Worship at St. John’s

(from the Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel’s introduction to Lutheran Worship)

"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 our gracious giver God.

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 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 was the service book and hymnal of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, used at St. John’s previous to Lutheran Service Book.]

Does St. John’s have “traditional” or “contemporary” services?

For over 20 years, such questions have arisen in Lutheran circles, and quite frankly, have been a dividing point and heartache with which the Church is given false choices. The reality of it is, true Christian liturgy transcends what we know of “traditional” and “contemporary.” St. John’s desires to gather and unite our family in Christ in worship that goes above and beyond “style” or “taste.”

Christian worship takes the timeless culture of Christ’s Church, and communicates it in the “here and now.” In the end, really, when Lutherans gather for worship, it is BOTH traditional and contemporary as the Church understands these terms, and NEITHER as the world views them.

Christian worship has Christ as its foundation. It flows from the baptismal waters from His side, rejoices in the Lord’s absolution, is strengthened in His Gospel, and draws us to feast upon the Body and Blood of Jesus. Living in these gifts, the Lord truly delivers His forgiveness, life, and salvation to His people! And in turn, we respond with thanks and praise, speaking and singing back to God the glory of salvation in Christ alone!

We have the joy of participating in a liturgy that is not limited to space or time. Words and music, drawn from many eras and many nations around the world, come together in a beautiful service that has its basis in many cultures, yet belongs to none of them. Worship is a part of the culture of the Church, which knows no geographic, ethnic, or generational boundaries or divisions.

Thus, we are comforted in knowing that we join with other Lutherans around the globe, from the USA to Korea, from Brazil to Australia, from Russia to Kenya and beyond, all receiving Jesus Christ in His Word and Sacraments, and responding with the same liturgy and many common hymns!

Worship is a gift for all baptized Christians. God gives. We receive. We respond. St. John’s offers many opportunities to come and receive these gifts. The Divine Service is intentionally and joyfully designed to involve all who gather here in the name of the Lord.

St. John’s uses Lutheran Service Book.


Unwrapping the Gifts

"Unwrapping the Gifts" is the name of a new page that the Synod is posting on Facebook.  It promises to be a great source of information, as we learn and grow in our understanding of the Holy Liturgy.  The page appears to plan on regular articles and postings regarding our life of receiving the Word and Sacraments and responding in prayer and praise.  Check out this fine work be the Rev. William Weedon, the Director of Worship for the LCMS.