For Lutherans, worship matters. In fact, worship lies at the heart of how we understand ourselves together. While some of the approaches to worship may differ from one congregation to another, we hold certain things in common.
There is a basic pattern for worship among Lutherans. We gather. We encounter God’s Word. We share a meal at the Lord’s table. And we are sent into the world. But we do not think about worship so much in terms of what we do. Worship is fundamentally about what God is doing and our response to God’s action. Worship is an encounter with God, who saves us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Think about it like this. God’s Spirit calls us together. God speaks to us through readings from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, through preaching, prayer, and song. God feeds and nourishes us in a saving way. And God blesses us and sends us in mission to the world.
Taken together, the Word proclaimed and the sacraments — both Holy Baptism and Holy Communion — are called the means of grace. We believe that Jesus Christ is present in these means through the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we describe worship as a “gathering around the means of grace.” This is a way of saying that we trust that God is genuinely present with us in baptism, in preaching, and in sharing the bread and wine of Holy Communion. In that sense, Lutherans believe that God’s presence permeates all of Christian worship.
The cross is the central symbol that marks our worship spaces and when Lutherans worship, singing fills the air. The voices of all the people joined in song and the participation of all the people in the worship is a witness to our conviction that in worship we are being drawn in to God’s own saving story.
*This material originally posted on the ELCA web site under resources for worship.