A series of questions asked by the congregation in 2017/18, which are answered below.
What is liturgy?
Liturgy encompasses the structure of participatory worship. When liturgy is translated from the original Greek to English the direct translation is: "the work of the people." As this definition is very open, liturgy can have many shapes and forms. Any form which is agreed upon by the worshipping community and has at its core the worship and praise of God is a liturgy.
How is God's grace connected to the liturgy?
In worship, the Holy Spirit gathers people around the means of grace - the saving Word of God and the sacraments. From the table of communion where Jesus Christ comes with forgiveness, life, and salvation, God sends us out to share the good news and to care for those in need. The whole people of God are joined by the same gifts of grace, for the sake of the same mission of the gospel, into the life of the one triune God (the Bible clearly speaks of God the Son, God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit, but emphasizes that there is only ONE God . . i.e: 1 x 1 x 1 = 1).
What are the four movements of a Lutheran worship service?
The basic pattern for worship services at Hosanna include gathering, word, meal, and sending. At Hosanna we weekly celebrate Holy Communion, and when we have two services we alternate with a Service of Word liturgy, which removes the Holy Communion liturgy and replaces it with a special focus on prayer. this structure allows for freedom and flexibility in the ways worship may be shaped locally, while focusing on what the church holds in common.
Do you know the purpose of the musical prelude before worship?
This is a time of preparation for worship. Music is intended to help us enter into an attitude of prayer and praise.
Why are there two times of announcements in our worship service?
At the beginning of every worship service we have a time for worship-related announcements made by the pastors. This can include special features for the day, special notes for the service, or information that people might need before worship begins. Announcements at the end of the worship relate to the work of the congregation in the wider world. these announcements highlight different ministries related to the congregation and how people can participate in this important work. The announcements at the end of worship are made by volunteers, usually members, on behalf of the organization and ministries they participate in.
Why do we often begin with Confession and Forgiveness or Remembrance of Baptism?
We often begin our worship together using Confession and Forgiveness or a Remembrance of Baptism as a reminder of who we are. When we gather, we do so as the called people of God, we confess our sin and hear God's assurance of forgiveness. We give thanks for God's mercy in the gift of baptism.
What are we celebrating on Confirmation Sunday?
On Confirmation Sunday we celebrate the public declaration of the Christian faith by those who have completed their catechumenate. Catechumenate, or confirmation classes, are an intentional time of study, with a focus on reading the Bible, building community, and learning the fundamental teachings of the Lutheran church.
What did Martin Luther say about worship?
The greatest and principal purpose of every church service is to preach and teach God's Word. No more splendid work exists than receiving and hearing the Word of God. Joint prayer is also of great importance. Originally the worship of God was simple, just simply Adam in paradise praising God. According to Luther, ceremonies are themselves matters of indifference, for they neither add to nor take away from the Gospel anything at all; but they must never be regarded as necessary for salvation or made a matter of conscience. Music was also an important part of worship for Luther, particularly music sung by the whole congregation.
What do we commemorate on All Saints' Sunday?
All Saints' Sunday is commemorated on the first Sunday of November every year. It is the day when we commemorate those who have passed away in the last year, along with the Christians who have lived before us and testified to their Christian faith. On All Saints' Sunday Hosanna invites the families of those who have passed away over the past year to join us in worship and to hear their loved one's name read aloud in the prayers of intercession. We light candles in remembrance of the Light of the World who overcame death and the grave and remember that the light guides those who go before us in the faith.
What is a litany? Where do we use a litany?
A litany is a call and response by a leader and the congregation, either said or sung. Our Call to Worship is an example of an opening litany which helps focus the people on participating in worship and the scripture reading of the day. Litanies can be used in many parts of a worship service to involve and engage the congregation in the communal act of worship.
Why do we sing an Opening Hymn?
We sing in thanksgiving as we gather together as God's people. Singing at the time of gathering is an ancient practice: the early church sang from the psalms; in the Middle Ages the introit was common; in some cases, the Kyrie or Hymn of Praise can serve the role for communal singing at the beginning of a time of worship. Songs related to the theme of the day, the Holy Spirit, the season of the church year, thanksgiving for Confession and Forgiveness, or other songs which recognize that we gather as God's people are appropriate to sing at the opening of worship.
