Newcomers to a confessional Lutheran church service are sometimes surprised at what they find. If they come from a traditional background (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian), it will seem very familiar. If they come from a Reformed background, it will appear very formal and structured. When you visit Redeemer, it may even seem quaint since we use a small amount of “King James English” in the service.
Why is it so unique? Actually, it’s just tried and true. We follow a set pattern within our church service known as the liturgy. This liturgy has been in place (with minor variations) for about 15 centuries. The liturgy is found in the front of the hymnbooks you’ll find in the pews. We use The Lutheran Hymnal in all our services. Through habit, we sometimes refer to our two most common services as “page 5” and “page 15”. This is because our Order of Morning Service is on page 5 of our hymnal while our Order of Holy Communion is on page 15.
On special occasions the liturgy is printed out in the church bulletin. But many churches (including us) will print an outline of the service in our bulletin for easy reference. This helps worshippers know the component parts of the service, hymns to be sung, Bible readings, any special sections of the service for that day (like a Baptism), etc. We also include a separate sheet containing the Introit, Collect of the Day, and text of the Bible readings. This material is used during the service by the worshippers as well as the pastor.
The focus of our worship is on God and what He has done for us. We come together to hear the Good News of God’s salvation for a fallen mankind. The Law lets us know we have failed, and the Gospel tells us of the forgiveness granted freely to us through Christ’s death on the cross. We come together to receive forgiveness through Word and Sacrament. We return our thanks and praise out of love for what God has done.