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Is this ‘contemporary’ or ‘traditional’ worship? We believe that all worship is both ‘contemporary’ (that is, it is happening right now) and ‘traditional’ (that is, it has familiar/ancient/cultural roots). At this congregation, we follow the ancient order of “Gather-Word-Meal-Send/” We also strive to include a diversity of hymns and language that are meaningful for a broad assembly of people – and accessible for visitors. We also have a praise band that once a month provides all the music for worship.
How should I enter? All are welcome to ‘come as you are”. Many of our members enjoy time for quiet contemplation before worship begins, so we ask that conversation in the sanctuary be kept to a minimum before and during worship – especially during the time when Holy Communion is being distributed. The noises of children are; however, always a welcome sound, at all times.
Please turn your phones to ‘vibrate’ – but feel free to ‘check in’ and let your friends know you’re here!
Why so much standing? Lutherans believe that worship is participatory; we do not gather to watch happen, we are all involved in making worship happen. We invite the members of the assembly to stand when they are active participants in worship (especially praying and singing). If you are uncomfortable or have difficulty standing, you are always welcome to remain seated.
What are the worship leaders wearing? Most of the time, many of the worship leaders wear a white robe called an “alb”. This robe is meant to symbolize being ‘clothed in Christ’ in the gift of Holy Baptism. The pastor wears a long band of cloth called a “stole”. This is a symbol of the pastoral office and is meant to remind us all about the call to bear the burdens of those in need (Matthew 11:28-30). Finally, the pastor who presides at Holy Communion often wears a large circle of cloth called a “chasuble”. This word is related to the Latin word for “house” and the chasuble is a visible reminder that God invites and gathers all people into the household of God where all people share one meal.
When should I clap/applaud? There are times when something happens in worship that is acknowledged with applause-e.g., baptism or the installation of leaders. At those times, the pastor may invite the assembly to applaud. In general; however, we seek to avoid giving the impression that what is happening in worship is a ‘performance’ or ‘entertainment’. Worship happens when God’s people get together to give thanks to God. We do that in lots of ways-including offering gifts of music, etc. After a gift of music is offered, you may consider giving thanks to God in silent prayer for the gift of music-and personally thanking the musicians after worship for being willing to share that gift with us.
Does this church recognize women as pastors? Indeed! Our community of Lutherans has been enjoying the gifts of ordained women for over 45 years.
Who can serve in worship? Anyone! We would love to have you help read, assist, serve, set-up, greet, usher, acolyte, and/or provide coffee fellowship. Just talk to the pastor or contact the office and we’ll get you signed up and trained.
Why doesn’t the pastor do everything? One of the hallmarks of the Reformation (the movement that gave birth to the Lutheran church) was a desire for laypeople to be more involved in worship – and that includes leadership. There are portions of the service that are typically reserved for lay people – readings, prayers of intercession, prayers before and after communion, among others. We enjoy broad lay participation in leading us in worship.
What’s with the water? At times – particularly on festival days or during festival seasons (especially Christmas and Easter) – the presiding minister will lead the assembly in a “thanksgiving for baptism,” which may also include sprinkling the assembly with water. We do this because baptism is one of the two “sacraments” of the church – the most radical examples of God’s amazing grace. Since baptism happens only once in a person’s life, it is important to find ways to remember that gift, and the “sprinkling rite” is one of those ways. Martin Luther traced the sign of the cross on his forehead every morning while washing his face to remember his baptism; when the water hits you, you are invited to make the sign of the cross as well.
What’s a “Kyrie”? At times, especially during solemn seasons (Advent and Lent), instead of a hymn of praise we often sing a setting of “kyrie eleison, christe eleison, kyrie eleison.” This is Greek for “Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.” It is a plea for mercy to the One who promises to respond with grace and life.
What are we reading? We follow a “lectionary” – a calendar of assigned texts read by Christians from all over. Each service may include one or many readings (sometimes four or more!), often from the Old Testament; the psalms; the letters of Paul or other readings in the New Testament; and/or a Gospel reading, drawn from one of the four gospels. For more information, see the inside cover of the bulletin.
