The word “worship” in America often brings focus on the activities of a person or congregation. The word’s first definition is about the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity.
The Lutheran Divine Service does not fit into the first definition of the word worship. The service that gathers Christians together, is not about our feelings or expressions of adoration to our Lord God. The subject of the work in worship is not us. God is the subject. We are the object of his work. God delivers in the Divine Service his love and mercy. We come to the Divine Service as broken and wearied sinners and we receive this good news of the forgiveness of sins through the Word of God that is read, preached, and delivered in the Sacraments. Faith is that worship which receives the benefits that God offers. God does not desire empty of faith outward actions of adoration. God desires our faith that receives from him all that he promises and offers.
A successful service at church on Sunday morning is not evaluated by how the people feel after the service nor is it successful if the actions of the people can be diagrammed for their precision. The rubric for success is if Christ is proclaimed. Without Christ, the service can have no positive impact upon the hearts and lives of the people. If Christ is proclaimed and so therefore the promises of God our offered to the people, then the worship of the people is to have faith in the heart and the fruits of that faith.
Adoration that is a response to the reading of God’s Word, preaching of God’s Word, and distribution of God’s Word in the Lord’s Supper will be adoration rooted in response to God’s gracious good news of rescuing us from sin, death, and the devil. Outward acts of worship apart from faith in Christ are not God-pleasing. Worship of God is not an outward set of rituals. The liturgies of the church are in service to the proclamation of Jesus. The liturgies of the historic church are to be retained because they proclaim Christ, not simply because they are beautiful or traditional.
The call to worship God in our Sunday services is built on the foundation of what God has done for us in the righteousness of Christ. People are called to the services of the church on a Sunday morning to be strengthened by the hearing of God’s work in Christ Jesus.