Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 25, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – Thy Kingdom Come

Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,     but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:2-4

“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

What we call today “The Lord’s Prayer” is found in these two places in the Scriptures. The next couple of devotions are based on a section of the book Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing it Through Jesus’ Ears, by Lois Tverberg with Bruce Okkema.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering
Part 13 – Offertory
Part 14 – Prayer
Part 15 – “Our Father”
Part 16 – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

“Thy Kingdom Come”

The Gospels use two different “kingdom” phrases – the kingdom of heaven and kingdom of God. They actually mean the same thing.

Matthew uses “kingdom of heaven” in order to avoid misusing God’s name – which is an established Jewish custom by the first century.

Image result for thy kingdom comeMark and Luke help their Greek readers understand what Jesus meant by “kingdom” by using “kingdom of God.”

Jesus was once asked when the kingdom of God would come. This question comes from the idea that the Messiah would come “all at once” as a political, earthly King. But Jesus dispels this idea by saying that the kingdom of God is within each believer.

Martin Luther picked up on this. After all, Luther was first and foremost a Hebrew professor! When we pray for God’s kingdom to come – and the next phrase of the Lord’s prayer goes along with it, “Thy will be done” – we are praying that God would use us to spread the Gospel. Where the Gospel is proclaimed, God’s reign on earth is extended one heart at a time!

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 24, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,     but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:2-4

“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

What we call today “The Lord’s Prayer” is found in these two places in the Scriptures. The next couple of devotions are based on a section of the book Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing it Through Jesus’ Ears, by Lois Tverberg with Bruce Okkema.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering
Part 13 – Offertory
Part 14 – Prayer
Part 15 – “Our Father”

 

“Hallowed Be Thy Name”

We say it every week, “Hallowed be Thy name.” But do we really know what this means?

In Hebrew/Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) Kiddush Ha Shem – “to hallow the name” – means to live our lives so as to bring honor to God’s name.

What’s the big deal about God’s name?

God’s name is actually who He is. And what we do as Christians represents God to all the people around us.

Kiddush Ha Shem is very important. We want to live our lives in such a way as to show other people just how holy God is. He loves us so much that He sacrificed all to save us from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

We cannot make God’s name holy – it is holy in and of itself. What we are praying when we say Kiddush Ha Shem is that we live as God’s Holy people so that others may know the love God has for them.
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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 23, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – Our Father

Matthew 6:9-13

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,     but deliver us from evil.

Luke 11:2-4

“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

What we call today “The Lord’s Prayer” is found in these two places in the Scriptures. The next couple of devotions are based on a section of the book Listening to the Language of the Bible: Hearing it Through Jesus’ Ears, by Lois Tverberg with Bruce Okkema.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering
Part 13 – Offertory
Part 14 – Prayer

“Our Father”

Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray, which was typical of Jewish rabbis. It is even noted by Jesus’ disciples that John the Baptist taught his own disciples how to pray, and that is the context in which Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer.

Some have thought that Jesus was unique in referencing God as “Father” in this prayer. But that really isn’t the case. The Old Testament tells us that God looked at Israel as His “first born” (Exodus 4:22) and the Scriptures call God the “Father of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:9).

What made Jesus’ prayer unique was the personal pronoun.

No one before Jesus is recorded in the Scriptures as calling God “my Father.”

Only the Messiah would have called God “My Father” and Jesus does it for the first time at age 12 – showing us that He knew He was the Messiah all along.

Jesus also identifies with us with the word “our.” This makes us the brothers and sisters of Jesus!

One of the features of the Lord’s Prayer that may be overlooked is that we do pray it together – even when we are alone. We say “Our Father, who art in heaven” – even if we’re the only ones praying. This is a concept that Jesus and His disciples were familiar with.

For Jews would gather in “minyan” groups – that is, groups of about 10 people. They would do this to remind themselves to pray for others. Jesus points us to this concept of prayer with the word “our” to remind us to not only pray for our own needs but for the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 22, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – Prayer

Psalm 141:2

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!

Prayer is speaking to God in words and thoughts, according to the Explanation to Luther’s Small Catechism.

After the offerings are received, Lutheran worship continues the act of sacrifice with the offering up of the Prayers of the Church.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering
Part 13 – Offertory

I once heard it said that as long as they give tests in school there will be prayer in school.

The night before a big final, I used to pray that Jesus would come back that very evening and eliminate the need to further study (or begin studying) for that test.

Admittedly, it is not a very wise plan for taking finals.

But the act of prayer is very much a part of the Christian life.

Martin Luther is believed to have said (and it apparently was quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr.):

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

Prayer is something that all Christians do. We have “set” prayers like the Lord’s Prayer (covered in the next set of devotions) and we have spontaneous prayers (like in school or driving on the tollway).

In worship, we have the Prayers of the Church.

