About Our Liturgy

The Lutheran Church is a liturgical Church. In keeping with this, we follow a very orderly and well-thought out order of Service. This order of Service respects the voice of those who have gone before us. Throughout the centuries the Church has added to and subtracted from this Service so that God’s service to us might be clearly seen. The Service is still growing and changing, albeit ever so carefully and gradually, so that only the best things and ways are passed on to subsequent generations.

The Divine Service follows the life of Christ. In the Gloria, we witness Jesus’ birth. In the readings, Creed, and sermon, we follow Jesus’ during His earthly ministry. In the Sanctus, we stand with the crowds of Palm Sunday. In the Words of Institution, we sit with the disciples in the upper room on Maundy Thursday. In the Angus Dei, we witness Good Friday. In the distribution of Communion, we see, touch, and taste our resurrected Lord. At the Benediction, we see Him ascend into heaven. Because the Service is the story of Jesus’ life, it is the story of our salvation.

As you browse the following order, take note that God’s mercy and peace are prevalent throughout. God is merciful to us by giving us peace. It is also important to note that many of the phrases are direct quotations from Scripture. The rest are paraphrases of Scripture. Thus the Divine Service is Scripture in action.

Lutherans were known as the singing church. We have carried this tradition on by continuing to confess the faith in songs. The Opening Hymn serves to focus our hearts and minds on the theme of the day or to call upon the Holy Spirit.1 Sam. 16:23
Keep your eyes fixed on the cross of Christ, and you will find strength as you live through each day.
INVOCATIONThis is the same Name into which we were baptized. The only way we can approach God is through faith in Jesus. This faith was given at Baptism. There our sinful flesh was buried with Christ and God raised us up to new life with Christ. The sign of the cross is made reminding us of our Baptisms. “Amen” is a Hebrew word meaning “truth.” God has given; we respond.Matt. 28:19
Col. 3:17
Matt. 18:20
Beginning each day with the invocation is a great reminder that your life and day are sanctified by Holy Baptism
CONFESSIONOur first words confess our sins. We acknowledge what God sees in us. We are born completely sinful. We have sinned in thoughts, words, and deeds. We cannot hide our sins from God so we humbly lay them before Him pleading for His mercy for Christ’s sake. And God does forgive us for Jesus’ sake. The called and ordained Minister stands in the stead of Christ to forgive. We hear his voice as we would Christ Himself. Notice once again the Name of God is spoken. What God promised in Baptism still is true: we bear His Name.1 John 1:8-9
Rom. 3:9-12
Rom. 3:23
Rom. 7:8-25
Ps. 51:1-19
Each day we ought to confess our sins to God and ask him for His forgiveness. Having confessed our sins each day we can rejoice in God’s forgiveness and cleansing 
INTROITIntroit means “entrance.” We have entered this building to meet God. God is not found in Jerusalem or in heaven, but at His altar in His Word and Sacrament. At this point the pastor approaches the altar.Ps. 100:1-5
1 Cor. 15:34
Ps. 40:3
Ps. 150:1-6
Keep your eyes fixed on the cross of Christ and you will find strength as you live through each day
KYRIEWith this plea, we do not ask God for forgiveness, but this is a cry for mercy from all the effects of sin that still plague our lives. This phrase is the simplest form of Christian prayer.Mark 10:47-48Instead of taking the Lord’s name in vain, (for example “Oh God”), turn your times of frustration into prayer with The Kyrie.
GLORIAJesus’ birth is God’s answer to our request for mercy in the Kyrie. Here we find ourselves in the fields of Bethlehem joining with the angels to declare the glory of God. The words of the angels are expounded on to highlight the meaning of the word “glory.” God’s glory is found in the birth of His Son and in the salvation that the Son would accomplish. Notice how many times the word mercy is repeated. We ask God to hear our prayers for mercy because He has given us salvation through His Son. It’s all about who God is and what He has done.Luke 2:14
John 1:29
Just as the angels proclaimed Christ’s birth, glorify the Lord with rejoicing as you go about your daily work. 
SALUTATIONThe pastor does not simply wish the Lord to be with you, but through his ministrations the Lord is with you. The congregation’s response is often referred to as “the little ordination.” It assures the people that this man is called and ordained by God and it assures the pastor of the same.2 Tim. 4:22
Ruth 2:4
Judges 6:12
Luke 1:28
This is an excellent greeting when you meet Brothers and Sisters in Christ
COLLECT OF THE DAYThe pastor prays a short prayer connected with the theme of the day. The people make it their prayer by adding “Amen.”Jude 25
The Old Testament reading announces the coming of God in the flesh. The congregation gives thanks to God for bringing His Word to them. For the first two readings the congregation sits. Sitting is the position of learning and listening.Luke 4:17-21Always read the Old Testament in the light of what we know about God from the New Testament. 
