We are often asked “How do you worship?” The simple answer is observing the Traditional Liturgical Church Calendar we follow the Lutheran Service Book (LSB). During the various Church seasons we use one of the five liturgical settings of the LSB. For any non-Sunday services we worship according to one of the LSB services, such as Vespers or Evening Prayers.
Our liturgical Divine Service is normally in three parts: Confession and Absolution, the Service of the Word, and the Service of the Sacrament. Confession and Absolution is the practice of exercising the Keys of the Kingdom given to the Church for the forgiveness of sins and preparation for believers to receive Holy Communion. The Service of the Word presents us with readings from Holy Scripture and a sermon expounding on God’s word through Law and Gospel. Finally, the Service of the Sacrament presents us with Jesus’ true body and blood in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. In this we believe it is what best serves all the baptized saints who gather for the Divine Service on the Lord’s Day. Through the Liturgy we are connected to the Church both past, present and future. The regularly repeating the five great musical pieces (i.e., the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei and the Nunc Dimittis), hymns and prayers is teaches all those at our worship service, both adult and the young, to build a foundation for life-long Christ-Centered worship and living. As to our hymns, we generally use those found in the Lutheran Service Book accompanied on the organ or occasionally the piano.
Our hymns focus on our need for salvation as seen in the Law and Christ’s gift of that salvation as shown in the Gospel. We celebrate Holy Communion at all Sunday Services throughout the year not because it is mandated by Christ but because through our Christian freedom we choose to receive His Body and Blood as often as possible. We believe Jesus is truly and visibly present among us in the Bread and the Wine which is His Body and Blood.
Bethlehem Luther Church practices what is called Closed (Close) Communion, which means those may commune with us if they are: baptized, instructed in Luther’s Small Catechism, publicly confess one’s adherence to the Small Catechism, currently a member of Bethlehem or a sister church of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) or a communicant in a church body with whom the LCMS has declared both pulpit and altar fellowship. This is not a way of excluding people from our service, but a way of pastoral care to ensure the eternal security of the souls of those receiving the Lord’s body and blood.