What to Expect in Lutheran worship
Liturgy means “work of the people,” and our Sunday liturgies (worship services) engage all whom God gathers: as lectors (readers), singers, acolytes (altar servers), deacons (assisting ministers), pray-ers and listeners who, together, comprise the Body of Christ.
Sunday services of Holy Communion are divided into two main sections. The liturgy of the Word has its origins in the Jewish synagogue and consists of reading from scripture, sung Psalms, prayer, hymns and a sermon — an address that relates one or more of the day’s readings to contemporary life. The liturgy of the Meal is the celebration of Holy Communion, which has its roots in Jesus’ Passover meal on the night before his crucifixion. In his death and resurrection, Jesus has become our Passover; we confess that he is truly present to us and for us in the Holy Meal where Jesus Christ is both host and food. These two main portions of the liturgy are bracketed by a gathering rite that changes seasonally and a sending rite that pushes us into the world as Spirit-enlivened followers of Jesus.
When you enter the narthex (church-speak for the foyer leading to the worship space), greeters will welcome you and offer you a bulletin. Most of the service is printed in the bulletin, and notes in the sidebar provide information (the “why?”s) about some of our practices. Hymns are found in our worship book, Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW). Fellow worshippers are happy to answer any questions.
If children accompany you, we hope that they’ll worship with us. We expect that they’ll behave like children, not mini adults! Activity packs in orange fabric bags are available in the narthex, and nursery care is also provided.
Our pastor is assisted by lay leaders in conducting the service. However, in the Lutheran tradition, all worshippers have active roles to play, joining in the hymns, prayers, psalm-chanting, responses and more.
Our liturgy follows the ancient pattern of Gathering-Work-Meal-Sending, joining us with Christians across traditions and throughout the centuries. Our hymns and anthems come most often from a European tradition, but increasingly from Africa, North and South America and Asia as well. Our music almost always relies on our exceptional pipe organ, but we often incorporate oboe, strings, drums, maracas, piano, bassoon, electric and acoustic bass and guitar as well.
Various ensembles support the music: Senior Choir, Junior Choir, Handbell Choir, World Band, and “paperless singing” ensemble.
There is time for confession and absolution, for praise and thanksgiving, for speech and silence. Worship is joyful and reverent, traditional and fresh.