What’s your Sunday service like?
We strive to make the Divine Service reverent and respectful as we come into God’s presence to receive His gifts and to return thanks for His blessings. As with any church you’re not familiar with, you should expect it to take at least a couple Sundays to become accustomed to the service. And we will help you along the way.
The Divine Service is liturgical, which means that it follows a set order each week (making it easier to follow with every attendance). The service focuses on God’s Word and Sacraments because they are the only means in which God has promised to offer us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We pray that through the Divine Service God will create and strengthen your trust in Him and His forgiveness.
The Divine Service is nothing new, but it isn’t outdated either. The service order we gladly use now is the product of 2,000 years worth of development in the Christian Church. In the service you will see music with foreign names like the Introit, the Kyrie, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Hallelujah, the Sanctus, etc. These titles come from the first words of the song in the original Hebrew, Greek, or Latin languages. We retain these titles to help us remember that we share the Christian faith, not only with those living with us today in our community, but also with those who have lived before us and in all parts of the world.
What is a liturgy?
The liturgy is our order of service. It includes the following:
- The Confession of Sins: We confess to God that we have failed to live up to the perfect standards in His Law, and we plead for His mercy.
- The Announcement of Forgiveness (Absolution): The pastor announces the forgiveness of sins won for us by the perfect life and innocent sufferings and death of Jesus, our Savior.
- A Hymn of Praise: These songs of praise remind us of the wonderful things God has done for us, not the least of which is the salvation He gives through Christ.
- Prayer of the Day: The Church brings her concerns and prayers to a loving Father in Heaven, who has shown great mercy and promised to hear our cries for help.
- Scripture Readings: The pastor reads three selections from the Bible. They usually include one selection from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament epistles (letters), and one from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John).
- Sermon: The pastor offers instruction and encouragement in a sermon, usually based on one of the three readings. Expect to hear God’s guidance for dealing with the problems of life, along with the promises of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven through Jesus.
- Response to the Word: We respond with offerings and prayers for the things God has promised us and for strength to do what he has asked.
- Holy Communion: God comes to us in His Holy Body and Blood which was sacrificed for our sins on the cross at Calvary and was raised three days later on Easter morning. In eating and drinking this precious Sacrament, we receive the forgiveness won for us on the cross as well as the new life given to us in the resurrection. (We celebrate Holy Communion on every first, third and fifth Sunday of the month. Before communing, however, we ask our guests to please speak with the pastor beforehand.)
- Final Blessing: We hear one last assurance of God’s guidance and love.
At our church, we follow the ancient – and Biblical practice of communing only with those we are in fellowship with already. We do not practice closed Communion to be exclusionary or judgmental. We do not judge a person’s faith. We want all people to join us for this heavenly banquet. We don’t want to exclude you; nothing could be further from the truth.
The Scriptures do have some very definite things to say about who is to be invited to the Lord’s table. That’s why we ask that you talk to the minister so we have a chance to explain what the Bible has to say about it more fully.
What about an offering?
The members of Good Shepherd give offerings out of love to the Lord. The gifts of God are free, and as guests, we want the blessings of the Divine Service to be a gift to you. Scripture teaches that our offerings to God should reflect our belief that everything we have is a gift of God. He does not compel us to give “a tithe” as he did the Old Testament believers. Instead St. Paul tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). In other words, don’t feel compelled by guilt or embarrassment to give an offering. We want all offerings to be made freely and with joy. Our members bring offerings to God through their church. Because offerings are gifts of love for God, no one dictates what each person is to give. We pass an offering plate after the sermon so that our worship may include bringing gifts to God.