Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!


Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.

Why Liturgical Divine Service?

    “Practice what you preach” is a familiar way to say that what you believe should show itself in the way you live. “We worship best when we say back to God the very words He has given us to say” is a good way to say that what we believe (teach and confess) should show itself and inform how we come together for what we call worship or better said, divine service.
    Because we believe the Ten Commandments are important, true and a God-given guide to life, we live life trying not to break them. Even if we were not taught the Ten Commandments from memory, we still have an idea about what they are because that is the way we live. We obey our parents, we do not kill, we turn our eyes from lust, we do not steal, we refrain from speaking evil of others, and we refrain from coveting because that is what we have seen in the lives of our first teachers, our parents. Because we strive to keep the commandments, we teach others that this is what we believe. On the other hand, if we should be disobedient to our parents, hurt and harm others, lust and take what is not ours, speak evil of others and join in listening to evil spoken of by others, and begrudge others of what they have, then we might believe these things to be okay and that breaking the commandments is okay. And actually, according to our sinful nature, that is really what we do, apart from God’s help. The point is, these two things, what we believe and how we live, go hand in hand. We live according to what we believe, that is we act according to what we believe to be right and wrong, and how we live reinforces what we believe to be right and wrong.
    This has a very real application in what we do on Sunday mornings. Our divine service flows out of what we believe, teach and confess. If we should “act” a different way on Sunday mornings, that would instruct and inform us of a different belief system. If we change the way we “act” on Sunday, this would instruct and inform us of a different teaching, other than what we say we believe, teach and confess. In other words, we cannot simply say, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” That saying simply does not work. What we do must be seen in what we say or what we do actually says we believe something different. And what we are doing different will mean we believe something different. To better understand how these two things, doctrine (what we believe, teach, and confess) and practice (the way we do or act out what we believe, teach, and confess), go hand in hand, let us take a look at what we do on Sunday mornings.
    First, we should understand that what we are actually doing is not worship, at least not according to our dictionary definition of the term worship. According to the dictionary, to worship means to do something for our deity or god. God needs nothing from us and instead what is happening is that first and foremost He is coming to us to do something for us and to give us the gifts He has to give. So we rightly understand that what we are doing on Sunday morning is that we are attending divine service, that is we are attending God’s Service to us as Christians. Certainly there is a part of our service when we respond to Him with psalms, hymns, prayers, petitions, alms and thanks, but first and foremost it is God coming to us, acting in us and giving to us.
    So how does our doctrine (what we believe, teach, and confess) inform and determine our practice (how what we believe, teach, and confess is acted out)?
    Because we believe that Baptism is important and because we believe that first and foremost the Lord works in divine service, that is that He comes to give to us, we begin our divine service with an Invocation. The invocation is an invoking, an inviting of the Lord to come and be a part of our divine service. His coming to us through the giving of the means of grace is the main part in our divine service in order to give, strengthen and keep us in faith. This invocation, this beginning in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit reminds us of our baptism, that time in which God’s name was put on us, faith was put in our hearts, we were given forgiveness of sins, God claimed us and wrote our names in the book of life. Likewise as we conclude the divine service and get ready to move out into the mission field of the world, we conclude with a Benediction, a blessing and in most cases the three-fold blessing of the Aaronic benediction, again reminding us of the trinity and God’s name being put on us.
    Because we believe that forgiveness of sins is so important especially as we come into the Lord’s presence, we move immediately into Confession and Absolution. Although this is a corporate confession, that is that we confess together as a church body, we do encourage private confession and we do encourage a private confession during this corporate confession. We confess all our sins, our sins of thought, word and deed, our sins of omission and commission. We confess all our sins, and then we hear the most beautiful words we might ever hear, that our sins are forgiven. And this is what happens, as we hear those words of forgiveness, our sins are forgiven.
