Introduction to Lutheran Worship

 
 

Introduction to

Lutheran Worship

 

Worshipper, welcome to your worship!

Worshipper, welcome to our worship!

Worshipper, welcome to God’s work!

 

You are a worshipper.  You are not a spectator.  Lutheran worship invites the active, full, conscious participation of each worshipper.

As a worshipper, you will be invited to listen to God’s Word and to receive Holy Communion.  You will have the opportunity to confess your faith, to praise God, to pray, to offer yourself for God’s mission, and to share the peace of the Lord.  You will hear a sermon which sets the meaning of salvation through Christ in the context of present hopes, fears, and needs.
 
The pattern for Lutheran worship as a congregation is called the liturgy.  Liturgy is working with words and actions to honour God.  And we honour God by listening even more than by speaking.  As the Word of God is proclaimed and the sacraments are enacted among us, the Spirit touches our lives.  Our worship provides a liturgy, a step-by-step sequence for corporate worship, which establishes continuity with the apostolic faith and communication with the contemporary world.

 

Be open to the Holy Spirit who will draw you into a congregation at worship as an active participant.  Then liturgy will not be in a book only, but also in you.  In the worship event you can encounter God and his people as

you listen,  pray, praise, and share in the sacraments.

 

GOD AT WORK

 

At the heart of our liturgy is God.  God is graciously at work among us through the gospel, which centres in Jesus Christ.  Christian worship always points to God’s acting and working on our behalf.  But in Lutheran worship we especially emphasize the proclamation of the Word of God and the sharing of the holy meal we call Eucharist, Holy Communion, or the Lord’s Supper.

 

Like the shepherds on Bethlehem’s plain, we can experience afresh in each worship service the message of great joy that “God is among us.”  Whenever we gather to hear the Word and to receive the sacraments, Jesus is there in our midst!

 

So our worship glories not in what we offer to God, but in what God gives to us.  The entire liturgy but particularly the Sermon seeks to give a clear, focused vision of the significance of Jesus Christ for our lives today.  Therefore, we can say that we follow a gospel liturgy.  That liturgy reflects God’s work for us and in us to which we respond with thanksgiving and commitment.

 

At the heart of the Liturgy are two principal parts which hold everything together: the Word and the Lord’s Supper.  They stand like two  snow-capped mountain peaks giving perspective to everything else.   This ancient duo has guided Christian worship since the time of the apostles.  While this structure allows variable parts, the simple twofold skeleton consistently gives the liturgy its basic shape.

 

The Word section in the hymnal includes four portions of the Scriptures:  First Lesson, a Psalm, Second Lesson, and the Gospel.  The Sermon proclaims Christ, the living Word, and applies the Word to our contemporary world.  The Hymn of the Day, the Creed, and the Prayers also proclaim the Word, but they serve us as our grateful and believing response to hearing the gospel.

 

The Lord’s Supper (the Eucharist or Holy Communion), the second central part of the liturgy’s structure, includes the Offering, the Great Thanksgiving, Communion, and a Post-Communion song and prayer.  In the simple food of bread and wine used in the Lord’s Supper, our Lord Jesus has promised to be truly present.  To all who trust him are given the benefits of forgiveness, life, and salvation.  Again, it is God who is at work for us and among us.

 

THE SERVICE IS FLEXIBLE

 The simple, two-part liturgical structure which Christians have used for centuries provides much room for variety.  For instance, lay leaders and seasonal variations in the liturgy are common.  Each season of the church year will take on a different feel.  From the blue paraments during Advent to the vivid white at Christmas and Easter, each season of the church year lets us experience God in a new and different way.  AS you attend worship at The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd you will begin to experience the feel of each season of the church year.

 

The Seasons of the Church Year

  • Advent BLUE highlights the anticipation and hope of the coming of Jesus Christ as a child, as Jesus comes to us now, and when Jesus will return at the end of time.
  • Christmas WHITE is the colour reserved for festivals and festival seasons. Christmas, along with Easter are high points of the Christian church year.  In the Christmas season we celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ into the world.
  • Epiphany GREEN is the colour which denotes the epiphany or the manifestation or making known of Jesus to the entire world. The season begins with the celebration of Epiphany on January 6- the arrival of the Wise Men to adore the new born king and the beginning of the spread of the message of Jesus.  There is much talk about world-wide missions during Epiphany.
  • Lent PURPLE denotes the colour of royalty and is also a vivid reminder of the themes of the Lenten season. Repentance, prayer, Biblical study, oral and social responsibility are all part of the season of reflection prior to Holy Week.
  • Easter WHITE is an appropriate colour for the Sundays after Pentecost. This is a time of growth, both in the world around us and a time of growth in the lives of each worshipper.

