A Guide to Our Worship
So you’re new to St. John’s. Don’t worry. Liturgical-based worship isn’t as confusion as it might look. This page is designed to give you a brief guide to our Worship styles and direction.
This guide was prepared to walk you through a typical Divine Service of our congregation and explain some of our beliefs and practices. We follow a liturgical format that is blended with engaging instrumental music. In our worship we celebrate using our organ, piano, guitarists, vocals, and at times percussion. The music used to celebrate and receive God’s gifts are taken from our hymnal (Lutheran Service Book) and our songbooks (With One Voice & Celebrate).
If at any point you need further clarification about our service, please speak with the pastor, an usher, or one of our elders before or after the service, and they will be happy to assist you.
Almost every service will begin with a welcome from our pastor and then a hymn. The page number for a hymn will be in the bulletin and/or on the number board up front.
Invocation and the Sign of the Cross
At the beginning of the Divine Service, the Invocation calls upon God’s name and shows us that this is His Service to us, not ours or someone else’s. During the Invocation, the pastor reminds us of our own Baptism by making the sign of the cross. (Baptism is where we first received the sign of the cross.) You and those around you may also desire to make the sign of the cross to remember your Baptism.
Confession and Absolution
During the Confession of Sins, we acknowledge that we are sinful by nature and by our actions and therefore fail to meet God’s righteous judgment against us for our sins. But the Lord is present with us and because He has conquered sin, death and the devil through His death and resurrection, we receive the forgiveness of our sins.
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (ESV)
Through the mouth of God’s servant, the pastor, our Lord declares His grace and mercy to us and that our sins are forgiven. The Absolution speaks the Gospel to us in a very personal way. In the Gospel, we receive the salvation earned by Christ on the cross; all our sins are covered by His blessed death. The pastor indeed does have the authority, given by Christ, (as one called by God and ordained through the church) to speak God’s word of forgiveness to the repentant sinner in the stead and name of Christ. (See Matt. 16:18; 18:15-19; Jn. 20:22-23)
The Service of the Word
The Service of the Word is the portion of the service where Christ comes to teach us through His word. This portion of the service holds to traditions of the ancient church’s worship that is centered on the reading of the Scriptures. The public reading of the Scriptures and proclamation of the Word is at the heart of our service. (1 Timothy 4:13) The foundation of our faith is that the Word of God alone raises us up to be the children of God.
The first prayer of the congregation is the Kyrie. It is a deep cry for mercy. Mercy is where God provides for us all that we need for this earthly life until eternal life with Him.
Hymn of Praise
The Hymn of Praise is our response to all God has done. We join with the angels and archangel and all the company of heaven rejoicing over His name placed upon us, The forgiveness He gives us, and the daily provision of all things necessary for our good. We sing in anticipation of His word which sustains us through the remainder of our days.
The Scripture Readings
We read from the Old Testament, from an apostolic Epistle (Letter), and from the Gospel. In a very real way, the readings from the Old Testament and the Epistle find their fulfillment in the Gospel reading. The readings do this not by simply telling us about Jesus, but by giving us Jesus, who was crucified for our sins and raised from the dead so that we might be saved. The Word of God is the Word of Life. You can read the Scripture readings along with the pastor in the bulletin or in the Bibles located in the pew book racks.
Romans 10:17 ” So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. (ESV)”
Hymn of the Day or Sermon Hymn
The Hymn of the Day is the chief hymn of the Divine Service and keeps with the theme of the day’s service. It also helps prepare our hearts for the Sermon. You can find the number of the Hymn of the Day or the Sermon Hymn printed in the bulletin or the number board up front.
Our Lord sent His apostles into the world to preach the forgiveness of sins, the promise of eternal life, and our salvation found in Christ Jesus. In the Sermon, this same word is proclaimed to us today. The pastor’s Sermon is the living voice of Christ proclaiming both Law and Gospel usually from the appointed Scripture readings.
Having received the Word of the Lord, we respond by confessing our common Christian faith summed up in one of the historic Creeds. The word Creed comes from the Latin word credo, which means “I believe.” Through the Creed, we express our unity of faith throughout the world and across the ages.
Romans 10:9 “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ” (ESV)
Prayer for the Church
In the Prayer for the Church, we pray not only for our own needs, but also for the needs of our neighbor. This is seen by the invitation “Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.” This is the longest prayer of the service and may include prayers for: the local congregation, the church at large, for right teaching, protection from the devil, the government, the military, all who suffer, the welfare and safety of ourselves and others, for the conversion of the unbeliever and the restoration of those who have left the Church.
The Lord’s Prayer is the chief prayer of the Christian Church and was taught to us by Jesus in the 6th chapter of Matthew. For more information about the Lord’s Prayer, see page 323 of the Hymnal.
Offering and the Offertory
Just as we respond to hearing God’s Word in prayer and praise, we also respond in the Offering by returning to God a small portion of the gracious gifts He has bestowed on us.
The Service of the Sacrament
The Service of the Sacrament is the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, which was instituted by Christ for the forgiveness of sins. (Mt. 26:26ff) During the Lord’s Supper, we partake of Christ’s sacrifice and atonement in His true body and blood. Through this we are made one with Him and all Christians throughout the world and all the saints who have gone before. This is why we call it Holy Communion. This is part of the ancient temple worship in the Old Testament, sacrifice. Blood of animals was shed in the past to cover the sins of the people. Now, Jesus’ blood was shed on Calvary and Christ gives us this to eat and drink by the fruits of the cross, the Savior’s body and blood under bread and wine.
During the distribution of the Lord’s Supper the congregation usually sings one or more Hymns.
We end our service in the same manner we began- in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Now the congregation departs in peace, reassured in the knowledge that their sins are forgiven.
If you have any further questions please speak with pastor, and usher or one of the elders and they will be happy to assist you. More information about our Church’s beliefs can be found on our synod’s website at http://www.lcms.org
More information about our Divine Service can be found in the book, Worshiping with Angels and Archangels: An introduction to the Divine Service. The pastor can obtain a copy of this book for you to borrow.