Why is the last Sunday of the church year called "Christ the King" or "Reign of Christ" Sunday?
Christ the King Sunday is a day on which the church focuses on Christ's inherent lordship over all believers and creation. it is a celebration of the hope that at the end of all things Jesus Christ will come again and reign over all. For "all in heaven and on earth have been given over to me," said Jesus (Matthew 28:18). Reign of Christ Sunday serves as the final day of the church year. This festival was introduces in many congregations along with the use of the Common Lectionary in 1925, and it seeks to respond to the growth of secular society by returning focus to God's eternal plan for the salvation of all.
Why have the colors of the pastors' stoles and church paraments changed beginning the first Sunday in Advent?
Each liturgical season, as well as major church festivals, have their own liturgical color which is worn by the presiding ministers and used in the paraments. The first Sunday of Advent marks the first Sunday of a new church year and the transition to the season of Advent. The liturgical church year is: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and the Season after Pentecost. The colors for the liturgical year are:
- Blue for Advent
- White for Christmas and Baptism of our lord Sunday
- Green for the season of Epiphany
- White for Transfiguration Sunday
- Black for Ash Wednesday
- Purple for Lent
- No colors for Good Friday
- White for Easter Sunday and the season of Easter
- Red for Pentecost Sunday
- Green for the Sundays after Pentecost
- Red also for Confirmation and Reformation Sundays
- White for Reign of Christ Sunday
Why do we begin every service with the same Greeting?
These words come from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 13:13) and are words of encouragement to greet one another in peace and love. These are words that mean to do what they say: in God's mercy, the words convey the very grace, love, and communion of which they speak. In this mutual greeting, the presider and the congregation are established and held in the triune life of God. This congregation is to be the communion of the Holy Spirit around the grace of Jesus Christ and the love of God, spoken and given in word and sacrament. Furthermore, the congregation, by its response, acknowledges and prays for the triune God to be with the one who is presiding for them. With this prayer, the presiding minister is acknowledged and welcomed again as one who presides here. It is as if the call of the pastor is renewed. With these words, the Gathering comes to clear expression and the service clearly begins.
What is the purpose of the Kyrie and Hymn of Praise in worship/
The Kyrie is a plea and prayer for the gathered assembly and the world. Its cry is for mercy, peace, and salvation. The Canticles of Praise, Hymn of Praise, or "This is the feast" express the joyful and celebrative nature of the gathering of Christians on the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How are we to understand the role and place of the Prayer of the Day?
The prayer of the day is the summary of the entire gathering portion of our worship together. This prayer collects us together in prayer before God and turns us toward the scripture readings we are about to hear. The classic prayer of the day, in "collect form," follows a simple outline: first God is addressed, then a sentence proclaims and acknowledges with thanksgiving what God has done - especially in Christ, and it refers to the scriptures for the day, concluding in the name of the triune God or through Jesus Christ. These prayers come from a variety of sources but are all related to the scripture readings appointed for the day.
Why do we only sing Christmas carols during the 12 days of Christmas?
We don't only sing Christmas hymns during Christmas! These hymns can be sung as declarations of faith at any time of the year, though we usually only sing them at Christmas. We particularly refrain from singing Christmas carols during Advent because that is the season of preparation for the arrival of Jesus, and these hymns have a special focus on his birth, which we are waiting to celebrate.
How do we decide what to read from scripture for each Sunday?
Hosanna follows a lectionary, which is a set pattern for the reading of scripture through time. For many years Hosanna followed the Revised Common Lectionary, which had a reading from the Old Testament, a psalm, the New Testament, and a Gospel. This lectionary had a special focus on the centrality of the Gospel for God's people. In 2015, Hosanna transitioned to the Narrative Lectionary, which focuses on "preaching annually the biblical narrative in order to center the lives of believers in God's story." Each week the Narrative Lectionary has two assigned texts - a key preaching text and an accompanying text. The Narrative Lectionary begins each fall centered in the story of God with God's people, moves to the prophets for Advent, focuses on the story of Jesus' life, ministry, and death in Epiphany and Lent, and the resurrection at Easter. The early church is the focus for the time between Easter and Pentecost, and following Pentecost in the summer there are special in-depth studies on selected biblical books or topics.
