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"The rhythm of our worship is from Him to us, and then from us back to Him. He gives His gifts, and together we receive and extol Him. We build each other up as we speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Our Lord gives us His body to eat and His blood to drink. Finally His blessing moves us out into our calling, where His gifts have their fruition."  - Dr. Norman Nagel

At St. Paul's, our Sunday morning worship is not about what we offer to God--it is all about what God offers to us. This is why Lutherans refer to their Sunday worship as The Divine Service. Each week we gather before God as sinners to be served by Him and receive everything He promises to us: the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. He delivers these blessings through the proclamation of His Word and the administration of the Sacraments. As He gives, so we receive and respond joyfully with songs, prayers, and thanksgiving.

It is for that same reason that our worship follows the traditional Lutheran liturgy, or order of service--a pattern of worship followed by Christians of every tribe, language, and nation for thousands of years.  Every last element of the liturgy is designed to deliver Christ to his people by putting us where He has promised to be--in the preaching of His Word and the administration of the Sacraments.


Introduction to Liturgy

In the introductory class of "Why Lutherans Sing: A Study of the Historic Liturgy," we cover some high-level questions including why we worship, why its worth studying the historic liturgy, and what elements make a liturgy good at being a liturgy.

Introduction to Liturgy
The Invocation

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  It's a simple phrase, but those few words say an awful lot--so much so that today's class is entirely about this one line.  

The Invocation
Confession and Absolution

A lot of people think its a bit of a downer to publicly confess each week that we are poor, miserable sinners.  But in so doing, we are only saying what God HImself says about us.  As we walk in His light, the Physician of our souls grants us the forgiveness we desperately need through Christ's promise of salvation, and it doesn't get much more uplifting than that.

Confession and Absolution - Part 1
The Introit

The word "Introit" means to enter in.  Having confessed our sins and being absolved, we are now ready to enter into God's presence. The Introit begins the Divine Service's movement towards its center, where God Himself is present in Christ's body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

The Kyrie

In Luke 18:35-43, a blind beggar called out to Jesus as though to a visiting king, "Son of David, have mercy on me."  Like any good king, Jesus did so, and gave the man his sight.  Each week, having entered the presence of the God whose nature it is to be merciful, we likewise call out to Christ with this simple, all-purpose prayer:  "Lord have mercy!"

The Gloria

Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, good-will toward men!

God has granted the mercy we prayed for in the Kyrie with the incarnation of his beloved Son.  In the Gloria, we join in the song of the angels who filled the sky as they declared Christ's birth to those shepherds over 2,000 years ago.  

The Gloria
The Salutation

It's more than just "good morning" or generic well-wishing.  When the pastor says, "The Lord be with you" and the congregation responds, "and with thy spirit," we are all invited to act as one with the Lord in what follows.

The Collect

These very simple, very beautiful prayers include some of the earliest recorded by Christians.  In the Collect, we collect the prayers of the Church and offer them to the Lord alongside all of the saints: past, present, and future.

The Lectionary

2nd Century apologist Justin Martyr wrote of the ancient Church, "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits."  We continue this same tradition when we gather today and gladly hear the Word of God recorded by the prophets and the apostles in Holy Scripture.

The Lectionary - Part 1
The Creed

As Christ repeatedly warned, many false teachers and false prophets have come and gone, preaching and teaching against what Christ taught us.  In response, the Church has written creeds--statements of belief to help Christians discern truth from error.  Christ promised us, "Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 10:32)  And so, each week we stand up to be counted and publically confess the words of these creeds and our belief in the Triune God.

The Creed - Part 1

Martin Luther wrote that, "next to the word of God, music deserves the highest praise."  It should therefore be no surprise that Lutherans continue the Church's tradition of blending the two together in our hymns.  Our hymnal is just about as broad of a collection of music spanning centuries and cultures as exists anywhere--all dedicated to praising God, teaching his Word, and collecting the prayers of His people.

Hymns - Part 1
The Sermon

Everything in the liturgy is God's word in one way or another.  However, the sermon affords an opportunity to explicitly connect that word to the people, the lives, and the circumstances of a specific congregation.  At this time, the Pastor unpacks the Scripture we've just read to deepen our understanding of Christ's teachings.

The Offertory

It is better to give than to receive.  And so the God who gives us all that we have gives us also an opportunity to give as He does.  The tithes and offerings of his people are the means God has used to support priestly ministry for thousands of years, and His Church remains blessed to be able to take part in it.

The Prayer of the Church

The Offering continues with the Prayer of the Chuch (or perhaps the Prayer of the Church begins with the Offering, depending on how you look at it.)  Just as we offer our tithes and gifts, we also lay before God our petitions, concerns, friends, families, neighbors, and the entire world in prayer.

The Preface and the Proper Preface

With the Preface, the congregation begins the service of the sacrament in which we celebrate the Eucharist--the great act of thanksgiving for God's greatest gift to his Church, the body and blood of of Lord, Jesus Christ, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.

The Sanctus

As it sings the Sanctus, the church joins the angels in Isaiah's vision crying "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabbaoth," ever mindful of the fact that in the Lord's Supper, we too are in the presence of the Holy One of Israel.