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Mostly short answers on a few questions

Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum!
The faith once for all delivered to the saints!
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever!

2 Corinthians 4:1-15


Q. When is church?

A. Church Services are held every Sunday at 9:00 AM  (Holy Communion) and Wednesday during Advent and Lent at 7:00 PM (Vespers). We also have services on many festival days. 

Q. What opportunities are there for children at Gloria Christi?

A.  At Gloria Christ we have Sunday School, youth group (affiliated with Higher Things), as well as youth catechism class for those preparing to become communicants. Gloria Christi also has a youth recreation room with table tennis, foosball, and other games. We also believe the Divine Service should be attended by the entire family together as much as possible.

Q.  What opportunities are there for women at Gloria Christi?

A.  Besides serving in their various daily callings in life, as do all Christians, women at Gloria Christi serve on many boards, the funeral committee, altar guild, choir, quilter's group, and may come to the women's Bible study.  Congregational president, vice-president, and the board of elders (including communion assistants and lectors/readers) are those offices reserved for qualified and trained men because of their public relationship to the pastoral office and the order of creation as taught in Scripture. Serving God, whether for men, women or children, is not something chiefly done in the church building but out in our various vocations in life.

Q.  What makes Gloria Christi different from other Lutherans in the area?

A.  That depends on where you are coming from. Gloria Christi is presently a congregation of The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The LCMS differs from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA - whose predecessors bodies include the ALC, LCA and AELC), as we, on Scriptural grounds, do not have women as pastors, engage in altar and pulpit fellowship with non-Lutherans, and we also hold the the complete inspiration and errorlessness of the original texts of the Holy Bible, unlike the ELCA. There are many other differences with the ELCA that are too numerous to detail here. We only accept the marriage may be between one man and one woman in a life-long public commitment observing whatever governmental regulations necessary to be observed.

Within the LCMS our congregation is orthodox (confessional) or as some might say, "conservative" or "traditional."  This means that we do not necessarily agree with everything going on in every other LCMS congregation, especially in the drift some have made toward being more like the ELCA or toward being general protestants or charismatic. We hold the Lutheran Confessions, as found in the Book of Concord, to be the correct exposition of the Word of God and use them as our guiding documents. All Lutheran congregations say this. We strive to be very serious about this in teaching and practice. Not all congregations would seem to be so serious about this matter. 

This may sound like we honor the confessions more than the Bible. We do not. We understand and confess that the Bible is the sole source and norm for all of our doctrine and life. But we also understand that the Lutheran confessions are the true exposition of the Bible and contain the wisdom of our forefathers. They have been normed by the Scriptures and are therefore useful for study and contemplation.

Our congregation is also highly sacramental. The center of our life together is the Divine Service of the Word and the Holy Supper of Christ's body and blood.   The Lord's Supper is offered every Sunday.   Because we are so fervently dependent upon, and thankful for, Our Lord's bodily presence and gift in the Holy Communion, we strive to be reverent and appropriately traditional in our ceremonies, which have continuity into better times in Lutheran history before the movements of Pietism and Rationalism afflicted the Lutheran Church.  

It is also because we believe in the Bodily Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Communion that we practice what is called "closed communion." We understand our communion with Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar to be not only a personal act of worship and piety but also a public confession of fellowship and unity. We recognize the danger not only of an unworthy communion but also of making a hypocritical confession. We do not commune at Christian altars whose public teachings are different from ours. We do not make light of differences in doctrine.

At Gloria Christi, we are not followers of the latest fads or trends in Christian bookstores or radio. Despite our preference for the old, we use, mostly, modern English. We do use some recently composed hymns, though they are of a more traditional, liturgical style. The blessed Reformer Martin Luther is our main teacher after Our Lord through the apostles and prophets, but we do not embrace or agree with everything he said nor think that he was all-wise or without error. We do also honor and respect many other Lutheran church fathers as well as church fathers before the Lutheran Reformation, especially in the early church.

Words you generally don't hear applied to Gloria Christi are liberal, modern, charismatic, faddish, pietistic, Reformed, or low church. We are centered in Christ our crucified and risen Lord and the Gospel of forgiveness and justification by grace alone through faith alone.

Q. Who should come to church at Gloria Christi?

A. Everyone is invited attend worship with us at Gloria Christi. We want the whole world to hear the Gospel of Jesus and know that they are forgiven and saved in Him. The apostolic message of the church in mission has always been, "Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."  "This promise is for you and your children."  (see Acts 2).