Why do we have children's time as a part of our worship?
We have children's time in recognition of the continually growing and developing faith of our younger members. The special and gifted young members of our congregation are called to share in the good news and grace that come from the scripture, and the children's time allows the preacher to focus time and attention on the needs and faith questions that our children may have about the readings from scripture that they hear that day.
Do you know why we sing the Gospel Acclamation before reading the Gospel?
When we sing this before reading the Gospel, we are suggesting that we are happy to hear the Gospel. This acclamation is a high point of celebration in our congregation; it is the opportunity to welcome the reading of scripture, to rejoice for the great gift of God's word, and to gather around the reading.
Do you know why we say: "glory to you, O Lord" and "Praise to you, O Christ" around reading the Gospel?
This is praise of God for what we are about to hear, and thanksgiving for what Christ does for all of God's creation.
Why do we stand during the reading of the Gospel?
We stand as a sign of respect because the Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ, and the text itself stand for Jesus in our midst.
Each week a sermon, homily, or reflection is preached in our congregation. What is the purpose of the sermon?
The sermon brings God's word of law and gospel into our time and place to awaken and nourish faith. The preacher focuses on the interpretation of the text, or texts, that have been read in the service so that them may be interpreted and proclaimed in this place, on this day. the purpose of the sermon is in the power of the Spirit to speak of Jesus Christ so that we may again come to trust in God with our lives - come to faith - then turn in faith toward our neighbours with service, witness, and love.
What is the HOT-D?
HOT-D stands for Hymn of the Day and singing the HOT-D is a central way in which the whole congregation takes part in the action of proclaiming and responding to God's word read and preached. The HOT-D gathers up relationships between the reading of the day, themes of the church year, and may reinforce the message of preaching.
What is the purpose of the creed within worship?
The creeds, both the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed, can be a way that the congregation responds to the preaching of the word of God. Proclaiming a creed is an expression of baptismal faith. The trinitarian character of these confessions corresponds to the trinitarian character of our worship together, and belong to the celebration when we gather for word and sacrament and are then sent into the world to line into our callings as followers of Jesus Christ.
Prayers of Intercession. Why? For whom? Written by?
If readings and preaching are meant to bring us again to trust in God, to bring us to faith, then one of the ways we are invited to exercise our faith is by praying for the needs of all the world. These prayers are specifically prepared by Hosanna's pastors for our congregation and are made to reflect the needs of our faith community, our local community, and the global community. The petitions are genuine beseeching requests meant to place our trust in God. It is during the prayers of intercession that we recognize all the names on the Hosanna prayer list, as well as those who have recently requested our prayer, and those we each bring to our prayers. We have also begun to pray for our members who are celebrating birthdays and anniversaries that God will be present with them that day and all year.
Do you know why we share The Peace during worship?
The peace enacts both a prayer and a proclamation. The peace functions as a seal on our prayers, while also as a proclamation of the presence and answering of our prayers by Christ. Because of the presence of Jesus Christ, we give each other what we are saying: Christ's own peace. The exchange of peace is a ministry, an announcement of the grace we make to each other, a summary of the gift given to us in the liturgy of the word. Having been gathered by the Spirit, we then turn to celebrate the Lord's Supper, his very presence in our midst.
Let's talk about the value and theological significance of the offering.
Following the sharing of the peace, at Hosanna we collect the offering, hear offering music, and sing an offering hymn. When the offering is collected it is done for the mission of the church, including those in need, and is typically completed before going to holy communion: if God so graciously feeds us, in word and sacrament, we in response should turn towards our neighbours. We have prayed for them, and now we will share something of what we have received from God with them. The offering music is another gift offered to God in thanksgiving for what God is giving us, in this case, the gifts and time of our musicians. We sing as we bring forward the offering, and the bread and the wine, to join us all in the same action of bringing forward our thanksgiving for what God gives so abundantly to us.
Do you know what part of our worship together is called "setting the table?"
