Hear and Believe the Word of the Lord, Eat and Drink of Christ's Body and Blood and Never See Death!
Check out an audio file above (Issues, Etc.: Why Do You Go To Church?) on why it is that we are to attend the Divine Worship Service frequently, or every week. Also, please read a brief description of the way in which we worship below - #1. Take a look as well at a good summary of the Historic Liturgy of our Church - our Divine Worship, or the way in which we worship, further below - #2. Following the worship summary, there is also a more in-depth look at our Liturgy from Trinity Lutheran Church, Austin, and another good answer to the question of why we are to go to Church - #3.
At Holy Trinity & St. James Lutheran Churches, we are truly blessed by our gracious Lord to make use of the historic liturgy of the Lutheran Church. Therefore, our Divine Worship is liturgical throughout. The word liturgy means "the word of the people," and so we have the privilege and honor of receiving God's grace and mercy through the liturgy of His Church. Yes indeed, the historic liturgy is the Word of God to us so that we, the Church, have it and are greatly blessed by it. Above all else, the holy liturgy is the action that God performs for us in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit - a gracious, sin-forgiving, conscience-comforting action!
In the liturgy, "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. Music is drawn into this thankfulness and praise, enlarging and elevating the adoration of God, our gracious giver.
"Saying back to Him what He has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. Most true and sure is His name, which He put upon us with the water of our Baptism. We are His. This we acknowledge at the beginning of the Divine Service. Where His name is, there is He.
"Before Him we acknowledge that we are sinners, and we plead for forgiveness. His forgiveness is given to us, and we, freed and forgiven, acclaim Him as our great and gracious God as we apply to ourselves the words He has used to make Himself known to us.
"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. 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. How best to do this we may learn from His Word and from the way His Word has prompted His worship through the centuries. We are heirs of an astonishingly rich tradition. Each generation receives from those who went before and, in making that tradition of the Divine Service its own, adds what best may serve in its own day - the living heritage and something new." (Lutheran Worship, Concordia Publishing House, Introduction, 6)
Another important aspect of the liturgy is that it is God's Divine Service (German: Gottesdienst) to us, or the Lord our God, in Christ, serving us poor sinners with His forgiveness, life and salvation through His Holy Word and Sacraments (Holy Baptism and Holy Communion). The Order of Worship we use is The Lutheran Hymnal, Page 5 (non-Communion Sunday services) and Page 15 (Communion Sunday services; see our Communion Policy under "Visitor Info."), as well as other services in the hymnal.
THE ORDER OF DIVINE WORSHIP, THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL, PAGE 15
(SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION)
The high and holy worship of God is faith in Jesus Christ. Such faith is created and sustained by God’s Service to us. The Divine Service is God’s Service to us (Gottesdienst). It is good to learn more about this service of the Lord on our behalf. In the Divine Service, the Lord comes to us in His Word and Sacrament to bless and enliven us with His gifts. The Service is not something we do for God, but His service to us received in faith. The liturgy is God’s work. He gives, we receive. (See John 4:20-26; Hebrews 8:1-6)
INVOCATION (Calling upon God’s Holy Name)
Pastor: In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.
From God’s Word we know that wherever God puts His name, there He is to bless. In the Old Testament, the temple was the place where God graciously caused His Name to be present. (1 Kings 8:27-30)
God has put His Name – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – on us in Holy Baptism. The Divine Service begins “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Every Divine Service is for the hallowing of the Lord’s Name, which the Small Catechism reminds us is done when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. (Matthew 28:18-20)
The Invocation serves as God’s promise to His people that He is present with us who gather together in His Holy House. As the Holy Triune Name of God is invoked at the beginning of the service, the sign of the cross may be made by all in remembrance of their Baptism, even as the cross is traced upon all gathered by the pastor.
CONFESSION OF SINS AND HOLY ABSOLUTION (Declaration of forgiveness)
P: Beloved in the Lord! Let us draw near with a true heart and confess our sins unto God our Father, beseeching Him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to grant us forgiveness.
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord
C: Who made heaven and earth.
P: I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord.
