Saturday, November 10, 2007

Reformation Sunday

I love Reformation Sunday! I walk in and see the large red folder containing the outline of the familiar long service. Everyone knows to allow an extra half hour. The music is concert quality, though always God-focused and not focused on the performers. Our Senior Choir and Handbell Choir always present something wonderfully beautiful and liturgical. The basic service outline is familiar, though a little longer than usual: invocation, hymns, responsive reading, confession and absolution (my favorite!), various readings, children's message, a good law and gospel sermon, offering, prayers, blessing. Each hymn is tied in to Luther somehow, which is fitting for the day. The sermon ties in Luther. Again, all normal to me. Although I love this service, I must confess that I don't understand why we do some of the things we do in a worship service.

The mention of the Reformation in prayer makes me slightly uncomfortable, but its really not inappropriate. I guess I figure that although God was definitely honored in Luther's Reformation and His church was most definitely reformed, I can't picture God focusing on the day Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses. I mean, I think every day should be reformation day. In the Confession and Absolution, we read aloud Luther's Explanation of the Ten Commandments. Yeah, the whole thing just like your confirmand did. Now, as a confessional Lutheran I love it, but part of me wonders what a visitor would think. Shame on me! But are we done? No! After the each lesson, we state Luther's Explanation of the Apostle's Creed. Again, the whole thing. After the Lord's Prayer, we recite Luther's explanation of it. The whole thing. Very educational, but it just doesn't seem worshipful to me.

Despite my reservations, I do enjoy our church's Reformation Day service. I even willingly went twice this year - on Sunday morning and again on Monday night to bring my working nephew to God's Word. I just think that we should put signs up on the door advising visitors advising that we only do this once a year. I just can't shake the impression that it is very un-Lutheran to focus on Luther throughout the service. We only do it once a year, so I can live with it.

King of Grace Reformation Day Service 2008

The Invocation
Opening Anthem - Thy Strong Word (Senior Choir)
Responsive Reading
Anthem - Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Thy Word (ELH #589)
Confession and Absolution
Anthem - Built on the Rock (ELH #211)
Old Testament Lesson - Jeremiah 31:31-34
Epistle Reading - Romans 3:19-28
Gospel Reading - John 8:31-36
Children's Message
Sermon Hymn - A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (ELH #250)
Sermon - Our Lutheran Heritage - Our Christian Heritage (based on John 8:31-32)
Offering and Registration while Handbell Choir plays Variations on Ein Feste Burg
The Lord's Prayer
Closing Hymn - God's Word is Our Great Heritage

Sermon highlights:

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31 & 32

Hold to my teaching:

  • King of Grace has been in existence for 38 years, longer when you factor in the two congregations who joined to create it.
  • Consider our ancestors who passed on Christian heritage to us.
  • Much of modern Lutheranism bears little resemblance to what we teach and confess in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod. For the future, it is up to us to maintain sound doctrine for future generations.
  • Luther himself didn't want others to call the church "Lutheran", but the name stuck anyway. Luther merely returned the church to its roots - we are dead in our sins and salvation comes by grace alone through truth alone. He made it clear to others that the doctrine was not his and that he had not been crucified for anyone
  • Lutheran heritage and Christian heritage are equal; they are the same.

1 comment:

Scottius Maximus said...


I was expecting more of an American Idol-type critique of the service...but you did a fine job!

As long as Feste Burge has nothing to do with feasts and burgers, I like the service you described.