The Epistle reading usually expounds on a doctrine from the Gospel or shows the fruits of faith that flow from the Gospel. Once again the congregation gives thanks to God for declaring His Word to them.Acts 2:42
Eph. 4:11
2 Tim. 3:16
2 Tim. 3:17
The weekly readings make great texts for further study and prayer
GOSPEL READINGThe Gospel reading is the first high point of the Service. Everything has led up to these words. The congregation stands for this reading not only to honor the words and works of our God while He walked on this earth, but also to confess that Jesus is bodily present in our midst speaking the Word to us. Thus the congregation praises Christ for coming to them this day in the Word.John 6:63
John 20:30
John 20:31
Discuss the readings with your family around the dinner table.
HYMN OF THE DAYThis is the teaching hymn. With meter and rhyme, the poet paints Scripture in a most memorable way to strengthen and reinforce the truths of the Gospel Reading. We sit to sing this hymn.Col. 3:16
Ps. 78:4
Daily prayer life is enriched by meditation upon hymn verses.
SERMONThe purpose of this is to preach the Gospel. This is not a time for entertainment or education, although we may learn, but proclamation. At its basic the sermon is an extension of the confession and absolution. It takes the Scripture readings and applies them to us; after all, they were spoken to us. The Law of God accuses us of sin. It reveals where we have failed. It shows us that our just punishment is hell. But the Gospel in the readings also applies to us. It absolves us, forgives us, releases us, and makes us alive.1 Cor. 1:23
2 Tim. 4:1
2 Tim. 4:2
Further exploration of the sermon text during the week makes a great Bible study
CREEDThe Creed is a confession of faith not a prayer. Having heard the Gospel and believed the words spoken to us, we confess our entire faith before God and the world. Many have shed their blood holding fast to these words. By confessing the same words, we unite ourselves with these holy martyrs and beseech God to keep us faithful to Him even in the face of death.1 Tim. 6:12
Matt. 10:32-33
Rom. 10:9-10
Repetition of the creed equips us for public witness by grounding our confession in the fundamentals of our faith
OFFERINGOut of love for our God who has taken on flesh to redeem us from hell by His death, we give to God. The purpose of the offering is not to pay the bills, but it is an act of worship. It is a tangible way that we can show our faith. There is no set amount, but each one gives in proportion to his faith and in the blessings he has received. All give out of love and thanks for all that God has done.Ps. 116:12-14 Ps. 116:17-19Our offerings can lift our daily work out of the routine if we see it as opportunity to earn gifts to return to God
PRAYER OF THE CHURCHThis is a longer prayer. God has promised us blessings in His Word now we simply ask God for those blessings in prayer. (Prayer is repeating back to God what He has promised to us.) Here we pray for the needs of the Church throughout the world. This is in accord with St. Paul’s words to Timothy. Since the needs of the Church are unchanging, this prayer does not follow the seasons of the church year. If any specific prayers have been requested, they are inserted at the appropriate place in this prayer.1 Tim. 2:16
James 5:16
The wide variety of needs prayed for in this prayer is a good model for our daily prayers.
PREFACEThis section is the oldest and least changed part of the liturgy. Once again we have the “little ordination.” We find this phrase whenever the pastor is about to act in the stead of Christ. We are asked to “lift up our hearts,” since our God is coming to us to unite His Body with ours so that we are even more certain of His love. The Communion Service is full of joy and thanks.2 Tim. 4:22
Col. 3:1
Ps. 136:1-26
The gift of the Lord’s Supper is worthy of our thanks every day.
SANCTUSThis is the Great Thanksgiving of faith. His arrival is near. Heaven crashes with earth as the song of the heavenly hosts (Holy, holy, holy) is joined with the song of Palm Sunday (Blessed is He) to create one of the most comforting and sublime portions of the liturgy. We stand in heaven before the Holy Lord with angels and archangels and all the saints to give thanks to God Himself. Yet we do not fear. Just as Christ humbly rode forth on Palm Sunday to win salvation, so now He rides forth in humble bread and wine to give us salvation. This is why we give thanks. Notice the lack of “I” or “we.” We do not draw any attention to our act of giving thanks, but to the One, who is being thanked.Isaiah 6:3
Matt. 21:9
The intense reverence for God’s holiness in this song should carry over into our daily lives
WORDS OF CONSECRATIONChrist has now arrived. This is the second high point in the liturgy. Everything has led up to Christ uniting Himself to us in this Meal. What is present for us to eat and drink is made clear: His Body and His Blood. It is not the worthiness or words of the pastor that brings about the true presence of Christ, but Christ’s command to do this. He has united His command and act with our speaking. God does not lie to us. When He says, “This is My Body…/this is My Blood…,” we believe the bread to be Christ’s Body and the wine to be Christ’s Blood, although we cannot explain or understand it. These words are pure Gospel. It was “for us” that Christ was sacrificed. It is “for us” that Christ now comes.Matt. 26:26-28
