short was the affirmation of faith which was used in place of a creed.

It went thus:
We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.

We believe in one God;
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

I’ve no problem with most of that, but what on earth does the first sentence mean – “We believe in God the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named”?

(Actually I might want to bicker a bit about the Holy Spirit coming from on high, but we’ll let that be for now as I do at least understand it).

Does anyone have any idea what it might mean? I kept my mouth shut at the time lest I found myself committing a sin by asserting something heretical.

I’ve checked, and that Affirmation is part of Common Worship, the Church of England’s vast collection of authorised liturgical resources.

But it is still bugging me a day later. What does that phrase mean? Does anyone with better theological enlightenment, or perhaps a better knowledge of our dear cousins in the Church of England know?