What to Expect When You Come to Worship
If you’re coming to worship with us for the first time, you may have some questions. Here is some of what you can expect:
Gathering, Word, Meal, Sending
Our worship on Sunday follows an ancient pattern. We begin with songs and prayers that remind us of the Holy Spirit’s call, GATHERING us from our many places into one assembly for worship. Then we dwell in God’s WORD to us with readings from scripture, preaching, and prayers. Then we come to the table to give thanks for God’s work among us in a MEAL of bread and wine, Christ’s body given for us. Then we remember with song and a blessing that this word and meal are SENDING us forth again to be Christ’s body in the world, working for peace and justice.
We try our best to print everything out for you in a worship folder including some directions about when to sit and stand, which we do a lot. We often will direct you to the hymnal for the hymns, which are in the back half of the book with large numbers at the top of the page. (The front half has small numbers at the bottom of the page.)
Lutherans tend to do a lot of singing. We sing many parts of the service and usually 4 hymns. Plus there’s usually a choir anthem or two and/or vocal or instrumental solos. For Lutherans, music is not just about praising God, but about proclaiming God’s word to one another with song. We try our best to choose music that will be accessible, rich, and diverse and which resonates with the themes of a given Sunday. Over the course of the year we sing and hear music from across time and from around the world. On any given Sunday you might hear a Bach chorale, a more recently written piano hymn, a refrain sung in a language other than English, some chanting, and everything in between.
Our worship language is largely drawn from scripture, but every Sunday we read three readings from the bible and we sing a psalm. The choice of readings is from the Revised Common Lectionary, a three-year set of readings shared by many Christian denominations. The readings are carefully chosen to work together and to lead us toward a deeper understanding of God’s love.
At the heart of our worship every Sunday is a meal of bread and wine, where we believe Christ comes to us in that food and in the gathered community. It is God’s table and therefore everyone is welcome. You will be invited to come forward by the ushers. On the first Sunday of the month we serve from a single station in the front as people flow continuously up the center aisle and return by the side aisles. The other Sundays we gather in smaller groups around the raised area in the front to receive. (Pro tip: If it’s your first time, as long as you’re not sitting in the front row, you’ll usually be able to just follow the person in front of you.) Our bread is baked by a congregation member and we are experimenting with ways to provide a gluten-free option. We serve wine in two cups. In the first cup you can dip the bread into the wine or at the second cup you can drink from the cup. We always offer a spoken blessing if you would like instead of or in addition to receiving the bread and wine.
The worship of God is always alive and new. We do our best to plan worship that responds to the season and to the needs of the community and the world. We’ll do our best to highlight special events on the homepage of this website and to give you clear directions when you arrive. Some examples: Sometimes we worship in the parish hall for air conditioning in the summer or for our blessing of animals service in October; when we celebrate a baptism we all gather in the entryway around the font before going to sit down in the sanctuary; once a year or so we do a special service without a bulletin and that helps us engage the service in a different way.
Worshiping with Children
We welcome children to be a part of all aspects of our worship. We welcome them as they are – children sometimes cry, make noise, wiggle, squirm, ask questions, etc. That’s part of how God made them and it’s always welcome in worship. For many kids, sitting near the front where they can see what is happening helps them engage. We usually take a few moments to share the good news of the day in particularly kid-friendly language about 15 minutes into the service, but with a little help from a grown-up, kids can engage throughout the service. We provide crayons and paper, a children’s bulletin, and some books and toys in the back that you can pick up and take to your seat. We also know that sometimes it helps to have a place that kids can get away for a few moments or, if needed, throughout the service, so we have staffed child care in the preschool area directly below the sanctuary; if you take advantage of the child care, please escort them down and return to pick them up so that they don’t get lost on the way! Please ask the pastor if you’d like more resources about helping children engage in worship.
Immanuel is handicapped accessible throughout. Most things that happen on Sunday are on ground level, with a lift to the upstairs classrooms and an outdoor path to the preschool area below the sanctuary. Assisted listening devices are available in worship for those with hearing difficulty.