Q. Can I receive Holy Communion at Gloria Christi?

A. You can if you are currently a confirmed member of a congregation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and hold the Christian faith in unity with the Lutheran Church. Please introduce yourself to the pastor before coming forward for Communion (before the service). Others should speak to our pastor if they are interested in becoming a communicant in our congregation. Instruction is available in order to become a communicant. While this may not be the same practice as some other congregations who suggest they are practicing closed communion "differently," it reflects historic biblical and Lutheran practice and understanding.

Q. Do you use a screen for the words during worship?

A.  No.  At Gloria Christi, for most services we use mainly the hymnal, Lutheran Service Book, along with a bulletin insert with the Scripture readings, Introit, and Gradual. We desire that the cross and altar are the focal point of the sanctuary, so that our eyes are fixed on Christ. We also desire that the sanctuary, which means "holy place," be different from our living room at home or other places where we look toward a screen. The church is then seen as a reverent place of "comfort" rather than merely making us "comfortable." The sanctuary is a house of prayer and receiving the Lord's means of grace. As those who worship the Son of God who has become a man, who is the Word who became flesh (John 1:14),and uses tangible earthly elements to deliver His grace (water, bread, wine, book), we desire to reflect that through continuing to use a good Lutheran hymnal and solid printed pages, rather than something which can be switched off and on. 

Q. Why does the pastor sometimes read the Gospel from the middle of the congregation?

A. On festival days the Gospel book is carried in procession to the middle of the nave (where the congregation sits) where it is read. This ceremony signifies the incarnation of Christ, His coming down out of heaven to be among the people and to save them and the missionary movement of the Gospel from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14). A certain amount of traditional ceremony and awe is due when we are in the presence of the Lord who dwells among us.

Q. Why does everyone sing or chant most everything?

A. Because we are in the presence of Christ, every action is elevated to a higher and more beautiful level. Poetry, especially when it is sung or chanted is the way in which we elevate speech above the common or mundane. (This is why people sing love songs, for instance.)  What is sung is not ordinary or simply for amusement. 

Chant, as a kind of combination between singing and speaking, serves to de-emphasize the idiosyncrasies of the person conducting the liturgy or assisting and helps to emphasize the mystical and sacramental unity and communion between Christ and His Bride, the Church. In this way also, chant serves as a kind of vocal "uniform" like the basic liturgical vestments or even the clerical shirt and collar. Theologically speaking, personality doesn't then matter much from one pastor to another so long as the Gospel is preached purely and the sacraments are administered according to Christ's institution (Acts 2:42; Augsburg Confession VII). Chant helps convey this uniformity in office and the transparochial nature of the church's ministerium.

 

When both pastor and congregation chant their respective parts of the liturgical dialogue the simple fact of the liturgy as a dialogue is made abundantly more clear. The dialogue or conversation takes place in the same mode or genre, if you will. It is rather odd when the pastor speaks his parts and the congregation sings theirs. Imagine an opera or a musical conducted in such format. Or imagine a conversation in daily life like this!

 

Likewise, chant helps to emphasize that the Divine Service is heaven coming down to earth in the means of Christ's grace  (Revelation 4,5; Isaiah 6:1-7; Acts 2:42; I Corinthians 11; Luke 22:27). It communicates the divine mystery of this transaction of the means of grace and faith. Chant clothes and elevates the words that are spoken so that the message is the main thing, rather than the personality quirks of the messenger (see I Corinthians 1,2). For we do not preach ourselves but Christ and Him crucified. This vestment for the voice adorns the liturgy with the joy of song in a way that also accommodates the characteristics of regular speech. The Lord's presence is a cause for rejoicing in song, even in this gift's delivery. And yet this is to be in such a way that it is not entertainment, but a high and holy encounter with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who condescends to be with His redeemed people. In short, chant carries benefits from both song and speech in one form. 

Q. Why isn't Contemporary Christian Music used in services at Gloria Christi?

A. We don't use CCM music for lots of reasons.

1. It is generally music that focuses more on the emotions and entertainment than on the Gospel, on the Christian more than the Christ.

2. It is music that mirrors the culture of this world rather than the culture of Heaven, that claims to praise Jesus but does not really do so (praise is always about telling what Jesus has done).