Why is the Gospel sometimes read in the aisle? The central claim of our faith is that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14). Proclaiming the Gospel text (the one most clearly about Jesus, the “Word made flesh”) from the heart of the assembly enacts this promise of the Word coming into the heart of the world. During this time, you are welcome to face the Word as it is being proclaimed, as we literally center our lives around the Gospel.
What’s a sermon? As Lutherans, we are committed to proclaiming “the gospel” – that is, “good news.” The sermon is an opportunity to hear the Living Word of Jesus Christ and God’s limitless grace and mercy proclaimed. A good sermon should include a clear statement of “good news” – something that moves us to respond with “Thanks be to God!” If you don’t hear it, please tell the pastor that after worship – he would love to hear your feedback!
Why so many prayers? Most worship services include a long litany of “prayers of intercession.” To “intercede” is to pray “on behalf of” others—and there are a lot of needy people and places in the world for whom we pray. We pray for the church, for creation, for those who are sick or hungry, for nations and leaders, and for those who have died. Public prayer challenges us to remember to pray for all things, not just ourselves or those we love. And then we leave, ready to help God answer those prayers in word and deed.
In the Creed, why do we say we believe in the “holy catholic church”? Isn’t this a Lutheran church? The word “catholic” (with a small “c”) simply means “universal.” Although we are not a part of the Roman Catholic Church, we very much believe that the Church of Jesus Christ is “one” Church, broken on earth but united in eternity. We use the word “catholic” to suggest that we do not wish to be separate or different from Christians in other denominations, but rather strive for greater understanding and partnership in our common faith and life.
Why do we pass the peace? How many hands should I shake? The “exchange of peace” is one of the oldest traditions in the Christian church. In biblical times, it included kissing! A simple handshake (or hug, if welcome) will do. Note that this is an important part of the worship; it is not meant as a time for chatting or doing business. We greet one another in the name of Jesus Christ before we share in his holy Meal. How many hands should you shake? As many as you can! You are encouraged to make the first hands you shake those of people you don’t recognize or know very well – and/or people you may have had a disagreement with. If you are worried about sharing germs, you are welcome to bring hand sanitizer with you – or, if you are very uncomfortable, you are may abstain.
Why do we collect an offering? How much should I give? Worship is an encounter with God’s grace. The opportunity to give is gracious, because it is an opportunity to make room in our lives for God to make a home. The story of Jesus Christ is the story of God taking up residence in ordinary life. That includes our pocketbooks, where there is plenty of room for other gods—like greed, anxiety, debt, consumption, or addictions. God reminds us in the Meal—and the offering that prepares for it—that all that we are and have are gracious gifts from the One who wants to live with us and through us. How much should you give? As much as you think you are able, willing, and challenged to give. The Bible suggests 10%, but that’s between you and God.
Who is welcome at the Table? Everyone, without exception. Jesus Christ, present in bread and wine, welcomes and invites all people to the Table—especially children. Some may choose not to commune for a number of reasons, and we respect that choice. If you prefer not to commune, you are welcome to cross your hands over your chest and receive a blessing. If you would like your children to receive Communion instruction prior to participating in the Meal, please talk the pastor.
Why such a long prayer before we eat? The “Eucharistic Prayer” is a really long Table Grace (eucharist literally means “thanksgiving”). More than that, though, this prayer has many important parts. We give thanks and praise together with the whole church on earth and in heaven (including singing the angels’ song, “Holy, Holy, Holy!”), we remember all the things God has done for our ancestors and for us (most importantly, “the night in which Jesus was betrayed”), and we invite the Holy Spirit to show up and make this Meal (and those who eat it) holy. Then we finish it all up by praying the prayer Jesus taught us to pray—the Lord’s Prayer—mostly to make sure we didn’t forget anything.
How do we eat? There are a variety of ways to share the Meal. The bulletin should include instructions for the day—and there are ushers and other servers present to assist you if you have any challenges. Both wine and grape juice are always available, as are gluten-free wafers. If you have other dietary restrictions, please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you. Sometimes we invite folks to kneel, but you are welcome to remain standing if that is uncomfortable. We can also bring Communion to you at your seat if your mobility is in any way impaired. Just ask an usher!