How come Lutheran worship is the way that it is?
Worship is at the heart of who we are as Christians. And there is a method to the madness we call worship at St. Philip. Our intent is to remember faithfully the wonderful tradition of the church since its very beginnings while at the same time speaking in a language that makes sense right now.
Historically Lutheran worship is liturgical in nature. The word liturgy literally means “the work of the people.” So that means the worship leader and the congregation work together responding back and forth in giving our thanks to God.
The primary pieces of the liturgy center on the hearing of the Word, both written and preached, and the receiving of Christ in Holy Communion. The flow of worship serves to gather us in as God’s people, nourish us with Word and Sacrament, and then send us out in ministry to and with God’s world. Although it may seem at times as though parts of the worship experience are random, there is often a theological explanation for almost everything that happens during worship.
What’s a Lutheran?
Here in Southwest Virginia we hear this question a lot. As a denomination, Lutheranism starts with a man named Martin Luther who now is known as the Father of Protestant Christianity. He studied to become a lawyer before becoming an Augustinian monk in 1505, and was ordained a priest in 1507. While continuing his studies in pursuit of a Doctor of Theology degree, he discovered significant differences between what he read in the Bible and the theology and practices of the church. On October 31, 1517, he posted a challenge on the church door at Wittenberg University to debate 95 theological issues. Luther’s hope was that the church would reform its practice and preaching to be more consistent with the Word of God as contained in the Bible.
What started as an academic debate escalated to a religious war, fueled by fiery temperaments and violent language on both sides. As a result, what was intended to be a reformation of the church resulted in a separation instead. “Lutheran” was a name applied to Luther and his followers as an insult but was adopted as a badge of honor by them instead.
Lutherans still hold to the basic principles of theology and practice espoused by Luther:
• We are saved by the grace of God alone — not by anything we do;
• Our salvation is through faith alone – we believe that our sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who died to redeem us;
• The Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life — the only true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.
What’s a St. Philip Lutheran?
We gather for worship at 8115 Williamson Road in Roanoke, Virginia. But we are more than a building. We are a congregation that has been in existence for 60 years. But we are more than our history. We are a growing congregation who come from a wide variety of backgrounds. But we are more than a collection of people. Primarily we seek to be disciples of Christ, people who respond in thanksgiving to God’s love for all creation and people who live like Jesus: People who LIVE LIKE THAT.