Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Typical Lutheran Worship - 1

Tuesday after Pentecost 15
September 15, 2009

The Lord be with you

Each week I post something I call “Worship Notes,” usually on Thursday. It is intended to give a peek ahead at the Sunday worship service. Some who visit this site, however, might be mystified by these notes. What is meant by “liturgy”? What are these assigned readings for the day? Why is that short prayer a “collect”? What is a “gradual” and when would you use it in a worship service? There might well be other questions that run through someone’s mind. So I thought I’d do a series of posts on Sunday morning worship as you would find it in a typical traditional Lutheran service. That doesn’t mean that every Lutheran church follows this pattern. But most in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod do. I cannot speak about other denominations bearing the name Lutheran.

Today I was at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Irmo, SC (see the links on this page to other LC-MS churches in SC) where Rev. Paul Sizemore is pastor. They had the following announcement in their bulletin concerning their worship style, and it seems like a good way for me to start this series of posts.
    The Historic Christian Liturgy: “Liturgy” is an English word from the Greek language that means most literally “the work” or “offering of the people.” At the time of the Protestant Reformation, Lutherans chose to keep the historic catholic liturgy in tact because of its clear confession of the Triune God. True worship is not only something offered by the clergy for the benefit of the worshiping congregation. The whole people of God, together with pastors and priests, are to offer their heartfelt praise and devotion to the Triune God in response to his self-revelation given to us in the Gospel. True worship acknowledges the complete and sacred “Holiness” and “Otherness” of the true God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Please enter the sanctuary quietly before worship. Take time to prepare your heart and mind for worship by previewing the appointed Bible readings and by praying for the Holy Spirit to help you keep your focus on the Word of God being shared with you this day; in the Scripture readings, in the proclamation of the Gospel in the sermon, in the hymns and liturgy and in the celebration of Holy Communion, the “Lord’s Supper.”
So the “liturgy” for the day is the format used by the congregation in its worship service. We at Lamb of God Lutheran (LC-MS), like Mt. Olive, use the historic Christian liturgy, as we have received it in the Western Tradition. Please notice that the word “catholic” in Rev. Sizemore’s announcement is not capitalized. When the word “catholic” is used this way it has its original meaning of “universal,” and is not referring to any specific denomination.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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