We thank Prof. Roger Humann of Concordia Theological Seminary in St. Catherine’s for this summary and Rev. David Millet of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in New Brunswick for compiling it into web format.
The Lutheran Liturgy- In Bible Roots
An Outline of
The Order of Holy Communion *
*based on the order of Divine Service 1 from Lutheran Service Book.
The service of preparation
Parts of the Service Preparation
Music helps draw us into an attitude of prayer and praise.
The Ringing of the Bells
This is a call to God’s people “to enter the Lord’s gates with thanksgiving and his court with praise.” (Psalm 100:4)
A Hymn of Invocation
We are a “singing Church “so we follow the advice of the apostle Paul to teach and admonish on another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). This hymn may be one of praise, prayer, or reflection on the season of the church year.
We call upon God to be present with us. We worship the triune God, remembering our baptism in His name*. Amen means “So be it, it is true!” * Matt. 28:19; Matt. 18:20; Eph. 2:18
The Confession of Sins
We examine ourselves and publicly confess our sins. Such a confession at the beginning of the service provides a climate if acceptance. In spite of our sins, we are accepted by God, and in turn we accept each other. 1 John 1:8-10 [Rom.7:14-8-10].
The Absolution or Declaration of Grace
Christ said to his disciples “If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven’*. The pastor speaks for God, and announces God’s cleansing forgiveness to those who made confession. *John 20:23
The Service of the Word
From the time of the apostles down through today, an important part of the service has been the reading of the Scriptures, including the Old Testament Lesson, the Epistle Lesson from the New Testament, and the Gospel Lesson. The reason for including these readings is the scriptural principal that God’s Word is the only rule and guide for Christian faith and living. The Service of the Word concludes with the sermon (which is the preached word), the church’s confession of faith in response to God’s Word, and the prayers of God’s people.
The Introit of the Day
Introit is a Latin word meaning “he enters into.’’ The Introit is a part of a psalm or a hymn that announces the theme of the day and begins the Service of the Word. Many years ago the faithful would meet outside and then proceed into the church. The pastor and the people would chant psalms as they entered the sanctuary. The Introit traditionally consists of an Antiphon, or refrain, a Psalm or a series of Psalm verses, the Gloria Patri* and the Antiphon repeated.
Kyrie is a Greek word meaning “O Lord.’’ It is a cry to the Lord for help and strength*. In ancient times, the crowds would shout “Lord, have mercy’’ as the King entered their town. The church has taken over this prayer to greet its King Jesus Christ in the church service. As the people so long ago expected help from their King, so we Christians expect help from our Savior.
The Hymn of Praise
Two hymns of praise, “Glory to God in the highest’’ and “This is the feast of victory’’, give the congregation the opportunity to praise God and express joy because Jesus is our victorious Savior. During Advent and Lent, the hymn of praise is omitted.
In the Salutation, the pastor and the congregation great each other in the Lord’s name.
The Collect of the Day
The main thoughts of the day are collected, or summarized in this short prayer. The collects for the season of the church year have come to us from the rich treasury of the church’s heritage.
The First Lesson
The first reading is from the Old Testament, except during the Easter season when it is from the Book of Acts. This reading usually relates to the Gospel of day.
Gradual, a Latin expression meaning “step” is a scripture passage for each season of the church year. It is a response to the first lesson and a bridge to the second lesson. Sometimes a psalm is sung or spoken.
The Second Lesson
The second reading is from the epistles (letters) in the New Testament.
A verse from the Holy Scriptures is usually sung in preparation for the reading of the Gospel. There are general verses* as well as specific verses for the seasons of the church year. *John 6:68; Joel2:13 (through lent)
The Holy Gospel
The Gospel Lesson is a selection from the accounts of the life of our Lord recorded by the four evangelists, St. Mathew, St Mark, St. Luke and St. John. Because Christ is with us in the gospel reading, we stand to honour his presence. We also sing versicles (short verses) before and after the reading of the Gospels. On certain festival days the minister may read the Gospel while standing among the people. He may be flanked by the acolytes carrying candles who proclaim Jesus and his word as the “light of the world.”
The Hymn of the Day
This hymn follows the theme of the reading and set the stage for the sermon. Suggested hymns of the day are listed on page 976-978 of the Lutheran Worship.
The Pastor proclaims God’s Word and applies that word to modern life and problems. He stresses both what God demands of us (the Law) and what God does for us through Jesus Christ (the Gospel).
