Worship at Zion Lutheran Church is reverent. We want to make a clear confession that worship and the receiving of God’s gifts is this congregation’s central feature. God’s love is most clearly demonstrated when He distributes His gifts of Word and Sacrament to the body of Christ in the Divine Service.
WHAT TO EXPECT
We recognize that a liturgical form of worship can be challenging for visitors. With this in mind, we provide a bulletin with page numbers to the appropriate place in the burgundy hymnal. If you’re struggling, someone nearby can help you.
We believe that what God does in worship should inform the way we worship. Because worship is the receiving of God’s gifts that are delivered through His Word, you’ll notice that Scripture pervades our liturgy. The liturgy is simply an order of Scriptural texts, poems, creeds, and hymns in which God’s people encounter their living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Also, the repetition of the liturgy helps form our memory in faith. You might even find yourself singing a song from the liturgy during the week!
Our worship is not a show to be done in the sight of men. The point is not pomp and circumstance. Rather our ceremonies are driven directly by our conviction that God Himself is present in His risen Body and Blood for us, that He speaks in His Word to us, and that He is paying close attention to our prayers.
Some people dress up for our services, some people dress in casual clothing. Despite the attire of those gathered, the liturgy itself is planned and deliberate. It is not spontaneous. So also, that means that it is formal in its tone rather than chatty and that it takes up topics of the utmost importance and eternal consequence.
Our pastor’s sermons are also planned and deliberate. The Word of God is preached through Law and Gospel. The pastor prepares all week for the sermons with deliberate study. The preacher always seeks to be relevant and preach sermons that are always contemporary to the needs of the people taking note of what is going on in the culture around us.
Some Christians in America have taken up the trappings of the dominant culture in America, or worse, the entertainment industry. We have resisted – not because we are just conservative and reject change for the sake of doing things the way they “have always been done.” But rather, we are fully committed to the Holy Scriptures and the traditional way in which the Church has always worshiped, and therefore receive our heritage as grateful recipients.
Liturgical worship, in one form or another, has a four-thousand-year-old history dating back to the tabernacle worship of God’s people in Exodus and was continued on in the apostolic church. This form of worship ought not be cast off lightly. It is something we cherish for it keeps the Gospel of Jesus Christ ever before our eyes.
Why Are You Called Lutherans?
Lutherans are Christians. The name “Lutheran” originates with a medieval monk, Martin Luther, who was eventually excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Papacy for his insistence that salvation in Christ could not be bought or sold, but was a free gift of God by grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The name “Lutheran” first was used as a derogatory term meant to brand Luther and his followers as heretics. They themselves, however, referred to themselves as “Evangelicals.”
What is the Lutheran Reformation?
The date that marks the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation is October 31st, 1517. The 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, also known as the Protestant Reformation, was commemorated in 2017.
The Lutheran Reformation is still all about Jesus; that is, faithfully preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus Christ and standing for the teachings of God’s Word as they have been confessed in all times and all places wherever the Gospel is purely taught according to a pure understanding of it, and where the Sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution. With Martin Luther, we still say, “Here we stand, we cannot do otherwise. God help us. Amen.”
The Lutheran Reformation then, and Lutheran Church today, is not about throwing away the past, but about retaining and preserving the very best of the Church’s rich history and teachings, while filtering out whatever obscures and contradicts God’s Word and denies the good news of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone.
The Lutherans never wanted to rebel against the Roman Church. They were, however, held captive by the force of the clear truth of God’s Word. Martin Luther refused to compromise that truth and was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church, precisely because of his defense of the pure Gospel and truths of God’s Word.
What Do Lutherans Believe, Teach, & Confess?
Perhaps Christianity has never been explained more simply and eloquently than in the words Martin Luther wrote to explain the Apostles’ Creed. Here is his timeless explanation that is a superb summary of what the theology of the Lutheran Reformation was all about then and is all about today.
I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord. Who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.
The Lutheran Reformation began as the sincere expression of concern that false and misleading teachings were obscuring the glory and merit of Jesus Christ, and thus stealing the Gospel from devout Christian consciences.
The Lutheran Church today seeks to boldly and continually proclaim the pure, saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to all and for all.