It may not be very legal to reproduce this much, here. Sorry, I don't even know where you could buy one of these. I'll look around. I walked into a book store in Aschaffenburg (RC country) and asked if they had anything by Martin Luther. They had nothing except the great big Bible. And they had a hymn book. Which is more than one could expect to find at say the big store around here, which is Chapters, or any evangelical book store. So I bought the hymn book. I've told this story before. I've also gone to the big book store in Red Deer, Parable Christian Market Place and asked for things from CPH, specific titles, and, of course, they carried none of those.
Anyhow, this is the introduction to Divine Service, as they say in English, "Gottesdienst", in German.
I like the picture. You see nothing in the way of theology of glory there, just a being served and refreshed. Refreshment for the wandering pilgrim, and tired he looks. A meeting between us earthlings and the spiritual, the unseen world, the eternal. Great choice, though perhaps vague.
The Bible verse is Matthew 18:20. "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them".
It then has 18 pages of instruction on how the service is structured and why, etc.
What happens in the service?Christian congregations in all the world celebrate it.
In their languages, with their songs, with their prayers and expressions, Christian congregations in all the world celebrate the divine service. Within it essential things happen for the faith and for the church: the word of the Bible is heard and explained and the sacraments are distributed. However, even with different expressions of celebration, the divine service connects worldwide Christendom and is a sign of "ecumenism" (unity?).
This is also quite nice, but I'm thinking is it a goo idea to say "word of the Bible", rather than "word of God"??? Maybe it's ok for a simple introduction, but one would really like to elaborate.
Personal address within the community
In the divine service the Christian congregation gathers. It is an expression and experience of community, into which God binds us. At the same time, we also come as individuals. We each bring different things to it, learn different things, take away different things. As individuals we are addressed within the community, meet each other and come to our own selves.
This is nice, too. We are together, but as individuals. It's the beauty of knowing yourself accepted by God, that you also can know the entire community and others accepted by God.
"Come to me all, who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest". Matthew 11, 28. Jesus invites all the people. And he promises: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them." What Jesus did then, also happens today in the service: inviting, strengthening, comforting and healing, correcting and demanding. All areas of human life with its bright and dark sides find their place here and are expressed here before God.
That's also very nice. But by now, I'm wondering that I've heard nothing about the forgiveness of sins. I survey the next several pages of what happens in divine service and find nothing about forgiveness of sins. I also see again references to the "word of the Bible", not "the word of God." It also says nothing about Christ substitutionary death. It speaks about the cross, which is "a proclamation of Christ, the crucified, the salvation of the world, 1. Cor. 1:23." That's as clear as it gets, in these pages.
I think while it is all good, it could all be stronger and clearer. People can read into some of that what they like. Is that rest, that Jesus invites to, not also that of a clean conscience made so by forgiveness. I've heard nothing about forgiveness.
So much for today.
P.S. The book can be bought at Amazon.com, here.