5812 73rd Street Lubbock, TX 79424


Fourth Sunday in Lent

Service of Word and Sacrament

Explanation Service

March 15th, 2015

Service of the Word and Sacrament


M:Welcome to this morning's hour of worship! Today we are taking time to review the various parts of the liturgy we call Service of Word and Sacrament. We will pause at various places to hear a brief explanation of what we are about to do in our worship. Let’s do that now.

Our order of service today, or liturgy, has its roots in the ancient service or “rite” of the Western Christian church. Its primary focus is on the one true God, and His plan of salvation for us through Jesus Christ. It first convicts us of our sins, assures us of our forgiveness, then leads us to partake of the benefits of God's Word (in the scripture readings and sermon) and Sacrament (Holy Communion), and finally dismisses us in the peace of Christ. Throughout the liturgy we will be encouraged to serve the Lord with gladness in our daily lives, and to tell everyone what he has done for us.

There are two angles from which we can view our worship. The most important is sometimes called “sacramental.”The sacramental aspects of our liturgy emphasize God's actions for us: God acts; God speaks; God forgives. The other angle is called “sacrificial.” This view emphasizes our response to God's forgiving action in Christ: we pray; we praise; we give thanks; we sing.

The Service of Word and Sacrament begins with singing. The first hymn is called the entrance hymn. We all walk into church burdened by the concerns and stress of daily life; this hymn is meant to shift our focus from these concerns to the majesty of God. Singing this hymn also helps to bind us together for worship. It reminds us that it is our privilege to be gathered together in the presence of the living God – we only need to think for a second about how many Christians across the world don’t enjoy this privilege. Our entrance hymn today, “Salvation unto Us Has Come”, boldly announces that Christ is here! Let’s sing Hymn 390 together now.

Opening Hymn: Salvation unto Us Has ComeCW 390

Please turn to page 26 in the Red Hymnal (which is called Christian Worship, or CW for short), and we’ll talk about the first two parts of the liturgy, the Greeting, and then the Confession of Sins and Absolution, which go together.

Following the entrance hymn, the pastor begins the liturgy with what’s called the apostolic greeting, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you." This is the greeting that Paul used in many of his letters to the churches he served that we read in the Bible. We then repeat God’s blessing back to the pastor by saying "And also with you."

Psalm 24 tells us that those who have clean hands and a pure heart can stand in the holy place of God. Martin Luther described the entire life of a believer as the process of repentance. So the very next thing we do together, as a congregation, is to confess our inherited sinful state, and the actual sins that we’ve done, and then express our need for God's forgiveness. This is called the Confession of Sins.

After the Confession of Sins, the pastor gives us the assurance of God's forgiveness, and so it makes sense that he expresses joy while he’s doing this! This announcement of forgiveness is called the Absolution. While Jesus was on earth, he gave his disciples the authority to forgive those who repent (this is called the “ministry of the keys”). We, as a congregation, have called our pastor to do this publicly on our behalf. The Absolution stresses that Jesus died and went to hell as a substitute for our sins.

After the Absolution we speak the simple word: Amen, the Hebrew word found throughout the Bible meaning “so be it.” With this short word we say that we believe the good news of God's forgiveness in Christ, and take it to heart.

So now the Greeting, Confession of Sins and the Absolution.


M: The grace of our Lord ✙Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.

C: And also with you.

Confession of Sins

M:God invites us to come into his presence and worship him with humble and penitent hearts. Therefore, let us acknowledge our sinfulness and ask him to forgive us.

C:Holy and merciful Father, I confess that I am by nature sinful, and that I have disobeyed you in my thoughts, words, and actions. I have done what is evil and failed to do what is good. For this I deserve your punishment both now and in eternity. But I am truly sorry for my sins, and trusting in my Savior Jesus Christ, I pray: Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

M:God, our heavenly Father, has been merciful to us and has given his only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Therefore, as a called servant of Christ and by his authority, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son ✙and of the Holy Spirit.


Lord Have Mercy


The next section of the liturgy begins with the words "Lord, Have Mercy", which in Greek is “Kyrie eleison” or just “Kyrie” for short. That single Greek word is a prayer for the presence of God. In this section we ask God to extend his loving kindness to thecommon, everyday needs of all people in the Church throughout the world. After each short request, or petition, by the pastor, we respond by singing "Lord, have mercy." This is just another way of saying "Lord, help us" or "Lord, hear our prayer." We sing these responses believing that He will.

