Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. Music is drawn into this thankfulness and praise, enlarging and elevating the adoration of our gracious giver God. – Introduction to Lutheran Worship (1982)
Although much about Worship seems similar throughout Christianity, Lutherans have a unique perspective on the question “what is worship?” The Lutheran understanding of worship is expressed in the Divine Service.
The Athanasian Creed teaches us that true Christian worship can be recognized in two ways. First, we worship the God who is triune, that is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The second way we recognize Christian worship is that it is centered on Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. Our worship is “divine” because it is Christ-centered.
The Lutheran Confessions teach us about the “service” of the Divine Service: “So the worship and divine service of the Gospel is to receive gifts from God” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, Article V, paragraph 189). In the Divine Service, God, who calls, gathers, and enlightens the whole Christian Church on earth, comes to serve us with His gracious gifts of Word and Sacrament.
People often think that worship is about what we do for or toward God. The reality is quite different. In the Divine Service, God is providing His service for us. In the reading, the preaching, and the proclamation of His Word and His Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, God comes to us. In worship, God gives His grace and then we respond with thanks and praise. Worship with Angels and Archangels. And introduction to the Divine Service. Scot A. Kinnaman. CPH. Saint Louis. 2006.
Our Lord is the Lord who serves. Jesus Christ came into the flesh not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. On the cross He offered Himself as a spotless sacrifice for the sin of the whole world…Our Lord serves us today through His holy Word and Sacraments. Through these means He comes among us to deliver His forgiveness and salvation, freeing us from our sins and strengthening us for service to one another and to the world…Having been called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we receive His gifts with thankfulness and praise. With psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we joyfully confess all that God has done for us, declaring the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Lutheran Service Book, page viii