The Christian religion differs from all other religions. Most religions focus your attention on what you do. You are expected, encouraged, even demanded to take the initiative in your relationship with God. The Christ religion differs in this way: it teaches that God is the one who takes the initiative. God showed this most clearly by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to accomplish what no one else could: He paid for the sins of all people.
The Lutheran Church shapes its way of worship aroudn this distinctive Christian teaching about God’s initiative. The Lutheran worship service, built aroudn the liturgy, focuses our attention most importantly on God’s actions for us. God speaks to and serves us in the liturgy.
How is this done? God speaks and comes to us through His Word, the Bible. Every worship service of the Lutheran Church has as one of its highlights the reading of Holy Scripture: readings from the Old Testament, perhaps the signing of a Psalm, another reading from one of the epistles (letters) of the New Testament and yet another from one of the four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). God brings His powerful Word to us in order to convict us of our sin, to lead us to repentance, and to proclaim to us the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Savior. God brings His Word to us also in the sermon, in which the pastor chooses a specific part of God’s Word (usually one of the Scripture readings that day) to apply to those gathered for worship.
Another way by which God serves us in the liturgy is through Holy Communion. The Lord’s Supper is a way by which God brings forgiveness of sins to us in an individual and personal way. Through the body and blood fo Jesus Christ, those communing in faith receive the forgiveness of sins.
Through His Word and sacrament (Holy Communion), God speaks to us and serves us. These are the great highlights of the liturgy.
The liturgy includes more. Christians who gather around God’s Word and sacraments desire to express their faith, encourage each other, and make requests to lGod. Hearing and believing God’s forgiving Word, the congregation responds with hymns and prayers. AS the congregation sings the hymns they preach to each other the truths of God’s Word. The prayers include requests for all people, for peace, for the spread of God’s Word, any special requests for the sick, the dying and other distressed people, thanksgiving for God’s blessings and praise for God’s saving grace.
The liturgy follows a set form each service, with some parts remaining the same, while many changes. Thus the liturgy is flexible without being too repetitive, and yet it serves as a basic framework to teach us the Christian faith and in which to learn some of God’s Word by heart.
We’re glad you asked about te liturgy. In the liturgy, God serves us and we respond to God. For two millennia, the liturgy has been used by the Christian Church throughout the world to structure the worship of God and to insure (as far as humanly possible) the handing down of God’s truth from generation to generation.