Today is the Sunday in the church year that we celebrate the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, an event associated with the posting of Martin Luther’s 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517. Luther was calling the western church, what we know as the Roman Catholic Church, to reform from what he believed to be excesses in practice that were obscuring the message of the saving grace of God.
|Henry Melchior Muhlenberg|
As part of our celebration, we will be using the liturgy of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg from the 1740’s. Muhlenberg was a German pastor sent to the colonies as requested by Pennsylvania colonists. Most of the Lutheran churches in America at the time had been founded by lay ministers, and the people were wanting to have formally trained clergy.
Muhlenberg’s first assignment was to three congregations in the colony of Pennsylvania, one of which, the church in Trappe, Pennsylvania, is pictured on the front cover. The church, Augustus Lutheran Church, was founded in 1742 and the building dedicated in 1745. It is the oldest Lutheran church building in America.
Muhlenberg organized the Lutheran churches in the colonies, calling together the Ministerium of Pennsylvania in 1748, the first Lutheran synod in America. He prepared the liturgy, adapted here, for uniform use, and he wrote a constitution that was used by Lutheran churches in this country. He also contributed significantly to putting together a hymnal that could be used by the churches.
Muhlenberg was instrumental in bringing seminary trained pastors to America. He is considered to be the patriarch of the Lutheran church in America, the father of Lutheranism here.
THE PRELUDE AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
The service shall begin with the hymn invoking the Spirit’s presence. * denotes congregation standing as able.
- THE HYMN…………………………………….. LBW No. 473
Come, Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire
- THE ORDER FOR CONFESSION
P: Beloved in the Lord!
Thus says the High and Lofty One that inhabits eternity whose Name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. I will not always chide, neither will I keep anger forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God.”
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Accompany me, therefore, in making confession of sins, saying:
C: I, a poor sinner, confess unto God, my heavenly Father, that I have grievously and in various ways sinned against Him, not only by outward and gross sins, but much more by inward blindness of heart, unbelief, doubt, despondency, impatience, pride, selfishness, carnal lusts, avarice, envy, hatred, and malice, and by other sinful passions which are naked and open in the sight of my Lord and God, but which I, alas, cannot so fully understand. But I do sincerely repent, in deep sorrow, for these my sins; and with my whole heart I cry for mercy from the Lord, through His dear Son Jesus Christ, being resolved, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to amend my sinful life. Amen
Lord God, the Father in heaven, have mercy upon us. Lord God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon us. Lord God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy upon us and grant us your peace. Amen
P: The Lord be with you.
C: and with thy spirit.
P: Let us pray.
Lord God, heavenly Father, pour out your Holy Spirit upon your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your grace and truth, protect and comfort them in all temptation, defend them against all enemies of your Word, and bestow upon the Church your saving peace; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
THE READING OF HOLY SCRIPTURE
After the prayer, Scripture shall be read, being introduced with the following words:
L: Let us devoutly listen to the reading of the Holy Scriptures for this day.
The First Reading…………………….. Revelation 14:6-7
The Psalm (sing responsively by whole verse)…… Psalm 46
The Second Reading………………….. Romans 3:19-28
- The Holy Gospel…………………………… John 8:31-36
- THE HYMN…………………………………….. LBW No. 229
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
THE SERMON……………………………………. Muhli Grass
Ordinarily, the sermon shall be limited to three-quarters of an hour, or at the utmost, to one hour. The pastor ends the sermon with the Votum:
P: The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds, through Jesus Christ, unto eternal life.
Notice of Holy Communion shall be given one week before the time of celebration. To this notice, the pastor shall add a short exhortation and, at the same time, shall inform the people as to the day when they shall report themselves to the pastor and have their names recorded. The pastor shall keep a record of all communicants, which is to continue in the care of the congregation. In case the pastor shall know that, among those who call upon the pastor to report their names for Holy Communion, there is one or more who are living in strife, or occasioning public scandal, and the pastor’s own influence should not be sufficient to remedy the evil, the pastor may call the vestry of the congregation together, and direct such offenders to appear before them, with their plea and answer.
