We are a liturgical church, which means that in our 11:00AM Traditional Service, we read portions of scripture according to a schedule called a Lectionary.
Each Sunday we have a reading from the Old Testament; a Psalm; a reading from one of the letters from 1 Corinthians through Revelation; and a reading from one of the Gospels. We have three one-year cycles of readings. In Year A, we read through most of Matthew’s Gospel. In Year B, we read through Mark’s Gospel. In Year C, we read through Luke’s Gospel. At different times during Year A, B and C we read portions of John’s Gospel. The liturgies we use are written dialogues between the worship leader and the congregation (sometimes sung) by which we praise, glorify and pray to God.
Our 9:00AM Contemporary Service is not strictly liturgical but does include the essential elements of Lutheran worship, seasonal celebrations, and contemporary music.
As a liturgical church we celebrate certain seasons of the church year. We decorate our altar, pulpit and lectern with colored cloths that match the season. Each season has a color and a theme.
Advent: Our church year begins in December with Season of Advent. The color of advent is Blue, which signifies royalty and the universe. The word, “advent” means coming, the Coming of the King of the universe. During Advent, we remember that God’s chosen people waited for the birth of the promised Messiah, a human King who would at the same time be the Son of God. We also remember that the Messiah came in the person of Jesus. By His birth, life, ministry, arrest, suffering, crucifixion, death and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled all the promises relating to the Messiah. We believe that the resurrected Jesus ascended into heaven and promised to return to this earth and take all who believe in Him to heaven to live with Him eternally. We remember that we are waiting for the Second Coming. There are four Sundays in Advent. On each Sunday, in Advent, we light one of the four candles which grace our Advent Wreath. Each Candle has a meaning we explore on the Sunday it is lit.
Christmas: The Gospel of Luke declares that when Jesus was born in the City of Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago, heaven rejoiced and angels sang. They came to earth and shared their joy with some shepherds who were in a field nearby. The angels told the shepherds that the long awaited Messiah was born. The shepherds immediately went to Bethlehem and found the infant Jesus there. They were amazed, they believed and they shared the news. Like the shepherds we gather together and celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas Eve, Christmas day and for one or two Sundays after Christmas Day. The color for Christmas is white. White is a symbol of purity. At Christmas, white reminds us that Jesus was the pure and holy Son of God.
Epiphany: The word “epiphany” means a revelation of the divine. The account of the wise men in Matthew 2:1-11 defines the word “epiphany” for Christians. Certain wise men had read signs in the sky, which pointed to the birth of a King in what we call ‘the Holy Land’ today. The wise men journeyed many miles. They were guided to the City of Bethlehem and to a humble house in this little city. It is there they encountered the infant Jesus, not in a castle surrounded by luxury, but in a humble home. However, God permitted the wise men to see beyond the humble child in the humble home and see the true nature of this baby; namely, that He was God’s Son. The wise men were given an “epiphany” by God. The wise men’s response was to bow down and worship Jesus. In the season of Epiphany, the Gospel lessons describe the epiphanies experienced by other people who came into contact with Jesus. The color of Epiphany is white. The color white signifies that with God’s help those who come into contact with Jesus see Him as the pure spotless Lamb of God.
Lent: The season of Lent follows Epiphany. It is a time of preparation for Holy Week and Easter. It is generally a time of sober reflection on our humanity. We come to grips with why Jesus had to come to earth and to confront all of what it means to be human. We remember that Jesus overcame the temptation of the devil. We remember that Jesus voluntarily gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sin. It is during Lent that we offer opportunities for additional worship, prayer and reflection. The color for Lent is purple. Purple is a color that has almost always been associated with royalty. We remember that Jesus is our King and that He bought our citizenship in God’s Kingdom through His innocent suffering and death.
Holy Week: During Holy Week we remember what the words of John 3:16 mean: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” On Maundy Thursday, we remember that on the night before His death, Jesus instituted Holy Communion. On Good Friday, we remember that God “gave” Jesus to the world through Jesus crucifixion and death on that day. The color of Holy Week is red, which signifies the color of Jesus’ blood spilled on the cross.
Easter: The Sunday after Good Friday is the first Sunday in the Season of Easter. We remember the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. We continue the celebration of the Resurrection for the next six Sundays. Each Sunday, we explore the meaning of the Resurrection. The color of Easter is white. White symbolizes the dazzling robes and presence of the Resurrected Jesus.
Pentecost Sunday is the Sunday we remember the birth of the church. It was on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples: they preached, people repented, were Baptized and added to the church. The color of Pentecost is red which helps us to remember the flames of fire that appeared on the disciples’ heads. The flames were evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the disciples; the presence permitted the disciples to preach in languages they did not know.
The Sundays After Pentecost: The Sundays that follow Pentecost Sunday are called the ‘Sundays After Pentecost Sunday’. The color for this season is green. Jesus spoke of the Gospel being like a wheat seed that is sown in good soil. It sprouts and grows eventually into a plant with a head full of grain. The color green helps us to remember that as we listen to the Gospel and take it in, we will grow in our understanding of God’s grace, our faith in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.