679) Worship (part two of four)

     

     (…continued…)  The Lutheran liturgy makes sure that when you come to church you will hear God’s Word.  As a preacher, I take comfort in that.  There are many weeks that I can’t come up with anything I am satisfied with for the sermon, but still, it is my job to be in the pulpit every Sunday morning at the appointed time and begin speaking.  And I know very well that not even my very best sermons are meaningful or helpful to everyone.  But the value of the worship hour doesn’t depend just on me and my sermon. The service itself is filled with God’s Word to us.

     At the very beginning, after we confess our sins, the pastor announces to the congregation God’s word of forgiveness, as Jesus Christ himself authorized in John 20.  In the greeting we receive a Biblical blessing from II Corinthians.  In the benediction we receive the words of blessing from the Old Testament book of Numbers.   In the Scripture readings we hear read four selections from the Bible.  And in the sermon I do my best to bring a message based on God’s Word and applied to our lives today.  We hear God speak to us in the worship service each week.  That is one side of the communication.

     Then, as in all good communication, we respond, speaking back to God.  We pray to God, we sing hymns to God, and we confess our sins to God.  Even as we speak to God in the different parts of the service, we do so in words from the Bible, responding in ways God’s people have spoken to God for thousands of years.  We use words from I John as we confess our sins.  In the Kyrie, we pray the prayer of the tax-collector that received the praise of Jesus when we pray simply, “Lord, have mercy.”  The Hymn of Praise begins with the words sung by the angels on the night Jesus was born, and in the Alleluia we ask in the words of Peter, ‘Where else shall go, Lord, you have the words of eternal life.’  I begin each sermon with a prayer, and end each sermon with a blessing, both also from the Bible.  After the offering we sing some words written by David in Psalm 51, and we then pray the prayer taught to us by Jesus himself in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  We also sing songs written by others, and pray prayers written by others– or from our own heart.  In all these ways, we carry on our end of this conversation with God. 

(…continued…)

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A FEW OF THE SCRIPTURE PASSAGES USED IN WORSHIP:

II  Corinthians 13:14  —   May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

I John 1:8-9  —  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

John 20:20-23  —  Jesus said, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Luke 2:14  —  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Psalm 19:14  —  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Philippians 4:7  —  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

John 6:68  —  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”

Numbers 6:23b-27  —  …Bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:  The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:  The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”  And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.

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Luke 18:13b  —   …God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Psalm 51:10  —   Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

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