These are specific prayers for the sick, the injured, the hospitalized, the dying, the families of those who have suffered a death, those celebrating special days (like anniversaries and birthdays), those who are to be baptized, those who will partake of the Sacrament of the Altar, and for our national, local, and church leaders.

These are called “corporate prayers” because we all are praying – even though most of the time it is the pastor who is saying the actual prayer.

In many churches, the conclusion of each petition is either “hear our prayer” or “Lord, have mercy.”

When we pray in Jesus’ name and with faith in Christ, we rightly expect our prayers to be heard and answered.

Again, the Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism says:

“Only those who believe in Jesus Christ may pray to God and expect to be heard.”

And it uses these two Bible passages as “proof texts”:

John 14:13-14
I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it.

John 15:7
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

Prayer – whether the corporate prayer in church or the individual prayer of each Christian – is a privilege granted by God.

Jesus tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

And that is exactly what we are doing when we pray.

Next time, we’ll explore in depth the prayer Jesus taught us.

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 21, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – Offer

Psalm 51: 10-12

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 116:12-14, 19

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people … in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem.

After the offering is collected, it is present to the Lord at the altar and, in a communion service, the altar is prepared for the Sacrament.

This is the time that we sing the Offertory.

Because our mouths cannot remain separated from the rest of our bodies, when the thanksgiving is flowing from our lips, as in singing the offertory, then it will also flow in the giving of our very selves for the sake of Christ and our neighbor.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering

When I was growing up, going to church at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Lake Villa, Illinois, it was our tradition to stand at the end of the sermon.

Being a typical American boy, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to most things – and the pastor’s sermon was, unfortunately, one of those things. But when we stood up, I knew the sermon was over and we were over half-way done with the worship service.

I thought of it as the church’s “seventh inning stretch.”

But as we have been exploring in this series of devotions, all the parts of the liturgy, the parts of the worship service, happen for a reason.

After the sermon, the Creed is confessed (and we stand up for what we believe – literally) and then the offering is taken.

When the offering is brought to the altar, we usually sing one of two songs.

Both are taken from the Psalms and are the parts of Scripture at the beginning of this devotion.

With our offerings, we make a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” giving to God’s Church a portion of what He first has given to us. This is in cheerful response to what God has done for us.

And the Offertory prepares us for what God has done for us.

As we sing it, the altar is prepared for the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.

The veils are removed from the communion vessels, and the covers are taken off the unleavened bread (host) and the chalice & flagon (which hold the wine).

Both offertories emphasize different aspects of presenting the offerings and preparing for the sacrament.

But they also focus on the same thing – that God has provided all that is needed for our salvation in the body and blood of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Which is what the next few devotions will also focus on.

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 20, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – Offering

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

The first mention of an offering being brought in the history of the world is the one brought by Cain – first son of Adam and Eve.

St. Paul would later admonish us to give cheerfully.

That’s what this devotion is all about – cheerfully giving!

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith

After confessing sins, singing hymns, hearing God’s Word and the sermon and confessing the Christian faith, it comes time in the worship service to “take the offering.”

This can be one of the most misunderstood parts of the worship service.

“There they go again, asking for money!”

I’ve heard that mumbled and grumbled many times in the last twenty-plus years.

Yes, the offering is a time for the participants in worship to give money to the church. But what is that money for?

Well, I believe that it is supposed to be for the mission and ministry of the congregation and the Church at large. Operating costs, staff’s salary, mission projects – both local, national and international.

It boils down to this: the offering is a time when a member of a congregation or other participants in worship can be actively involved in missions and ministries.

How much should you give? The Bible uses the word “tithe” a couple of times – 35 times in the English Standard Version, actually.

“Tithe” means “ten percent” of what you have.

But more important than a set number is the state of your heart when you give.

Are you giving under compulsion? This Jesus warns against, just as He does against giving in order to get some investment on your return.

Like everything else in our lives, the state of our heart can help us determine whether we are giving as God intends for us to give.

The Bible uses the word “cheerful” – which could more accurately be translated as “hilarious.”

Have you felt like that when you last gave to the church?

And it doesn’t just have to be money you give, by the way.

You have been given other things by God. You have been given time. You have been given talent. Some have been given more treasure than others, more time than others, different talents than others.

I have two friends who have been given numerous talents, but they share one: taking pictures.

Richard and Craig both are talented in different ways – one makes music, the other climbs and teaches others how to climb. And they both give to God in these areas.

souther1

copyright Richard Souther

tmm1

copyright True Men Ministries

But they also share a talent of taking pictures – and they give to God in this area, too. These pictures are ones they have taken that I believe give great glory to God.

In a way, these are also their offering to God.

What can you give?

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 19, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – Confession of Faith

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

In part four of this series on worship service, we explored the confession of sins.

