Guide to LCMS Liturgy

 
LCMS liturgy

Introduction to Our Liturgy

Since the time of the Apostles, the church has joined in the worship of our Triune God. Worship occurs in a two-part service mirroring the experience of the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. The resurrected Jesus made Himself known through the Word of God and the breaking of bread.

Reference: Luke 24:13-31 

The first portion, the Service of the Word, evolved from first-century Jewish synagogues' worship traditions. That centered on the reading and preaching of specific scriptural texts. The second portion, the Sacrament Service, grew out of the celebration of the Lord's Supper, which Jesus bestowed on His Church before His crucifixion. 

Our Triune God continues to embody Himself in our lives and prayers through the services of Word and Sacrament. Our Lord also uses the liturgy to convert and improve His subjects, bringing them together as the Body of Christ.

Part 1: The Service of the Word

 
Service of the Word

The Invocation

We come together to pray because God has asked us to do so. The pastor speaks the invocation in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Jesus reminds us, that where two or three gather in my name, there I am among them.

Reference: Matthew 18:20

The Confession & Absolution

We confess our sins. In God's place, the pastor forgives all repentant sinners. Specific repentance and absolution are performed outside of the religious ceremony, implying practice for the divine service proper.

References: 1 John 1:8-9, John 20:23

The Introit

Introitus is a Latin word that means "entrance. " As penitent sinners, we join the service at this stage. Psalms were chanted as the ministers processed in the Middle Ages. The faithful join His divine presence here, marking the start of the historic order of service.

The Kyrie

The Greek phrase, Kyrie Eleison translates as "Lord, have mercy." When we call out for forgiveness, we come into contact with the living God. It shows that we are mindful of our unrighteousness as well as the justice that He offers us. "Jesus, have mercy on us," we pray in the same way as the ten lepers. 

Reference: Luke 17:13 

The Gloria in Excelsis

Gloria in Excelsis is a Latin phrase that means "Glory to God in the Highest." Since crying out for salvation, we now show our faith in mercy by singing the angels' song at Christ's birth, "Glory to God in the Highest." That is an early church hymn from 530 AD.

Reference: Luke 2:14

The Salutation

The salutation is more than a greeting. It illustrates the unique bond between the minister and congregation. 

References: Philemon 25, Galatians 6:18

The Collect

In the early church, the collect was a prayer to gather the prayers of the congregation. The collect was designed for the needs of everyone in a single season or festival since the Middle Ages. That is a church-wide prayer in which the Pastor's voice alone represents the faithful's solidarity.

The Scripture Readings

Reading from the Old and New Testaments was documented as early as 150 AD. The Old Testament lays the groundwork for the Gospel. The Epistle expands our understanding of the Gospel. The good news about our redemption abounds in the Gospel. The reading collections are grouped in a one-year cycle and adhere to the church calendar. 

References: Acts 13:14-15, Luke 4:16-17, 1 Timothy 4:13

The Creed

We stand and declare aloud our beliefs about God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Creedal formulae first appeared in the New Testament. Tertullian cited the Apostles' Creed in 200 AD. The Nicene Creed was finalized in 451 AD at the Council of Chalcedon. We recite the Nicene Creed during Holy Communion. 

References: 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, 1 Timothy 3:16

The Hymn of the Day

The hymn of the day is the primary song of the Divine Service and correlates with the day's readings. It originates from the days of the Reformation beginning in 1526. 

The Sermon

The congregation meets around the Word and Sacrament: the pulpit and the altar. The pastor preaches the sermon, much as Peter did in Acts Chapter 2. He proclaims Christ's mission and extends it to our lives.

References: Acts 2:14-36, 1 Corinthians. 2:4-5

The Offering

We answer to God's demand on our lives by tithing as an affirmation of worship. It is proper to return a portion of what He has given us. That is an act performed with dignity and thankfulness of spirit. The altar is being prepared for Holy Communion now. The collection helps in funding the building and various ministry outreach programs.

