A Word From Our Pastor

May 2024

There are many Christians who love going to church but there are also many Christians who don’t. It has become increasingly popular for Christians to stay at home and find alternative methods to practice their faith. Many people who don’t attend church regularly or at all wonder what the point of going to church is if they have a personal relationship with God. While not attending church will not send you to hell or make God love you any less, it is important.

“If the Divine Service is viewed primarily as our praising God, then you can do that just as well from home. In fact, once we have looked at the topic of vocation, you will see that we can serve God better in the world than in the church building.

But if the service is understood as God giving us the forgiveness of sins, then you’ve got to be there. It is very possible that the low attendance at Sunday services seen in so many churches today is a reflection of how we define the service.

If I am acting, then I can do it another time. If God is acting, I better be there.”-Rev. Klemet Preus

And perhaps that is what is happening in our worship services. Each week we gather here, and we worship God using the traditional Divine service of the Lutheran church. But are we truly worshiping Him the way He deserves to be worshiped?

We follow the Divine service order of worship to help us make our worship gathering to be what it should be. So, what is the Divine service and why do we use it?

The Divine service focuses us on the problem of sin, then the Divine service delivers us the gifts of Jesus so that we might be freed of sin, justified by His grace, and sent back into our vocations with a good conscience to do what the Lord has given us to do. We use this Divine service because it teaches us and tells us the story of salvation; the people of God live in and by the Divine service – hearing God’s Word and receiving His sacrament. We don’t use the Divine service simply because God’s people used it. We use it because God’s Word and Sacraments bring us the gifts of Jesus – fruit from the tree of life, the tree of the cross.

Our life is in the death of Jesus Christ for our sins. Our preachers proclaim “Christ and Him crucified” to us.

The Divine service centers on Jesus Christ. Rather than blown around by fads or the latest gimmicks, the Divine service focuses our minds and hearts on the only One who meets all our needs no matter the current situation.

Through the Divine service God serves us. He serves us the banquet of his Word and Sacrament. The two high points, or peeks, of the Divine service is when God comes to us in His Word and when He comes to us in His Meal, the Lord’s Supper. God serves us through Word and Sacraments.

Anything we do and any form of worship can become empty and meaningless when it is not done in the right spirit; it will become merely acting out a part rather than participating with our hearts, minds, and spirits. If you hang around churches for a while, you will likely find that our emotions do not always match our profession. Creeds containing truths which thrilled a previous generation are mumbled like a 9-year-old boy explaining why he was playing baseball inside the house. Songs promising eternal happiness are mouthed by faces which appear to be sucking a lemon drop. Songs describing everlasting joy overwhelming all sorrow are carried by tunes appropriate for a funeral. The emotions should match the facts. God-honoring worship must enable and promote emotions matching the truths we express. God desires more than our attendance in His house each week. He wants our time with Him to be real and heartfelt, and He desires to give us the gifts of His grace.

There you have it –the Lutheran church service in a nutshell. It’s a beauty, isn’t it? Filled with God’s Words of truth and comfort, it gives us all of the wonderful gifts our Heavenly Father has for us. In the Divine Service God unites Himself with us in Word and Sacrament. He gives us joy and strength. He gives us concrete certainty that we are His redeemed children. He gives peace to live in our world. The liturgy of the Divine Service is not a mundane matter of meaningless words. It is a magnificent moment of meeting with the risen Christ to receive His love and forgiveness in Word and Sacrament. Enjoy the service – it’s God’s Gift to you!

Pastor Tim