Now we explore a different type of confession – of our faith.

Making a bold confession of faith is the heart of carrying out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples and teach other what Jesus has commanded us – to love God and to love our neighbors.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon

When I was in college, my friends and I shared a lot of the same passions in music, in movies, and in cartoons.

We could recite the lines of a Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck cartoon from memory and often amused ourselves by having “film festivals” of these cartoons and would speak the lines along with the TV.

To this day, all I would have to do is post the beginning of a piece of dialog on one of my friend’s Facebook page and he’ll be able to finish the line.

What does this have to do with the “Confession of Faith”?

To begin with, the word “confession” comes from a Latin word that means “speak together.” It took on the later meaning to “admit” – which is the meaning “confession” has with the “confession of sins.”

But in the “confession of faith” it has the meaning of “saying together what we believe.”

The Confession of Faith usually follows the sermon in the worship service. In some liturgies, it can precede the sermon. Wherever it shows up, however, it is important that we spend some time in worship talking together using words that convey what it is that we believe as Christians.

How could we all possibly say what we believe using the same words? If only there were some kind of saying we could use!?!?!?!?!

Of course, I’m being sarcastic here. There are three sayings we use for the Confession of Faith.

They are:

The Apostles’ Creed

The Nicene Creed

And

The Athanasian Creed.

The Apostles’ Creed (not actually written by the Twelve Apostles but was a summary of their teachings) usually is dated back to the Fourth Century AD. It is the Creed that Lutherans use in the Rite of Baptism and is the Creed Luther teaches in his Small Catechism.

The Nicene Creed was put together at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 and has been used by the Christian Church since. It is the Creed used at Christmas and Easter and emphasizes the humanity, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Athanasian Creed usually dates back to the Sixth Century AD and is a longer statement of faith emphasizing the Trinitarian nature of God. In Lutheran churches it is usually only said on Trinity Sunday (the Sunday that follows the Day of Pentecost).

The reason we saying these things together is because Jesus has asked us, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16) We can answer that question, making what St. Paul calls “the good confession” and in doing so proclaim to the world not only what we believe but who Jesus is!

In our Confession of Faith we tell others about Jesus! This is what we “do” as Christians – we tell others about Jesus.

And one of the most profound ways of telling others about Jesus is to tell them what Jesus means to, and has done for, us.

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 18, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – The Sermon

Romans 10:13-15

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

One of the most identifiable parts of a worship service is the preaching of a sermon. The vast majority of worship services have a sermon.

But what is a sermon and what does it do for us? That’s what we’ll explore in this devotion, part of the series “What We Do When We Do Church.”

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings

In the late winter and spring of 1988 I took my first preaching class at Concordia Seminary. There are two basic classes that seminary students take – Homiletics I and Homiletics II. “Homiletics” is the “art of preaching or writing sermons.”

I still have a VHS video tape of my final sermon for Homiletics II – but I haven’t watched it … ever.

At the time I was too arrogant to watch it, thinking I had nothing to gain from watching myself preach a sermon.

Now, I’m too frightened to watch. I can only imagine how terrible it is.

What did I know about preaching at the time? Next to nothing.

I knew how to craft a sermon, the basic “nuts and bolts” of putting a sermon together – at least one way of doing it.

But I had no experience. I wasn’t a pastor yet. I had very little life experience. No concept of what people needed to hear from God or how to tell them in a way that would make sense to them.

As I now look back on 21 years of preaching (at 60-70 sermons a year, that’s over 1,300 sermons!) I see that I still craft sermons much the same way I was taught in the initial and follow-up homiletic classes at seminary.

But now I’ve had life experiences added to my sermons and preaching. I’ve been married for twenty-five years, a father for over twenty years, I’ve been a home owner as well as living in rented homes and in parsonages. I’ve pastored people in rural America as well as suburbia.

I’ve held the hands of dozens of people as they took their last breath on this soil and closed their eyes only to open them and see Jesus face to face.

I’ve been there to comfort and pray for parents whose child has died, children whose parent has died, and spouses who say goodbye to their long-time husband or wife.

As a pastor, I see my chief responsibility, my number one task, is to preach. I spend more time as a pastor crafting a sermon than in doing just about anything else in pastoral ministry.

While I wouldn’t be comfortable saying that the sermon is the most important part of the worship service (I don’t think it is), I would say that the sermon is the one part of the worship service that I have most control over.

Because in the sermon, the Word of God is brought to bear on the lives of the people that I pastor, the people that I know best. I’ve eaten with them, I’ve laughed and cried with them, I’ve mourned and celebrated with them.

When I preach, I feel that the people that hear me are doing much the same as Mary, the crowd of people at the Sermon on the Mount, and those 5000 plus and 4000 plus who sat at the feet of Jesus to hear Him teach and then were fed bread and fish from a boy’s lunch!