3. It is a genre that focuses on the individual's internal piety rather than on the Faith that saves. 

Contemporary Christian Music comes out of the background of Pentecostals, charismatics and Baptists, and does not fit biblical, Lutheran teaching and practice. Those nominally Lutheran churches which indulge in this sort of music eventually lose their Lutheran heritage in teaching and practice. This is why we prefer the solid Lutheran chorales as the core of our hymn repertoire. Generally speaking, Lutherans who use such music and worship forms eventually lose their Lutheran identity, practice, and doctrine. Lutheran substance with non-Lutheran songs, practices, and such do not co-exist for long. 

Q. Does Gloria Christi ever use instruments other than the organ?

A. Yes! We have had people play trumpet, trombone, flute, and many other instruments in worship. We encourage you, if you play a suitable instrument, to make use of your talents here by playing during a service. Our choir director, working with the pastor, would love to hear from you and help with music selection.

Q. Why does the pastor wear those catholic robes (vestments)?

A. Vestments help cover the man and proclaim Christ. Vestments are a sort of uniform, indicating that the person wearing them is not acting as a private citizen, but as one who has been given a certain role and authority to act in it, almost like a police officer's uniform or a military uniform. Here the office is that of speaking and giving the Gospel in the stead and by the command of Jesus. The white alb covers his person, the stole indicates the pastor's ordination into the office of the holy ministry, and the chasuble is a special vestment for Holy Communion services. The asistants (elders, acolytes) also wear a basic white alb since they are serving to assist in the liturgy as well.

Q. Why do the musicians and choir perform from the back?

A. Music is used in the Church to beautify the worship and assist the congregation in singing the praises of God. Music is never used in church simply for the sake of entertainment, or for personal glory. The musicians perform from the back so as not to take center stage but rather to give Christ all glory and keep the focus on Him and on the altar where He gives Himself to us. The Divine Service is not about the personality of the pastor nor the musicians.

Q.  Why do many at Gloria Christi make the sign of the cross at various times?

A.  Because they are free to do so or not and find it helpful. Although Roman Catholics make the sign of the cross, they do not have a monopoly on the practice. The sign of the cross is not a uniquely Roman Catholic practice. It is shared by Christians who maintain something of historic Christian piety and liturgical practice. As pointed out above, the sign of the cross is a practice continued by Luther, and prescribed by him in the Small Catechism and other writings.

The basic meaning of the sign of the cross is derived from Holy Baptism (hence Luther’s connection with the Triune invocation of God’s name). In the Baptism Liturgy the pastor makes the sign of the cross “both upon the forehead and upon the heart” to mark the candidate for Baptism as “one redeemed by Christ the crucified.” Hence the sign of the cross is a way of remembering one’s Baptism into Christ the crucified and the blessings that come through Him (Romans 6).  That is its most basic meaning and that is how Lutherans interpret it in an evangelical (Gospel) way. Since it is neither commanded nor forbidden, Christians may or may not use it in freedom. However, it is not something to be condemned. St. Paul the Apostle exhorts us to “pray without ceasing.” The sign of the cross assists our prayer in a physical way so that we may remember that Christ is our help in every time of need and that we are baptized into Him.  Sometimes a physical gesture or postures help us to focus our mind for what is at hand and upon God’s Word. Bowing, kneeling, folding one’s hands, not to mention the sign of the cross, help us to focus our body and soul for prayer and worship, especially in the context of the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament, but also in our personal and family prayers. 

Q. Where can I learn more about Gloria Christi's way of worship and beliefs?

A. Speak to Pastor Weiss. He loves to talk about liturgy and worship. Gloria Christi's way of worship is the way of worship known historically among Lutherans in better times, and the general way the church has worshipped and received the Lord's gifts through the centuries. We value our continuity in doctrine and practice with the faithful church throughout the ages. These days it would seem that the traditional liturgy has become alternative worship!

Q.  What is Gloria Christi's teaching on the various moral issues of the day?

A.  Very briefly: Gloria Christi is unreservedly and strongly pro-life because that is the teaching of God's Word and it is in accord with sound reason. We believe in protecting the life of the unborn and of the elderly, and ill (we are against euthanasia and assisted suicide). We are also against EMBRYONIC stem-cell experimentation as this destroys human life. We also believe sexual relations belong only between a man and a woman who are married to each other in a life-long commitment. On the basis of Scripture we believe that homosexuality (behavior and desire) is sinful. Related to this Gloria Christi also holds to a six day creation of the world by God's powerful Word. 

Gloria Christi Lutheran Church (LCMS)

1322 31st Avenue

Greeley, Colorado 80634

(970) 353-2554
 

Visits since 12 December 2006  (counter may have been reset - technical issues)