Mark 14:22-24
Luke 22:19-20
1 Cor. 11:23-25
Though we are blessed with many good foods, no other meal gives the body and blood of Christ to sinners
LORD’S PRAYERThe one perfect prayer that our Lord gave to us we now repeat back to Him. It is a perfect table prayer for this Supper since God is giving to us the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.Matt. 6:9-13Daily the baptized people of God pray. The Lord’s Prayer is both a prayer to pray and a model for all our prayers. 
PAXPax means “peace.” On the first Easter evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples and spoke these words to comfort them. Now the resurrected Christ appears to us in consecrated bread and wine to comfort us with His peace. There is forgiveness in these words.John 20:19-21
John 20:26 John 14:27
During stressful times, remember the peace of Christ that you received on Sunday in His supper.
AGNUS DEIJohn the Baptist’s comment about Jesus is true. Jesus took away our sins by His death. His Body hung on a cross. His Blood dripped from His wounds. That Sacrifice now comes to us in consecrated bread and wine to take away our sins. By receiving Him with our mouths, we receive Him and the peace He won by His death. Therefore this song is directed toward Christ’s real presence on the altar.John 1:29During stressful times, remember the peace of Christ that you received on Sunday in His supper.
THE DISTRIBUTIONHere our Lord unites Himself to us and us to Him through our eating and drinking. Our Lord is the Host of this Feast, yet He is also our Meal. This is a remedy against death for we are united flesh to flesh and bone to bone with Jesus. Thus we will live forever with our bodies. Yes, we have received forgiveness in the Absolution. Yes, we have heard and received it in the preaching of the Gospel. But God in His mercy has instituted many ways for us to receive Christ and His forgiveness. So we make full use of them all.During the distribution, the communicants may kneel – a position of humility; we are not worthy to receive this Feast. The pastor holds up the Host and says, “The Body of Christ.” It is fitting for the communicant to respond, “Amen,” meaning, “Truth,” that is, “What you have said is true. It is the Body of Christ.” The pastor gives the Host to the communicant with the words, “given for you.” The distribution of the Cup follows with a similar pattern. The pastor then dismisses the table with a word of peace, once again recalling Jesus’ visit to the disciples in the locked room on Easter. The sign of the cross is made signifying that we have received the full blessings of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross and so we have received God’s peace.
POST-COMMUNIONGod has served us in the Divine Service by coming to us in His Word and Sacrament. Now we go out into the world to serve others. This is our worship to God. There is no void between Sunday morning and the week days. The peace and love poured into us here flows out of us to our neighbor. We give ourselves to the service of others just as Christ gave Himself to us. The Prayer highlights these truths.Ps. 136:1-26
Ps. 118:1-29
Daily we remember His blessings. In our words and deeds we will tell what He has done. 
BENEDICTIONAt the beginning of the Service, we were reminded that God had placed His Name on us in Baptism. Here God once again places His name on us. It is threefold for God is Triune. Therefore we respond with a threefold “Amen.” The Father has given His Son through the Holy Spirit in Word and in Sacrament.Num. 6:22-27Live each day with confidence, knowing that you have the Lord’s blessing and presence with you

Concluding remarks on the Divine Service: There is no greater story than God’s story. It is a story of God’s grace and mercy shown to the world, of God giving and man receiving. Therefore God’s story is the world’s story. All history centers on this divine love and mercy. Only when we understand God’s story will we rightly understand our individual stories.

Here in the Divine Service, God’s story is told week after week. We have done nothing to move God to act in this way. Daily we sin and pile up God’s wrath against us. But still Jesus took on flesh, suffered, died, and rose. In the Divine Service this is proclaimed to us. We are thrust into Jesus’ life and work in the very words we sing. The forgiveness, life, and salvation He won on the cross God now gives to us in Word and Sacrament. God has won it; we have received it. God has given; we are blessed.

In this Divine Service we are brought into heaven itself. Our voices join with the holy angels and all the saints. This is our true home. God is our true Father. Jesus is our true brother. This is our identity. But the triumphant saints remain where we cannot. We are one with them, but they have fought their battles, finished their race. We must continue to fight and run. But God goes with us. He has been placed in us through Word and Sacrament and He will sustain us in this world until we gather yet again with our family to hear God’s story and receive his heavenly gifts.