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Darlington Evangelical Lutheran Church
Our Worship Format

A Few Words About

X The Divine Service of God X 

What is worship?  In the broad sense, it has the meaning of “declaring worth” or “worth ship”.  In that broad sense, everyone worships.  We just worship different things, because of our diverse opinions of what we consider worshipful or worthwhile.  It is linked to our faith:  We worship that which we trust is worthy of our devotion or that which we trust is worthwhile in the measure of reward the object or person promises.


So, how does one decide in what format or style one should worship?  The most popular method today is to solicit input from the people as to how they should style their church service.  They take opinion polls: “What do you like about the Sunday service?  What would you like in the Sunday service?  What do you feel you need from the church?”


Our greatest need is for salvation.  Forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ is the greatest gift that God can give us.  But the need for forgiveness is not one of our “felt needs” and too often gets lost in church services.


So how do we approach the practice of the Sunday service?  How do we approach its construction, style and purpose?  How about a different approach to the premise:

wInstead of asking what people like, we ask, “What are we like?”

wInstead of asking what people like, we ask, “What is God like?”

wInstead of asking what people like, we ask, “What does God like?”

That makes for a different focus.  The answers to those questions can only be found in the Bible.  Therefore, the format for the Sunday Service becomes Biblical and is drawn out of a church body's theology.

Does art reflect life or does life reflect art?  The answer is: both.  The same can be said about the way you worship.  Does your liturgy reflect your theology or does your theology reflect your liturgy? The answer again is: both  What you believe (theology) will determine your form of worship (liturgy).  Conversely, how you worship (liturgy) will mold or confirm the very things you believe (theology).  It is absolutely vital, then, that we understand the chief teachings of the Holy Scriptures and the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Faith. 

Man -- We believe that original sin damns and thoroughly destroys.  We are incapable of coming to God and deserve nothing but his wrath and condemnation.

God is Triune: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

“God so loved the world” – Because God is love, he issued love to this world.  God’s love is not a principle; it is a person.  God’s love is not a sentiment; it is substance.  God’s love is not an idea; it’s an incarnation, that is, it became flesh and blood.  All things come from the Father -- through the Son, Jesus Christ.


Jesus Christ has fully redeemed us from the curse of the Law by bearing our sin in his own body and suffering our condemnation in our place.  The requirement of perfection has been fulfilled in his perfect life and is credited to our account – justified!  By faith alone in the atoning work of Christ we are saved.


The Holy Spirit is the vital Life-giver of all Christ’s blessings.  All things come from the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit.  It is the Holy Spirit that calls me to faith, initiates faith, preserves faith and sanctifies me and the whole Christian Church on earth.


A Sacramental Church :  The Lutheran Church is a sacramental Church.  That means we believe that everything comes down from the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Ghost.  This is done from heaven to us through God’s established means of grace: the Gospel of forgiveness in the Word and the Gospel of forgiveness connected to visible signs/elements (Sacraments of Baptism & Lord’s Supper).


Just so you understand, we're not just talking about forgiveness; we are giving it, issuing it, conveying it.  This we do by Christ's command and by his power and  promise: "Jesus breathed on them (apostles) and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven" (John 20:22,23).


We call that the "Keys of the Kingdom" and it is the key to our Divine Sevice.  It's called "The Keys" because that is the picture language Jesus used when he spoke of this power in Matthew 16:19 "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

That's why we prefer not to call our Sunday morning hour of worship "the worship service".  We prefer to call it "the Divine Service".  It is not our service to God in declaring His worth.  Instead, it is God's service to us with the forgiveness of sins: Confession and Absolution of Sin. . . Holy Baptism . . . the Holy Word preached and proclaimed . . . the Holy Word in the substance and form of Holy Communion.


That is why at Darlington Lutheran Church we still use the historic and ancient liturgy of the Church.  It is born out of this theology and is constructed to administer/implement the divine tools of God in our spiritual life.  The Gospel in Word and Sacrament takes from what is Christ’s and by the power of the Spirit brings it to bear in our lives.  That way we do more than just talk about Christ; we actully give Him to you.




If you would like to study and better understand the historic liturgy used at Darlington, we encourage you to do so.  Simply go to the side bar menu and click on Historic Liturgy under the Header:  Bible Studies.




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