Worship

Posted: 15 October 2018 in The Liturgy

There are many who misunderstand why Lutherans have preferred to keep the traditions of the ‘old church.’ Especially today, as many parts of the Christian church prefer to intentionally bring more of an entertainment aspect into their worship, we strive to continue to keep ours in the ways that our parents, our grand-parents, and even their ancestors have come together to receive God’s gifts. There are good solid theological and God pleasing reasons for maintaining our worship foundation.

Yet, first we must consider why we worship in the form and tradition that we do. The history of how liturgical Christians worship is grounded in the ancient synagogue worship with the major change of looking to the Triune God rather than just the covenants our ancestors have bound us to. At the time of the reformation the major theological change that happened among the Lutherans was to refocus God’s people onto the gifts which He gives to us including, and most importantly, the forgiveness of our sins afforded to us in the death of God’s Son on the Cross. Lutheran worship puts the focus squarely on Jesus Christ, who is present for us and with us through His Word and Sacraments. In the words of Rev. Dr. A.L. Barry (1931-2001): “Lutheran worship [should be], therefore, Christ-centered, not man-centered. When we are gathered for worship, we are not contemplating some far-off Christ or meditating on abstract concepts, or pondering various principles for living.” We should, in fact, be focused on our Lord Jesus Christ, His death, resurrection, ascension, and His return.

The proper term for our Sunday gatherings would be the Divine Service. Yet, even this simple term gets misunderstood for it is not that we gather to give service to God, but rather it is a time to receive His service to us. For He serves us in His forgiveness and His renewing of our faith through our hearing of His Word and our reception of the Body and Blood of His Son in the Sacrament.

Although there are many who do ‘serve’ His efforts in the form of ushering, visitor greeters, lectors, musicians, and altar assistants these services are given, through the leading of the Holy Spirit as a response to our receiving His gifts. Not as sacrifices to Him.
Even the ordering of the Divine Service has been set down to cause God’s Word to weave His story for us. This story moves from the Invocation to the Benediction of each worship. Perhaps next month some of the details of that ordering can be given here as a helpful reminder of why and how our Lutheran worship is so explicitly God centered rather than Man centered.

Pastor Storrs †

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