In his time, one of Martin Luther’s struggles was to help people realize that worship services were not about us and what we do for God, but rather about God and what He has done for us. Among other things, he had to come up with a German word for worship. The term he began using was “Gottesdienst,” which literally translated means “The Service of God” or more accurately – because of the genitive construct – “God’s Service.” In the eyes of the Reformers, worship is about how God has and continues to serve us.
To help my parishioners understand this, I like to us the following headings when planning worship services:
I – “We Come Into God’s Presence”
II – “God Speaks to Us”
III – “We Respond to God’s Word”
IV – “God Serves Us His Holy Meal”
V – “God Grants Us His Blessing”
Notice that God is the focal point in all of these parts – God coming to us, God speaking to us, God coming to us in the Lord’s Supper and giving us His true Body and Blood. Our role in worship services is to simply to receive these gifts. Hopefully we will be moved to respond in praise, thanksgiving, and prayer, but we do all of that only by way of response to what God has done for us, not as sacrificial acts in and of themselves.