The pastor will now lead us in the responsive prayer, "Lord, Have Mercy."

M:For all that we need in life and for the wisdom to use all your gifts with gratitude and joy, hear our prayer, O Lord.

M:For the steadfast assurance that nothing can separate us from your love and for the courage to stand firm against the assaults of Satan and every evil, hear our prayer, O Christ.

M:For the well-being of your holy Church in all the world and for those who offer here their worship and praise, hear our prayer, O Lord.

M:Merciful God, maker and preserver of life, uphold us by your power and keep us in your tender care:

So far we have received God's forgiveness and prayed for His help in our daily lives. After this the pastor exclaims, "The works of the Lord are great and glorious; his name is worthy of praise." These words lead us into a song of praise taken directly from Psalm 8. These words are a fitting and joyous response to the forgiveness we’ve just received, and for he continues to do for us. A short song with words taken directly from Scripture is historically called a “canticle,” so let’s now hear Pastor introduce the canticle “O Lord, Our Lord.” and then let’s sing it with joy, faith, and strength in our hearts and voices.

M:The works of the Lord are great and glorious; his name is worthy of praise.

O Lord, Our Lord

Now Pastor will invite us to pray with the words "Let us pray." He will then read the Prayer of the Day, which is the first part of the liturgy that changes from Sunday to Sunday. The Prayer of the Day (old-fashioned liturgical term is the “Collect”) is a prayer specific to a particular Sunday of the church year, and the practice of using this type of prayer early in the service goes back to the Roman Empire.

The Prayer of the Day always ends with a well-known formula: "through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever." This formula highlights the three-in-one nature of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and also remind us of Jesus’ resurrection.

When Pastor finishes the Prayer of the Day we sing "Amen," expressing that this is also our prayer.

The pastor will now lead us in the Prayer of the Day

Prayer of the Day

M:Let us pray.

Almighty God, we confess that we deserve to be punished for our evil deeds. But we ask you graciously to cleanse us from all sin and to comfort us with your salvation; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


The Word

The Word. This is the first of the twin peaks in the Service of Word and Sacrament. We now hear the Words of God, expressed through the human authors of the Bible. We might open our pew Bibles and read along on the page, but this Word is mysterious and powerful. This is the Word that gives life when it is read, preached, and believed – the Holy Spirit works through this Word. This is the Word that God wants us to apply to ourselves and take out to everyone else. So we listen carefully. We read along.

We often hear God's law in these readings, which convicts us brings us to our knees. But we also hear about God's gracethrough the work of Christ.

There are three sections of Scripture read in this “Word” part of the liturgy, called the Three Lessons. Except for the Sundays after Easter, the First Lesson is a reading from the history and the prophecies of the Old Testament. These are the same words that Jewish believers heard during their worship in the centuries before Christ was born. At the end of the reading, the pastor will say "This is the Word of the Lord."

Here is the First Lesson for today.

First Lesson: Numbers 21:4-9

This is the word of the Lord.

Another aspect of our worship that is drawn directly from Jewish worship is singing from the book of Psalms; the Psalms were written to be set to music – it was basically the hymnal for Old Testament believers - and so it makes sense that we have so many bits from Psalms in our worship.

So it also makes sense that a Psalm follows immediately after the First (Old Testament) Lesson. The Psalm is different every Sunday, and so is called the Psalm of the Day (just like the Prayer of the Day). The topics of the Psalms vary from deepest sorrow to highest joy, and are often chosen to match a theme for the day. We chant the words of the Psalm with a refrain drawn from elsewhere in Scripture, and this method of singing also goes back to Jewish practice.

The pastor will now introduce the Psalm of the Day, Psalm 38.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 38

The Second Lesson is taken from the letters St. Paul or another apostle or from the Revelation to St. John (the book of Revelations). This lesson often stresses Christian teaching, Christian faith, and Christian living. At the end of the reading, the pastor will again remind us that these words are from our God when he says "This is the Word of the Lord."

The pastor will introduce and read the Second Lesson.

Second Lesson: Ephesians 2:4-10

This is the word of the Lord.

