Worship at Our Church – What You Can Expect
8:45 a.m. in German
On a typical Sunday, the early service begins in the church at 8:45 a.m. and is still conducted in the German language. After the Second World War, German-speaking immigrants (especially from eastern Europe) came to Windsor by the hundreds. Many found a spiritual home at First Lutheran Church. The number is dwindling, since all are senior citizens and large-scale arrivals from German-speaking lands have stopped. The 30 worshipers (give or take) who attend sing from the historic Lutherisches Gesangbuch and follow the service on printed leaflets. They alternate between Holy Communion services (called Hauptgottesdienst) on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month; and preaching services (called Predigtgottesdienst) on other Sundays. Both of our regular pastors participate in the preaching and leadership at these services. Our German-language choir (a very faithful group!) still provides choral music virtually every Sunday throughout the year.
11:00 a.m. in English
The main service begins at 11 o’clock. It is drawn from the Lutheran Service Book (LSB), our worship resource since 2006. Services are rooted in the historic worship of the Christian church, and alternate between Holy Communion services on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month; and preaching services on other Sundays. They follow a structured “liturgy” which includes prayers and praising spoken or sung by the whole congregation, readings from the Bible fitting the day or season, numerous hymns (songs) by worshipers, and preaching (sermon) by one of our pastors. The preaching is usually rooted in one of the Bible readings for that day (often called the “sermon text”). The pastor unpacks its meaning and seeks to show how this truth from God fits the life of listeners today. Above all, preaching is meant to proclaim Christ and the gracious things He has done … and still does! In addition to musical leadership from our very able organist, the English Choir sings on most Sundays from September through to June.
When You Arrive on a Sunday…
An usher will often greet you on your way into the church and provide a “bulletin” published for that week. (If ushers don’t offer you a bulletin, just ask!) The bulletin includes general announcements about activities and concerns for our church family. The cover page of the bulletin has a little outline of the service for the day. It will tell you on what page of the Lutheran Service Book the day’s service begins. It lists all the hymns the congregation will sing in the course of the service, as well as the day’s appointed Bible readings, and information about the pastor’s preaching theme and sermon text. The bulletin also makes clear whether it is a Holy Communion service, or a preaching service without a Communion celebration. As you follow the order of worship for that day in the Lutheran Service Book, that hymnal indicates the parts where worshipers respond or speak certain parts aloud. It explains when you sit, and for what parts of the liturgy you stand. If it’s a little confusing in the beginning, don’t worry! You won’t be offending anyone if you miss out on some detail … we’re just glad you’re here!
Our Practices Regarding the Holy Communion
The “Word” portion of our service – centered around Bible readings and preaching – is open to anyone wishing to join us. Even if people are not confessing Christians, are not sure about what they believe, or are just curious to see how we do things, the door is open and everyone is welcome to come and listen respectfully to the Gospel of Christ we’re here to share.
The “Sacrament” portion of the service – focusing on the liturgy and distribution of Holy Communion – is given to those who have been instructed in the Christian faith, have come to profess the teachings of our church, and have confessed their convictions publicly (usually in the Rite of Confirmation). As a result, we invite those who are from our church family (or who are visiting from one of our sister churches) to receive the Lord’s body and blood at the altar.
For the early Christians, participation in the Holy Communion was an expression of their oneness in faith and teaching. We still honour this practice. Thus, we ask visitors from outside our fellowship to refrain from communing until they have consulted with one of our pastors. If people have no church home in the area and wish to be instructed in the faith of our church, the pastors will be happy to arrange this with you. If others around you follow the ushers’ directions and go forward to receive Communion, you can remain in your seat and pray silently … or join in one of the “distribution hymns” being sung by worshipers in the pews while others are communing.
Little Cards in the Pew Racks
Inserted in the pew pockets in front of you are small cards that serve two purposes. On one side (where it reads “Dear Visitors”) you’re encouraged to fill it out, and also to indicate whether you might be interested in having one of our pastors contact you, or if you are considering becoming a member of our church family and have questions. You can place this card in the offering plate at the time the gifts are gathered.
On the other side, there’s a “Registration for Holy Communion,” intended for use by our members, or for visitors who have spoken with a pastor before coming forward for communion. If you’re using the card to register for attendance at communion, you can hand it to an usher at the point where you go forward for the actual distribution of Holy Communion.
About Making Offerings (In Case You Wondered)…
We want our visitors to know that you are under no obligation to make financial offerings to our work. Don’t feel guilty or even embarrassed when the offering plates come by and you don’t put anything in! While we’re quite happy to have guests support the Lord’s work here, we consider the ongoing support of our ministry to be a primary responsibility of members. And, truth is, now even some of our own members are using electronic means to transfer financial gifts to our church, so there’s no need to feel pressured or nervous if you aren’t submitting an offering.
We Share the Air
We encourage those in attendance at services to refrain from using colognes, perfumes or skin-care products that carry a strong scent. There are people who are sensitive to such things, and we try to avoid making them feel uncomfortable.
If you need a washroom while you’re here, proceed out the door to your right (as you sit in the main part of the church). Proceed down the hallway, and there’s a small corridor on your right leading to women’s and men’s washrooms. There’s also a drinking water dispenser in that main hallway. Don’t feel awkward about going out of the main church that way if you need to; people have been in the habit of doing it for years!
If you exit the church by the main door (facing Victoria Avenue), in the vestibule there’s a little nook off to your right where our guestbook is found. We’re very happy if you provide a remembrance of your visit by signing that guest-register, though you’re under no obligation to do it. We’ve just found it encouraging over the years to see some of the names of people who came to see us, and where they’re from. It’s up to you!