C: And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
C: O almighty God, merciful Father, I, a poor miserable sinner, confess unto Thee all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended Thee and justly deserved Thy temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray Thee of Thy boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being.
P: Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of my office, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, announce the grace of God unto all of you, and in the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost.
It is only through the forgiveness of sins that we enter into the life of heaven. To confess our sins is to speak the truth about our lives. It is to admit to God what He already knows about us and our sinful nature, and to agree that God’s Law rightly diagnoses our sins. God seeks that truth in the heart and on the lips. To confess our sin is to say “Yes, it is true” to God’s just verdict that we have sinned against Him and so deserve only death and hell. (Romans 6:23)
The truth of our sinfulness is answered by the truth of God’s forgiveness for the sake of the suffering and death of His Son. From the lips of a man “called and ordained” as a servant of the Word, we hear God Himself speaking absolution, that is, the forgiveness of sins. That is, Christ Himself speaks His words of absolution and forgiveness through His servant to His own people. To that forgiveness faith says, “Amen,” that is, “Truth.’’ Amen is the great word of worship; it indicates that the gift has been received. (Psalm 124:8; Psalm 32:5; John 20:19-23)
INTROIT (Beginning or Entrance)
Having received the Lord’s forgiveness, we are glad to enter into His courts with praise and thanksgiving. (Psalm 100) This entrance is made in the Introit with the Lord’s own words, most often drawn from the Psalms. In the Introit, we enter the presence of the Father with prayer and praise.
GLORIA PATRI (Glory be to the Father); KYRIE (Lord, have mercy); GLORIA IN EXCELSIS (Glory to God in the highest)
C: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
C: Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, heave mercy upon us.
C: Glory be to God on high, and on earth, peace good will toward men. We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee, for Thy great glory. O Lord God, heav’nly King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; O Lord, God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest on the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us. For Thou only art holy, Thou only art the Lord. Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
The Gloria Patri is a brief doxological hymn of praise that concludes the Introit.
Kyrie eleison is a Greek phrase meaning “Lord, have mercy.” In the Kyrie we come before the King of mercy with the prayer that was on the lips of Blind Bartimaeus, whom Jesus healed. (Mark 10:46ff)
The Gloria in Excelsis is the hymn of adoration and praise directed especially to Christ. The opening words were first sung by the angels at the birth of Christ. (Luke 2:14)
The Lord to whom we cry for mercy is the Savior who has come to us in the flesh – the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ; the Lamb of God, Son of the Father. In this hymn we acclaim and extol the Son of God Who humbled Himself to be our brother and now reigns over us as Savior from the right hand of His Father. (John 1:29; Philippians 2:5-11)
When we, the Church, sing: “O Lord God, Lamb of God, who takest away the sin of the world, have mercy on us,” we are no longer confessing our sins and asking for forgiveness, since that has already been done. Instead, we now cry for mercy that our Lord and King would hear us and help us in all our necessities and troubles. This is a petition in which we are saying, “O gracious God! Give us all good things through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
SALUTATION AND COLLECT OF THE DAY (A greeting and mutual prayer of the pastor and the congregation for each other)
P: The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit.
The pastor stands in the congregation as Christ’s servant. The vestments he wears indicate that he is not speaking on his own but as one sent and authorized to represent Christ Jesus. As the authorized representative of the Lord he says, “The Lord be with you.” The congregation responds, “And with thy spirit.’’ Pastor and congregation are bound together in this salutation, or greeting, as the pastor prays the Collect of the Day on behalf of the gathered congregation. (2 Timothy 4:22)
The Collect is a short prayer that “collects” in one short petition all it is that we are asking God to do for us on the basis of the Word that we are about to hear – read and preached. (Philippians 4:6)
THE SERVICE OF THE WORD
THE OLD TESTAMENT LESSON; GRADUAL; EPISTLE LESSON; GOSPEL VERSE; HOLY GOSPEL LESSON; HYMN OF THE DAY; SERMON
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul tells us that the ascended Christ gave gifts to His Church: Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These gifts are made manifest in the Divine Service as we hear Gods Word read and proclaimed.
