People often think worship is what we do for God. But it’s not. We refer to worship as “The Divine Service” because we learn from the Bible that God is providing His service for us. God gives us His Word. God gives us his body and blood. God forgives our sin. God makes us His own. God gives us eternal life. He puts the words of praise, of supplication and of repentance into our mouths and hearts. We respond in faith.

In the Divine Service we follow an order of service. The order of service is called the liturgy. What follows is a detailed explanation of the liturgy and it parts. It is my prayer that this will further assist you in understanding what to expect when you attend the Divine Service at Holy Cross and Immanuel and why the service is the way it is.

The Invocation
At the beginning of the Divine service, while making the sign of the cross on our foreheads and on our hearts, you may say the following words: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This is known as the invocation (pronounced: in-vo-CAY-shun). The word “invocation” comes from the Latin word “invocatio” meaning “to call upon.”

The second commandment, as well as Martin Luther’s explanation to the second commandment in the Small Catechism, instructs us that we are not to misuse God’s name. Rather we are to “call upon it in every trouble, pray, praise and give thanks.” When the Divine Service begins with the Invocation and the sign of the cross, we are calling upon the one true God who, through the power of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, first called us to faith in Jesus. It is true that because of our sin we do not deserve to have God with us. Yet because of great love for us in Christ, and because he has claimed us as his own children by water and the Word, he comes to be with us and give us what we need most, his salvation: faith, forgiveness, and eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Confession and Absolution
Confession literally means, “same saying.” Essentially, it’s saying what God already says. When we confess our sin to God, it does not come as news to Him. He knows our sin before we commit it, so in confession, we admit to God what He already knows—that we have rebelled and fallen far short of His expectations for us.

Confessing our sins is extremely important! When we confess our sins to God, we are humbled before him as we recognize that we are not perfect as our Heavenly is and demands us to be. We are sinners who have broken God’s Law, his will for our lives, in our thoughts, words, and actions. Our sin warrants his judgment of eternal death and separation from him. Moreover, by the confession of our sin, we openly admit to God that we deserve this, his judgment, forever.

Yet with repentance and confession comes Absolution, which is the forgiveness of all our sins! You see, when you, in repentance and faith, come before God and confess your sin to him, He doesn’t say, “Whoa! You’re in trouble now! I’m going to give you what you deserve.” Rather, the one, true, perfect, holy God says to you, “I have already paid for your sin with the blood of My Son. Because of his sacrifice for you on the cross, you shall receive not what you deserve, but rather what you do not deserve: mercy, forgiveness, and eternal life.”

The Pastor, who is God’s called and ordained servant to the congregation (his representative), then proclaims God’s Word’s of Absolution to you as he says, “As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by his authority, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” These words come not from the pastor, but from God Himself through the mouth of the pastor and are as trustworthy and true as if God himself speaks them. (John 20:22-23)

It is customary after receiving absolution to make the sign of the cross as a personal reminder that your forgiveness comes on Jesus’ behalf because of His death on the cross in our place.

The Introit (pronounced in-TRO-it) comes from the Latin word Introitus meaning “entrance.” Having just been forgiven all our sins, we, because of Christ’s death and resurrection for us, are now able to enter into God’s Holy presence. And the Introit is the announcement that we, God’s forgiven people in Christ, are coming into his presence. The Introit that is sung or spoken is not our own sinful words, but it is God’s Holy Word, a psalm or parts of psalms put together to focus on the theme for the Sunday, sung or spoken back to Him.

The Kyrie comes from the Greek words Kyrie elesion (pronounced KEER-ee-ay eh-LAY-son) which literally means, “Lord, have mercy.” It is the first prayer that we pray together in the Divine Service as God’s forgiven people in Christ. This prayer is encountered frequently throughout the Scriptures, for example, the Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:22) and the Ten Lepers (Luke 17:13). Each time that it is prayed, God’s people call on Him for the various things that we need and that He alone can supply, asking for His mercy on we who deserve nothing good from Him, but know that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross on our behalf, He will have mercy on us and supply all that we need.

