- Written by William Weedon, Director of LCMS Worship William Weedon, Director of LCMS Worship
- Created: 14 September 2015 14 September 2015
Reprinted (with permission) from the October 2014 Lutheran Witness (Vol. 133, No. 9)
In the Divine Service, God speaks to us through His word and in the supper. We speak God’s word back to Him in prayer and praise and petition. Have you ever contemplated how much of the liturgy is just straight Scripture or Scripture paraphrase?
From start to finish, the liturgy feeds us richly with God’s words, putting them in our hearts and on our lips, words that we know never return empty but always carry us to Jesus and in Him to the Father.
Confession and Absolution
Invocation: The name of the Triune God, put on us at Jesus’ command in Baptism, is the name in which we gather. We are His baptized people.
Invitation to Confession: We know that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and so we draw near to Him with true hearts to ask His forgiveness.
Confession: Scripture minces no words about our sinfulness. We confess, then, what is most true about ourselves: “We are by nature sinful and unclean” and we have thoroughly deserved God’s “temporal and eternal punishment.”
Absolution: In John 20:23, the risen Christ promised His disciples, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven,” and so our pastor now speaks God’s word of forgiveness to us, rooted in the gift of Holy Baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” to which we add our glad “Amen!”
Service of the Word
Introit: With sins forgiven, we rejoice to enter God’s gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, glorifying the blessed Trinity.
Kyrie: In the presence of God, we ask for the greatest of all gifts for ourselves and for all the world: mercy!
Hymn of Praise: All mercy is because of the Lamb, our Lord Jesus, and so we join with hosts of heaven to sing of glory in the highest and peace on earth or with songs John heard in Revelation: “Worthy is the Lamb!”
Collect: This little prayer “collects” into one brief petition what we ask to receive from God in this service.
Readings: As we attend to the writing of the Old Testaments, the Epistles and the Gospel, we hear the living voice of our God calling us to share His life and feast on His forgiveness.
Sermon: The pastor applies the words that we have heard from the Lord to our lives, calling us to repent of our sins. But He also preaches to us Christ’s forgiveness and mercy, and calls us to trust in Him and to look forward with all His people to the hope of our Lord’s appearing.
Nicene Creed: The creed is but a summary, as Luther noted, of the Bible.
Offering: We bring to God our tithes and our offerings in the confidence that He will use them to support the work of His Church here and throughout the world.
Prayer of the Church: Following the command of the apostle, we present to the Lord the needs of the world, the church and those we know and love.
Service of the Sacrament
Preface: The apostle summons us to “set our minds on things above;” the preface echoes this call, which invariably results in thanksgiving and praise for the gift of Jesus.
Sanctus: As we joined with the heavenly host at the start of the Service of the Word, we now unite in the song of the seraphim from Isaiah 6:3 and also the song of the crowds that welcomed the Coming One in Matthew 21:9. Christ is coming among us to bring us salvation!
Lord’s Prayer: As the family of God, we unite together with all the baptized in the prayer that Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:9–13.
Words of Institution: Our pastor consecrates (sets apart for holy use) the bread and wine to be for us the Savior’s body and blood using a conflation of the words recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul.
Pax: Just as the Risen One stood in the midst of the disciples on Easter evening and spoke His peace, even now He comes to give the gift of peace through His body and blood.
Agnus Dei: The One to whom John the Baptist had pointed, proclaiming Him the Lamb of God, is now among us, and we kneel before Him as He gives us mercy and peace.
Distribution: “Take and eat; drink from it all of you.” So our Lord commanded, feasting with Christ, who comes among us in His true body and blood to bring us forgiveness and a share in His own divine life.
Nunc Dimittis: As we leave the Table, we prayer together with aged Simeon, telling God that we are ready now to die, since we have seen God’s salvation.
Thanksgiving: The words of Psalm 107:1 invite us into thanksgiving for the gifts received, and pray for their fruition in our lives.
Benediction: As the priests of ancient Israel put the blessing of God upon His people at His command, so our pastors speak the words of Numbers 6:24–26 over us, and His words grant what they say.
Saint John’s Board of Worship and the Arts oversees the details of the congregation’s worship life.