- THE EXHORTATION TO HOLY COMMUNION
The pastor calls upon the communicants and asks them the following questions (in the 1748 liturgy, the pastor addresses the male communicants first and then the women):
P: I now ask you in the presence of the omniscient God, and upon the testimony of your own conscience:
Whether you are fully resolved, with the help of God, to yield yourselves entirely to the gracious direction of the Holy Spirit, by His Word, in order that the power, the help, and the grace of the Spirit, sin may be subdued in you, the old man with his evil deeds and corrupt affections be weakened and overcome by daily sorrow and repentance, and that you may win complete victory over the world and all its allurements?
If this be your purpose, confess it and answer Yes.
P: Finally I ask you whether any of you yet has, in your heart, any complaint against the other.
(silence for contemplation)
P: Upon this confession of sin which you have now made, I, a minister of my Lord Jesus Christ, hereby declare to all those who are truly penitent and heartily believe in Jesus Christ, and are sincerely resolved, in heart, to amend their lives and daily to grow in grace, to them I declare the forgiveness of all their sins, in the Name of the Father, and X of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
P: But on the other hand, I declare to all who are impenitent, to the hypocritical as well as the openly ungodly, and I testify, by the Word of God, and in the Name of Jesus, that so long as they continue in their impenitent state, loving sin and hating righteousness, God will not forgive their sins, but retains their sins against them and will assuredly punish and condemn them for their iniquities, in the end, except they turn to Him now, in this day of grace, and faith, which we heartily pray they may sincerely forsake all their evil ways, and come to Christ in true repentance and faith, which we heartily pray they may do.
- THE GREAT THANKSGIVING AND THE LORD’S PRAYER
P: The Lord be with you.
C: And with thy spirit.
P: Let us lift up our hearts.
C: We lift them up unto the Lord.
P: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Sabaoth.
C: The whole earth is full of His glory.
P: Beloved in the Lord, as we are here gathered together, in the name of the Lord, to receive His holy Testament, I exhort you, first, to lift your hearts to God and to say with me ‘Our Father’ according as Christ our Lord hath taught us, faithfully promising that we shall be heard.
C: Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, forever and ever. Amen
P: (from Luther’s Deutsche Messe of 1526) Next, I exhort you in Christ that with right faith you take heed to the Testament of Christ, and specially that you hold fast in your hearts the Word whereby Christ gives us His body and blood for remission of sins; that you bethink of, and thank Him for, the infinite love which He has shown us in that through His blood He has redeemed us from God’s wrath, from sin, death, and hell; and then take to yourselves outwardly the bread and wine which is His body and blood, for an assurance and pledge thereof. In such wise will we, in His name and as He commanded in His own Word, handle and use His Testament.
- THE WORDS OF INSTITUTION
- THE INVITATION
P: Now let all those who are found to be prepared, by the experience of sincere repentance and faith, approach in the name of the Lord and receive the Holy Supper.
Take and eat; this is the true Body of your Lord Jesus Christ, given unto death for you; may this strengthen you in the true faith unto everlasting life.
Take and drink; this is the true Blood of your Lord Jesus Christ of the New Testament, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, unto everlasting life.
Those who are communing may come forward as able to receive the blessed Sacrament. Communion will be brought to those who are unable to come forward. All who are baptized and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior are invited to share in this meal.
- THE BLESSING
P: O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. Hallelujah!
C: His mercy endures forever. Hallelujah!
P: We give you thanks, O gracious God, our Heavenly Father, because you have refreshed us with these your salutary gifts; and we humbly beseech you to strengthen us through the same, in faith toward you and in fervent love toward one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
- THE BENEDICTION
P: Receive the blessing of the Lord.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor
and give you peace.
In the name of the Father, and X of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
- THE HYMN…………………………………….. LBW No. 182
Rise, O Children of Salvation
- THE DISMISSAL
L: Go in peace, serve the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.