The How & Why of How and Why We Worship the Way We Do!
The Lutheran Church is liturgical (AC XV, Ap. XXIV.1). We use what some call a “traditional style.” In her worship, which is her very life-breath by the means of grace, the Church gives form and shape to the faith she believes and proclaims. The Church is not the world: she does not speak like the world, sound like it, act like it, appear like it, or even smell like it; the Church is not worldly. In her children’s gift-receiving and thanks-giving, the Church speaks and sings biblically and uncommonly liturgically; she sounds a heavenly harmony of angels and archangels and all the company of heaven; she acts corporately and humbly and reverently; she appears in unique garments and sanctified dress; and she smells like the incense of God-pleasing repentant prayer with lifted up hands. The Church is foolish, not being recognized by worldly wisdom, by the spiritually undiscerning, commercially driven man (1 Cor. 2:14). Instead, she presents herself a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable only to God, not to consumer culture or market-driven society; she, and we who have been begotten and borne by her through the Word of the Father, are not conformed to this world’s language, sounds, behavior, appearance, and aroma, its worship, but are transformed by the renewal of mind and mouth and heart, proving what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:1-2). As such, rejecting historical amnesia or mere individualistic preference, we listen to and respect and worship with those sainted men and women who have gone before us, the cloud of witnesses in ages past, showing ourselves to be true members of the eternal Body of Christ (AC Concl.5; Heb.12:1, 13:8). This “means giving a vote to our ancestors. The Church refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about” (Chesterton). In these ways we are and will remain healthy, whole, and complete – a people, a Church, of integrity and authenticity.
In the midst of a constantly transitioning and chaotic world, liturgical form provides stability, safety, and security; the historic liturgy is a cornerstone for all. In order “‘to be always relevant, you have to say things which are eternal.’ The liturgy, as it bears the Word of God, keeps us relevant by speaking into our ears words that are eternal” (Pless). Otherwise, if the Church marries the spirit of the age, she will soon be a widow.
But here, in her worship, the Church is alive and well. We thus encourage especially those of you for whom this style of worship is at first new and challenging to find here a renewing refuge and a steadfast haven; to live within the mysteries of the Body of Christ; to be joined together with your brothers and sisters, and to be lifted up by them beyond self; and, of course, to ask questions, to learn, to grow with us all. It may take weeks or even months for you to find yourself at home with the liturgy and ceremonies of the historic Lutheran church, but many before you have found it well worth the journey. Welcome home!