The setting of the table happens when the bread and wine are brought to the altar as part of our community's weekly offering. The presentation of the bread and wine, and its addition to the altar in preparation for Holy Communion is one of the most remarkable symbols of Christianity: we have heard God's word and now we are prepared to gather together at God's table to be fed with the bread of life.
Why do we say an offering prayer even though we are about to pray the Great Thanksgiving?
This prayer is meant to articulate humility and gratitude, along with a Lutheran understanding of the doctrines of creation, redemption, and vocation in response to accepting the offering and in preparation for sharing it with others.
What is the function of the Great Thanksgiving?
The Great Thanksgiving is a dialogue, as the pastor and the congregation share together in giving thanks at the table. this dialogue is one of the most ancient and widespread texts in Christian use and always consists of three exchanges. It begins with an invitation to know again the presence of the risen Christ, in whom we have gathered, who we encountered in the word. Then the pastor invites the congregation to "lift up your hearts" to God, and the congregation gently corrects the pastor assuring them that the place where the risen Christ is present is where our hearts should live, because Christ is present here in our midst. Then everyone is invited to give thanks to God, which can imply God the Father or the Triune God, and we answer that it is right to do so. We have nothing but thanks to bring. Standing with Christ, enlivened by the Spirit poured out from his death and resurrection, we begin to do so.
Why do we often say a preface to Holy Communion?
The word preface is misleading because what is begun here is the thanksgiving at the table. The preface focuses on proclaiming the merciful and saving actions of God. Though there are different prefaces for different liturgical seasons, different feast days, and to mark special occasions, each preface begins with giving thanks to God through Jesus Christ, with a recounting of the reasons we give thanks and praise.
Why do we often sing the Holy, Holy, Holy as part of our communion service?
We sing as the whole congregation joining in the praise and thanksgiving that we give to God for the gift of Jesus Christ, and his death and resurrection, and his presence among us. This is a song of unity between pastor and congregation, where all join in thanksgiving. In this way, we recognize that the meal's preparation is truly a work of the whole gathered community.
If the Preface to Holy Communion has already been prayed and proclaimed, recounting God's great deeds in Christ Jesus, why do we say a Eucharistic prayer?
The Eucharistic prayer is a continuation of the thanksgiving at the table begun in the preface, which proclaims what God has done in creation and redemption, especially as this is summed up in Jesus and his words at the last supper. Each Eucharistic prayer begins with thanksgiving and proclamation and turns to petition and prayer - where the assembly prays for the presence and gift of the Spirit in our midst during the meal and in our lives. Both the preface and the Eucharistic prayer should follow the church's season, special festivals, and themes for the day and season.
Why do we always pray the Lord's Prayer during worship?
During worship we always say the Lord's Prayer because it is the words given to us, in God's great mercy through Jesus, to allow us to stand before God. The Lord's Prayer can function in many ways in the life of the Christian community but in worship with its petitions for the coming of God's reign, bread, forgiveness, and protection it is traditionally prayed to help the community and individuals place their hope and trust in God.
Every time we celebrate Holy Communion the whole community stands from the Great Thanksgiving until the Lord's Prayer, why do we do this?
The presiding minister and the assembly, who are in dialogue throughout the whole thanksgiving, share the same posture of standing because we are in this work together. The congregation participates by in responding words, in song, in heart-deep attention, and perhaps even in gestures. The standing posture is also the posture of the resurrection, for Christ has pulled us up together out of death.
Do you know the meaning of the Lamb of God in the service?
This song echoes in John 1:29, John's proclamation of Jesus as the Lamb of God, and Revelation 5:6, the Lamb of God beside the throne of God. The song is meant to address the risen Christ giving himself away at this table as the true Lamb; freely giving the gifts of freedom from sin and death through his actions.
From where do we get the invitation to the table?
The invitation to the Lord's table comes from biblical texts, this can be from Psalm 34:8, 1 Peter 2:3, or Luke 14:17. We also have day, or liturgical season, appropriate invitations that match the reading from scripture for that day.
Why do we have communion assistants?
Having lay communion ministers reinforces the sense that the assembly is communing together. Even when the assembly is small, having at least one assisting minister is helpful.
