The principal service of Christian worship, and our normal Sunday worship service, is a service of Holy Communion. On occasion, when an ordained pastor is not present to preside at the meal, we do also worship with a Service of the Word.
In the service of Holy Communion the Holy Spirit gathers us around the means of grace – the saving Word of God and the sacraments. At the communion table our Lord Jesus Christ comes to us with forgiveness, life, and salvation. From our worship God sends us out to share the good news, to care for those in need and all of God’s creation.
Our Worship follows the basic pattern or structure of Gathering, Word, Meal, Sending. The components within each of those sections sometimes vary with the season or day of the church year.
The Holy Spirit calls us together as the people of God.
Confession and forgiveness OR Thanksgiving for Baptism
We confess our sin and hear God’s word of forgiveness. We give thanks for God’s mercy in the gift of baptism.
Hymn – The Entrance or Gathering Hymn traditionally is an invocation of the Holy Spirit or a hymn of praise.
Kyrie – A sung prayer, used on festival days and during the seasons of Advent and Lent.
Canticle of Praise – A song from scripture, either “Glory to God” the song of the angels at Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:14) or “Worthy is Christ” the Easter song of triumph (Revelation 5:12-13).
The presiding minister and the assembly greet each other in the name of the triune God (2 Corinthians 13:13).
Prayer of the Day
The presiding minister gathers the assembly into prayer.
God speaks to us in scripture reading, preaching, and song.
Readings and Psalm
The word of God is proclaimed within and by the gathered assembly. The first Bible reading, usually from the Old Testament, is followed be a psalm sung in response. The second reading, usually from the New Testament letters, bears the witness of the early church.
We acclaim the living Word, Jesus Christ, present in the gospel reading. We sing “Alleluia” to prepare for and welcome Christ in his word except during Lent when a more austere and restrained verse is sung.
In the words of the Gospel, Christ comes to his people and speaks to them anew. This is the climax of the reading of the Scriptures and a principal way in Christ is present in the assembly.
The sermon is the living voice of the Gospel today, shedding light on the meaning of the Scriptures and showing how their message applies to the contemporary situation.
Hymn of the Day
The chief hymn of the service. It is a comment on the readings and sermon as they relate to the church year.
We confess our faith with the whole church. The creed is a response to the whole proclamation of the Word of God including the sermon. The Nicene Creed is normally used during Advent, Christmas, Easter and on festival days; the Apostles Creed during Lent and at other times.
Prayers of Intercession
We pray for the whole world in response to the proclamation of the Word of God. They are the beginning of a mission to make God’s love real in the world.
We receive and extend to one another the gift of Christ’s peace. This is not the occasion for meeting new people or commenting on current events. We declare the peace of God to one another and once spoken, the peace is there.
God feeds us with the presence of Jesus Christ.
As a response to God’s goodness we offer our gifts and our very lives to him. It’s not about paying bills, it’s an act of worship.
Setting the Table
The assisting minister gives thanks to God for God’s gifts and prays that they may be used for the good of all.
Dialogue and Preface
The Pastor and the people greet each other again. We lift our entire being to the Lord, connecting with heaven, eternity, the Creator of the universe. We join in thanks and praise because it is the right thing to do.
Holy, Holy, Holy
A song pf praise, the words of the angels in a vision recorded in Isaiah and the words that the crowds were singing when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Thanksgiving at the Table with Words of Institution
A prayer remembering and giving thanks for all that God has done. The Words of Institution recount the words of Jesus at the Last Supper with his disciples. The prayer also prays for the Holy Spirit to come and bless the meal and those gathered.
Gathered in the presence of the holy, the majesty and miracle of God’s grace in the meal before is, we ought to be speechless. Since we could never find the right words we take refuge in the words that Jesus Christ himself taught us.
Lamb of God
A song of adoration to the God who gives his life for us based on the words of John the Baptist: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Everyone is welcome at the Lord’s Table to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Christ becomes a part of us and transforms us in his own image, and through us he transforms the world. In Holy Communion heaven invades earth. An appropriate reply when the minister says “the Body of Christ given to you” or The Blood of Christ shed for you” is “Amen” or “Thanks be to God”.
Assembly song and other music may accompany the communion.
Prayer after Communion
All our thanks are collected in this prayer prayed by the assisting minister.
God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.
This is more than a wish or prayer. We believe that by speaking God’s blessing it really happens. When you are blessed you are blessed. As the sign of the cross is made, it is a visible blessing that reminds us or our baptism.
This is a closing hymn that looks back at our encounter with God in the service and looks ahead at the way back into the world and the work that we return to.
We don’t go because it’s all over now or because we’ve had enough. We go because we are sent with a work assignment. “Go in peace. Serve the Lord”. Our response is “Thanks be to God”, hopefully an enthusiastic thanks for the service we have just been a part of and for the road ahead.
Who is welcome?
Our church’s official position is that “The Lord’s Supper is God’s meal for the baptized. Admission to the Supper is by Christ’s invitation, offered through the church to the baptized”. We occasionally announce (especially when there are a lot of visitors present) that the altar or communion table is not our congregation’s table, it’s not a Lutheran table, it is Christ’s table and he welcomes all to his holy meal.
Why do some people cross themselves?
The sign of the cross that people trace over themselves is an acknowledgement and affirmation and remembrance of their Baptism. In the 4th century, Bishop John Chrysostom said, “When, therefore, you sign yourself, think of the purpose of the cross, quench anger and all other passions. Consider the price that has been paid for you”.