Worship

Why Traditional?

There is this notion in our cultural that what is structured cannot also be spiritual. If you believe so, we would invite you to consider this: The early Jewish worship of God revolved around remembering God’s past acts of deliverance. The Passover was a yearly celebration (ritual?) in which the Jewish people remembered God for bringing them out of Egypt (Deu 16:1, Eze 45:21). The festival of tabernacles pointed to their wanderings in the dessert from which God ultimately brought them into the Promised Land of Israel (Lev 23:43, John 7:2).

With the dawn of the New Testament, early Christians again worshipped God in a way that heralded their deliverance. This time, it wasn’t from Egypt or the wilderness, but from the slavery and bondage to sin. Hymns, prayers, the teachings of the Apostles and the Breaking of Bread were all cited as central elements of early Christian worship (Acts 2:42).

If the entire church exists today because of what Jesus did in giving His life for us, then it seems fitting for worship to revolve around our Lord’s life and death on our behalf. This is what structured or traditional worship offers – an unwavering focus on the Gospel. That is, the undeserved gift of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. In this sense, our worship is also missional. The Good News of Jesus’ death is proclaimed at every service in the hopes that unbelievers will be converted and see their eternal destinies changed.

Our time with God in the sanctuary largely consists of singing, chanting, reciting and hearing various Biblical passages. Old Testament worshippers frequently praised God by responsively chanting the Psalms or hearing a reading from the Torah. We too, preserve these elements seeing them as a connection between us and those who once looked ahead to the coming of God’s Messiah.

If you’ve found traditional worship to be empty or unspiritual, then we would invite you to join us for another look. Acts 10:43 states, “The Spirit fell on all who heard the Word.” We believe the simple Word alone has power in and of itself to accomplish God’s desire (Isaiah 55:11) and to open our hearts to Him (Acts 16:11). As our mouths say back to Him what He has first said to us in Scripture, we repeat what is most true and sure. The rhythm of worship is first from Him to us, and then from us back to Him.

Our focus in worship is on Christ alone and reflects the Lutheran church’s central belief that “There is no other name given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). As Martin Luther stated to the church of His day who sought to teach differently, “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

Please join us to discover the beauty, reverence and awe of structured worship that proclaims the Good News of your Savior’s sacrifice on your behalf.

Communion

In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus graciously feeds the humble sinner with His true body and blood. Since we receive forgiveness, we’re called to engage in a process of self-examination (1 Cor 11:28) as we come to the altar. We believe such an examination can best occur when a communicant has first been taught the basic elements of the Christian faith. As such, we ask for our guests from outside the Lutheran church to first undergo a period of instruction before communing.

Upon completing a time of instruction, participants are brought into membership and invited to commune. Holy Shepherd also recognizes instruction classes taken at our sister LCMS congregations.

Sermons

What is the goal or point of the sermon in Lutheran Churches?

Our sermons are preached to convert the lost and strengthen those who already believe. Some pastors use sermons as a means of teaching about the Bible. Lutheran pastors do some teaching, but the primary purpose of our proclamation is to share the Good News of Christ’s death upon the cross. This brings the message of salvation to those who haven’t heard it and encourages those who already believe. The way for existing believers to mature in the faith is to talk to them about what Jesus has done for them. As Paul writes, “We preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor 1:23).

Why is the sermon shorter than what I hear elsewhere?

The sermon is considered to be a part of the entire service. The celebration of communion, the reading of the word and the singing of hymns are all integral parts of Christian worship. It is not only the sermon that nourishes our faith, but the other parts of the service do as well! What’s more, you’ll find that every portion of our service is derived from the scriptures – from our spoken words to the chanted responses to (of course) the sermon. In fact, each portion of our worship contains the scripture reference right next to it.

How do you use scripture in your sermons?

Sermons are typically based off of one of three readings from the lectionary. The lectionary is a series of Biblical passages read in a yearly cycle. The readings in the first half of the cycle focus upon the life, death and resurrection of Jesus (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent and Easter). The readings in the second half focus upon the life of the church (Pentecost). In fact, Jesus likely read from a Jewish lectionary in Luke’s Gospel (see Luke 4:16-17).

The pastor primarily focuses on that one specific passage of scripture and expounds upon it. He may cite other verses of scripture, but Lutheran sermons typically stay focused on that one passage. We talk about how that passage fits into the wider book in which it is found. We relate it to the life of Jesus and His church and also talk about how it applies to your life.

Are your sermons dynamic and cutting edge?

Romans 10:17 tells us “Faith comes by hearing” and Isaiah 55:11 says, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” The sermons in our church stay centered upon the simple proclamation of God’s Word. We believe the word engages you simply by reading or hearing it. It doesn’t need our “help” through augmentation. Lutheran sermons contain both Law and Gospel. The Law admonishes us for our sins and brings us to repentance. The Gospel assures us that we are forgiven our sins for Christ’s sake. We leave the service realizing we are sinners loved by Christ and redeemed by His grace. This is what’s most important.