What About Lutheran Worship?
Why does our Lord gather us for worship?
“To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).
What is at the heart and center of Lutheran worship?
What is the basic pattern or "rhythm" of Lutheran worship?
What does "Divine Service" mean?
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?
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.
Lutherans may stand, bow or kneel at various points in the service to express reverence and devotion to the almighty Triune God. Pastors make the sign of the cross over the people, and the people may sign themselves with the cross at various times as well.
Lutheranism has continued to make use of beautiful ecclesiastical art such as statues of Jesus, the apostles, and other important figures in the Bible or church history. You will find in many Lutheran churches altars, candles, paintings, statues, crucifixes, symbols, stained-glass windows, processional crosses, banners, and other forms of art and decoration. All of these lend beauty, dignity and reverence to the service. They help us to focus our attention on Christ and His gifts. Some Lutheran churches are elaborately decorated and richly ornamented. Others are more plainly adorned. We make no fixed rules about such things. We rejoice in our Christian freedom to use all manner of reverent artwork and decoration to glorify and praise God.
How does Lutheran worship reflect Lutheran theology?
Why are common orders of service in our Synod such a blessing?
Our Synod has always been concerned that—for the good of the church—uniformity in liturgical practices be maintained so that we confess our distinct, unique Lutheran faith boldly in a country where our church is surrounded by so many non-Lutheran churches. Uniformity in doctrine is reflected in uniformity in practice. Our Synod’s first president, Dr. C. F. W. Walther, had this to say about the value of uniformity in worship practices:
We are not insisting that there be uniformity in perception or feeling or taste among all believing Christians— neither dare anyone demand that all be minded as he. Nevertheless, it remains true that the Lutheran liturgy distinguishes Lutheran worship from the worship of other churches to such an extent that the houses of worship of the latter look like lecture halls in which the hearers are merely addressed or instructed, while our churches are in truth houses of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world. Someone may ask, “What would be the use of uniformity of ceremonies?” We answer, “What is the use of a flag on the battlefield? Even though a soldier cannot defeat the enemy with it, he nevertheless sees by the flag where he belongs.” We ought not to refuse to walk in the footsteps of our fathers.
But isn't Lutheran worship German?
—Rev. Dr. A. L. Barry, Former President The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod