The Divine Service

St. John Lutheran Church is a liturgical congregation. We love to sing. We use Lutheran Service Book (LSB) in all of our worship services and offer the Lord’s Supper every Sunday and on other festivals. Each Lord’s Day we gather together for the Divine Service, in which Jesus Christ is present to forgive, strengthen, and renew sinners.

Our Lord speaks and we listen. His Word bestows what it says. Faith that is born from what is heard acknowledges the gifts received with eager thankfulness and praise. ... Saying back to Him what He has said to us, we repeat what is most true and sure. Most true and sure is His name, which He put upon us with the water of our Baptism. We are His. ... The rhythm of our worship is from Him to us, and then from us back to Him. He gives His gifts, and together we receive and extol them. We build one another us as we speak to another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. [Lutheran Worship: Introduction]

Below is a brief summary of the various parts of the Divine Service.


Invocation • The name into which we are baptized is invoked as we gather in our Father’s house to receive Christ’s gracious gifts in Word and Sacrament. This is His service to us. [Matthew 28:19]

Confession • As sinners, we confess what is true of us — both the sinful nature which we inherited from Adam and the thoughts, desires, words, and deeds by which we have broken God’s Law. [1 John 1:8-9]

Absolution • God, who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, bestows to us through His called and ordained servants the forgiveness Jesus won for all on the cross. [John 20:19-23]

Service of the Word

The Service of the Word is the first of two pillars that undergirds the Divine Service. It centers in the reading and proclamation of God’s Word to us concerning Jesus Christ.

Introit • The Introit — Latin for “enter” — is a collection of passages from the Psalms that sets the tone for the upcoming Scripture readings. It may be spoken or sung. [Colossians 3:16]

Kyrie • The Kyrie — a shortened form of the Greek words Kyrie eleison, meaning “Lord, have mercy” — marks the first prayer of God’s people. As sinners, we rely constantly on God’s mercy in Christ. [Mark 10:47]

Gloria in Excelsis • The Gloria in Excelsis — Latin for “glory [to God] in the highest” — is the traditional hymn of praise in which we join our voices with the Christmas angels in welcoming the incarnate Christ. Another option for this Hymn of Praise is “This Is the Feast”, in which we join the heavenly choirs of angels in extolling our crucified and risen Savior. [Luke 2:14; John 1:29 / Revelation 5:9-13; 19:4-9]

Salutation • The salutation announces the Lord who comes to us in the Scripture readings that follow. It also confesses the Spirit’s work through the pastoral administration of Word and Sacrament. [2 Timothy 4:22]

Collect of the Day • This prayer collects in a concise manner the theme of the day. The congregation makes this prayer its own by adding its “Amen” — a word that means “yes, truly, it is so.”

Scripture Readings • The Divine Service follows the simple pattern of hearing God’s Word in three separate readings, interspersed with responses, psalm, and praise.

The Old Testament reading reveals God’s works and promises from the creation until the coming of the Messiah.

The Gradual is a portion of a psalm or other Scripture passage.

The Epistle reading — taken from one of the letters in the New Testament — reveals the Christian life of love, service, hope, and joy that stem from faith in Jesus Christ.

The Alleluia and Verse offers praise to Christ before we hear His words. [John 6:68]

The Gospel reading reveals the very words and deeds of Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinners. The congregation traditionally stands for the reading of the Holy Gospel.

Hymn of the Day • This chief hymn reflects the theme of the day. All hymns in the Divine Service extol Jesus Christ and God’s work for us, while also offering us the opportunity to return our thanks and praise.

Sermon • Our Lord Jesus sent His apostles to preach God’s judgment against sin and His grace to us in Christ. This preaching extols Jesus our Savior and His forgiveness. [1 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Timothy 4:2]

Nicene Creed • This creed — Latin for “I believe” — confesses the universal Christian faith in the Triune God who created us, redeemed us, and sanctifies us. [Romans 10:9-10]

Prayer of the Church • In this prayer we pray a series of petitions expressing the needs of the Church, the world, the congregation, and other local or special concerns. [1 Timothy 2:1-4]

Offering • Following the pattern throughout Holy Scripture, Christians return their firstfruits to God in gratitude for all of His blessings of body and soul to us. [2 Corinthians 9:6-8]

Offertory • One of two options is sung: (1) “Create in me...” recalls David's plea to God for cleanliness, renewal; (2) “What shall I render...” recounts all of God’s benefits to us. [Psalm 51:10-12; 116:12-13, 17-19]

Service of the Sacrament

The Service of the Sacrament is the second of two pillars that undergirds the Divine Service. It centers in the distribution of Christ’s body and blood for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of faith.

Preface • This portion of the liturgy introducing the Service of the Sacrament reminds us our worship is not limited by time or space, but joins with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.

Sanctus • The Sanctus — Latin for “holy” — is the angelic hymn heard by Isaiah when given a vision of God in His temple, coupled with the Palm Sunday acclamations spoken to Jesus. [Isaiah 6:3; Matthew 21:9]

Lord’s Prayer • This is the chief prayer of the Christian Church in which we heed Jesus’ invitation and call upon our Father who art in heaven using the words Jesus taught us. [Matthew 6:9-13]

Words of Institution • The pastor speaks the words of institution to consecrate the bread and wine for the distribution. [Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25]

Pax Domini • The Pax Domini — Latin for “the peace of the Lord” — is spoken/chanted as the pastor holds the body and blood of Jesus Christ before the congregation. [John 20:19]

Agnus Dei • The Agnus Dei — Latin for “Lamb of God” — contains the words of John the Baptist. Like John, we are in the presence of the Lamb of God who takes away our sin in this Sacrament. [John 1:29]

Distribution • The congregation comes forward to kneel at the altar rail and receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. We practice “closed communion.”

Post-Communion Canticle • One of two options is sung: (1) The Nunc Dimittis — Latin for “now let [Your servant] depart” — recalls Simeon’s words when holding baby Jesus; (2) “Thank the Lord” recounts the Christian’s gratitude for all of Christ’s blessings. [Luke 2:29-32]

Benediction • In the Benediction — Latin for “[The Lord] bless [you]” — God places His holy name on His people and blesses them. This blessing was first given to Aaron to place on God’s people of old. [Numbers 6:22-27]

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

Acts 2:42