After hearing the word of God read and proclaimed, the worshiper responds with his confession of faith in the words of the Nicene Creed. It is customary for the Nicene Creed to be spoken when Holy Communion is celebrated and on major festivals. The Apostle Creed is used at other times. * 1 Cor. 15:1ff; 1 Pet. 3:18ff; 1 Tim. 3:16
This prayer in the service follows the directive of the Apostle Paul to young Timothy, a pastor “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone- for Kings and all those in authority, that we may live in peaceful and quite live in all godliness and holiness”*. For this reason, the hymnal says “prayers are included for the whole church, the nation, those in need, the parish, and special concerns. The congregation may be invited to offer petitions and thanksgivings. The minister gives thanks for the faithful departed, especially for those who have died” (LW pages 168-69). *1 Tim. 2: 1-2.
The Service of the Sacrament
The church has confessed its sins and been forgiven, and its faith has been nurtured through hearing the Word. The church now reaches a climax of the worship experience in the celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion. The following parts of the liturgy help the worshiper partake of the holy meal thoughtfully, thankfully, and joyfully.
The gift of God’s people are a response to God’s blessings “as God has prospered them” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Our offerings are for the support of the church. They enable the church to provide the written and spoken word of God. Christian education, and pastoral care, clothing, shelter, and a helping hand to those in need.
As the offerings are brought to the Lords table, the worshipers sing the offertory* to express gratitude for all God’s blessings, dedicate themselves to God, and request His continued blessing. *“what shall I render unto the Lord,” Ps 116:12, 17, 13-14, 19; “create in me a clean heart”, Ps. 51: 10-12.
Preface means “introduction.” The pastor and the people get ready to celebrate the Holy Meal by greeting each other and with an exhortation as how to celebrate the meal. *Cf. “Salutation”; Lam. 3:41; Ps 36:4.
The appropriate (or proper) Preface
These words state why we should give thanks using words and ideas appropriates for the season of the church year. *Pss. 69-:30, 95:2, 100:4, 107:22, 116:17, 147:7.
Sanctus is the Latin word meaning “Holy.” The Sanctus contains words from Isaiah’s vision of God (Isaiah 6:3) and the crowd’s response on Palm Sunday when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem (Mathew 21:9). We join them in spirit by singing their words as we anticipate Christ’s coming in the sacrament. *Is. 6:3; Matt. 21:9; (Mk11:9); Ps. 118:25-26.
The Lord’s Prayer
We pray to God as our Father using the prayer of the family of God* because the Lord’s Supper is our family meal. *Matt. 6:9ff; Luke 11:2ff.
The Words of Institution
The Pastor speaks the words which Jesus spoke when He instituted the supper with his disciples in the upper room. With these words the bread and wine are consecrated, that is set apart for God’s use in the special meal. *1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Mathew 26: 26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22: 19-20.
The greeting of peace which Jesus spoke on the first Easter is shared before we approach the alter to receive Him. In the Lord’s Supper, the body and the blood of Christ are truly present in, with, and under the bread and wine. *John 14: 27; John 20: 19-21.
The Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei is a Latin phrase meaning “ Lamb of God” John the Baptist spoke these words as he pointed to Jesus coming toward him (John 1:29). As Christ comes to us in the Holy Supper, we recognize him as the Lamb of God sacrificed for us to free us from the bondage of sin and death. *John 1:29; Is. 53:7.
The Administration Of the Supper
As we kneel at the Lord’s Table, the Pastor invites us, Take eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins. Take, drink, this is the true blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins.” After we receive the Sacrament we hear the comforting words spoken by the Pastor, “The body and blood of our Lord strengthen and preserve you in the true faith to life everlasting.” We respond, “Amen.” For this is our sincere desire. It is a good practice to offer a silent prayer of thanks when we return to our pews. While the meal is being distributed, the congregation and/or the choir sing one or more hymns.
The Post Communion Canticle
“Thank the Lord,” “Lord now let Your servants go in peace” or an appropriate hymn is sung. The purpose of this is to offer our thanks and express our faith in what God has done for us and promised to do for us in the future. *”Lord, now you let Your servants go in peace”. Luke 2:29f.
The Prayer of Thanks
Once again we express our appreciation to our gracious God for giving us this Holy Meal through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. * Pss. 107:1; 118:1
The blessing spoken by the Pastor is the Aaronic benediction, the blessing God first gave to Aaron and the other priests to speak to the people of Israel. Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has come to us in a special way through this Holy Meal. The blessing is God’s promise that Christ will go with us as we leave the church and return to the world to serve Him. We sing “Amen” to affirm the blessing; “So be it-it is true!” *Numbers 6:23-27.