"What are services like?”
In order to understand our services, there are three important things to know about us.
1. As Lutherans, we believe that Christ won our salvation in His death and resurrection.
2. We believe that Christ established His Church to be the place where we could receive the salvation won for us on the cross and in the empty tomb.
3. We also believe that we receive this salvation through the preached word of forgiveness, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper.
It’s for this reason that we worship the way we do—beginning every service by confessing our sins and hearing Christ’s word of absolution, singing of God’s mercy in our hymns, confessing His triune nature in the Creed, listening to preaching that covers us in the love of Christ, feasting upon His body and blood in Holy Communion, and concluding with the benediction promise that we now have peace with God through His Son who dwells with us in Word and Sacrament.
For our Sunday morning liturgy, we follow the Divine Service settings in Lutheran Service Book every week. And for our hymns, we avail ourselves of the great treasures found in that same hymnal. The organ is the primary instrument for our musical accompaniment.
If you are not familiar with our worship service, it can often be tricky to navigate the hymnal. For this reason, we provide a visitor’s bulletin each week, designed to make the service easier to follow. The visitor’s bulletin includes the words to the entire liturgy, our readings, and hymns for the day. If you’d like one, just ask one of our ushers (they’re available in the back). If you still have trouble, don’t be afraid to ask one of our members to help you follow along. It may take you a Sunday or two to get used to our service, but we believe the beauty of our liturgy makes it worth it in the end.
“Are My Kids Welcome?”
Absolutely! We are always overjoyed when Christ’s little ones gather with us to receive the gifts of salvation. While children may often fidget and fuss as they learn to sit and hear God’s word, we consider the noise that they make in our sanctuary to be a form of sacred music, as this is the sound of God’s children learning more and more what it means to be Christians. And it’s for this reason that we invite the children to stay with us for the entire service.
If you feel your children are being disruptive, we do have a cry room. However, barring a sonic outburst of ear-drum shattering proportions, we encourage you to keep your children in the sanctuary as long as possible. And, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, we also encourage those with young children to sit up front, as doing so makes it easier for them to see what’s happening, which tends to hold their attention longer.
“May I take communion?”
The Scriptures teach that Holy Communion is the true, physical body and blood of Jesus Christ given to us for the forgiveness of our sins (Mt 26:26-28, Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:19-20, 1 Cor 11:23-26). The Scriptures also teach that Holy Communion is a sacred meal that Christians should only share together once they have put away all their divisions and are of the same mind and judgment (1 Cor 1:10, 11:18). Furthermore, the Scriptures teach that pastors are to be “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1) and that this mystery called the Lord’s Supper brings condemnation to those who eat and drink of it in an unworthy manner (1 Cor 11:27-30).
It is for these reasons that we require all who commune at our altar to be of the same mind and judgment as our congregation, that they prepare their hearts to receive this sacrament worthily, and that they announce their intent to commune to Pastor Matt so that he may faithfully carry out his stewardship of this mystery by ensuring that all who receive the sacrament from him do so to their benefit.
If you are a communicant member of an LCMS congregation (or a congregation in the LC-MS fellowship), we recognize that you have been taught to receive the sacrament in a worthy manner and have made a public confession that you are of the same mind and judgment as our congregation. Therefore, if you still hold to the faith you confessed in your confirmation, we welcome you to receive the Lord’s Supper with us. But we do ask that you announce your intent to commune with the pastor prior to the beginning of the Divine Service.
If you are not a communicant member of an LCMS congregation, we ask that you first be instructed in our teachings and publicly confess them as your own before you share the Lord’s Supper with us.
We understand that our congregation’s communion practice may be upsetting for people who have never encountered it before. But while it has become common in recent times for many churches to welcome people of every confession to commune at their altars, this has not been the case for most of Christendom’s history and we do not believe that this practice is fully in keeping with God’s word. When various church bodies have split over doctrines such as the justification of man, the atonement, man’s sinful nature, the sacraments, and the authority of the Bible, this is a clear indication that we are not united in what we believe, teach, and confess. And for this reason, here at St. Paul we believe that it would be contrary to God’s command for us to commune with those who don’t share our mind and judgment until our divisions have ceased.
And we do strive to bring those divisions to an end. This is why Pastor Matt regularly teaches individualized classes to instruct people in the Lutheran faith, to prepare them to receive the Sacrament with us, and to welcome them into membership in our congregation. If you are not able to commune with us at this time, but are interested in entering into our communion fellowship, please don’t hesitate to speak with the pastor about his adult instruction class.
“How do I join?”
If you are currently a member of another LC-MS congregation and would like to join St. Paul Wittenberg, please speak with your current pastor about requesting a transfer of membership.
If you are not currently a member of an LC-MS congregation, please speak with Pastor Matt about how to come into membership and together we will discuss the steps needed to have you join our fellowship.