We are a Christian church (“church” meaning the body of Christ in the world) who believe in the love and grace of God which is most clearly revealed to us through Jesus Christ, God’s Son and Word made flesh (having come into our world as a human). God directly showed this love for us as Jesus went to the cross and was crucified so that the world (humanity) might be saved from permanent separation from God. There Jesus became victorious over the devil, evil, death, and all that would separate us from the love of God and the outpouring of God’s grace through God’s Holy Spirit. In the resurrection of Jesus, those who believe that God raised him from the dead are given the now living promise of God with us forever in the risen Christ.
We are a sacramental church, which means we believe that Holy Baptism and Holy Communion are visible signs of the presence of God and the new life that comes with the forgiveness of sins (sin being that which separates us from God) offered in those sacraments. We are joined with Christ in Holy Baptism so that our Lord permanently disables the reality that death will have the last word. As St. Paul writes in Romans 6, “…we have been buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:3-11). Holy Communion is a regular part of worship in the Lutheran Church, because we believe that Christ is present for the forgiveness of sins, which is a regular part of our lives. Yes, we are all sinners gathered at the table of Christ. We are, however, forgiven sinners who are reminded of God’s grace and love, and the restoring/healing power of the living Word among us, who has given life “for you” (these words are spoken to each person at Communion) so that you might live!
We are also a liturgical church, which means that our worship is based on the liturgy – which is literally “the work of the people.” So everybody participates in the worship services of the Lutheran Church. Prayers, scripture reading, and singing are all part of our worship experience. As Martin Luther reminds us, we are a “priesthood of all believers.” The pastor leads worship and gives a message (sermon, homily) based on the scriptures for the day. So through word and sacrament, we are equipped to go back out into our family, work, and community lives as ambassadors for God, who has created us, redeemed us, and continuously gives us new life to live.