Monday, August 27, 2012

What the Heck Do Lutherans Believe Anyway?


I've talked about my feelings on unity in the church on this blog before, but to make a long story short, I believe that the Christian community is called to facilitate unity within itself. In that vein, it's imperative that we start with communication and dialogue, because there ARE doctrinal differences across the different branches of Christianity. And that's okay, because (as a general rule), the differences don't negate the core of our faith. We're called to unity anyway...and I don't think it's in spite of those differences, but because of them. This post, which is hopefully the first in a series, comes with the motivation of facilitating unity in Christ by potentially dispelling any myths and misunderstandings, as well as by creating an opportunity for dialogue.

So, a few weeks ago, I was talking with a few of my friends, and one of them asked 'What are the Sunday services like at your church?' I started to rattle off words like "Creeds" and "Confession and Absolution", but as we talked more, I realized that the church she attends doesn't traditionally speak the creeds or do confession and absolution in the same way that the Lutheran church does, and so she had no idea what I was talking about. I thought that today I'd just lay out a sample service from our church as a starting point in talking about what Lutherans believe:

We Prepare Our Hearts
Opening Hymn: It is You (Newsboys)

Pastor: In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Congregation: Amen

We Confess Our Sin
Pastor: As we prepare our hearts and minds for worship, let us first confess our sins and be assured of His everlasting promise to forgive. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Congregation: But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

Pastor: Let us confess our sins to God our heavenly Father.
Congregation: Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your holy name. Amen. 
Pastor: In the mercy of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for his sake, God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ, he gives the power to become the children of God and bestows on them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Congregation: Amen. 

Hymn of Praise: Children of God (Third Day)

Introit {this changes every Sunday, but is a piece of scripture spoken collectively, often from Psalms}

P: In peace, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy. 

P: For the peace from above and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy. 

P: For the peace of the whole world, for the well being of the Church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy. 

P: For this holy house and for all who offer here their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord.
C: Lord, have mercy.

P: Help, save, comfort, and defend us gracious Lord.
C: Amen. 

P: The Lord be with you.
C: And also with you.

Collect {This is a short prayer, often spoken collectively}

The Word of God is Read
Children's Lesson {then kids under 6 are excused for nursery}
First Reading/Old Testament Reading
Epistle Reading
Pre-Gospel/Alleluia Verse:Ancient Words (Michael W. Smith)
Gospel Reading

Sermon {related to one of the assigned scripture readings for this Sunday}
Sermon Hymn: The Heart of Worship (Matt Redman)

The Apostle's Creed
I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. 

(Note: You may recognize these words from the songs sung by Rich Mullins, Brandon Heath, and Third Day. I LOVE Third Day's version of The Creed and highly suggest it. Some churches may say the Nicene Creed instead. The church that I grew up at often said this Affirmation of Faith instead, which I still love.)

Offering & Offering Song: 10,000 Reasons/Bless the Lord {Matt Redman)

Prayers for All People & The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

The Benediction
Pastor: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious unto you. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you His peace.
Congregation: Amen

Sending Hymn: Hold Us Together (Matt Maher)


Also, I think it probably goes without saying that "Lutheran" is an extremely broad term. There are ELCA Lutherans, LCMS Lutherans, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutherans, and probably even more kinds that I'm not aware of. Even within one of those groups of Lutherans, the way that church services are held will vary greatly. Some will follow the very traditional order or service, and some will follow a much more contemporary one. The church that we attend is an LCMS church, and utilizes what's called a revolving liturgy, which means that each Sunday is a different style of service ranging from traditional (sometimes even with the organ and all), to contemporary, as well as a mix thereof. This particular Sunday would be an example of the contemporary liturgy.

Whew. So there you have it. If there happen to be any other Lutherans out there reading, how does this compare to what you experience at church? For everyone else, does Sunday Service at the Lutheran church look like you imagined it would? Do you have any questions?

1 comment:

  1. I have been a silent reader for a while but this blog spoke to my heart. Having grown up in a Missouri Senate Lutheran Church this is the order that we usually follow. We also commune weekly so that would be added after the prayers. Thank you for presenting the service in such a straight forward and beautiful way. I look forward to reading more of your series on what it means to be a Lutheran.


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