Our Lord's pardon, life, and salvation are the most precious gifts and riches He provides us. Christ purchased and won us from sin, death, and the devil by His innocent life, painful sufferings, and death. All of the world's sins were paid for by Jesus Christ, which makes it possible for humankind to return to God.
As we preach His Gospel, baptize nations, and read His Word, Jesus Christ serves us again and again. We announce His pardon, and penitents absolved. He serves us by putting His flesh and blood under the bread and wine for us to eat and drink. That is how our Lord bestows forgiveness, life, and salvation on us. What a privilege to gather for worship by our wonderful and merciful God!
Lutheran worship concentrates on Jesus Christ, who is present for us and with us through His Word and Sacraments. As a result, Lutheran worship is Christ-centered rather than man-centered. When we assemble for worship, we are not thinking about some distant Christ, reflecting on abstract thoughts, or analyzing various life themes.
We're not in church to be pleased or entertained. Christ is present and active among us, exactly as He promised in His Word and Sacraments. "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age," Jesus stated in Matthew 18:20. He fulfills this promise to us once more when He gathers us around His Word and Sacraments.
Our hymnal Lutheran Worship defines it like way: "Our Lord speaks, and we listen." His Word means what it says. Faith born of hearing appreciates the blessings received with joyful thanksgiving and praise. We repeat what is most certain and true, repeating back to Him what He has said to us.
Our worship has a back-and-forth rhythm – from Him to us and back to Him. He bestows His gifts, and we accept and glorify them together. We encourage one another by praising the Lord in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Divine service is a defining characteristic of Lutheran worship. That helps us comprehend the rhythm of the worship. God first serves us with His gifts, and then we serve Almighty God in thankfulness and praise for everything He has done. The name “Divine Service” accurately conveys the rhythm of God offering His gifts and us returning Him thanks.
The Divine Service is a "holy" hour, which means it is "set apart." It is a time to be apart from the daily grind. It's an appointed time to spend with our Lord. Indeed, in the Divine Service, we are assembled in the presence of the holy, omnipotent, and ever-living God. Therefore we are a part of a period of "heaven on earth," as our Lord forgives our iniquities and grants us new life presently, as well as eternal salvation with Him forever. This perspective of the Divine Service explains why many newcomers to Lutheran church regard it as dignified and solemn.
Lutherans follow orders of service that have been used throughout the history of the Western Church. The Divine Service consists of two parts:
1). The preaching of God's Word
2). The celebration of the Lord's Supper
Other orders of worship include the service of the Word. There are periods of prayer, such as Matins, Vespers, Compline, and the Litany.
Pastors and congregations sing or speak the liturgy back and forth or jointly in Lutheran services. Congregational hymn singing has long been a feature of the Lutheran liturgy. The Lutheran church embraces the finest of musical traditions, both old and modern. There is a focus on congregational singing, which at times, is supplemented by the choir.
Vestments are distinctive garments worn by our pastors. This clothing conceals individuality while emphasizing the holy obligations of the post that he has been entrusted. An arranged schedule of readings and prayers helps the congregation focus on the most important events in Christ's life and how those events influence us now throughout the church year. Preaching most often focuses on the assigned lessons. That is a distinguishing feature of Lutheran worship, characterized by a clear exposition of God's Law and Gospel.
To demonstrate reverence and devotion to the omnipotent Triune God, Lutherans may stand, bow, or kneel at various times during the service. Pastors make the sign of the cross over the congregation, and the church may sign themselves with the cross during the service.
Lutheranism makes use of exquisite ecclesiastical art, such as sculptures of Jesus, the apostles, and other biblical or church historical characters. Altars, candles, paintings, sculptures, crucifixes, symbols, stained-glass, processional crosses, banners, and other decor are abundant in many Lutheran churches. All of these elements contribute to the service's beauty, dignity, and reverence. They assist us in concentrating our attention on Christ and His offerings. Some Lutheran churches are lavishly ornate and beautifully adorned. Others are less ornately embellished. There are no hard and fast laws about it. We rejoice in our Christian freedom to exalt and thank God via all manner of pious artwork and adornment.
What a church believes, teaches, and confesses reflects in how it performs its worship. It is so difficult to sustain the essence of Lutheran theology while also accepting non-Lutheran modes of worship. It is vital to remember that Martin Luther aimed to reform the church and its worship, not reinvent it. Luther understood that the Gospel was at the heart of the Divine Service. He only altered what contradicted or devalued the Gospel. Luther never abolished the church's loyal, Gospel-centered, and traditional worship rituals and rites.
In answering this question, there are two extremes to avoid. The first extreme is the belief that each church has the right to do whatever it wants however it wants, without concern for other churches in our confessional communion. The second extreme is the belief that everyone in the church must do the same thing every Sunday, with no variation, diversity, change, or distinction. Neither extreme is appropriate or acceptable. Neither extreme is Lutheran.
Our Synod has always sought to preserve uniformity in liturgical customs so that we can boldly profess our Lutheran faith in a world surrounded by so many non-Lutheran churches. The consistency of theory mirrors the consistency of practice.
We are not demanding uniformity of perception, sentiment, or taste among all believing Christians. Nor do we dare to demand that everyone thinks as he does. The Lutheran liturgy separates our worship from that of other churches to the point that the latter's places of worship appear to be lecture halls in which the hearers are addressed or educated. Our churches are homes of prayer in which Christians serve the great God publicly before the world.
Someone may wonder, "What is the point of ceremony uniformity?" We respond, "What good is a flag on the battlefield?" Even though a soldier cannot fight the enemy with it, the flag shows him where he belongs." We should not refuse to follow in the footsteps of our forefathers.
Some individuals believe that because the Lutheran Reformation originated in Germany, Lutheran worship must be German. That is a pretty common misinterpretation. The truth is that throughout history, Lutheran worship has featured hymns, canticles, and forms of service that can be traced back to early Christian worship in the Near East and even farther back to Jewish synagogue worship as it evolved from ancient Jewish temple worship.
Thus, Lutheran worship anchors in thousands of years of history. It incorporates contributions from numerous ethnic groups, including African, American, Asian, French, Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern, and Spanish. In short, Lutheran worship is not exclusively German in origin or tradition.
As our Lord gathers us for worship, we know that we are joining all the company of heaven from millennia past. They are assembled before the Lamb upon His throne and praise Him both day and night. When our Lord calls us for worship, we join the entire company of heaven in worshiping our wonderful and merciful God. The saints on earth and in heaven adore Him who is the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega, our Lord Jesus Christ, who reigns as one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end.
Blessing, honor, glory, and might be given to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever! (Revelation 5:13)