Divine Service: What Does This Mean?

   I have to be honest. It took me years to learn the difference between dinner, lunch and supper. Growing up, lunch was the noon meal and the evening meal was called either dinner or supper. In recent years I discovered the nuance (at least in Minnesota): dinner is historically the noon meal, supper is the evening meal, and lunch is a snack.

   Now that I grasp the difference between dinner and supper, I have a better understanding of what people are communicating to me when they speak of a meal they had or will be having.

   Similarly, clarity in language helps us to better understand Sunday mornings at Trinity. For most of our lives, we’ve probably known our time on Sunday mornings as Sunday “worship.” The term worship isn’t wrong; it reveals that we are gathering with the saints of God to give thanks and praise to God. But as I have grown older, I have also begun to understand the term “worship” doesn’t completely convey what is happening on Sunday mornings.

   Rather, when we call the service on Sunday morning the “Divine Service,” we recognize that Christian worship is Christ centered. The Apology of the Augsburg Confession says this regarding the Divine Service, “The worship and Divine Service of the Gospel is to receive gifts from God.” (Ap V 189) What are these gifts? The forgiveness of sin given to you through the word of God and in the sacraments. Every Divine Service includes Holy Communion.

   When you see the words “Divine Service” on the church calendar, you can be excited and filled with joy that your Lord and Savior comes to deliver you from sin. He comes to deliver you from the trials of this life and tribulations you are facing and He comes to serve you in His Word and Sacrament. It’s in this way, that Jesus makes our service holy and divine.

   At Trinity we make every effort to have the calendar reflect what service will be held at any given time throughout the Church year. If you see “Divine Service” listed on the calendar, you can be sure the Sacrament of the Altar will be present for you. If the service is not a Divine Service, we make every effort to annotate what prayer office will be held (i.e. Matins, Morning Prayer, Vespers, or Evening Prayer).

   It’s my prayer that this article is helpful to explain what’s meant by “Divine Service.” May we all continue to learn together and gather with great joy for the feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom each and every Lord’s Day as the apostles first did.

In Our Risen Lord,
Pastor Rogness

(Lutheranism 101 was used as a resource for the writing of this article)