But the sermon is more than mere instruction. Through the sermon, God speaks to His people, through the preacher, His Word of Law and Gospel.

While we hear God speak most clearly through the Scripture readings (you can read about that in this devotion), in the sermon people can come to a better understanding of what God is saying in His Word because the preacher knows them so well.

You see, the sermon is not just the preacher’s words and thoughts. It truly is God’s Word (unless the preacher strays from God’s Holy Word) and it is truly God speaking through the preacher – when that preacher is called by the Holy Spirit (usually through the congregation).

But it is God speaking in the preacher’s voice, using the preacher’s style of talking, and most especially it is God speaking through the preacher’s experience with – and of – you!

So many people dismiss church and worship for the same reason – the sermon is soooo boring!

But the best way to get rid of a boring sermon and a boring preacher is to get to know your pastor! Take him out to lunch. Stop by to chat with him. Take him out to the golf course, the shooting range, a baseball or hockey game, or for a cup of coffee and talk with him.

Really talk with him. Get to know him.

When you really know your preacher/pastor, you’ll never experience a dull sermon from him again!

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 17, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – Scripture Readings

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

This devotional series on what happens in liturgical worship continues with “Scripture Readings.” The reading and listening to God’s Holy Word is what God’s people do and have been doing for millennia.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise

Starting with Moses reading to Israel the “Law of God” in the wilderness, continuing with Joshua also reading to Israel the “Law of God” after the victory over Jericho and Ai, and throughout the history of Israel and flowing into the history of the Christian Church, the Word of God has been read to God’s people and heard by God’s people.

These words read from the Bible are not man’s words, but God’s Word – which is why, in the Divine Service, the conclusion of the reading of Holy Scripture ends with the phrase, “This is the Word of the Lord!”

In the readings from Scripture we hear how God planned to save us through the coming of His Son. We also hear how the people of God are to respond to this salvation through their words and very lives. And we also hear from the Son of God Himself as He teaches us how to live the life He died and rose again to give us.

Today, the Church tends to read a portion of the Old Testament for the first reading, a portion of an Epistle for the second reading, and a portion of one of the Gospels for the third reading.

Many churches now use a “three year” series of readings that will cover most of the three “synoptic” Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke – along with a related portion of the Old Testament. Sometimes the Epistle reading will also relate, but other times it will be a series of readings meant to hear the “voice” of the writer (usually St. Paul) teach the Church the ways of Christ.

The Gospel of John is used prominently during Easter and also is featured throughout the year no matter what series of readings the church happens to be in.

While the entire liturgical worship service is made up of God’s Word or based on God’s Word, the Scripture readings are where we hear God speak most clearly to us.

That doesn’t mean we’ll always understand fully what God is saying to us, which is why the sermon is also an important part of the worship service, and that will be the topic of the next devotion.

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Posted by: Ed Blonski | August 16, 2016

What We Do When We Do Church – Hymn of Praise

Luke 2:14

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

John 1:29

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Part 1 – Hymnody

Part 2 – Invocation

Part 3 – Baptism

Part 4 – Confession of Sins

Part 5 – Absolution

Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody

Part 7 – Kyrie

It was a quiet night, the stars were shining brightly. A group of shepherds were dozing in the fields outside the little town of Bethlehem, along with their flocks.

Suddenly the sky exploded with light! An angel appears and tells them,

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

Then a whole host of angels joined that one angel and sang what would become the opening words of the liturgical Hymn of Praise:

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Of course, this is part of a popular Christmas hymn/carol – Angels We Have Heard On High. However, you may know it in its original Latin: Glória in excélsis Deo.

The use of it in individual worship can be dated back to the fourth century and in formal liturgical worship by the fifth century AD.

This Hymn of Praise reminds us in no uncertain terms that Jesus Christ was born to be our Savior! We celebrate Christmas, a little, each time we sing this hymn of praise in worship.

The words also remind us why Jesus was born – and why we worship Him. He takes away the sins of the world!

These words were first proclaimed by John the Baptist right before Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River.

There is an alternate Hymn of Praise that is frequently sung as well.

It is usually called “This is the Feast” and is based on Revelation 5:12-13 and 19:5-9.

It is still a song that helps us worship Christ but now the emphasis is on Christ as the Lamb who was slain, whose blood set us free, and who now reigns forever!

While the Gloria hearkens back to Christmas, “This is the Feast” points ahead to our eternal life in heaven.

That’s the way worship is – a past/present/future kind of thing.

In worship we look back to what God has done for us, we learn what God wants us to do now and we receive strength to do it, and we look forward to what God has in store for us – the ultimate being eternal life in heaven!

The Hymn of Praise is both a looking back to what God has done and looking ahead to what we will be doing in heaven.

And it is an acknowledgment that we have a God who is powerful, merciful, holy and glorious!

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