From Faith Practices, Faith Lives
by Dr. Martha Stortz

Corporate worship offers a unique way to come into the presence of God and to praise the God who called all of creation into being. Luther regarded prayer, public praise and thanksgiving to God as one of the “marks of the church.” The hymns he wrote for worship often reflected Christmas and Easter joy. Worship made of the congregation a Mundhaus; literally, a “mouth-house,” as people raised their voices in song, petition and praise.

Through the ancient prayers and songs of Christians across the centuries and around the world, we enter into a community that goes beyond the barriers of time and space. As we join that throng, we are shaped by the liturgy. Prayers follow a pattern of praise and petition; we acknowledge who God is and what God has done; we plead for God’s continuing action in the world. Look at the Collect for Easter Day in the Lutheran Book of Worship:

O God, you gave your only Son to suffer death on the cross for our redemption, and by his glorious resurrection you delivered us from the power of death. Make us die every day to sin, so that we may live with him forever in the joy of the resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Praise precedes petition. We give thanks for who God is; then we ask for God’s continuing blessing. Intercessory prayer offers to God the needs of the neighbor and the concerns of the world. We ask for the neighbors’ prayers for us, even as we assure them of our petitions for them.

Corporate worship features the preaching of the Word and administration of the sacraments. Read, preached, sung and recited, the Word of God vibrates around us, tuning our souls. In the Lord’s Supper, we receive Christ himself, in, with and under the elements of bread and wine. By sharing in that sacrament, we receive again the food that sustains us for service. As we daily return to baptism we are made new.

Participation in the sacraments helps us discern the presence of the sacred in our daily lives; through the experience of God’s presence in public worship we can trace the extraordinary presence of God in our ordinary lives. We know both where to look and what to look for. Worship sets us on the path of the cross-shaped life of discipleship; we acknowledge God’s participation in our lives, and we offer ourselves in service to the neighbor.

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