First, we hear from a prophet of God in the words of the Old Testament Reading. After the pastor reads the Scripture, he proclaims: “This is the Word of the Lord.” The Lord’s Word is embraced by the congregation’s response of thanksgiving: “Thanks be to God.”
In this way, the Church confesses Holy Scripture for what it is – the Word of God. The Gradual, which is made up of selected verses of Scripture, serves as a “bridge of praise” that links the Old Testament with the New Testament.
Second, we hear from an apostle of Christ in the words of a New Testament Epistle, or letter. From the apostle we are given the truth that is in Jesus for our faith and life.
The “Triple Hallelujah” is a verse that means “Praise the Lord.” This Verse is an expression of joy – the Holy Gospel of our Lord is about to be spoken and heard!
Third, we hear from an evangelist in the words of the Holy Gospel. In the words of the evangelist we are given the Word of Life, Jesus Christ. The congregation acknowledges the Lord’s presence in His Gospel by standing and extolling His glory and praising Him. The praise continues in the Hymn of the Day. As the Word of God dwells in us, it calls forth songs of faith and love. This hymn reflects the particular theme of the Scripture Readings that we have heard.
Fourth, in continuity with the prophets, apostles, and evangelists, the pastor stands in the congregation’s midst to deliver the Lord’s Law and Gospel in the sermon. The pastor serves as God’s mouth for the congregation as through him the Good Shepherd’s voice sounds forth to call, gather, and enlighten His flock. (Ephesians 4:11; Colossians 3:16; John 6:63; Luke 10:16)
NICENE CREED (CONFESSION OF FAITH)
C: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made, Being of One of one substance with the Father, By whom all things were made; Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary And was made man; And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried; And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures; And ascended into heaven And sitteth on the right hand of the Father; And He shall come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified, Who spake by the Prophets. And I believe one holy Christian and Apostolic Church. I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins, And I look for the resurrection of the dead, And the life of the world to come. Amen.
Having heard the Word of God, we confess our faith in His Name. The Creed is our saying back to God what He has first said to us. It is also our “faith-talk” to one another, as we boldly confess our Christian faith together as one. In the Nicene Creed we acclaim the truth of the Triune God and His work of salvation accomplished for us in His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1 0:32-33; Philippians 2:11)
THE OFFERTORY; OFFERING
C: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me, Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with Thy free spirit. Amen.
Having received the generosity of the Father, Who is the Author and Giver of every good and perfect gift, we now give of the gifts that we have been given. The Offering, or the giving back to God of our firstfruits, is preceded by the Offertory from Psalm 51 in which we ask God to create a clean heart in us, give us a right spirit, and restore unto us the joy of His salvation, that we may be upheld through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12)
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH
God’s Word is always primary in worship. We speak only as we are spoken to. Gathered in Jesus’ Name, we bring the petitions and thanksgivings before Him that grow out of His Word. This prayer is called the Prayer of the Church, for in it the royal priesthood of all believers does its priestly work of making “requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2: 1-6)
THE SERVICE OF THE SACRAMENT (HOLY COMMUNION)
PREFACE/PROPER PREFACE; SANCTUS; LORD’S PRAYER
P: The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit.
P: Lift up your hearts.
C: We lift them up unto the Lord.
P: Let us give thanks unto the Lord, our God.
C: It is meet and right so to do.
P: It is truly meet, right, and salutary that we should at all times and all places give thanks to unto Thee, O Lord, holy Father, almighty, everlasting God. Therefore with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name, evermore praising Thee and saying:
C: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; Heav’n and earth are full of Thy glory; Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He, Blessed is He, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest.
P: Our Father Who art in heaven; Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who forgive us; And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil.
C: For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Drawn toward the gifts of Jesus body and blood, our hearts are lifted up in thanksgiving and praise as we anticipate the reception of the gifts that carry with them our redemption.
The Preface is an introduction to the divine mystery of the Holy Supper. It consists of the Salutation and the Versicles telling us to lift up our hearts and to give thanks. The Preface is followed by the Proper Preface for the season, which leads into the Sanctus (which means “holy”).
