Every church does things a certain way every Sunday. This is not because Christians are unimaginative, but rather because that is the only way to coordinate the efforts of multiple people toward a common goal. Could you imagine your favorite team’s pregame being different every week? Nobody would know what to do; how to channel their energy in the same direction. It is the same way in churches. In fact, churches that are designed to “feel spontaneous” often have the least flexibility in terms of what they can actually do in worship since they have to coordinate the efforts of the preacher, tech team, worship team, sound team, and worship volunteers!
In the Lutheran tradition, we generally follow an order in our worship referred to as “liturgy.” Liturgy is a word that literally means “the work of the people,” because the only work we can do for God is give Him thanks and praise for all that He has done for us! After all, what do you do for the Person who is all-powerful? What do you give “the guy that has everything?”
Although the word sounds fancy, liturgy is really just the words of the Bible arranged to help us structure our praise—our “work” for God—so that everyone can be involved and it is intelligible and builds up everyone in faith. What better words could we use to praise God than the words He Himself gave us? This order of worship springs from the deepest intuitions of hundreds of generations about what honors God best and helps us remember most faithfully all He has done for us.
Of course, at Holy Cross Nazareth, the worship is not quite the same as you might have experienced in other liturgical churches; along with reverence you will find enthusiasm, along with hymnals you will find a giant screen and projector, along with respect for the faith practices of generations of Christians you will find openness to what the Spirit is doing NOW.
So, while not as long or formal as it would have been in earlier periods of the Church’s history, the strof worship we use at Holy Cross Nazareth is rooted in worship from the fifth century, and is found in the Lutheran Book of Worship. Even if you are not familiar with this style of worship, as you grow accustomed to it and its rhythms become comfortable, we believe you will find—as we and billions before us have done—that it fosters profound remembering of God’s goodness and deep spiritual growth.
Additionally, to have a better understanding of the actual order of worship we use, you may want to watch this series of short (less than five minute) sermons that describe the way each part of the service engages us through God’s Word and how we can engage it in return.