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Lutheran Liturgy Is Unique

Lutheran Liturgy is unique.

The faith of the Lutheran Reformation is as much about worship as doctrine. Pure doctrine necessitated pure liturgy in Luther's mind, and the one could not exist apart from the other. Anything less than these two in tandem is less than the radiant gospel that redeems sinners from their corruption and that comforts them in all their distress.

The roots of Lutheran liturgy are as ancient as the gospels themselves. In fact it is my studied opinion that the gospels read aloud comprised the lion’s share of the church’s very earliest worship.

But as liturgy, which is worship, matured it needed to be pruned and formed. Weeds grew which at times displaced the gospel from its home. Christian liturgy is where the gospel lives; and the history of liturgy’s highs and lows is an intriguing and stimulating study.

By the early 16th century the weeds out-populated the blooms but the soil was still good.

Luther took liturgical steps that many consider radical, but the result was very good: a form of worship that featured the cross of Jesus and the remission of sins by grace through faith. Worship was again able to make sinners whole.

This is not to say it is perfect, however. Luther’s Latin (today the Common Service) and German Masses departed in several stunning ways from historic liturgy. Here I will mention only the Eucharistic Prayer which is a great loss, but which many Lutherans are working to restore today.

That said, since the Reformation there are only two Lutheran liturgies. They are the Common Service known in the LCMS as “The Order Of Holy Communion” found on Page 15 of TLH; and as “Divine Service 3” in LSB. Other iterations of the Common Service are Divine Services 1, 2 and 4 in LSB. There is also Divine Service 5 which is a modern iteration of Luther’s German Mass. These two, the Common Service and Luther’s German Mass, not only differ from historic liturgy, but also from one another: yet another titillating study!

Apart from these two there is no Lutheran liturgy. There are Roman, Eastern, Anglican and Protestant Liturgies. But there are only two liturgies that are Lutheran, and capable of supporting and imparting the blessed Lutheran faith.

I hope by this brief history would stimulate Lutherans to devote themselves to a devoted study of Lutheran worship.

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