In observation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we continue in our series of posts titled "The Whys of Worship," exploring the Worship form used for generations: Gathering, Word, Meal, and Sending. In our series, thus far, we have focused on Gathering, the Word, and the Meal.
In our final post, guest blogger, Bob Mitchell talks about the importance of Sending in the Lutheran liturgy and what it means to us as Christians.
At this time of year, many of us of a certain age, have sent our sons or daughters off to college. There they will grow, learn, and have fun.
In Christian faith, we too grow, learn, and have fun at worship. And as a sign of God’s grace for us, we are sent to take that message into the world to share our joy and excitement with others.
So, why is sending such a small, yet important part of the Lutheran liturgy and our lives as Christians?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Worship Formation & Liturgical Resource guide notes that through worship we hear of God’s Word; we are saved through God’s grace in the waters of Baptism; we join together in a meal of bread and wine at communion; and we join with God in prayer.
While worship services may vary from one ELCA congregation to another, the Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (ELW) notes that Lutheran’s common Pattern for Worship (ELW p. 91) “in the principal service of Christian worship, the Holy Spirit gathers people around the means of grace — the saving Word of God and the sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion). From the table of communion where Jesus Christ comes with forgiveness, life, and salvation, God sends us to share the good news and care for those in need.”
This is the basic structure of Lutheran worship — gathering, word, meal, and sending — and joins the whole people of God by the same gifts of grace as we are sent to take God’s Gospel into the world. It’s what we do when we leave worship, the sending, and how we interact with God’s people in the world.
This is central to everything we as Lutherans do, worship unites us in celebration (the fun), engages us in thoughtful dialogue and helps us to grow in faith. Worship grounds us in our Christian and Lutheran roots. Through worship, we are nurtured in faith and then are sent out into the world to spread the Good News of God’s grace.
For me, this was always a difficult thing to imagine. How can I go into the world and tell of God’s grace? It’s not that difficult: we all do this each and every day, as we meet others, respect one another, and in how we share God’s love for us with those we meet.
Sending at the end of worship is reminds us that we are to share God’s message of Love with the whole world. The Sending is the briefest part of worship, coming in the final words of worship. Lutheran worship ends with this declaration: "Go in peace. Serve the Lord.”
For those who worship regularly at Saint Luke, you know that we have a slightly different version of the sending, based on our Mission Statement. The final words said by the Assisting Minister at the conclusion of worship are: “Go in Peace to Know, Love, and Serve Christ.” The congregation responds: “Thanks be to God.”
That is our Mission.
That is our sending as members of Saint Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church.
This is a bold statement coming at the end, yet it is just the beginning to go into the world — God’s Creation — to Know, Love, and Serve others, as Christ so loves us.
So, as we go into the world, how is God calling you to serve? Is there a neighbor you have yet to greet? Is there a role you can serve in the community? Is there someone in need? God needs our hearts, our hands, and our hope for a better world where all will give and receive God’s grace.
So, now “Go in Peace, to Know, Love, and Serve Christ!
Thanks be to God!”
Special thanks to Bob Mitchell for his contribution to this blog post. Bob is a long-time member of Saint Luke. He serves his mission by volunteering to read with children and tutoring adult learners. He serves at Saint Luke as an assisting minister, communion assistant, lector, usher, Stephen Minister, and as editor of the LOOK, the church’s online newsletter.