The Lutheran Liturgy -- Its Biblical Roots
An Outline of
the Order of Holy Communion*
* the following presentation corresponds to the order
of Divine Service II from the Hymal Lutheran Worship, pp. 158ff.
The service of preparation
PARTS OF THE SERVICE
||Music helps draw us into an attitude of prayer and praise.
|The Ringing of the Bells
||This is a call to Gods people "to enter the lord's gates
with thanksgiving and His courts with praise" (Psalm 100:4).
|A Hymn of
|We are a "singing church," so we follow the advice of
the apostle Paul to teach and admonish "one another in psalms and hymns
and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the lord"
(Colossians 3:16). This hymn may be one of praise, prayer, or reflection
on the season of the church year.
||We call upon God to be present with us. We worship the
triune God, remembering our Baptism in His name*. Amen means "So
be it, it is true!"
* Matt. 28:19; Matt. 18:20; Eph. 2:18.
|The Confession of Sins
||We examine ourselves and publicly confess our sins. Such
a confession at the beginning of the service provides a climate of acceptance.
In spite of our sins, we are accepted by God, and in turn we can accept
* I John 1:8-10 [Rom. 7:14-8:4].
|The Absolution or
Declaration of Grace
|Christ said to his disciples, "If you forgive anyone
his sins, they are forgiven"*. The pastor speaks for God and announces
God's cleansing forgiveness to those who made confession.
* John 20:23.
The Service of the Word
From the time of the apostles down through today, an important part
of the service has been the reading of the Scriptures, including the Old
Testament Lesson, the Epistle Lesson from the New Testament, and
the Gospel Lesson. The reason for including these readings is the
scriptural principal that God's Word is the only rule and guide for Christian
faith and living. The Service of the Word concludes with the sermon
(wich is the preached word), the church's confession of faith in response
to God's Word, and the prayers of God's people.
The Introit of the Day
||Introit is a Latin word meaning "he enters into."
The Introit is a part of a psalm or a hymn that announces the theme of
the day and begins the Service of the Word. Many years ago the faithful
would meet outside and then proceed into the church. The pastor and
the people would chant psalms as they entered the sanctuary.
The Introit traditionally consists of an Antiphon, or
refrain, a Psalm or a series of Psalm verses, the Gloria Patri*, and the
* Rom. 16:27; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 4:20;
Rev. 1:6, 8.
||Kyrie is a Greek word meaning "O Lord." It is a cry to
the Lord for help and strength*. In ancient times, the crowds would
shout "Lord, have mercy" as the King entered their town. The church
has taken over his prayer to greet its King Jesus Christ in the church
service. As the people so long ago expected help from their King,
so we Christians expect help from our Savior.
* Matt. 9:27; Matt. 15:22; Matt. 20:30-31;
|The Hymn of Praise
||Two hymns of praise, "Glory to God in the highest" and
"This is the feast of victory," give the congregation the opportunity to
praise God and express joy because Jesus is our victorious Savior.
During Advent and Lent, the hymn of praise is omitted.
* "Glory to God in the highest," Luke 2:14; "This
is the feast of victory," Rev. 5:12f.
||In the Salutation, the pastor and the congregation great
each other in the Lord's name.
* Ruth 2:4; Luke 1:28; II Thess. 3:16;
II Tim. 4:22.
|The Collect of the Day
||The main thoughts of the day are collected, or summarized
in this short prayer. The collects for the reason of the church year
have come to us from the rich treasury of the church's heritage.
|The First Lesson
||The first reading is from the Old Testament, except during
the Easter season when it is from the Book of Acts. This reading
usually relates to the Gospel of the day.
* I Tim. 4:13.
||Gradual, a Latin expression meaning "step," is a scripture
passage for each season of the church year. It is a response to the
First Lesson and a bridge to the Second Lesson. Sometimes a psalm
is sung or spoken.
|The Second Lesson
||The second reading is from one of the epistles (letters)
in the New Testament.
||A verse from the holy scriptures is usually sung in preparation
for the reading of the Gospel. There are general verses* as well
as specific verses for the seasons of the church year.
