A Brief Explanation of Worship at Saint James
As Lutherans, we call our church service the Divine Service because this is where God comes to serve His people through Word and Sacrament, to forgive them, to speak to them, to listen to them, to give them His very self, to bless them, and to go with them back into their daily lives. It is God’s service to His people.
According to the Scriptures, we are all poor, sinful beings who are helpless in our own abilities to do anything about our situation. Our only hope is in God, that He will rescue us, forgive us and bring us to a new life in Him. This is the way it has always been and throughout Scripture, we see again and again how God comes to His people’s aid and rescues them. This is still very true for us today in the drama of life in this fallen world. In the Divine Service, God actively serves us, giving us what we as condemned sinners need most, the forgiveness of our sins. It has eternal implications.
During the Divine Service, God’s gifts of Word and Sacrament are delivered to us. The Word includes Law and Gospel. The Law tells us of our sinfulness and need for a Savior. The Gospel tells us that Jesus is our Savior and that he has accomplished all that is necessary for our salvation. We then respond in faith as the Holy Spirit works in us and through us, strengthening our faith and belief in Jesus and the gifts that Jesus won for us. The good news of what Jesus has done for us permeates the entire service. Learn more
God also comes to us personally through His son Jesus Christ, in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Both Sacraments, instituted and commanded by Christ, connect us to Jesus’ death and resurrection, which of course is the way that Jesus paid the price for all sin and won victory over our enemies, sin, death, and the devil. His victory assures all who have faith in Him of salvation and eternal life.
Because the Divine Service is God-centered and not human-centered, it is structured differently than other church services. Each part of the service begins with God, His Word, His presence, and His promises and then continues with our faith response of trust, praise, and thanksgiving. He gives His gifts; we receive his gifts and respond to them. This is what the Lutheran church service is all about.
In this way the Divine Service and faith go hand in hand. God comes to us in the Divine Service and offers us gracious gifts. Faith gladly receives the gifts that God gives and is overwhelmed with thanksgiving and praise recognizing God as the highest good who is most worthy of our highest worship.