Gloria in Excelsis
The Greek words Gloria in Excelsis, meaning “Glory to God in the Highest,” are the words of the angelic hymn sung at Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:14. This hymn is a hymn of triumph and victory sung not just by the angels in heaven but by us, God’s holy people, as we recognize that God has had mercy on us in Jesus Christ and has given us not only all that we need to support this body and life, such as: “clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all that we have,” but more than that, out of His divine mercy, He has given us the final victory over our enemies: sin, death, and the devil. To one true God alone, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be all power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, blessing and glory. Amen.

Next, you’ll typically hear something like, “The Lord be with you,” to which the congregation responds, “and with your spirit,” or, “and also with you.” These short statements are more than just a greeting. They confess God’s presence with us through His Word. Also, this exchange reflects the special relationship between pastor and congregation as the pastor proclaims the presence of God is with His people and asks that it remain with them, in order that they might by faith receive the forgiveness of sins and eternal life that God gives them in Christ, and that they might be strengthened and by his help do the very things that he has given his people to do. So also, the people respond with mutual support of the pastor, God’s called and ordained servant of the Word.

Collect of the Day
A collect (pronounced: call-ect) is a traditional prayer that generally follows a specific pattern. It begins with an address (“Heavenly Father,” “Lord God,” etc.), followed by a rationale that invokes a specific characteristic or action of God (“You saved your people from slavery in Egypt,” “You are slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,” etc.). Next comes the petition, the request or purpose of the prayer (“Forgive our sins,” etc.) followed by the benefit, the goal of the petition (“That we may know your love and spend eternity with You,” etc.), and concluding with the “Termination,” a doxology or praise of God (“Who lives and reigns…”). Of course, we end every prayer with “Amen” as a confession of faith that God does indeed hear our prayer and will answer it according to His wisdom and love for us. The congregation speaks “Amen” to say, “Yes, everything the pastor spoke on our behalf is what we believe and ask as well.”

The readings from Holy Scripture follow a schedule called the lectionary. At Holy Cross and Immanuel, we currently are following a 3-year cycle, designed to match the theme of the season. During the Gospel lesson, the congregation stands and offers additional praise to God, because the Gospel lesson recounts specifically that key point in history when God became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, and won salvation for us from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

The Creed
The word “Creed” comes from the Latin word that means, “I believe.” A creed, according to Luther’s explanation in the Small Catechism, “is a statement of what we believe, teach, and confess.” Consequently, creeds are “confessional statements,” or expressions of agreement. In essence, we’re saying, “This is what all Christians believe,” or, “This is the definition of the Christian faith. If you don’t believe these basic, core teachings, by definition, you can’t honestly call yourself a Christian.” The three creeds of the Church: the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, were written during times of struggle in the church and thus refute the claims of those within the church that were spreading false teachings. More than that however, they confess who God is and what he has done, is doing, and will continue to do for us. Therefore, when we weekly confess these creeds, we join our voices with all Christians past, present, and future, proclaiming to each other, the world, and ourselves a short summary of what God has revealed about Himself in His Word.

The Hymn of the Day
The Hymn of the Day, sometimes called the “Office Hymn,” is the primary hymn of the service. It is chosen based on the theme of the day and the readings. As you sing this hymn, think about how it relates to the readings and how it introduces the concepts and ideas of God’s message of salvation for us in Jesus Christ that will be proclaimed in the sermon.

A sermon is the proclamation of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the application of that message for you as you live your life in this world surrounded and saturated by sin and death. When the pastor preaches the sermon, he is to hold strictly to the Word of God. While illustrations can be used (as Jesus used parables to teach), the primary message of a sermon must be rooted in the Word of God, more specifically the Gospel.