The Sanctus is a hymn of praise to the Holy Trinity. It brings together the song of heaven’s angels in adoration of the holy Three in One and the acclamations of Palm Sunday: “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!’’ In the prayer we give thanks to the Lord for the redemption that He has secured for us by His cross; we ask Him to prepare us to receive that redemption in living and joyful faith.
The “Our Father,” the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, is the “table prayer’’ with which we come to the Lord’s Table. (Lamentations 3:41; Luke 21:28; Isaiah 6:3; Mark 11:9-10)
WORDS OF INSTITUTION/THE CONSECRATION (The Word of the Lord spoken, the body and blood of Christ given); PAX DOMINI (Peace of the Lord); AGNUS DEI (Lamb of God); DISTRIBUTION; GENERAL DISMISSAL
P: Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”
After the same manner also He took the cup when He had supped, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink ye all of it; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the remission of sins. This do, as oft as Ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
P: The peace of the Lord be with you always.
C: O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us. O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant us Thy peace. Amen.
P: Take, eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins. Take, drink; this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the remission of your sins.
P: The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you steadfast in the one, true faith unto life everlasting. Amen.
The pastor speaks the Lord’s own words; these words give and bestow what they declare, the body and blood of Christ. The Sacrament of Jesus’ body and blood is the vehicle for peace. Showing them His wounds, the risen Lord declared His peace to His disciples on Easter evening. That same peace is given to us with the Lord’s body and blood.
With the words of John the Baptist, the Agnus Dei confesses the mercy and peace that we receive from the Lamb of God in His Supper. We come to the Lord’s Table hungry and thirsty, and He feeds us with His body and refreshes us with His blood. It is the Lord’s Supper. As Luther reminds us, “Our Lord is at one and the same time chef, cook, butler, host, and food.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 20:21; John 1:29)
THE NUNC DIMITTIS (Lord, now dismiss us); THANKSGIVING; POST-COMMUNION COLLECT (Prayer)
P: Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy word, For mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation: which Thou has prepared before the face of all people, a Light to lighten the Gentiles and the Glory of Thy people Israel. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
P: Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.
C: And His mercy endureth forever.
P: We give thanks to Thee, Almighty God, that Thou hast refreshed us through this salutary gift; and we beseech Thee that of Thy mercy Thou wouldst strengthen us through the same in faith toward Thee and in fervent love toward one another; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
Having received the Lord’s body and blood for our salvation, like Simeon who held in his arms the Savior of the world, we go in peace and joy, singing the Nunc Dimittis, Simeon’s song from Luke 2. Before we leave the Lord’s Table, we give thanks, asking that the salutary gift of Jesus’ body and blood would have its way in our lives, strengthening us in faith towards God and fervent love toward one another. The Sacrament draws us outside of ourselves to live in Christ by faith and in the neighbor by love, to paraphrase Luther.” (Luke 2:29-32)
BENEDICAMUS AND BENEDICTION (We bless the Lord; the Lord blesses us)
P: The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit.
P: Bless we the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.
P: The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and + give you peace.
C: Amen, Amen, Amen.
Once more, the pastor and congregation greet each other with the peace of the Lord. We then “bless the Lord,” or speak well of Him in the Benedicamus, extolling and praising His Holy Name. And we give thanks to Him for all His benefits that we have received.
The Name of the Lord is the beginning and the end of the Divine Service. We are now marked with the Lord’s Name in the Benediction – that word of God’s blessing from Numbers 6 in which He favors us with His grace and peace. With the Lord’s Name given us in Holy Baptism, we were drawn together. Now, with that same Name, He sends us back into the world, to the places of our various callings, to live by the mercy we have received as living sacrifices to the praise of His glory and the good of our neighbor. (Numbers 6:22-27; Romans 12:1-2)”
Acknowledgments: The Lutheran Hymnal, Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Parton, Craig A., “The Defense Never Rests,” “A Narrative Commentary on the Divine Service,” by John T. Pless, Appendix A, 125-130; Rev. Dr. John Kloenig, lecture at the Institute for Liturgy and Preaching, July 25-29, 2005; Zimmer, Allan, “A Catechism of Christian Worship: A Study Guide for Lutheran Youth and Adults,” 20-23.