This past Sunday, a friend and I had the pleasure of visiting a local Lutheran church here in Raleigh. We visited Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, and we really enjoyed it. The people, mostly grandparent age but many not, were very warm and welcoming. The gentleman we spoke with at the end of the services even managed to remain graceful when I told him I came from a Pentecostal background. His eyes did get pretty big though. ;-)
In some ways, it’s quite strange that we would visit a Lutheran church. I come from a Pentecostal background, and regularly attend a Pentecostal church, and am involved in a Pentecostal campus ministry. The same can be said of my friend, except that he comes from a mostly Baptist background. Both traditions are about as “unliturgical” as they come. For those unfamiliar with the term, liturgy refers to the structure and order of a church service. Every church has some sort of liturgy, though certain traditions have a more developed liturgy than others (notably, the Catholics, Lutherans, some Methodists, Easter Orthodox, and Anglicans).
Going to a liturgical service is much different than a typical Baptist or Pentecostal service. Liturgical services tend to include the congregation more (meaning there is more interaction). These services to tend to be more traditional, although many churches will mix in contemporary songs with traditional hymns. Also, the flow of the service is much more fluid. One moment your singing a hymn, the next your listening to a scripture reading, and the next you might be singing another hymn. For whatever reason, even though I grew up in a very low church setting (meaning very little developed liturgy), I still love these expressions of worship. I love the hymns, even though I can’t sing. I love the creeds, even though I don’t know them well. I even love the sense of community which comes from participation, even though I was with complete strangers. Perhaps the most appealing thing for me is connecting with something much older than myself, much more ancient. These forms of worship have been developed over hundreds of years by godly men and women, who sought the Holy Spirit’s direction. Many of us “low-church” folk have shunned them to our detriment. It may not be for everybody, but there is much beauty to be found. I’m looking forward to visiting another liturgical church, hopefully a Greek Orthodox church next. I would love to hear some Greek in the service! Whenever that happens, I’ll post here about my experience there.