 

Here at Good Shepherd Church, flexibility in the worship service is emphasized.  Our Music Director/accompanists /Pastor select the hymns and songs we use each Sunday.  We use many different liturgies in our worship, some sung, others spoken, ranging from our traditional hymnal settings to more contemporary ones.

 

NEVER THE SAME OLD THING

While there can be much flexibility, some people still say the Lutheran liturgy is a routine doing the “same old thing.”  But think of the liturgy as lovers who keep saying “I love you”.  It is the same old thing too, the same words but because the love relationship is active and growing those same old words are constantly filled with new messages.

 

The liturgy rehearses God’s “I love you” to us and expresses our “I love you” to God.  Again, if that relationship is vital, the same old words and actions of the liturgy can never be the same old thing!  They will reflect another encounter with the living God.  The familiar words and actions are vehicles for new meaning arising out of changing life circumstances lived in the conscious presence of God.  Then, too, the same old words and actions keep us near the centre of our faith, dependent on the faithfulness of God.  The liturgy keeps us in contact with that once-for-all revelation in Jesus Christ which has been celebrated in the Christian church for centuries.

 

Lutheran Worship liturgy is actually a summary of the gospel.

The content of worship liturgy is actually a summary of the gospel.  We could even say it is the Bible message set to music and liturgical text.  The biblical message is sung, prayed, proclaimed, and enacted.

 

Following is a list of some of the parts of the Lutheran liturgy and the biblical basis for each.  Other parts of the liturgy, such as the Creed or the prayer at Holy Communion, summarize the great themes of the Bible.

 

Confession                       1 John 1:89

 

Apostolic Greeting     2 Corinthians 13:74

 

Kyrie                                    Luke 17:13; 18:38-39;

                                                Psalm 123:2-3

Hymn of Praise                     

 Glory to God                     Luke 2:14

  Worthy is Christ              Revelations 5:9-13; 19:4-9

 

Salutation                        Ruth 2:4;

                                                Luke 1:28

Verse

Lord, to whom shall         John 5:68

   we go?

 

Return to the Lord     Deuteronomy 30:2;

                                                Numbers 14:18

 

Peace                                   Matthew 5:23-24

                                                Romans 16:16;

                                                John 20:21

Offertory

Let the vineyards              1 Corinthians 10:16

                                                John 6:35

What shall I render?         Psalm 116:12-19

 

Sanctus                           Isaiah 6:3

                                                Matthew 21:9

 

Prayer of

Thanksgiving                  1 Corinthians 11:23-26

 

Lord’s Prayer                 Matthew 6:9-13

                                                Luke 11:2-4

 

Lamb of God                  John 1:29

 

Post Communion Canticle

Lord, now let….                  Luke 2:29-32

 

Benediction                     Numbers 6:24-26

 

Dismissal                          Luke 7:50            

                               

GREAT VARIETY OF HYMNS

 

Hymns, texts and Choruses also bring great variety of insight and expression.  They were written by men and women who lived before the birth of Christ or at other times up to the present.  There are hymns of Oriental, Scandinavian, African, German, Polish, French, Indian, American, and English origins.  Hymns are included by Methodist, Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Episcopalians, as well as by Lutherans.

 

Included are old favourites, as well as contemporary songs which help us “sing to the Lord a new song.”  The differing musical styles remind us that God’s praise can be sung in many and varied ways.  Many marvellous discoveries await the adventurous worshipper through our worship here at Good Shepherd.

 

When we have encountered God at work among us in our worship and in our daily lives, our proper response is a life along alleluia and a shout at the end of our worship, “Thanks be to God!.  We place our “Amen” over all that the liturgy celebrates.  We say, “Yes, it shall be so!”

 

 

From the leaflet Introduction to Lutheran Worship

Mons Teig, Augsburg Publishing House

adapted by Rev. Breck McHan

(Grace Lutheran, Wetaskiwin)

used with permission, Nov. 3, 1998