We are a Bible church. Rooted in our liturgy are the words of the Bible. We know them by heart. We pray them. We recite them in times of sorrow and times of joy. We may not be able to talk about where the words come from, but we know them and we trust them to be true. Yet, from the time I can remember, I've heard Lutherans declare that they don't know the Bible, which simply isn't true.
We Gather for worship with the words of Psalm 149:1. Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful. We gather with the confidence of Matthew 18:20. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
We Confess our sins with the words of 1 John 1:8-9. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Our Greeting is from 2 Corinthians 13:13. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
The Kyrie repeats the words of the ten lepers in Luke 17:13. Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!
We echo the singing angels in our Hymn of Praise with Luke 2:14. Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!
And another Hymn of Praise comes from Revelation 5:13. Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!
Finally, the Salutation comes from both Old and New Testaments in Ruth 2:4 and Luke 1:28. The Lord is with you.
And this is how much Bible you have received before we ever get to our readings from the Bible. We have four readings--a first and second lesson, a psalm and a gospel reading. We read from the Bible to continue to root ourselves in God's Holy Word. The very foundation of our lives comes from God's Word. And as is stated in Matthew 4:4, One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
We precede the Gospel with the words of John 6:68. Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. And the words of Deuteronomy 30:2; Numbers 14:18; and Joel 2:13. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Then we conclude our Liturgy of the Word with prayers as the early church was told to do in 1 Timothy 2:1-2. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.
After our Prayers, we go into the Liturgy of the Meal, which starts with the Greeting of Peace, Matthew 5:23-24. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. And the words of John 14:27. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
One Offertory comes from Psalm 51:10-12. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
Another Offertory comes from Psalm 116:12-14 and 17-19. What shall I return to the LORD for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD, in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Our Great Thanksgiving echoes the words of Psalm 136.
The Holy, Holy, Holy are the words of the angels in Isaiah 6:3. Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory. And Matthew 21:9 as part of the Palm Parade celebration. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!
The Words of Institution come right from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
We pray the words of the Lord's Prayer that is given to us both in Luke 11:1-4 and Matthew 6:9-13.
And we begin our Eucharistic Meal with singing the words of John the Baptist, the Lamb of God, in John 1:29. Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
After all of this, we have our Sending. As we are bid to do in Matthew 28:19, we Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes we sing the words of Simeon as he met Jesus as an infant in Luke 2:28-32. Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.
And sometimes we sing a paraphrase of Psalm 105:1-3, 42-45. [Our Canticle begins, Thank the Lord and sing his praise ... ] O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant. So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. He gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the wealth of the peoples, that they might keep his statures and observes his laws.
The Benediction often comes straight from Numbers 6:23-26. The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Finally, we end with Jesus' words to the nameless woman in Luke 7:50: Go in peace.
Not too long ago I spoke with a family that I knew attended a Lutheran congregation (not Good Shepherd). They had stopped traveling 12 miles to their Lutheran church, chose not to explore a more local congregation, and started attending a non-denomination church in the area. When I asked them how they felt about missing the Blessed Sacrament, they declared to me that they missed it deeply, but now they were getting more Bible. I doubt it.
From beginning to end, we incorporate the words of the Bible into everything we do. And for those of you who ever uttered the words or even thought, "I can't teach--I don't know the Bible." I'm here to tell you that you are severely underestimating your abilities. Of course, there is much more to the Bible than what is presented here, but there is no one among us who can boast complete and thorough knowledge. So, stand tall and firm. You know more of the Bible than you think you do.
The Rev. Kathleen J. Baker, STM