(Editor’s Note: Early on this website has included much in the way of theological critique. Our goal is to not only teach the Brothers (and others) how to critique bad theology and practice but to also proactively train the Brothers in good practice and theology and so we will be offering more columns such as this new one that teaches about the liturgy. This is the first in a twenty two part series. We thank Pastor David Oberdieck for letting us use it. We cannot say everything about every part of the liturgy in this series so if you think there are significant things left unsaid please use the comment section to help grow the Brothers.)
Notes on the Liturgy #1 — Introduction to the Divine Service
The Divine Service is the liturgy of Holy Communion. It is called “Divine Service” because in it God serves us His word and sacraments. He serves, we feast.
The Divine Service is based on the Scriptural truth that all good gifts come from God. The more I read the Scripture, the more ignorant and weak I see that I am in my flesh. It must be the Spirit that fills me again and again with all good things in His holy Word. This attitude is brought to worship so that worship becomes God centered.
Divine service is a confession that not just any words of preaching or praise are acceptable in true worship of God. The groanings of the natural man don’t suffice. Thus, worship stems from faith and speaks the words of faith given us by God. Those words will often be taken directly from the Scripture but if not they will certainly be true to the doctrine of Scripture. Here we understand that any other word is idolatry. My word that flows from a wicked heart is a false god crafted by my own corrupt opinion and emotions.
Divine service is more than an attitude or confession. It lives and breathes through the structure of the service and hymnody. And it is physically manifest in the visual focal point of the sanctuary (altar, cross, pulpit, etc. rather than a praise band).
Faith denied in practice erodes (M. Henry). For more on the Divine Service read the introduction to “Lutheran Worship” p. 6 and “The Lutheran Service Book” pp. viii – ix.
These notes were originally written in 2001 by Pastor David Oberdieck and have been edited. The entire series of articles may be found at http://steadfastlutherans.org/liturgy.