Worship at Augustana is the vibrant center of our common life.
Augustana revels in the gift of the historic liturgy we have received from the church, and celebrates bringing it to life in our current context. Our liturgy combines excellent music with strong biblical preaching and prayerful concern for one another and the world in which we live. We mark the start of worship by ringing chimes that tell people to stand and face the baptismal font at the entrance to the church for brief public confession. Each Sunday, we process to the center of the sanctuary, lifting the Gospel book high as a sign of our belief that the Christ is truly present as the Living Word, and we gather, in all our diversity, around a common table where we receive that Word in bread and wine. With a love for the rhythm of the church year and its traditions, we celebrate the cycle of liturgical seasons and mark festival days with incense, special music, and traditional prayers. Ours is a living liturgy, meant to form a faithful and vibrant people who will go into the world bearing Christ’s name.
Typical order of service
In the Lutheran tradition, Sunday worship usually begins with a brief order for confession and forgiveness, as an entrance into the Eucharistic liturgy. We turn to the baptismal font and remember that we have been washed into new life in Christ, where we are given the assurance of forgiveness. As God’s forgiven people, we follow the cross as it moves to the front of the church, singing a processional hymn. The Gathering part of the worship service may continue with a musical setting of the Kyrie (Lord, have mercy) and Gloria, or may proceed directly to the Prayer of the Day.
The next portion of the service focuses on the Word of God. Following the three-year cycle of readings found in the Revised Common Lectionary, our weekly readings of God’s inspired Word come from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Psalms, New Testament letters or epistles, and from one of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Following the reading of the Gospel, the pastor preaches a sermon. The congregation responds by singing a hymn and declaring what we believe in the words of a historic creed of the church. A respected member of the church (usually a lay person) serves as the deacon who offers the prayers of the people, which combine expressions of concern and thanks as well as asking God to attend to the needs of friends and loved ones.
After the prayers of the people we move into the Meal, or Eucharist portion of the worship service. Eucharist comes from the Biblical Greek word for thanksgiving. With thanksgiving to God, we share God’s peace with one another; we present our offerings of food for the poor, money for the mission and work of the church, and bread and wine for our Holy Communion meal. Prayerfully remembering Jesus’ words and commands, the pastor leads us in the Eucharistic liturgy, believing that Christ comes to us in his holy meal. Following the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, all who are baptized and believe that Christ is truly present are welcome to come forward to receive bread and wine. Those who are not baptized or do not share this belief are welcome to receive a blessing when coming forward. Special music and hymn singing usually accompany the meal.
In the ancient church, the gathered people were sent out from worship with the fruits of the service: bread, wine, and the offering for the good of the community. Our worship service concludes with prayers after communion, perhaps a special announcement for the life of the parish, and a benediction (blessing) and recessional hymn. At the end, we declare “Go in peace, serve the Lord” in recognition that we are being sent out as the body of Christ in the world.