The entire service, especially the sermon, consists of a division of Law and Gospel. The Law is what God would have us do and how we’ve failed to live up to His expectations. The Gospel tells us what God has done on our behalf through Jesus Christ. A proper sermon includes both of these. If the sermon is only Law, the congregation leaves feeling inadequate or self-righteous. If a sermon contains only Gospel, the Gospel has no power, since we do not see our sin and thus have no need for Jesus and the salvation from sin that he won for us on the cross and in the empty tomb. Hence we “preach nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified,” because he is the only one who can free us from the sin and death that reign in and plague our mortal bodies, indeed our lives. Yet there remains in Christendom a mindset where people think that a central message of a sermon should be focused on telling them how to live their lives, but God’s primary message for us is not our actions, for when we look at or focus on those we see nothing but our sin. Rather, God’s primary message for us is His love for us, in spite of our sin and his victory for us over sin and death, in Jesus Christ. As we hear this message, God continues to grant us faith to believe it. And we naturally respond to God’s message by faith evidenced in our words and actions during the service and in our everyday lives. The sermon also need not create an emotional response. Different people respond differently to different messages, so sometimes, you may feel moved by a particular expression of God’s Word, while other times, it won’t trigger your emotions. That’s OK. The purpose of a sermon is not to feed emotions—it’s to feed faith. Consequently the primary goal of a sermon is to strengthen you to withstand the attacks of the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh, through the proclamation of God’s sin forgiving, life giving message of salvation for you in Jesus Christ.

Offering and Offertory
The offering always occurs toward the end of the service, typically following the sermon, as it is an act of response by the congregation. Having heard the Good News of eternal life and forgiveness of sins through the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, the congregation responds in faith and thankfulness.

The motivation behind giving an offering is yet another unique aspect of Christianity. We don’t give to gain God’s favor. He has already saved us, before we even lift our finger to do anything that he has given us the responsibility to do.

Moreover, when we give, we’re not giving the gifts to God, but to our neighbor. God doesn’t need our gifts, but our neighbor does, so we give to support the proclamation of Jesus Christ and him crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins, here at Holy Cross and Immanuel, in our community, and to the ends of the earth that all may know the love of God in Christ Jesus. The offering is a great act of compassion for our fellow man, knowing that God will bless the work accomplished with those funds.

If you really think about it in terms of Psalm 24:1 and James 1:17, everything we have is a gift from God: from the money we give in our offering, to food, family, clothes, house, shoes, car, heat, air conditioning, everything we need to support this body and life, even waking up in the morning, and most importantly, our salvation in Jesus Christ.

After the offering is collected, the offertory, a vocal expression of the faith and thankfulness that we express through the offering is sung. We acknowledge our unworthiness and sin but also confess God’s goodness and love, also acknowledging that all we have is a gift of God.

Prayer of the Church
The prayer of the Church is the part in the Divine Service where we, as God’s people here at Holy Cross and Immanuel, bring before the one true God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a series of petitions, or requests for all the people of our congregation as well as the community where we have been placed. Typically, we pray for the sick, our members, school families, homebound members, our nation, pastors and our seminaries, as well as a variety of people whom God has given us to care for and invited us to bring before him in prayer where he continually promises to hear us and provide for our needs.

The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is meet and right….

The Preface dates back to the liturgy of the early church and is mentioned in church writings dating as early as 70 A.D. It is an expression of the fellowship we experience in the Lord’s Supper, pointing us to the intimate relationship we enjoy not only with Jesus, but each other.

The Preface begins the “Service of the Sacrament,” the expression of thanks to God for His gifts. This “thanksgiving” is even found in one of the common names for the Lord’s Supper: the Eucharist, which means, “Thanksgiving.”

In the Preface, we use a few old terms that would be worth defining:

Meet: proper

Salutary: beneficial

Proper Preface
The Proper Preface, “It is truly meet, right, and salutary that…Therefore with angels and archangel and all the company of heaven…,” expands on the Preface with a seasonal message, proclaiming why we give thanks.

