The Lutheran Church is a liturgical church. Within its long history, the role of the liturgy as it has been handed down through the centuries has had varying degrees of influence. The liturgy is not uniquely Lutheran, but transcends confessional boundaries.
Why is the Christian liturgy shaped as it is? It is a “dialogue” between God and humanity. The action of worship is primarily from heaven to earth; the flow is from God to us. That is to say, it is primarily about God giving us His Word (Scripture and Preaching) and God giving us Holy Communion. These primary actions of worship belong to God and the primary focus is upon His greatest gift, Jesus Christ. Only after God acts can we give Him our response (source: Theopneustos). For example:
Invocation (God gathers us in His Name. His holiness shows us our Sin.)
Confession (We respond with a Confession of our Sins.)
Absolution (God gives us His Forgiveness.)
Gloria (We respond with praise for God’s merciful goodness.)
Scripture (God gives us His Word.)
Creed (We respond with a Statement of Faith.)
Sermon (God applies His Word to us.)
Offering/Prayer (We respond with Offerings and Prayers.)
Holy Communion (God gives us His own Presence, the Body and Blood of Jesus.)
Nunc dimittis (We respond with hearts filled with peace.)
Benediction (God sends us with His blessing.)
The liturgy follows an ordered structure
- Invocation (God gathers us in His Name. His holiness shows us our Sin.)
- Confession (We respond with a Confession of our Sins.)
- Absolution (God gives us His Forgiveness.)
- Gloria (We respond with praise for God’s merciful goodness.)
- Scripture (God gives us His Word.)
- Creed (We respond with a Statement of Faith.)
- Sermon (God applies His Word to us.)
- Offering/Prayer (We respond with Offerings and Prayers.)
- Holy Communion (God gives us His own Presence, the Body and Blood of Jesus.)
- Nunc dimittis (We respond with hearts filled with peace).
- Benediction (God sends us with His blessing.)
- Parts of the liturgy
- Liturgical Glossary
- The Liturgy Serves Us
- Divine Service and Reverence
- Lutheran Worship and Emotions
- Priesthood of All Believers and Divine Service
- Lutheran Worship 2000 and Beyond
- Reflections on Contemporary Worship
A lectionary is a collection of readings from Sacred Scripture. These readings are arranged according to the Church's calendar and are intended to be read at the regular, weekly gathering of God's people.
Already in the fourth century, readings were gathered together for this purpose. Initially, the readings were arranged in a continuous fashion, with each Sunday's texts picking up where the reading had concluded the previous week. For the festival half of the church year (Advent through Pentecost), readings were eventually assigned that reflected the theme of the day.
The historical Christian church has commemorated the days and seasons of special occasions. This follows the example set in the Old Testament of structuring the year around the marvelous acts of salvation that God completed for us in his Son, Christ. We call this structure the “Church Year”.
The church year calendar is organized into three sections:
Sundays and Seasons
- Advent, Christmas, Epiphany
- Pre-Lent, Lent, Holy Week, Easter
- Season after Pentecost or Season of the Holy Trinity
- Feasts and Festivals, and
The seasons of the church year are marked by certain liturgical colors.
Holy Baptism – Water & the Word of God
We baptize infants, children, teenagers, and adults as we were commanded to do by Jesus.
In Matthew 28:19 Jesus says, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit . . .." Before He ascended, the Lord of the Church commanded us to baptize "all nations," a phrase the Church has always understood to indeed mean everyone. Matthew 25:31-32 also uses the phrase "all nations" in this way. All nations are to be baptized, regardless of race, color, sex, age, class, or education
The historical Christian Church has always taught that baptism is for everyone, including infants.
The Bible teaches that infants are born sinful and are in need of forgiveness. Scripture says nothing about an "Age of Accountability" that begins at the age of reason. Its message is that accountability begins at conception. David confesses in Psalm 51:5, "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." The Bible teaches original sin, that the corruption and guilt of Adam's sin is passed on to every human being at conception. Jesus affirms this teaching when He says, "Flesh gives birth to flesh" (John 3:5).
Infants should be baptized because – like all of us – they desperately need forgiveness. Baptism is God's special means of grace for children by which He causes them to be born again. To keep them from baptism is to keep them from forgiveness and to endanger them with damnation.
