Lutheran worship is liturgical. The word “liturgy” means “service”. It is God’s service to His people in the form of His grace and Good News of salvation. And it is the service where we respond with praise and thanksgiving for the gifts received. Liturgy is a two-way conversation between God and His people.
The “ritualistic” aspect of Lutheran worship may be unfamiliar to some. But all Christian churches make use of ritual, or “rite” for services such as weddings, funerals, baptisms, the Lord’s Supper, and the like. Liturgical worship provides a sense of order and stability in the world that is often unpredictable and uncertain.
It may not seem obvious at first, but the Lutheran liturgy is nearly all directly quoted from the Bible. At various points in the service, the congregation, choir or the pastor will chant Psalm verses or Scriptural songs. Chanting enables God’s people to sing the exact words from the Bible that may not fit well into a conventional melody.
There are also spoken parts of the liturgy, such as short prayers prayed by the pastor (called collects), the Lord’s Prayer ( Matthew 5:9-13) and a statement of the Christian faith know as the creed.
The Pastor will, at times, face the people and other time his back will be turned toward the congregation as he will turn to face the alter. He is not turning his back on the congregation out of rudeness, but rather, everyone is then facing the same direction. Everyone, including the pastor is praying together the words the pastor prays. This is symbolized by his facing the altar with the congregation. At times, the pastor is serving as God’s spokesman. He is speaking God’s Word and thus faces the congregation symbolizing God speaking, giving the gifts of grace and Gospel.