Worship for Lutheran Chistians (4 of 4)
The church has confessed its sins and been forgiven, and its faith has been nurtured through hearing the Word. The church now reaches a climax of the worship experience in the celebration of the sacrament of Holy Communion. The following parts of the liturgy help the worshipers partake of the holy meal thoughtfully, thankfully, and joyfully.
The gifts of God's people are a response to God's blessings "as God has prospered them" (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Cor 9:8-15). Our offerings are for the support of the church. They enable the church to provide the written and spoken word of God, Christian education, and pastoral care, food, clothing, shelter, and a helping hand to those in need. The bread and wine for communion are brought to the altar as a part of the Offering.
As the offerings are brought to the Lord's table, the worshipers sing the offertory to express gratitude for all God's blessings, dedicate themselves to God, and request His continued blessings. (“What shall I render to the Lord,” Ps 116:12-19; “Create in me a clean heart,” Ps 51:10-12)
Preface means “introduction.” The pastor and people get ready to celebrate the Holy Meal by greeting each other and with an exhortation to “give thanks” (Greek eucharist). (See Salutation above; Lam 3:41; Ps 86:4)
These words remember God’s promises from Creation through Abraham and Sarah to Moses and David and all of God’s people, fulfilled in Christ. The Proper Preface is designed to fit the season of the Church year and bring believers into awareness of the full sweep of history and God’s faithfulness. (Ps 69:30; 95:2; 100:4; 107:22; 116:17; 147:7; see 1 Cor 11:26)
Sanctus is a Latin word meaning "Holy." The Sanctus contains words from IIsaiah's vision of God (Isaiah 6:3) and the crowd's response on Palm Sunday when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9). We join them in spirit by singing their words as we anticipate Christ’s coming in the sacrament. (Is. 6:3; Matt. 21:9 // Mk 11:9; Ps. 118:25-26)
The Lord's Prayer
We pray to God as our Father using the prayer of the family of God because the Lord's Supper is our family meal. (Matt. 6:9ff; Luke 11:2ff)
Words of Institution
The pastor speaks the words from scripture that give us the reason to celebrate Holy Communion and the confidence that we are truly receiving Christ’s body and blood: “this is my body given for you…this is my blood shed for you…for the forgiveness of sins.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20)
Sharing the Peace
At St. John’s, we share the peace after the Confession and Absolution; other congregations share the peace at this time. The greetings of peace that Jesus spoke 6 on the first Easter is shared before we approach the altar to receive Him. (John 14:27; John 20:19-21)
Agnus Dei is a Latin phrase meaning "Lamb of God." John the Baptist spoke these words as he pointed to Jesus coming toward him (John 1:29). As Christ comes to us in the Holy Supper, we recognize him as the Lamb of God sacrificed for us to free us from the bondage of sin and death. (John 1:29; Is. 53:7; Rev 5:6-14)
Distribution of the Supper
As we gather at the Lord's Table, the pastor invites us, "Take, eat; this is the true body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, given into death for your sins. Take, drink, this is the true blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, shed for the forgiveness of your sins." After we receive the Sacrament we hear the comforting words spoken by the pastor, "The body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ strengthen and keep you in God’s grace until life everlasting." We respond, "Amen," for this is our sincere desire. It is a good practice to offer a silent prayer of thanks when we return to our pews. While the meal is being distributed, the congregation and/or the choir sing one or more hymns.
Post Communion Canticle
We don’t use this at St. John’s, but many congregations sing “Thank the Lord,” “Lord, now let Your servant go in peace,” or an appropriate hymn. (“Lord, now you let Your servant go in peace,” Luke 2:29f)
Post Communion Prayer
This prayer offers our gratitude to God for the gift of Jesus, received in, with, and under bread and wine, and asks God to move us to renewed love of God and neighbor. (Ps 107:1; 118:1; 1 Cor 11:33; 1 John 4:7-8)
After having heard God’s Word and received the supper, the congregation is sent out to “Go in peace; Serve the Lord!” with thankful hearts.
Benediction is the Latin word for “blessing.” “The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine upon you. The Lord look upon you with favor and give you peace” is the “Aaronic benediction,” the blessing God first gave to Aaron and the other priests of Israel (Num 6:23-27). Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has come to us in this service, and blesses us to become “a holy kingdom and priesthood” (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; see Exodus 19:10). We say "Amen" to affirm the blessing; "So be it -- it is true!”
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St. John's Lutheran Church
7205 N. 51st Ave
Glendale, AZ 85301
Written by Rev. Peter S. Perry,"Biblical Roots of the Liturgy
Revision April, 2015