The end of the Proper Preface, “Therefore, with angels and archangel and all the company of heaven,” unites Church Militant, the local congregation, with the Church Triumphant, the church worshipping God in heaven. As we praise and thank God for all He has done for us, we know that the angels and saints in heaven do the same, so though we don’t know the melodies of heaven, both the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant sing with one voice to our Lord and Savior.

Sanctus and Benedictus
Sanctus means “holy,” and Benedictus means “blessed,” short for “blessed in He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.” The Sanctus is the song sung to God by the angels in Isaiah 6, and the Benedictus is the song sung to Jesus on Palm Sunday (from Ps 118:26). By combining these two, we confess with the whole church in heaven and on earth that Jesus, who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, is the same God whom the angels praised in Isaiah’s vision.

More than that, though, we sing to “He Who comes” to us with His Body and Blood in the bread and wine. (This portion of the liturgy is traditionally removed in churches that reject the presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.) Christ came once as a baby in Bethlehem, and He will come again in glory on the Last Day, but He also comes to us each time we celebrate this sacrament.

Lord’s Prayer
We, the people of God, now pray the prayer our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:1-4. For Jesus is the one who unites sinners with God the Father. He bridges the gap that sin has caused by becoming man and giving his body and blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Only in Christ can we approach God and receive the gifts he gives. In Baptism we are made the Father’s children when we are united with Christ (Romans 6). So when we pray the Lord’s Prayer we speak to our Father by using the prayer his only begotten son Jesus has taught us.

The Lord’s Prayer is one of the most profound and complete prayers that Christians could ever pray. For in the Lord’s Prayer we, the children of God, call upon our dear Father to give us everything that we need to support this body and life: air to breathe, food to eat, a job, clothes, house, health, family, good government, favorable weather, his Word taught to us in its purity and truth, faith renewed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the leading of Godly lives, the forgiveness of sins, that every effort of the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh that seeks to weary us and lead us away from Christ be hindered and frustrated so that we may remain in the faith according to the will of our Lord, all the while recognizing that he alone can, does, and will continue to give these good and perfect gifts in his time and according to his good and gracious will.

By praying the Lord’s Prayer in connection with the Words of Institution, we confess that all of the requests made in the Lord’s Prayer are answered with a resounding “Yes!” in the Lord’s Supper, where Jesus reminds us that he has not left us nor forsaken us, but is with us right now, right here and will continue to provide for all our needs of body and soul.

Words of Institution
The words of Institution are Jesus’ words that he spoke at the Last Supper with his disciples. Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples saying: ”Take, eat. This is my body which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me.” Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to the disciples saying: “Drink of it, all of you. This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins. This do as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Since Jesus is God, his word is powerful. When God created the world, he spoke it into existence. His word creates what it says. It does the same in the Lord’s Supper. When Jesus says that the bread is His body and the wine is His blood, they are just that. The bread is his body. The wine is his blood. Jesus’ body and blood are really present. They are in, with, and under the bread and wine. So when we eat, we eat bread and Christ’s body. And when we drink, we drink wine and Jesus’ blood.

The body and blood that we eat and drink are Jesus’ crucified and risen body and blood. When Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples, “I will be with you always, even to the very end of the age.” How is he with us? He is with us in his Word and Sacraments, the Scriptures, Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. How can Jesus be physically present with us in this way? This is not something that we can understand; it’s a mystery. We can only believe it by faith because Jesus has said it. We simply take Jesus at his word and we trust his word.

Agnus Dei
Angus Dei, which translated means “Lamb of God,” is the hymn we sing prior to receiving Holy Communion.

