PLEASE JOIN US - THERE'S A WHOLE LOT OF GIFTING GOING ON!
"For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory."
Isaiah 61:3 (LB)
The Worship at Holy Cross is liturgical, that is, we follow the traditional forms of Christian worship that have stood the test of time down through the ages. It is Divine Worship, emphasizing Gods service to us through His Word and Sacraments. Though traditional in form, it is worship that is relevant and meaningful, making use of a wide range of musical expressions, from ancient chant to contemporary song. Children are welcome as messages designed especially for them are presented at each service.
We are currently in our summer worship schedule, with one service on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. (through the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, September 1).
The two-service Sunday Worship Service schedule resumes on Sept. 8—services at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
Holy Communion is celebrated each week.
Welcome! The nutshell/Tweet/Text-sized answer to the question: "What is worship?" could be shared as follows:
Worship is a two-way interaction - God reaching to us … and us reaching back to God; God gives/comes to us … we respond; All worship begins with God – we RECEIVE the gifts of God
If you have a little bit more than 140 characters-worth of time to spare, please read on...
You'll notice above that our worship is referred to as the "DIVINE SERVICE" - Why? What do we mean by this? The Athanasian Creed teaches us that true Christian worship can be recognized in two ways. First, we worship the Triune God, that is, the Father, the Son, and the 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: "The worship and divine service of the Gospel is to receive gifts from God." (Ap V 189). In the Divine Service, God, who calls, gathers, and enlightens the whole Christian Church on earth, comes with His gracious gifts to serve us.
Though the Divine Service may simply be called a "worship" service, these words DIVINE SERVICE say much about the focus of the worship service and what happens. This most important worship service for Lutherans is "DIVINE" in that it finds its source and origin in the Triune God Himself: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
This worship service is also "SERVICE" in that Christ Jesus serves us His Word and His Supper. Only then through the working of the Holy Spirit do we serve Him in prayer and praise and serve our neighbor through offerings and acts of love.
In the Divine Service, God provides His service for us. In the readings, the preaching, and the proclamation of His Word, in His Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, God comes to us. The work we do in worship is to receive the gift of God's grace and respond.
For a further understanding of Lutheran worship and so that you might feel more at home in God's house, please read on...
At Home in God's House
WHAT IS WORSHIP? "In Christian worship our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Saying back to him what he has said to us in his Word, we repeat what is most true and sure. Most true and sure is his name, which he put upon us with the water of our Baptism. We are his. This we acknowledge at the beginning of the Divine Service: 'In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.' Where his name is, there he is. Before him we acknowledge that we are sinners, and we plead for forgiveness. His forgiveness is given us, and we, freed and forgiven, acclaim him as our great and gracious God. The rhythm of our worship is from him to us, and then from us back to him. He gives his gifts, and together we receive and extol them. We build one another up in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Finally his blessing moves us out into our calling, where his gifts have their fruition." These words, taken from the Introduction to the hymnal, Lutheran Worship, serve to keep us focused on what is going on in this place. God comes to us, gathering us in His name and calling us by His Word out of the darkness of this world into the radiance of His light. The very same Lord Jesus Christ who gave His body and blood as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross, now comes to us, giving us His body and blood to eat and to drink. That is why Lutherans call this service, THE DIVINE SERVICE - God serving us.
The Divine Service centers around two things: Word and Sacrament. The structure of the Divine Service might be compared to a house. The "front porch" of the Service is the Preparation. We enter God's House because we’re made His children in Holy Baptism where God Himself put His holy name on us. It is in confession and absolution that we return to our Baptism and are so prepared to enter into the presence of our living Lord. From the "front porch" we step into the "living room." Here we sit like Mary at Jesus' feet tohear His Word (see St. Luke 10:39). From the living room, the Lord leads us to the "dining room," that is theService of the Sacrament, where He feeds us with His very body and blood. Having been in God's House to receive His gifts in Word and Sacrament, we leave with these gifts alive in us and in His name we go back into the world to live lives that bring glory to Him through our service of the neighbor.
The architecture of our church is reflective of the service which God renders to us in this place. As you enter the church from the rear of the nave (the area where the congregation sits) your eyes are drawn upward to the altar and the cross. In the Old Testament, the altar was the place of sacrifice. From our altar we receive the fruits of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, His body and blood and to the altar we bring the sacrifices of prayer and praise. Above the altar is a great wooden cross, reminding us that all of our worship is centered on Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. The lectern is the place from which the Word of God is read. The pulpit is the place from which the Word of God is preached. The colored paraments on the altar and pulpit change according to the Church Year (blue for Advent; white for festivals of the Lord such as Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, and Trinity; purple for Lent; red for Pentecost and Reformation; black for Good Friday and green for Sundays after Trinity). In our sanctuary the baptismal font is placed in the front of the church, a visual reminder that it is by Baptism that we are made members of Christ's church. Stationed by the baptismal font is the paschal candle signifying that in Baptism we are delivered from the darkness of sin and bathed in the light of Him who is the Light of the world.
As the pastor does not represent himself but the Lord, Lutheran pastors wear vestments as a sign of their holy office. The vestments cover the man alerting the congregation to the fact that the pastor is here as Christ's servant. The basic vestment which the pastors and others who assist him wear is the alb, a white robe. For the Service of the Word, the pastor wears a stole, a long strip of fabric in the appropriate color of the Church Year. The stole resembles a yoke, indicating the obligation of the pastor to be Christ's servant. At the Service of the Sacrament, the pastor puts on a chasuble, a poncho-like garment which, like the stole, is in the appropriate color of the Church Year.
Throughout most of the year we make use of a crucifier and acolyte. The acolyte lights the candles on and around the altar with a taper and the crucifer carries the processional cross into the chancel (the raised area where the altar, lectern, and pulpit are located) during the singing of the first hymn. Likewise, at the end of the service as the final hymn is sung, the processional cross is carried out of the chancel and through the nave, the candles are extinguished and the light from the candles is carried out as well. This movement indicates that we are drawn into the Divine Service by the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ and we follow in the light of His cross as He leads us through this world to His heavenly kingdom. Thus it is appropriate to turn and face the cross as it is brought into and out of our worship space. The Gospel Procession is the practice of carrying the Gospel Book into the midst of the congregation. Then, from the midst of the congregation, the pastor reads the Holy Gospel. This practice reminds us that "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14).
Much more could be said about the Divine Service and the manner in which it is conducted here at Holy Cross, but that would require quite a bit more time and space. We offer this short explanation of the Divine Service and a few of its features to assist you in understanding and appreciating our liturgical heritage. God bless you and we hope you will join us for worship this Sunday.