Our Lord is the Lord who serves. Jesus Christ came into the flesh not to be served, but
to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. On the cross He offered Himself as a
spotless sacrifice for the sin of the whole world. Through His perfect life and death, He
accomplished forgiveness and salvation for all before the Father in heaven. By His
empty tomb and ascension into heaven, He declared His victory over sin and death to all
the world. Seated now at the Father’s right hand, He graciously serves His Church with
the gifts of salvation. On the Last Day, He will come again to gather His elect from
every nation to celebrate the feast that will have no end.
Our Lord serves us today through His holy Word and Sacraments. Through these means,
He comes among us to deliver His forgiveness and salvation, freeing us from our sins
and strengthening us for service to one another and to the world. At Holy Baptism, He
puts His name upon us, pours His Holy Spirit into our hearts, and rescues us from sin,
death, and the devil. Through Holy Absolution, He pronounces His forgiveness again
and again. With His holy Word, written in Scripture and preached into our ears, He daily
proclaims His abiding love for us through all the joys and sorrows of life in this world.
In His Holy Supper, He gives us His own body and blood to eat and drink as a priceless
gift to nourish and strengthen us in both body and soul.
The Lord’s service calls forth our service—in sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to
Him and in loving service to one another. Having been called, gathered, enlightened, and
sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we receive His gifts with thankfulness and praise. With
psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, we joyfully confess all that God has done for us,
declaring the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Our
song joins with the song of every saint from every age, the new song of Christ’s holy
people, declaring: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and
wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12). ~Introduction to the Lutheran Service Book (CPH 2006)
Vespers & Matins
The Holy Testament
IN the night in which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ entered willingly into His Passion, having loved His own unto the end, He bequeathed to His Church through the blessed Apostles an everlasting Testament:
TAKE EAT, THIS IS MY BODY. TAKE DRINK, THIS IS THE NEW TESTAMENT IN MY BLOOD, GIVEN AND SHED FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. THIS DO FOR A COMMEMORATION OF ME.~drawn from Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul.
This eternal and most Holy Testament which is now celebrated by the Church unto the end of the age is the mystery of faith, for with these words of the Testament, the august sacrifice and fruit of our redemption wrought at Calvary is made present for us each Lord’s Day upon the Altar. Indeed, St. Paul instructs us that “as often as we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim the Lord’s Death until He comes.”
The Catechism further confesses with the catholic Church throughout the ages that the bread and wine at the consecration are the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the veil of earthly things for He Himself has spoken thus. Therefore, the commemoration which our Lord commands us to make is not mere symbolism but a true and ever present reality of spiritual and heavenly gifts within this material world. Just as under the Old Covenant, God established a memorial for the redemption of His People, He has now granted unto us this most solemn and sacred gift. Cf. Psalm 111
The Holy Communion is the highest act of adoration of the Divine Service of the Church as we, with repentant and contrite hearts, take by faith those precious words in which Christ gives to us the gift of our redemption in the bread and wine. This is what the ancient Fathers of the Church and the Lutheran confessions speak of as the “Eucharistic sacrifice” along with “the preaching of the Gospel, faith, prayer, thanksgiving, confession, and all good works of the saints.” Ap. AC XXIV
Because of this profound mystery of the Incarnate Word’s bodily presence among us, our Confessions rightly acknowledge our celebration of the Mass as being “held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence” and that “nearly all the usual ceremonies are preserved…the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments etc.” for these ceremonies confess and further instruct us in what we believe to be true according to the very Word of God. Cf. Ap. AC XXIV
Each Lord’s Day, the weekly commemoration of the Pascha of the Lord we “go unto the Altar of God” as we “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness,” celebrating in His name, at His command, and with His own Word the most Holy Testament.