Last month in our newsletter I shared my surprise in the full service nature of gas stations in New Jersey. I couldn’t do it myself! It’s against the law to pump your own gas in NJ. You must be served. I compared this to how God gives us everything we need in the Divine Service. God does the work in the Service. Forgiveness, of sins, life and salvation fly at us from the Word of service found in the Pastor’s leading and congregation responses, in the songs, in the prayers, and in the scripture readings.
This month we set out to answer the question what do I do in church also known as the Divine Service? The quick answer is “receive God’s gifts.” The less quick answer is found in a lifetime of spirituality and training in righteousness — God’s righteousness that He gives us.
We listen. When God speaks, something happens. He called the world into existence and things are always as He says. In our services we hear God’s promises. This is the primary thing we do, is hearing, or listening. But it isn’t just listening with our ears, it is listening with our minds as we take all we know of God as He reveals Himself to us through the Word and we live it in our minds. This takes place in worship services.
We tell God what He has told us. Our services are filled with singing, prayers, psalms and responses. These are most often us reminding God of what He has promised us in His Word. In the story of the Cananite woman (Matt 15:21-28) we see this. We see an undeserving person calling God to fulfill His word. The woman, called a dog by Jesus, says (basically), “Ok, I’ll be a dog, just give me a scrap!” God loves to give us the scraps and more than the scraps, He sets a table before us where our cup overflows. He loves to be reminded of that which He has done and has promised to do for us.
We thank God. Part of our telling God what has told us, is thanking Him for doing what He said He would do. Our response to the love of God is fueled by the love of God. It flows naturally from the filling we receive at the Divine Service. The undeserved grace brings in us unexpected responses. We give thanks with our words, our songs, our prayers and our offerings. Offering back to God these things we are really giving Him things that are already his. Like a child bringing a toy back to a parent and thinking it’s the best thing in the world. God receives our unnecessary thanks and our unnecessary things with love.
The length of this article would become bookish to fully unpack and enumerate what takes place in the Divine Service. The main thing to remember is that God is the main actor, we are those who receive and respond with the love with which He has first loved us.
Come be filled to overflowing. See you in Church.