LUTHERAN WORSHIP centers around the gifts of God in Word and Sacrament:
- “Word” is the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. The Word of Christ permeates the entire worship service, but is especially prominent in Bible readings and in preaching.
- “Sacrament” refers to two specific rituals, where God’s promise is embodied in the down-to-earth rituals of Baptism and Holy Communion.
- Lutheran worship centers around Word and Sacrament, in five typical movements:
- (1) Gathering, (2) Hearing the Word, (3) Responding (in prayer, confession of faith, and commitment), (4) Sharing Holy Communion, and (5) Sending.
- Bethlehem’s worship style tends to be both traditional and flexible.
In the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, water and God’s promises connect the one who is baptized with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This sacrament is an outward sign of our salvation and God’s unbreakable promise to us of forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ. Holy Baptism marks the entrance into the Christian community, the Church, and gathers the community together as children of God joined by their connection to Christ. Baptism is once and for all, and it is for people of any age. The Lutheran church baptizes infants because we believe that baptism is God’s gracious action not ours.
“If you desire to be baptized, please contact the church office to arrange a conversation with our pastor.”
In the Sacrament of Holy Communion, after hearing and experiencing the good news of Jesus Christ in word, prayer and song, the community receives bread and wine. They experience the tangible presence of Christ by eating and drinking these elements.
The outward signs of the sacrament are simple earthly elements: bread and wine. Yet, together with the spoken promise of God these elements convey the presence of Jesus Christ to the assembly of believers. Martin Luther said that Jesus is present “in, with, and under” the bread and wine. We believe this because Jesus says it is so (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20) even when we cannot fully explain how it happens.
The presence of Jesus Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion is a great treasure that is received in faith. In the eating and drinking of bread and wine, we experience love, forgiveness and life of Christ is ours. In the sacrament, Christ takes on our sin while we take on Christ’s righteousness. The sacrament’s emphasis is on God’s action rather than the strength of our faith.
At Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Understanding the invitation to participate in the meal comes from our Lord, here at Bethlehem Lutheran Church we have an “open table,” which means all are welcome to share in the Lord’s Supper. We usually use bread baked at a member’s home, but sometimes we use unleavened wafers. Gluten free wafers are available for those who wish to choose that option. Either wine or white grape juice is available as you partake of the sacrament.
Instruction about Holy Communion is available throughout a person’s life. Parents are encouraged to bring their children for conversation with a pastor when they discern a child is ready to receive the sacrament. We offer Communion instruction for children usually once a year, as well as during confirmation and during adult learning opportunities.