If you want to know more about Lutheran Church of the Cross, here are a few things about our worship that might be helpful to know:
The first is, you are welcome! – welcome to participate in all aspects of worship and the church’s life. As with God’s love, there are no “conditions.” Specifically, all are welcome to commune at Christ’s table (or Holy Communion) which we celebrate every Sunday and on other festival days. The bread and wine which we trust are the body and blood of Christ given in love “for you,” are shared from a loaf of bread, and by common cup and in individual glasses. In the centre of the trays of glasses there is red grape juice for those who cannot drink wine. You are welcome to commune in only one form if needed or to ask for a blessing.
Our worship is “liturgical.” If this is a word you don’t know, no problem. It means literally, “the people’s work,” in worship. We follow an order of liturgy – shared words and sung verses – so we all participate. It can take a little getting used to if you haven’t experienced it before. Liturgical worship is a drama, and we are all actors in it. The story is of Jesus’ revealing God’s loving us to death and new life. Through words and sacraments (a word for things that God uses to touch us, like water and bread and wine and the people of God gathered) we enact this drama every Sunday so we remember what it means to live a new life everyday. This new life is shaped by the same love, forgiveness, honest hope, peace – even in the midst of struggle and real joy that Jesus lived. We say, “come as you are,” to worship. But we trust, by God’s grace we can’t “stay as we are.” God’s love changes us.
We sing! Lutherans are known for our singing – or at least we think we are. This congregation certainly is. Music is central to our worship, and singing together is central to our music. We use many styles of music and instrumentation, but most all of it supports our singing together. In a culture where this is increasingly rare, we treasure its power to speak to us. We encourage everyone to sing. No one checks to see if you are always in tune.
We speak and listen as though it were God speaking – because we believe God is. Through hearing stories of the Bible, through a sermon that grapples with how these ancient words speak to our lives, through the words of songs, and through our own thoughts and reflections we share in an ongoing conversation with God and one another. It is an open conversation, because we do not believe faith in this life is about certainties, unquestioned beliefs or unchanging rules. We do believe Jesus is central to showing us God’s love for the world and opening a way of living in that love for this same world and everyone and everything in it. Thankfully, we are not Christians in isolation. We are a community, and trust that it is in community that the Spirit of God speaks most clearly to us, and it is in a community that we are most able to live in God’s way as followers of Jesus.
We pray! In our ongoing conversation with God, we cry out from our deepest need for ourselves and others and we express our thanks and praise, praying for the church, the world, people in need and all the saints. “Saints” for us, are all people of God. We are sinners too (not “bad people” but people whose lives are broken and who often fail to be all God desires us to be) but made Saints by God at the same time. Often you will hear named a whole list of these “saints” in the prayers, some from the congregation and others not, all who want or need our prayers. You will also hear people add their prayers aloud – you are free to do the same. That’s why they’re called the prayers of the people.
We eat together at Christ’s table. We share weekly in the meal Jesus created because this feast of Jesus’ giving his very self in love, where all are welcome, everyone is equal and none go hungry, shapes how we are to eat and drink and live with thanksgiving and for the sake of others, everyday. A great banquet is the image used more then any other for what heaven (life with God) will be like. This feast is just a taste of what we look forward to, and what we can live out in inviting, including and feeding all people, especially those who are unwelcome, excluded and unloved.
We are servants sent out to follow Jesus’ way of loving all God loves. This calling takes many forms in our lives. The reformer/founder of Lutheranism, Martin Luther called it the “priesthood of all believers,” and said there was no distinction between the Doctor of Religion and the ditch digger when in comes to serving God. We think the same. Every one of us can serve where we are and chances are we will meet Jesus serving right along with us. It means there is never a lack of things for us to do, and life is never boring! This is most certainly true.
Oh, and by the way, Welcome!