When I was young, I never understood why we had such a long and seemingly rote liturgy, or order of service. What I didn’t know was that literally every part of our service is taken from Scripture, either word for word, or based on Scripture.
The section of our liturgy called the Service of the Word (the part of our service where we pause to read and meditate on Scripture: usually consisting of the Psalm (introit), Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons) comes straight from the Jewish synagogue services – centuries, even Millennia, before Christ. The Service of the Sacrament is based on what Jesus told His followers to do whenever they gathered together in His name. It was carried on by the apostles and, over the years, surrounded by more Scripture so that we don’t forget what it is that we’re doing: that we are in the presence of God, actually eating and drinking the body and blood of the Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of the world. We actually see, touch, and taste our salvation. That’s the purpose for everything in our service: to tell us something about Christ and our salvation.
This Sunday is Sexagesima Sunday, the Sunday of the Church Year where we focus on God’s Word. I have printed the entire Common Service in our service folder with the Scripture references for each part on the right margin. The references in brackets mean that the particular part is based on the passage, rather than quoting it.
O Lord, sanctify us by Your truth. Your Word is truth. (John 17:17)
Children’s Christmas program, Calvary Lutheran Church, Ulen, MN. Anno Domini 2016.
This program was compiled by Rev. Jeff Hendrix and is based on Luther’s Christmas program for his children, his hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come.” It uses hymns from Luther or from Luther’s time, as well as meditations from Luther himself, all to show the continuity of our faith. 2017, the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran Reformation, affords a unique opportunity to reflect on what a 16th century Christmas program may have looked like, and how the faith confessed is still the same.
(Please excuse the rough start of the audio. I forgot to hit record until after the Exhortation, so the recording starts with the first narration)