Q&A: Why Do Lutherans Go To Church on Sunday?

This question came in regarding why Lutherans go to church on Sundays.  Since this question can be asked in two different ways, two different answers were provided.

Question:  

Why do Lutherans go to church on Sunday?

Answer 1 – Why On Sunday:

Because Sunday is the day of the Resurrection.  Sunday is the day that the stone was rolled away from the tomb to reveal that Jesus had risen.  Sunday was the day that Jesus showed himself alive.  Thus, with the historic church, we celebrate the Sabbath on Sundays.

Answer 2 – Why Go To Church:

Who is the audience in Christian Worship? Is God the audience in worship or are we the audience in worship?

Who does the speaking in Christian Worship? Do we speak to God in worship or does God speak to us?

“It has often been taught that we speak to God in worship; that we summon his presence and offer Him praise. This view sees God as the audience of our worship. However, this is a pagan concept of worship. In pagan worship, the worshiper comes before his or her god to bring offerings and to present requests in order to please the particular god and get the god to respond to the worshiper in the way the worshiper desires (Lev. 10:1-3; Jer. 32:35; Ps. 78:56-59)

Christian worship is the exact opposite. God is the speaker. We are the audience. He has called and invited us before Him; He has called and invited us before Him together so that He can talk with us. In both the Old and New Testament worship God’s Word, that speaks to us, is central to the gathering. (Ex. 29:42; Neh. 9:1-4; Acts 2:14-47)

God speaks and we listen and respond. Through His Word, the Bible, God shows His character and His works. He speaks to us about our sin and about the way of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. We respond to Him through a variety of ways. These include: showing remorse for sin (Isaiah 30:15); confessing (Psalm 32:5); trusting (Psalm 13:5); praying (1 Thess. 5:16-18); offering ourselves (Romans 12:1); praising (Psalm 145) and thanking (Psalm 106:1)”[1]

Just think about it! If God is the speaker in worship and we are the audience that means that God is the active one on Sunday Mornings. The worship service depends on God doing the verbs, God descending to us, God being present in the worship service and God reaching out to us with His grace and mercy through His Word and Sacraments  (i.e. means of grace).

Because God is the speaker in Sunday morning worship, we go to Sunday services not to ‘give’ our best but to ‘receive’ God’s best.  We get to go to worship in order that we might confess our sins and hear from God in the proclamation of the Word (e.g. Law and Gospel).  We go to worship to receive the accomplished forgiveness of sins delivered to us in the Word and Sacraments.

Worship (i.e. divine service) is a tremendous gift to us!

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[1] Bethel Lutheran Church Word and Worship Committee, (Fergus Falls, MN, May 9 of 2006)

 

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