Worship is transcultural, but it is also supertemporal. Community worship bridges time and enables all believers living in the “now” to glimpse eternity. Whether it is in the Preface of the Service of the Sacrament when we join “with angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven” or in the private moments of Compline as we confess our sins “before the whole company of heaven,” worship goes beyond the present and joins with that of the great throng of angels and heavenly hosts.
Linked to Believers of All Times and Places
Lutheran worship links those present as God’s gathered guests to the eternal truths of God’s people of all time and all places. The messages of the prophets and apostles still speak to today’s situations. The Old and New Testaments still bring hope, comfort, and joy. We hear the Father’s forgiving voice in the words of Holy Absolution. The Holy Spirit still comes in the sacramental waters of Holy Baptism to create faith. Jesus continues to be present in, with, and under the elements of Holy Communion to grant us forgiveness, life, and salvation.
Linked to the Heavenly Feast to Come
Yet this weekly celebration is only a foretaste of the feast to come. Community worship reminds us of the heavenly glory that will someday be ours. The writer to the Hebrews says: “Stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (10:24–25). More significant, the Revelation of John shows us the continuing worship of God’s people (Revelation 19:1–10). The heavenly banquet is being prepared by Jesus, and He will return to bring us to celebrate with Him eternally (Revelation 22:12).
After the last Benediction is spoken here on earth, there will still be the everlasting worship in the new creation of the Lamb who sits on the throne with psalms, hymns, and songs of joyous victory by all God’s gathered guests.
Adapted from Gathered Guests, Second Edition, pages 530–31 © 2003, 2009 Timothy H. Maschke. Published by Concordia Publishing House. Scripture: ESV®.