Worship Services at Good Shepherd are...
on Sunday Mornings at 10:30 a.m.
It is a liturgy-based celebration service with prayer and praise, a scripture-based sermon, and the Lord's Supper. A children’s message is included. (A nursery is available.)
on Wednesday Evenings at 7:00 p.m. during the Advent and Lent seasons.
It is a shorter, simpler liturgy-based, usually thematic service with a scripture-based sermon. (Often dinner is served beforehand at 6:00 p.m.)
What is liturgy?
Every word of the liturgy reflects the true needs of the faithful and how God has met those needs. We are taught that we cannot speak until God has put the words into our mouth. Man may want to be the actor, but in the Divine Service God is the actor. The liturgy, our gentle teacher, helps to keep that message straight. What do we learn from speaking and singing the liturgy? The church learns promises and truths by remembering and rehearsing them again and again, but mainly we learn how to receive divine gifts. Worship is really pure reception.
"It is all about reception!" What can the faithful do without their faith? Nothing! Where did the faithful get their faith? In the gift of baptism. What does the gift of faith enable the faithful to do? Confess who God is and what He has done. Where is this confession done regularly? In the Divine Service. What does Divine Service mean? God's Service by which He showers gifts of grace upon the faithful. What are the gifts? Word and Sacrament-the two parts of the liturgy. What is our part in this activity? The highest act of worship is simply to confess what by faith we believe-and then to receive the gifts.
Man by nature wants to help himself. That is one of the reasons liturgy is so important in the life of the saints. The liturgy will not allow man to help himself. The church learns its lessons slowly, usually through repetition. A child is never too young to begin the rhythm, the comforting rhythm, of week after week, year after year hearing and rehearsing the liturgy. It is a rhythm that is blessed and good for believers of all ages. The very prayers that need to be on their lips are put there by liturgy: Create in me a clean heart....Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord....Grant us your peace. At the same time, the promises of God are remembered again and again: God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins....
"This is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins. This is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins....He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead, whose kingdom will have no end."
It should not surprise us that these words-rehearsed for a lifetime-are teachers of the faith. It should not surprise us that these words are able to rouse the believer who is very ill. And it should not surprise us that these are the most memorized words on earth! Where else is memory taught from the cradle to grave by a stable, consistent rehearsing of the same words? Nowhere. From baptism to the last moments of this life, the liturgy is there with just the right words for the child of God to say yet again. The Rev. Richard C. Resch is Kantor at Concordia Theological Seminary and St., Paul's Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, IN.
Worship and liturgy: Some definitions
By definition Christianity is salvation-centered. That is the clear biblical witness, that God in Christ came to save sinners - (1 Tim. 1:15). Certainly the Church's worship can be characterized in the same way. It, too, is salvation-centered as the people of God gather to hear the Word of life and to eat and drink the holy meal of Christ's body and blood (The Lord's Supper). Hence, worship could be described as a lively interchange between the God who saves, and sinners in need of salvation.
Without God's gracious intervention, however, we would be incapable either of receiving His good gifts or of uttering any praise of His goodness and mercy. Any definition of worship, therefore, must go beyond the one-sided perspective that defines it essentially as something we do, as an act of "reverence offered to God." Worship is, first and foremost, God coming to us with His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation. Faith receives these gifts with thanksgiving and praises and extols the Giver for His merciful goodness.
When discussing liturgy, it is important to explain what liturgy is and what it is not. The liturgy, as it has been handed down over the centuries, is a living, breathing structure. It includes standard texts (e.g., the Kyrie, Creed, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, common responses, etc.) which are set within a framework that provides ample opportunity for variety (based on the theme of the day as provided in the lectionary.* Far from being a straightjacket, the liturgy provides constancy within the service even as it allows for creativity in the best sense of the word.
In the liturgy God's gifts are distributed to His people. Because God's Word and sacraments do not exist in a vacuum, the liturgy serves to provide a structure through which these gifts are delivered to the congregation. In general the texts focus attention on God's plan of salvation, on the person and work of Christ, and on the nature and blessings of the Lord's Supper.
Over the centuries, the Church has recognized the vital role its worship plays in the formation of faith in the lives of God's people. Through weekly repetition of basic, Gospel-centered texts from Holy Scripture, the people of God are schooled in the fundamental teachings of the Christian faith and the constant love that God gives freely. The liturgy and hymns serve as building blocks for a lifetime of receiving God's gifts through Word and Sacrament.
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