    Because we believe that God’s Word, Holy Scripture is a means of grace, that is that this is another way in which our Lord comes to give us the good gifts and blessings He has to give, we now hear readings from the Word of God. Because the pastor is called by God through the congregation to preach the Word and administer the sacraments, in the stead and by the command of God, how fitting it is that the pastor deliver the gifts of God’s Word, through the reading of the Word as well as through the proclamation of that same word in the Sermon. As we understand that this is a divine service, a God service to us His people, and as we understand that the pastor stands in the stead and by the command of God, perhaps this will help us to understand and be informed in our decision that there really is no need for a lay reader or any lay leader (members of the congregation) to be involved in the divine service. This does not negate the fact that members of the congregation are involved through their offering hymns, prayers, offerings and being given the gifts God has to give.
    Either before or after the Sermon we confess our faith in the words of one of the three universal Christian Creeds. Although these creeds are not God given, they do express what it is that we believe, teach and confess according to God’s Word so that we confirm what we believe and confess before our Lord and each other.
    The question is often asked as to how often we should partake of the Lord’s Supper. When we understand that the Lord’s Supper is His Supper, wherein He is the host and the meal, and when we understand that this is another means through which our Lord comes to give us the good gifts and blessings He has to give, our desire should be to partake as often as offered, and furthermore, our desire should be that it is offered whenever the other means of grace are offered. As we hear in the words of institution, through the very means of the bread we are given our Lord’s body to eat and through the very means of the wine we are given His blood to drink. Into our mouth are bread and wine, into our ears are the very Words of our Lord so that this is a supernatural eating and drinking. We have all the means of grace present, and the Lord utilizes all these means to give, strengthen and keep us in faith, into mouth, into ears, into heart.
    Our hymns are chosen to expound that same Word of God that we have been hearing. Our hymns are not chants of one or two phrases sung over and over as if this pious repetition of words means anything or does anything for us. Rather our hymns are an exposition of the Word of God confirming and reaffirming what we have been hearing through God’s Word. Likewise, our liturgy is not simply a set of seven acts that need to be incorporated into a service. Rather our liturgy is an order of God’s Word spoken back to Him through which He gives us the gifts He has to give. Our liturgy reaches back into the Old Testament to the tabernacle and the service the Lord had given the Children of Israel for offering sacrifices. Our liturgy moves through the New Testament, and it ties us to all the saints who have gone on before us and to those who will come after us. It is not here today and gone tomorrow. It is not contemporary, but it transcends time.
    How might this look otherwise? How might this look if we believed something else? Or if we practiced something else, how might that affect what we believe? If we had an altar call, what would that say about our Sunday morning service? An altar call would only be needed if we denied original sin and believed that there is some innate goodness in humankind so that one could make a decision for Jesus. What if we used human liturgies and responses, quipy sayings we made up that were cute and sassy? If we used human words rather than God’s Word, we would be elevating man’s words as the means of grace rather than God’s Word such that we would be the ones to give, strengthen and keep in faith, rather than that being the Lord’s work. What would it mean to involve as many of the lay people as possible in the divine service? That would teach that it is not a divine service but an anthropocentric or a man-centered worship, that is that what we do on Sunday morning is worship or what we are doing for our God, rather than divine service, what He is doing for us. What would it mean to change the service week in and week out? It would leave us without a continuity as if this moment is not connected to the past or the future, but we are left on our own. It would leave us without being taught what is important and what we should learn by heart. What would our service teach us if we did not begin with an invocation or end with a benediction? It would teach us that our baptism means little in the presence of God. It would teach us that we do not need to invite our Lord to come to us in divine service nor invite Him to be with us as we go out into the world. What would we learn if there were no confession and absolution or no Lord’s Supper? It would teach us that there must be some other means through which our Lord comes to us than through these means of grace. Perhaps we might come to the conclusion that we human beings are the means of grace.
    So we see just how important our liturgy truly is because our liturgy informs us, instructs us and is the very means through which our Lord comes to give, strengthen and keep us in faith, and through which He gives us all His good gifts and blessings, faith, forgiveness and life. It is our liturgy which ties us together, past, present and future. A different liturgy teaches a different doctrine and means a difference in belief and no unity. A similar liturgy teaches a similar doctrine and means a unity in belief and a unity in faith. Because it is that important we worship liturgically, tying us to the saints, past, present and future.