* John 6:68; Joel 2:13 (through lent).
|The Holy Gospel
||The Gospel Lesson is a selection from the accounts of
the life of our Lord recorded by the four evangelists, St. Matthew, St.
Mark, St. Luke, and St. John. Because Christ is with us in the Gospel
reading, we stand to honor his presence. We also sing versicles (short
verses) before and after the reading of the Gospel. On certain festival
days the minister may read the Gospel while standing among the people.
He may be flanked by acolytes carrying candles who proclaim Jesus and his
word as the "light of the world."
|The Hymn of the Day
||This hymn follows the theme of the readings and set the
stage for the sermon. Suggested hymns of the day are listed on page 976-78
of Lutheran Worship.
||The Pastor proclaims God's Word and applies that word
to modern life and problems. He stresses both what God demands of
us (the Law) and what God does for us through Jesus Christ (the Gospel).
||After hearing the word of God read and proclaimed, the
worshiper responds with his confession of faith in the words of the Nicene
Creed. It is customary for the Nicene Creed to be spoken when Holy
Communion is celebrated and on major festivals. The Apostles' Creed
is used at other times.
* I Cor. 15:1ff; I Pet. 3:18ff; I Tim. 3:16.
||This prayer in the service follows the directive of the
Apostle Paul to young Timothy, a pastor: "I urge, then, first of all, that
requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone -
for Kings and all those in authority, that we may live in peaceful and
quiet lives in all godliness and holiness"*. For this reason, the
hymnal says "prayers are included for the whole church, the nations, those
in need, the parish, and special concerns. The congregation may be
invited to offer petitions and thanksgivings. The minister gives
thanks for the faithful departed, especially for those who have died" (LW
* I Tim. 2:1-2.
The Service of the Sacrament
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). 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.
||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, 17,
13-14, 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 as how to celebrate the meal.
* Cf. "Salutation"; Lam. 3:41; Ps. 86.4.
(or Proper) Preface
|These words state why we should give thanks using words
and ideas appropriate for the season of the church year.
* Pss. 69:30; 95:2; 100:4; 107:22; 116:17;
||Sanctus is a Latin word meaning "Holy." The Sanctus
contains words from Isaiah'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.
|The Words of
|The pastor speaks the words which Jesus spoke when He
instituted the Supper with His disciples in the Upper Room. With
these words the bread and wine are consecrated, that is, set apart for
God's use in the special meal.
* 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24;
||The greetings of peace which Jesus spoke on the first
Easter is shared before we approach the altar to receive Him. In
the Lord's Supper, the body and blood of Christ are truly present in, with,
and under the bread and wine.
* John 14:27; John 20:19-21.
|The Agnus Dei
||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.
of the Supper
|As we kneel 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 strengthen and preserve you in
the true faith to life everlasting." We respond, "Amen," for this
is our sincere desire. Its 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.
|"Thank the Lord," "Lord, now let Your servant go in peace,"
or an appropriate hymn is sung. The purpose is to offer our thanks
and express our faith in what God has done for us and promised to do for
us in the future.
* "Lord, now you let Your servant go in peace", Luke
|The Prayer of Thanks
||Once again we express our appreciation to our gracious
God for giving us this Holy Meal through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
* Pss. 107:1; 118:1.
||The blessing spoken by the pastor is the Aaronic benediction,
the blessing God first gave to Aaron and the other priests to speak to
thew people of Israel. Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has come to
us in a special way through this Holy Meal. The blessing is God's
promise that Christ will go with us as we leave the church and return to
the world to serve Him. We sing "Amen" to affirm the blessing; "So
be it -- it is true!"
* Numbers 6:23-27.
Revised slightly May 5, 2005.