It was not that many years ago when in many Lutheran churches,
* the altar was up against the back wall
* Holy Communion was only celebrated once a month,
* the service was spoken in German, Swedish, or Danish.
The way we worship in our ELCA congregations has changed over the years. Weekly celebration of Holy Communion is now the norm, the altar is now free standing, and the language spoken changes with the needs of the people. The description of Lutheran Worship in the time of Martin Luther was simple. "The assembly of all believers among whom the gospel is purely preached and the holy sacraments are administered according to the gospel" (Augsburg Confession).
Our Lutheran order of worship is simple, we seek to copy the order of first and second century Christians as found in the Bible and in the writings of Justin Martyr who wrote in A.D. 150. The essential components are; Gathering, Word, Table and Sending.
At St. Luke this is our basic order of worship. We gather to confess our sins, sing an opening hymn, and pray. We are people gathered to talk to God together. We worship as a community of faith, as a body of believers.
Prayers and Scripture readings, sermons and testimonies, hymns and songs are each part of the Word of worship. Each Sunday we hear the words of scripture from a three year lectionary schedule that follows the liturgical calendar. We hear the words of both law and gospel. We are drawn to the grace of God, shown in words and life of Christ.
Jesus said, "do this in remembrance of me." So we gather at the table for a meal of remembrance, believing that Jesus is present with us, and in, with and under the bread and wine. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving, so it is a meal of thanks, a meal of spiritual sustenance.
The last part, the sending, reminds us to go out with Jesus to serve in word and deed. We are reminded of the words of Martin Luther, "God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does." We serve, because we live in a hurting world, a world in need of hope and healing.
It is God who gathers us, speaks to us, feeds us in grace, and sends us into the world. We are a people of God called out to serve and love. We are diverse and inclusive, we are joyful and hopeful, we are marked with the water of baptism forever.
I hope to see you soon in the worship service, we will be reviewing the 7 Marks of Ministry in the month of August. In September we will have a special Friendship Sunday on September 15, a day to invite friends and family to join us in worship and fellowship.
Your partner in ministry,