What does it mean that St. John is a Lutheran Church?
Being Lutheran, St. John accepts and uses the Christian, Bible-based teachings of Martin Luther who inspired the reformation of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Luther’s findings can be summarized in three short phrases:
- Grace alone—God loves the people of the world, even though they are sinful, rebel against Him and do not deserve His love. He sent Jesus, His Son, to love the unlovable and save the ungodly.
- Faith alone—By His suffering and death as the substitute for all people of all time, Jesus purchased and won forgiveness and eternal life for them. Those who hear this Good News and believe it have the eternal life that it offers. God creates faith in Christ and gives people forgiveness through Him.
- Scripture alone—The Bible is God’s inerrant and infallible Word, in which He reveals His Law and His Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the sole rule and norm for Christian doctrine.
I keep reading about worship at St. John. What is worship?
In the Lutheran church, we understand that Christian Worship can be recognized in two ways. First, we worship the God who is triune, that is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The second way we recognize Christian worship is that it is centered on Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. People often think that worship is about what we do for or toward God, but in our services, God is providing His service for us. In the reading, preaching, and proclaiming His Word and in His Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, God comes to us. In worship, God gives us His grace and then we respond with thanks and praise.
St. John is part of a larger church called The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LC–MS). What is a Synod?
The word Synod in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod comes from Greek words that mean ‘walking together.’ The term has rich meaning in our church body, because congregations voluntarily choose to belong to the Synod. Though diverse in their service, these congregations hold to a shared confession of Jesus Christ as taught in Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions which they believe are a correct interpretation and presentation of Biblical doctrine.
I have always believed that Jesus died for me, and considered myself to be a Christian, but I have never felt the need to join a church. Why should I join St. John?
Joining any Christian congregation says to the public you are a Christian, that you are a member of God’s own people, who are called “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9), and that you believe and act as a witness to the Christian faith and as an example to others. It means that you are doing what the very first Christians did in joining together to devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer (Acts 2:42). It will tell other Christians and the world that you have considered it a serious matter to be able to join together with Christians to support the work of the church of calling a pastor, providing instruction in the Christian faith for the youth, adults, doing evangelism and mission work at home and abroad. This is a serious declaration that you intend—with His help—to participate fully in doing the things of God.
What is Holy Communion? Is this the same thing as the Lord’s Supper?
We celebrate Holy Communion at St. John in the confession and glad confidence that we receive “the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine” for the forgiveness of sins and strengthening of our union with Him and with one another. Our Lord invites to His table those who trust His words, repent of all sin, and set aside any refusal to forgive and love as He forgives and loves us. Scripture teaches that those who eat and drink our Lord’s body and blood in an unworthy manner do so to their spiritual harm. If, therefore, you have questions, are unclear about this Biblical understanding of Holy Communion, or hold a different confession than ours, you may come forward and fold your arms so that we may share a personal blessing with you during this time.
How do I receive forgiveness?
In each worship service at St. John, we confess our sins to God, because we know that we know we have thought, said, and done evil things. When we confess our sins, we are aware that we deserve punishment and God’s judgment. But the Lord is present with us and ready to forgive. After all, this is the reason God gathers His people together in worship, to give them His mercy and grace. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Our Lord declares through the mouth of His servant, the pastor, that by His grace and mercy our sins are forgiven. Through the Gospel words of the Absolution, or the announcement of forgiveness, we receive the salvation earned by Christ upon the cross of Calvary; every sin is covered by His blessed death.
You may have additional questions for us as you find out more about St. John Lutheran Church. If so, please feel free to contact the church office.