Worship at The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Christ the King is perhaps better described as Divine Service. Divine Service is a loose translation of the word used by our German forefathers, Gottesdienst (God's Service). Gottesdienst confesses that, in the worship service, it is God who serves us with His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation in Jesus Christ. Therefore, our worship is always Christ-centered and cross-centered, and never man-centered. In our worship we employ liturgies and rites that stand within the historic western and catholic (universal) tradition.
The Holy Eucharist is celebrated at every Saturday night and Sunday morning Divine Service and on Festival Days when they are observed. Confessing that Christ is present in His body and blood for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of faith, our worship is sometimes solemn and sometimes jubilant, always reverent, and never stuffy. We are a family of faith, the body of Christ, the Church gathered with angels, and arcangels and all the company of heaven around God and the Lamb on His throne.
Come and join us in receiving a foretaste of the heavenly feast to come!
Services this week:
Divine Service of Holy Eucharist
Saturday Evenings at 5:30 pm
Sunday Mornings at 9:30 am
Wednesday Evening at 7:00 pm
The Office of Vespers
Wednesday Evenings 7:00pm (Lent, Advent)
From Pastor Gramez:
A blessed Holy Week to you all.
As I mentioned after the services this weekend, the noon service on Good Friday and the Saturday evening Easter Vigil will both have incense. I talked about it a little during Bible Class, but since not everyone was able to make it, I wanted to give you a quick overview of what we talked about.
In the Church's worship, incense has several meanings, but two primary ones.
First, it represents the prayers and offerings of the Church, made acceptable to God by Jesus' sacrifice.
Psalm 141:2 - “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
Revelation 5:8 - “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
If you come to the Easter Vigil, you may see the elements censed during the Offertory, marking them as gifts to God. Almost every time we pray Vespers, we hear before the Magnificat the words from Psalm 141: “Let my prayer rise before you as incense.” When the altar is censed during the Magnificat in Vespers, it symbolizes our joyful offering of praise for the Incarnation as we sing the words of the Virgin Mary. If you read through the book of Revelation, or if you take a look at Isaiah 6, you’ll see that incense is part of worship in heaven, and that God, in fact, seems to like the smell of incense! He even gives a recipe in Exodus 30:34-35. How wonderful it is that when we burn incense in church, we are joining with those triumphant saints gathered around the throne of God in heaven!
Second, incense marks the body of Christ.
Isaiah 60:6b - “All those from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord.”
Matthew 2:11 - “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
John 19:39-40 - And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.
This second meaning of incense is the most common in our worship. In connection with this, incense is carried before the processional cross, a symbol of Christ. The altar, another symbol of Christ, may be censed at the Introit as the Divine Service begins. The Gospel book is sometimes censed immediately before the reading of the Gospel, reminding us of the Word become flesh, and the censing of the elements at the consecration confesses the physical presence of Christ in His Body and Blood. On Good Friday, as the crucifix is taken out of the chancel and covered with a white cloth, it will be censed, echoing the actions of Nicodemus in John 19:39-40.
The use of incense has a long history within the Christian Church, and in Judaism prior to that. The Lutheran Reformers retained the use of incense after the Lutheran Reformation, but it has gradually fallen out of use over the last few centuries. Below, you can see a painting of a Lutheran service in 1539, with a thurifer carrying a thurible on the lower left. If you look into the background on the right side, you can see a picture of Martin Luther on the wall, looking out across the scene.
Elector Joachim II receives the Holy Sacrament from the hand of Bishop Matthias von Jagow, Brandenburg, 1539. By Carl Röhling, 1913, St. Nicolai, Berlin-Spandau.