Babies not yet born can also be saved by the hearing of God’s Word (Romans 10:17). We urge all expectant mothers to regularly and frequently receive God’s gifts through Word and sacrament.
Lord’s Supper (Communion) – Wine, Bread & The Word of God
The Lord’s Supper is celebrated at this congregation in the confession and glad confidence that, as he says, our Lord gives into our mouths not only bread and wine but his very body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of sins and to strengthen our union with him and with one another. Our Lord invites to his table those who trust his words, repent of all sin, and set aside any refusal to forgive and love as he forgives and loves us, that they may show forth his death until he comes.
Holy Communion: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
Who: We welcome and invite anyone who is a communicant member of this congregation, the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, or anyone who has spoken with our Pastor prior to worship, to commune with us. If you have not spoken to our Pastor prior to the service, we ask that you would refrain from communing until you have done so.
If you or your children would like to receive a blessing during communion, please come forward with everyone else, kneel, and bow with your hands at your side and you will be blessed by Pastor.
What: We believe the words that Jesus said when He instituted this Holy Sacrament at the Last Supper. In these words He states that He gives us His body and His blood to eat and to drink, with the bread and the wine, for the forgiveness of our sins and in remembrance of Him.
When: We do not have Holy Communion every Sunday, but if you wish to receive it, please speak with our Pastor to find out when the next communion day is or to set up a time with him to receive it.
Where: Communion is taken at the chancel rail in the front of the church. However, our Pastor and the Elder on Duty are happy to go to persons with special needs. Please let us know in advance if you need any assistance going to the rail or if you would like to have communion at your seat.
Why: Jesus commanded it of His followers so that they would remember what He had done for them, receive the forgiveness of their sins, and be strengthened in their faith.
How: We proceed in 4 stages.
1. After Pastor speaks the words of institution (the words that Jesus Christ said) over the elements, he will invite those wishing to partake of the wine using the “common cup” to come forward.
2. If you wish to receive the common cup, you may come forward to the chancel rail through any aisle at that time, but please exit using the center aisle following the final blessing by the Pastor.
3. Those wishing to partake of the wine using individual cups are then welcomed up the side aisles in groups by the ushers. Following the final blessing, depart down the center aisle placing your cup on one of the receiving trays on the ends of the front rows of chairs.
4. Pastor and the Elder on Duty will then go to persons with special needs, such as those in wheelchairs or who have difficulty walking, and commune them.
Holy Communion is a special time for us. It is a time for reflection, prayer, thanksgiving, and for receiving God’s forgiveness as brothers and sisters united by a common faith in Jesus Christ. Thank you for respecting our communion practice.
Confession & Absolution
Each Order of our Divine Service includes corporate confession and absolution. We have retained the practice not for the sake of the Law (that you must remember and confess every sin), but for the sake of the absolution, the good news (Gospel) of Christ’s saving work for us.
In confession and absolution, Jesus Christ, who poured out his life-blood as the perfect and complete sacrifice for all sin, pours into our ears the life-giving promise of absolution, “My son, my daughter, go in peace, your sins are forgiven.” Trusting that promise, we say, “Amen. Yes, Lord, it is true.”
Private confession and absolution is available on request. Private confession and absolution is used by pastors to bring forgiveness and healing into the lives of those who come to them with troubled and anxious hearts.
Confirmation / Catechism
Confirmation is a public rite of the church preceded by a period of instruction designed to help baptized Christians identify with the life and mission of the Christian community… Prior to admission to the Lord’s Supper, it is necessary to be instructed in the Christian faith (1 Cor. 11:28). The rite of confirmation provides an opportunity for the individual Christian, relying on God’s promises given in Holy Baptism, to make a personal public confession of the faith and lifelong pledge of fidelity to Christ.” [Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1991), 245].
Adult / New Believers
We welcome everyone who desires to learn more about Lutheran theology to complete adult instruction. Please contact Pastor Skelton for more information.
Marriage / Weddings
Holy Cross Lutheran Church conducts Biblical marriage ceremonies for communed members of the LCMS who complete marriage counseling. Please contact Pastor Skelton for more information.
Funerals or memorial services are for the sake of the living, and the focus is on proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. Please contact Pastor Skelton for more information.