We responded to the First Lesson by singing a Psalm. The response after the Second Lesson is called the Verse of the Day. The verse is a Scripture verse with Alleluias on both sides. During our midweek Lent services, the Alleluias are usually omitted. The Verse of the Day serves as a prelude to the Gospel, as a reflector of the season of the church year, or as a bridge between the Second Lesson and the Gospel. There is a special verse for each Sunday in the church year.

We will now sing the general verse.

Verse of the Day

In the past, soldiers put down their weapons and kings removed their crowns when the Third Lesson was read, since this lesson is drawn from the books of the Bible that contain the life and works of Jesus, otherwise known as the Gospels (MMLJ). As a sign of special honor to the Savior, we just stand up.

Christ Himself is the central message of the Gospel—his life; his words of condemnation and forgiveness; his sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension; his blessing and instructions to his disciples and church; and his promise to return. We hear the familiar news that is always new, good, and refreshing.

After the reading of the Gospel, the pastor will look up and say "This is the Gospel of the Lord." Our response to this announcement is a short burst of praise as we sing "Praise be to you, O Christ!" This is called the Gospel Acclamation.

The pastor will now announce and read the Gospel, and we will respond with the Gospel Acclamation.


Gospel: John 3:14-21

This is the Gospel of the Lord.


The next hymn is called the Hymn of the Day. The hymns chosen to be sung at this point are usually most closely tied to the theme of the day, or the theme of the sermon. In the service they are representative of the best of the hymnody in the Christian church. Let there be joyous singing of this prominent hymn!

We will sing Hymn 391 v.1-4, “God Loved the World So that He Gave”.

Hymn of the Day: God Loved the World So that He Gave 390 v.1-4

The last part in the section of the service that we call “The Word” is the sermon, and is really an explanation and commentary by the pastor on one of the lessons we’ve just heard.

(Almost) every Lutheran sermon will contain aspects of both Law and the Gospel, so we as listeners understand both our need for salvation, and our assurance of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ.

The sermon will also often contain illustrations, personal anecdotes from Pastor, etc., but all for the purpose of making the Scripture easier to understand, more memorable, and more applicable to our daily lives. Our pastor uses his sermon to nourish us as disciples of Christ.

Sermon Explanation

After hearing the lessons and sermon we stand to confess our faith in the triune God. Standard confessions of faith are often called “creeds” from the Latin word “credo” which means “I believe.” In the Service of Word and Sacrament we use the Nicene Creed, which is a summary and profession of the Christian faith that has been on the lips of Christians since the fourth century A.D. Council of Nicea, where the creed was formulated to combat heresies of the day.

When we say "We believe," we are declaring that this is a confession of the whole Christian Church on earth, and that it reflects the unchanging teachings of the Scriptures. Creeds allow us believers to join together in confessing God's truth about himself and his plan of salvation.

The pastor will now lead us in the Nicene Creed.


Nicene Creed


We have heard God's Word and confessed our faith. Now, as a congregation of believers, we gather our offerings of thanks and place them on the altar. These offerings are the fruits of faith, to be used for the work of the Lord in our own community, through the work of our congregation, and throughout the world, through the efforts of the members of our synod.

The offering will now be received. During the musical interlude, we have a few moments to reflect on the meaning of God's Word for our lives in today's world.


Earlier we participated with Pastor in the Prayer of the Day. Now in the Prayer of the Church, we pray for the needs of the Christian Church, for the advancement of our ministry here in Lubbock, for the welfare of the nations of the world, for the success of good institutions in our society, and for the support of those with special needs. Included in the prayer is a place for special requests that are unique to this moment in our church family; births, deaths, anniversaries, illnesses, etc. There is also an opportunity for silent prayer, when we can bring our personal concerns directly to God. We conclude the prayers in this part of the liturgy with The Lord's Prayer.

The pastor will now lead us in the Prayer of the Church.


Prayer of the Church

Lord's Prayer


The Sacrament

We have arrived at the second of the twin peaks of Service of Word and Sacrament, the sacrament, or “sacred act” of Holy Communion, in which we receive Jesus' true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith.

The liturgy surrounding Communion begins with the Preface, which is a series of short responses between congregation and Pastor. This dialogue between pastor and congregation has been used for at least 1,800 years, and so these responsive verses unite us with the Church of the past and the future. They also set the tone for what is about to happen – First is "The Lord be with you"—since without him we can do nothing. "Lift up your hearts"— we do this in a glad welcome to him. "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God"—which is the only fitting thing to do when he comes to us with this amazing Means of Grace.