As we are about to receive the holy Sacrament, we focus on what is most important, on Christ himself and all that he has done for us. And what he has done for us is willingly give himself as a sacrifice. In the OT the picture of a sacrifice that comes to mind is the picture of a lamb being sacrificed. The sacrifice of Abel was a lamb. The sacrifice of each Israelite family was a lamb without defect at the Passover. Lambs were sacrificed at the tabernacle and later also at the temple. In each case the lamb gave up its life in place of the people who offered it. This is called substitutionary sacrifice, where the lamb took the place of the sinner, taking the punishment he deserved for his sin. In the case of the sacrifices at the tabernacle and temple, the blood of the lamb was used to make atonement (at-one, bring back together). The shed blood of the lamb brought the sinner back together to be at one with God.

So the image of Jesus as the Lamb of God is most appropriate. Jesus, our perfect Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:71 Peter 1:18-20), was our substitute, dying the death that we deserved. And Jesus’ blood made atonement for us; through it we are made one again with God. And so now we focus on Christ, the Lamb of God, our substitute and atoning sacrifice.

The Communion Distribution
In the Sacrament the sacrificed body and blood of the Lamb of God takes away our sins, providing us with forgiveness, mercy, and peace. In singing The Lamb of God, we publically acknowledge this and look forward to it.

Jesus won forgiveness of sins for the world through his death on the cross. Having won this forgiveness, how will he then deliver this gift of forgiveness to people? God has chosen very simple and mundane ways to deliver this precious gift. He delivers it through his Word, his Word that is proclaimed, his Word connected to the water of Baptism, and his Word connected to the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus, who is the Word, comes personally and delivers the gifts he won: forgiveness, life, salvation, and peace.

Some churches teach that Communion is only symbolic, that Christ is not present bodily. Others teach that our spirits are taken to Christ in heaven or to the foot of the cross. Some teach that we are reoffering Christ as a sacrifice to the Father. But in contrast to all of these views, we, as Lutheran Christians, teach that Christ comes to us. We believe that we are in God’s house, at his table, where he has invited us to this sacred meal that he provides and in which he is the host. It is he who provides the meal, and in fact, he is the meal. And the purpose of this meal is for the forgiveness of our sins (Mt 26:28). For us, the entire focus of Holy Communion is on God and what he is doing in Christ for us. We are only receiving from his gracious hand. We believe that Communion is more than symbolic; we believe Jesus’ words that we are receiving his very body (“This is my body”) and blood (“This is my blood”) which was given and shed “for you” (Mt 26:26-28). We believe that it is not we who go to God, but God who comes down to us and is serving us (Mt 20:27). As Christ came to this world as a child, as God in the flesh, so he now comes to us in the flesh in this meal, serving us and feeding us with his true body and his true blood together with the bread and wine and promises that all who receive it in faith will receive his gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation that he won through his death and resurrection.

The Post-Communion Canticle
In Luke 2:25ff, we read the account of a godly and presumably old man named Simeon. The Holy Spirit had promised Simeon that he would live to see the long promised Christ (Messiah, Savior). He fulfilled His promise when Mary and Joseph went to the Temple in Jerusalem to present Jesus before the Lord. Simeon picked up infant Jesus and, holding Him in his arms, he spoke by the guiding of the Holy Spirit, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace according to Thy Word, For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people. A Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people Israel.”

From this text we derive the Post-Communion Collect called the Nunc Dimittis (meaning “now dismiss” or “now let [us] depart”). Simeon had seen all he needed to see and he could now die in peace. He had held and seen the Savior, who was God in the flesh; he had seen the God-man Jesus who had come to bring salvation to Israel and to the world. God had kept his promise; salvation had arrived.

