What is worship?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:

There is much in this world and even within Christianity that labels itself “worship,” but is it truly the worship God desires?

Christian and biblical worship has its origin in the Triune God. In worship God gives and we receive. This is why we as Lutheran Christians refer to our worship services as Divine Service. Worship is primarily about what God gives us in his Son whereby we receive his love and life (John 3:16).

At the heart of Christian worship is Word and Sacrament. In worship God gathers us together in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, the name into which we were baptized. God gathers us to distribute and receive the gifts of himself that assure us of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation which Christ won for us on the cross.

In the Sacrament of Baptism God gives us his holy name and we receive a heavenly inheritance (Titus 3:5-8). In preaching God gives us his word and we receive the sure and certain promise of the forgiveness of our sins (Luke 24:45-47). In the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper God gives us Christ’s body and blood and we receive communion with the Holy Trinity (I Corinthians11:23-29). In worship heaven and earth intersect – God comes to us.

It is only as God gives that we can then receive by faith God’s gifts of grace. It is the open and empty hand of faith that is the highest form of worship. (Apology of the Augsburg Confession IV, 49). God serves us in Word and Sacrament and only then may we serve God in a life of prayer, praise and thanksgiving. Our service is only made possible by God’s service and his gift of faith.

Faith receives and acknowledges the gifts God gives in worship. It does so by repeating back to him what he has first said to us. Faith confesses what God has already said. In his Law God calls us sinners and we acknowledge this by confessing our sin. In the Gospel God calls us his forgiven children and we acknowledge this by confessing the faith of our fathers (Ecumenical Creeds). Having first been fed and nurtured by the Word and sacraments, only then are we able to serve God and others through our various vocations.

In contrast to the worship we see in many places today that focuses on what people are doing, we as Lutheran Christians invite you to join us in an experience of worship where what God has done and completed in Christ Jesus is made available for you.

Grace be with you,

By PT Graff

A baptized child of God's, called to be a son, husband, father, citizen of Canada and heaven and a pastor.