"The body of Christ given for you." "The blood of Christ shed for you." These words are important and sacred and offered for each of us as we come to the Lord's table. Why are they so special?
These words are offered to each person who is participating in Holy Communion as a reminder of the gift which we receive from Christ of his own body and blood when we come to the table. These statements can be responded to by saying "Amen" or "Thanks be to God" for the gift which we receive. It is important to note that for Lutherans we believe that the body and blood of Christ are "truly and substantially present in, with, and under the forms" of the consecrated bread and wine; this is not a magical transformation but one in which the ordinary forms of bread and wine become more when the Holy Spirit is invoked in the name of Jesus. The grace which is presented in the bread and wine is equally present in both elements, so only one is required (though both are traditionally accepted) when we come to the Lord's table.
Why do we sing hymns during the distribution of Holy Communion?
Singing during communion distribution is an opportunity for a congregational song that provide focus. Because this is a flexible time in the service and involves the congregation's movement, singing can enable a centering focus admidst the movement and variety of activity. Some may also use this time for personal prayer. Congregational singing surrounds those receiving communion or praying with the community's songs of faith. Singing focuses the congregation as it accompanies the actions of those walking, sitting, communing, and praying.
What are the purposes of the Post-Communion Blessing and Post Communion Prayer?
The purpose of the Post-Communion blessing is to remind the whole assemble of the gift which we receive at the Lord's table: namely, the grace and peace which comes only from Christ. The purpose of the Post-Communion prayer is to bring us before God, that the wonderful sacrament we have received will turn us towards a needy world with a desire to join God at work in service to others and creation.
Why does the presiding minister often commune last? Who should offer the presider communion?
In ancient times it was hospitable to eat or drink first, indicating to other guests that the food was good and not poisoned. Today it is considered more hospitable to eat or drink last, which is why the presider is the last to commune. It is possible for anyone in the assembly to commune the presider, as we all belong to the priesthood of all believers, though this is typically the role of the assisting minister because they serve as the representative of the whole congregation.
Who does the sending?
God is the one who sends people out of the assembly. This portion of worship is not called Going, which we would do, but Sending, which God does. God sends us from this place to live our vocation in the world. We simply respond with gratitude and acknowledgement that we are sent by God.
What is the three-fold structure of the sending from worship?
The presider pronounces the benediction, together the congregation sings a closing hymn, and the assisting minister announces the assembly's dismissal. All the voices of the assembly join together in the sending, and the sending is for the forming of the assembly's life in the world as our community of the body of Christ disperses. At the time of the sending, we are no longer the same individuals who crossed the threshold of the worship space, we are now a community that has encountered the living Christ in this place, and has been empowered for ministry through the sending.
What is the place of applause in worship?
There is no single answer to this question. There is, in fact, a range of responses including: clapping has no place in worship because it disrupts the worshipping experience, clapping in response to being moved is a good and right response, clapping for the gifts of others is a sign of support (especially for children and youth), worship is not a performance but acts offered to God in thanksgiving for what God has fist given us so clapping is not appropriate. At Hosanna there are members who believe each of these things, and perhaps others as well, but it is important to consider why you would or would not clap in worship. If you are unsure it is never wrong to clap because you are moved, but it is also appropriate to speak after worship with any musician to share your thanks and appreciation instead of clapping.
Do you know what the means of grace are?
Lutherans believe that the Word of God, who is Christ Jesus, is to be preached, read and sung by the whole assembly as essential to worship. the rites of baptism with water and attending the Lord's supper are mandated by the Word and therefore essential to the right worship of the Triune God. through liturgy and song, we are nourished by God for our mission in the world so that we can bring forth the good news about Jesus Christ to the world.
Do you know why there are differences in the services held in different Lutheran Churches?
"Freedom and flexibility is a Lutheran inheritance." While Lutherans may share a common unity of belief, there is considerable variety in music, instruments, ceremony and liturgical forms among different congregations. There is an increasing variety of musical offering, media, art, and liturgical form found throughout the Lutheran church. The multiple forms respond to the developing needs of the church in different times and places as it carries out its calling to join God at work in the world.