I have come to appreciate the "We believe" of the creed more and more. Now I know all those out there who insist you cannot confess for others and how a creed is spoken as an individual's confession of faith. Certainly we keep the Apostles' Creed singular because of the way that creed functions in Baptism as the faith confessed of those to be baptized. But I want to explore a different attitude toward the creed entirely.
I like "We believe" because it reminds us that faith is not an individual matter. The creed (even Apostles') is never distinctly personal or individual. No one of us writes the creed confessed or owns its confession as an individual. The creed belongs to the Church. When we confess any creed we place ourselves into submission under the Church who created and passed down that creed as the faithful confession of what the Apostles taught and Scripture teaches. This is no "I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows" but the I believe of one who is being initiated into the Church through the waters of baptism and as part of that initiation expresses submission to the faith by taking the faithful and orthodox creed and owning it as his or her own.
The Protestants among us always define faith individually and I know whereof they come... but as much as each one of us believes for himself or herself, our faith is learned from the Church, our Mother, who imparts to her children the constitutive knowledge of the faith... the Trinitarian Confession. We believe for ourselves as individuals but we confess this faith as children of the Church, our Mother, who was established by Christ and who endures to the end without being overcome by the assaults and arrows of the enemy. Hell's gates cannot overcome her. She belongs to Christ. The Church is not some utilitarian arrangement for those who need help from others. Christ established His Church to be His holy Bride, equipped her with all the treasures that she may radiate His grace to the world, and He protects and defends her to eternal life.
Remember when Jesus speaks of how oft He had wanted to gather the children of Israel under His wing as a mother hen gathers her chicks? Well, just how does Jesus do this today? How does He gather us lost and wounded, marked by death? How does He do this? Through His Church! Where He has placed His Word and His Sacraments, where His ministers stand and speak in His place the life-giving Word of the Gospel, and where His people find their voice under the prompting of the Spirit to say and sing their AMEN to all that He has done. His Church mothers us with His grace with the treasures of His riches that He has entrusted to her care -- the sacred mysterion (word, water, bread, and wine).
When we stand together and speak together "We believe" is it a subtle yet real acknowledgement of our place within this blessed fellowship as children of God. When we pray, we pray "Our Father" even when we pray alone. When we confess, it is our own voice that speak but the words we speak are given to us to say -- the wonderful confession whose first forms predated much of the New Testament and whose words were renewed in Council to answer the heretic and silence the doubting. Whoever would be saved must confess... not what is formed in their feelings or the thoughts are given birth in their minds... no, whoever would be saved must confess the catholic faith and the catholic faith is this... We believe...
What I am saying is not an argument from history or practice but from the essence of the relationship we have to the Church in which the Holy Spirit works to continue to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify each of us and all of us together. Luther had this high sense of the Church == reflected in the conservative nature of his Reformation. Calvin, Zwingli, and the other radical reformers were much bolder when it came to dismantling the sense of Church or transforming it from that Mother who give us life to an organization of rules and laws and minimum requirements.
When the Lutheran Confessions speak of Church and Ministry, of unity and fellowship, of liturgy and preaching -- it is within this sense of the one, the holy, catholic, and the apostolic Church. This Church exists not for her own glory but to glorify her Lord, soon to be her husband in the marriage supper of the Lamb for all eternity. This Church has the authority of Him who has chosen her -- His Word and His Sacraments, the means of grace. This Church instructs us in the faith and calls us to rightful submission when we would speak of what the faith is -- exchanging the freedom to speak as we might to speak the words that were first others before they were ours... This we believe. . .