We are a small group of believers who love to gather around God’s Holy Word and His precious Sacraments. Being small we are able to care for one another individually and we share our joys and concerns much like one does with a close family.
What’s your Sunday service like?
We strive to make the Divine Service reverent and respectful as we come into God’s presence to receive His gifts and to return thanks for His blessings. As with any church with which you’re not familiar, you should expect it to take at least a couple Sundays to become accustomed to the service. And we will help you along the way.
The Divine Service is liturgical, which means that it follows a set order each week (making it easier to follow with every attendance). The service focuses on God’s Word and Sacraments because they are the only means in which God has promised to offer us the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. We pray that through the Divine Service God will awaken and strengthen your trust in Him and His forgiveness.
The Divine Service is nothing new, but it isn’t outdated either. The service order we gladly use now is the product of 2,000 years worth of development in the Christian Church. In the service you will see music with foreign names like the Introit, the Kyrie, the Gloria in Excelsis, the Alleluia, the Sanctus, etc. These titles come from the first words of the song in the original Hebrew, Greek, or Latin languages. We retain these titles to help us remember that we share the Christian faith, not only with those living with us today in our community, but also with those who have lived before us and in all parts of the world.
What is a liturgy?
The liturgy is our order of service. It includes the following:
• The Confession of Sins: We confess to God that we have failed to live up to the perfect standards in His Law, and we plead for His mercy.
• The Announcement of Forgiveness (Absolution): The pastor announces the forgiveness of sins won for us by the perfect life and innocent sufferings and death of Jesus, our Savior.
• A Song of Praise: These songs of praise remind us of the wonderful things God has done for us, not the least of which is the salvation He gives through Christ.
• Prayer of the Day: The Church brings her concerns and prayers to a loving Father in Heaven, who has shown great mercy and promised to hear our cries for help.
• Scripture Readings: The pastor reads three selections from the Bible. They usually include one selection from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament epistles (letters), and one from the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John).
• Sermon: The pastor offers instruction and encouragement in a sermon, usually based on one of the three readings. Expect to hear God’s guidance for dealing with the problems of life, along with the promises of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven through Jesus.
• Response to the Word: We respond with offerings and prayers for the things God has promised us and for strength to do what he has asked.
• Holy Communion: God comes to us in His Holy Body and Blood which was sacrificed for our sins on the cross at Calvary and was raised three days later on Easter morning. In eating and drinking this precious Sacrament, we receive the forgiveness won for us on the cross as well as the new life given to us in the resurrection. (Currently we celebrate Holy Communion on every first and third Sunday of the month. Before communing, however, we ask our guests to please speak with the pastor beforehand.)
• Final Blessing: We hear one last assurance of God’s guidance and love.
What is close Communion?
First of all, a disclaimer: we do not practice close Communion to be exclusionary or judgmental. We do not judge a person’s faith. The purpose of our practice of “close communion” is to make sure that those who receive the Lord’s Supper are close to God and close to each other in the Christian faith. We want all people who share the same faith and understanding to join us for this heavenly banquet. So please don’t think that we want to exclude you. Nothing could be further from the truth.
That being said, the Scriptures do have some very definite things to say about who is to be invited to the Lord’s table. You must be able to “examine” yourself. That’s why we ask that you speak with the pastor so we have a chance to explain what the Bible has to say about properly receiving this precious sacrament.
Can I remain anonymous or will I be pointed out to everyone as a visitor?
Because we are not a large assembly, people will know that you are not a member, but not to worry, we do not ask visitors to stand up and be introduced. You will be greeted as you enter and leave the church, just as all our members are. It is up to you whether you wish to have an extended conversation with us. Many visitors attend several times before they wish to have an extensive conversation or participate in fellowship opportunities.
Is it okay to just watch at first?
We believe that church membership is a voluntary act, and that the most important thing is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation. People need time to evaluate and decide if they want to get further involved. We respect that need, and if in time you desire to join our membership and commune with us, we would be happy to speak to you about it.
What should I wear?
Sometimes people wonder how they are expected to dress at a church they’ve never visited before. Since the Bible presents no dress code, aside from simple modesty, we don’t make any rules either. Like most people, our members try to make their worship time at church a special time. This is often reflected in the way they dress. However, on any given Sunday you may see running shoes and high heels, jeans and suits, open collars and ties. When a person dresses out of love for God, the choice of dress (casual or more formal) is acceptable to God… and us.
What about an offering?
The members of Holy Scripture give offerings out of love to the Lord. The gifts of God are free, and as guests, we want the blessings of the Divine Service to be a gift to you. Scripture teaches that our offerings to God should reflect our belief that everything we have is a gift of God. He does not compel us to give “a tithe” as he did the Old Testament believers. Instead St. Paul tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). In other words, don’t feel compelled by guilt or embarrassment to give an offering. We want all offerings to be made freely and with joy. Our members bring offerings to God through their church. Because offerings are gifts of love for God, no one dictates what each person is to give. We pass an offering plate after the sermon so that our worship may include bringing gifts to God.
What about my children?
We love to have families worship together and children need to hear that their sins are forgiven too. Most of us have or have had children and understand that sometimes it gets a bit hard for little ones to sit through a service. If your child starts to get fussy, you may take him or her out into the entryway or off to the nursery, allow him or her to regain their composure, and then rejoin us in the service.
What if I don’t know much about the Bible?
First a disclaimer: there are no “super-Christians” at Holy Scripture. None of us have our Bibles completely memorized. The Divine Service and Bible study are opportunities to grow in our knowledge of the Bible and trust in our Savior. You won’t have to answer any questions you don’t want to answer. And remember, sometimes the wisest words we say are, “I don’t know.”
Is your church full of “perfect” people?
No! Our church is a spiritual hospital. Jesus himself said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Mt 9:12). Jesus is the Great Physician of our souls. We’re far from perfect! That’s why we’re at church—to hear that we are forgiven!
A Final Thought
We pray that this has helped answer some of your questions and alleviate your fears. Our mission as a congregation is quite simple. We want to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with all people on the basis of the Holy Scriptures. Everything we do is meant to accomplish that one goal. We pray that there is nothing that stands in your way from learning more about our Savior at Holy Scripture. Please do not hesitate to call if you have any questions or if there is anything we can do for you. God’s richest blessings to you. We look forward to meeting you!
Audio – A Look inside the Lutheran Church: The Mission of the Church