Reference: 1 Chronicles 29:14

The Offertory

When the congregation presents tithes, a part of a psalm of gratitude is sang.

The Prayer of the Church

Prayer is one of the most critical acts of worship performed by the faithful. The congregation here agrees on earth on what God in heaven may do for it. Petitions and thanksgiving are said for all those in positions of leadership as well as those in need. As we plan to partake of the Sacrament, we assemble in the church to pray for one another.

Reference: 1 Timothy 2:1

Part 2: Service of the Sacrament

 
Service of the Sacrament

The Preface

Those sentences have become an addition to the Words of Institution early in the Church's celebration of the Lord's Supper. The Preface is a rehearsal for receiving Jesus' body and blood. For nearly two millennia, the original words and meaning have remained the same. That is a dialogue echoed throughout the ages. The Church has declared our Lord's burial in this bread and cup before he returns.

References: 1 Corinthians 11:26, Lamentations 3:41, Psalm 136, 2 Timothy 4:22

The Proper Preface

The Western Church extended the Preface to connect the Sacramental Service to specific seasons of the Church Year. The final words of this prayer are shared by all other Christians in heaven and earth, as well as the angelic host.

The Sanctus and Benedictus

Sanctus translates into holy. The meaning of Benedictus is blessed. The Sanctus and Benedictus have two purposes in preparing us for the Lord's Supper. The Sanctus recognizes the glory of the Lord, whom we worship. The Benedictus indicates what happens in this Supper. We obtain the body and blood of Jesus, the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We greet him with joyous shouts. 

References: Isaiah 6:3, Psalm 118:25-26

The Eucharistic Prayer

The Eucharist, meaning thanksgiving, is another name for the Lord's Supper. This specific prayer emphasizes the grace of redemption made available in the Supper and our prayers to accept it appropriately and reverently.

The Lord's Prayer

That is the prayer that Jesus taught his followers. It has been the fundamental prayer of the Christian Church. Its succinct lines cover every topic on which we can pray. Many of our wants and desires are encapsulated in the prayer that our Lord Jesus Christ prayed to His Father in Heaven.

Reference: Matthew 6:9-13

 

The Words of Institution

Those are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ on the night He was betrayed. They consecrate and set aside the bread and wine for this sacred meal. "Do this in memory of me," Jesus told his Church. As a result, the Church draws together to partake of His body and blood.

References: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, Luke 22:19-20, Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24

The Agnus Dei

This Latin title translates as 'Lamb of God.' The brief hymn weaves together many salient threads. Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God, died on the cross to atone for all sins. We receive the body and blood of Christ, who offers grace, which is now present in His Supper. This hymn helps us to be worthy recipients of the sacrament.

Reference: John 1:29

Distribution

We remember the holy essence of communion and the seriousness of which Paul warns against inappropriate acceptance before receiving it. As a result, we consider our desire for salvation, including our sure belief that this is Christ's flesh and blood for our gain. 

Reference: 1 Corinthians 11:27-29

The Nunc Dimittis

This post-communion canticle is known as Simeon's Song. Nunc Dimittis of Latin origin and translates as "permission to depart." Simeon had long awaited the promised Messiah and was able to die in peace after seeing the baby Jesus in the Temple. God had been true to His prophetic Word. In the same way, we plan to leave in God's grace, having seen Jesus declared as the one promised of old.

Reference: Luke 2:29-32

Post-Communion Collect

We see a divided emphasis as we near the end of the liturgy, thinking back over the service and ahead to the remainder of our week. Any of these prayers start with a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings received in God's Divine Service and end with a prayer for God to bring us into our new lives refreshed by His gift of forgiveness.

The Benediction

God told Moses to give this blessing to Aaron and his sons to use while they performed their priestly duties. That was to be the grace bestowed upon all Israelites. A benediction or blessing has long been part of the Divine Service. However, the Aaronic blessing is exclusive to Lutherans. The Christian Church has the same pledge of God's gracious presence in their lives.

Reference: Numbers 6:24-26

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