On any given Sunday the Christian approaches Christ who is present in Word and Meal. The songs, movements, and prayers that surround this Word and Meal are called the Divine Service. It is God's (divine) service to us and our proclamation of Christ’ s life, death, and resurrection to ourselves and anybody that enters the church on that Sunday.
One way to appreciate the traditional divine service is to see the life of Christ on display. The major events in the life of Christ are hinted at or explicitly mentioned in the classic order of service. We rightly plead for God’ s mercy when we enter his presence. God’ s answer is Christ. Traditionally Christians have sung the Christmas song "Gloria to God in the highest" after pleading, “ Lord, have mercy!” With this reminder of Christ’ s birth we begin the story of Christ. Soon we wave our palm branches and sing “ Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday. We cry the Good Friday prayer, “ Lamb of God” . We eat with our resurrected Lord as did the Emmaus disciples, and we receive a blessing as we enter the same crazy world the disciples did after Jesus blessed them as he ascended into heaven.
This volume aims to teach the Divine Service to both the lifelong worshipper who was never taught why the church does the things the church does on Sunday mornings and the curious observer of this ancient tradition. It is divided into two parts. Part One: A Story of the Divine Service is a story of a young married couple encountering Christ’ s forgiveness at a church service and finding the ability to forgive each other. Part Two: The Life of Christ in Poetry and Prose explains the life of Christ as told in the classic Divine Service.
It is the hope that this book helps teach this beautiful but under-appreciated jewel of our Christian heritage.
Rev. Dr. Michael Berg is a professor of theology at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, WI, where he teaches courses on Worship, Apologetics, Martin Luther, World Religions, and Christ and Culture. He is married to Amanda and together they have three daughters. He is the author of Vocation: the Setting for Human Flourishing (1517) and The Baptismal Life (Northwestern Publishing House). He is also co-host of the podcast "Let the Bird Fly".