Why does our Lord gather us for worship?
The most precious gifts and treasures our Lord gives us are His forgiveness, life and salvation. Through His innocent life and bitter sufferings and death, Christ has purchased and won us from sin, death and the devil. Through Jesus Christ, all the sins of the world were paid for and the wrath of God was appeased. Christ has reconciled the whole world to God.
Jesus Christ serves us again and again as His Gospel is proclaimed, as His people are baptized and as His Word is read. He serves us as His forgiveness is pronounced and penitents absolved. He serves us as He gives us His body and blood under the bread and wine to eat and to drink. This is how our Lord gives us forgiveness, life, and salvation. What a blessing it is to be called and gathered for worship by our good and gracious God!
What is at the heart and center of Lutheran worship?
Lutheran worship puts the focus squarely on Jesus Christ, who is present for us and with us through His Word and Sacraments.Lutheran worship is, 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. Neither are we in church to be amused or entertained.Christ is living and active among us, right where He has promised to be in His Word and Sacraments. Jesus said,“Lo, I am with you always, to the very end of the age”(Matt. 28:20). When He gathers us around His Word and Sacraments, He fulfills this promise to us once again.
What is the basic pattern or “rhythm” of Lutheran worship?
Here is how our hymnal Lutheran Worship describes it: Our Lord speaks and we listen.His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. ...Saying back to Him what He has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. ...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 them. We build one another up as we speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
What does “Divine Service” mean?
Historically, the phrase used to describe Lutheran worship is Divine Service. This helps us understand the rhythm of worship—that it is first and foremost God serving us with His gifts, and then our service to Almighty God in thanksgiving and praise for all He has done. This rhythm of God giving His gifts and our giving Him thanks is conveyed aptly in the term, Divine Service. The Divine Service is a “holy” time, meaning a time “set apart.” It is a time to be set apart from the workaday world—a time to spend with our Lord.Indeed, in the Divine Service we are gathered together in the presence of the holy, almighty, ever-living God, and thus we are part of a time of “heaven on earth,”as our Lord forgives our sins and gives us new life today, and eternal salvation with Him forever. This understanding of the Divine Service explains why many who experience Lutheran worship for the first time describe it as dignified, reverent and sacred.
What does Lutheran worship look and sound like?
Lutherans use orders of service common throughout the history of the Western church. The two main parts of the Divine Service are (1) the proclamation of the Word of God, and (2) the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Other orders of service used in the Lutheran church feature a more extended service of the Word as well as times of prayer, such as the services of Matins and Vespers, Morning and Evening Prayer, Compline, and the Litany.
In Lutheran services, pastors and congregations sing or speak the liturgy back and forth or together.Congregational singing of hymns has always been a hallmark of Lutheran worship. The best of musical traditions, both ancient and modern, are embraced by the Lutheran church in its worship, with an emphasis on congregational singing, reinforced by the choir. Our pastors wear special clothing called vestments.These garments cover the individuality of the man and emphasize the sacred duties of the office he has been given to carry out. Throughout the course of the church year, an appointed order of readings and prayers helps the congregation focus on the major events in the life of Christ and how those events affect us today. Preaching, usually based on the appointed lessons, is a hallmark of Lutheran worship, distinguished by a clear presentation of God’s Law and Gospel.
(Taken from "What about Lutheran Worship, by Dr. A.L. Barry)
Concerning Participation in the Sacrament
The Sacrament of the Altar is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for us Christians to eat and drink, as instituted by Christ Himself. Our Lord invites to His Table those who are baptized, trust His words, repent of all sin, and set aside any refusal to forgive and love (Mt 5:23-24), as He forgives and loves us, that they may show forth His death until He comes (1 Cor 11:26). Because Holy Communion is a confession of the faith which is confessed at this altar (1 Cor 10:16), any who are not yet instructed, in doubt, or who hold a confession differing from that of this congregation and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and yet desire to receive the Sacrament, are asked first to speak with the pastor since those who eat and drink our Lord’s body and blood unworthily do so to their great harm (1 Cor 11:27-29). If you instead wish to receive a blessing, please cross your arms over your chest. We in no way desire to offend anyone by our Communion policies. Rather, we desire to be faithful and we pray for your understanding.