“Worship in the Christian assembly is biblical.” That is how a brief but important section of “Evangelical Lutheran Worship” begins (pp.1154-1159).
This is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to explore and further understand worship in ELCA congregations. Along with the Pattern for Worship, which precedes each portion of the liturgical material in the front of “Evangelical Lutheran Worship,” these few pages could be the basis for conversation and study with congregational classes, council retreats, small groups, choir devotions and private reflection.
Valuable for planning corporate worship on days other than Sunday, the Daily Lectionary (pp.1121-1153) is also a helpful resource for personal devotions or small group use. Along with these readings, personal devotions and other daily prayers, you could also include the Prayer of the Day for the particular Sunday from the Thursday before through the Wednesday following (pp. 18-63). These follow a three-year cycle, enabling the reader to become familiar with an ever larger body of scripture.
A brief form of corporate prayer is presented on pages 328-331. It includes the Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed, a brief litany based on verses from the Psalms (often called Suffrages) and concludes with additional prayers and a brief blessing. Responsive Prayer is useful for the opening and closing of meetings and other times when a brief order is desired. The litany portion could be incorporated into other services, such as Morning or Evening Prayer. If Responsive Prayer is to be included with a hymn or song, Scripture, and, perhaps, a homily, planners would do well to consider the basic pattern for worship for the daily prayer services (pages 296-297).
Although the Holy Trinity is specifically remembered in worship on the Sunday following Pentecost (June 3 this year), the doctrine of the Trinity is celebrated every time we assemble. The hymn, “Come, Join the Dance of Trinity” (“Evangelical Lutheran Worship” #412) is a text new to many by Richard Leach, set to a familiar English folk tune. The text presents an image of the Trinity that is very different than most of us have ever considered:
Within the dance of Trinity,
before all worlds begun,
we sing the praises of the Three,
the Father, Spirit, Son.
Let voices rise and interweave,
by love and hope set free,
to shape in song this joy, this life:
the dance of Trinity.”
Imagine an assembly of worshipers singing this vision led by instruments that make it actually sound like a dance. It’s a great vision of the church at work in the world.