Lutheran Service Book: What’s In A Name?
This past October, the members of Saint Matthew voted unanimously to obtain a new hymnal and its accompanying resources. We hope to begin using this new hymnal on Sunday, December 3 as this is the first Sunday in the new Church Year and the beginning of Advent. This Sunday will bring in a time of transition for Saint Matthew. While the hymnal includes many familiar hymns and parts of the liturgy, there will also be some new elements. In addition to some of these changes, there is also the actual usage of the book that will offer a challenge. The Board of Elders and those of us involved with planning the worship services here at Saint Matthew will work diligently to introduce the new hymnal carefully. As we approach this transition time, I encourage you to pray for Saint Matthew and the hymnal project. Pray for wisdom. Pray for patience. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Christ-centered worship services.
This new hymnal has a name—Lutheran Service Book. Those three words in the name tell us a lot about what is behind the front cover. First, this hymnal has been assembled by and for Lutherans. Of course, any Christian can use the hymnal, but Lutheran Service Book was created for the congregations of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. As you know, Saint Matthew has been and, God willing, continues to be a member of the LCMS. Thus, we can say that respected scholars, musicians, and theologians, for the past eight years, have been preparing a new hymnal for Saint Matthew Lutheran Church! They worked, prayed, studied, debated, and met deadlines in order that you would be presented with a hymnal that is faithful to the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. You can be assured that the worship services at Saint Matthew will reflect our Lutheran identity—an identity that is established by Jesus Christ. We will have a Lutheran Service Book for a Lutheran congregation. I suppose we would not want it any other way.
The next word in the name of the new hymnal reveals a central belief of Saint Matthew: Our gracious Lord serves us through His Word and sacraments in the Divine Service. Perhaps when you think of the word “service” you think of the time we gather together on Sunday morning. We think of meeting with one another. But as we consider Lutheran Service Book, you and I are reminded that this hymnal is full of worship services that highlight God’s gift giving. He gives His forgiveness, His grace, His love to us during the Divine Service. When we gather together on Sunday morning, the service is not primarily about us bringing our praises to God. It is about God serving us! He gives His gifts. The services in Lutheran Service Book reflect this great truth.
Finally, we ponder the last word in the name of our new hymnal, Lutheran Service Book. The new hymnal offers more than just some hymns and services for Sunday morning. The book sets the tone for the piety of the congregation throughout the week. Every day, you and I live in God’s grace. This belief affects how we pray. How we pray affects what we believe. What happens on Sunday morning is the foundation for the rest of the week. We also give thanks that our new hymnal is a book full of pages that we can use every day as we walk by faith, not by sight. Before congregational meetings on Tuesday, we can pass around copies of our hymnals and pray, praise, and give thanks. After returning from a congregational retreat, we can enter the sanctuary at Saint Matthew and open up to a Responsive Prayer section in the new hymnal. Whenever the opportunity arises at Saint Matthew, we know that we have Lutheran Service Book available, ready for us to use. Thanks be to God.
What’s in a name? When it comes to Lutheran Service Book, a whole lot is in its name. It is a hymnal that points to Jesus Christ, the name that is above every name. It is a hymnal that points to the God who knows you by name. It is a hymnal that we can call our own. It is Lutheran Service Book.