What wonderful words to apply to the end of Communion. Like Simeon, who had been led by the Holy Spirit to hold the holy Child and enlightened by the Spirit that this was the long awaited Savior, so we too are led by the Spirit to receive the holy Christ as we receive the bread and wine, indeed the very body and blood of Christ himself. Having now seen and even received Christ in our hands and in our mouths, we depart from the Lord’s Table and go back into the world in peace. For in the reception of Christ, we now have all that we need.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving
In some settings, before the Prayer of Thanksgiving, the pastor encourages the congregation to give thanks by using the first part of Ps.107:1: “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.” The congregation responds with the last part of the verse: “and his mercy endures forever.” By responding this way to the pastor’s invitation to give thanks, the congregation acknowledges that we should give thanks because God is a merciful God, not giving us what we deserve. But instead he gives us his Son and forgiveness of our sins. In the Meal that we have just received, God has indeed given us his Son and the forgiveness that he won. For this then we join in the prayer of thanksgiving.

In the Prayer of Thanksgiving, we pray to the Father who has just provided us with a salutary (saving) gift, the body and blood of his Son Jesus. We thank him for this gift and we ask him to use this same gift that saves us to strengthen us in our faith in Him and in our love towards others. These two requests summarize Christianity and the Ten Commandments. First and foremost, we hold God in the highest regard above all things and, secondly, the result of faith is love. The Sacrament draws us outside of ourselves to live in Christ by faith and in the neighbor by love, to paraphrase Luther. These requests are made, as all Christian prayer is, through Jesus, our Mediator with the Father. And the prayer ends affirming that the one true God is the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Triune God reigns over all things now and he will continue to reign forever.

The Salutation and Benedicamus
In some settings of the Divine Service before the benediction, there is an exchange between the pastor and the congregation, called the Salutation and Benedicamus (“bless the Lord” or “Let us bless the Lord”). To “bless the LORD” is to speak well of him. When we bless the LORD, we acknowledge what good things God has done for us. Ps. 103:3-4, which summarizes God’s saving actions for Israel, also summarizes God’s saving actions for us very well. He forgives us; he heals us; he redeems us; and he gives us continuous love and mercy “without any merit or worthiness in me.” Because God does all of this for us, we ought to bless the Lord, bless his holy name, and remember all he does for us. So at this time we remember all that God has done for us in this Service and we give him thanks and praise for it.

The Benediction concludes the Divine Service. Benediction literally means “to speak well of” or “to speak good upon” and from that, we get its common meaning “to bless.” So the Benediction is the final blessing of the Divine Service.

The Benediction comes from Num. 6:22-27. Here God told Moses that the priests were to end the OT divine service by saying this blessing over the people of Israel. Why did God command that this be done? In verse 27 God explains why. The speaking of these words puts God’s name upon the people and God says he will bless them. God’s name cannot be separated from God himself. If God’s name is placed upon someone then God is with that person. Since God is good and gracious, wherever he is present with someone, he brings blessing to them. Notice that God says whenever you speak these words over the people, “I will bless them.” God absolutely promises to bless them.

Whether the OT people of God (Israel) or the NT people of God (the new Israel of God – all who have faith in Jesus), God is with his people and God promises to bless his people. So the words spoken by the priests upon the people in the OT divine service can also be spoken to the NT people of God. God’s promise to be with them and bless them holds for them too.

Another reason that these words are most appropriate for the NT Divine Service is that it is a reminder and reenactment of Jesus blessing his disciples when he ascended into heaven (Luke 24:50-51). Through the pastor God blesses his people. As the pastor says the blessing, he raises his arms to his side to the same position that Jesus held upon the cross. It is a visual reminder that all of God’s blessings flow from the crucified Christ. God told man in the Garden that if he sinned he would die; that is the threat of the law that we have and cannot overcome. But the blessing (“The LORD bless you and keep you”) has God doing what we cannot do, preserving us because He destroyed Christ instead of us. God frowned on us because of sin, but the blessing has God smiling on us (“the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you”) in Christ. God turned His face away from us in disgust over our lack of holiness, and the blessing has Him gazing at us with open arms (“the LORD lift up his countenance upon you”). We were His enemy, but now in Christ He gives us peace. Amen. Amen. Amen! The closing blessing is pure Gospel.

Closing Hymn and Recessional
The Divine Service ends with a closing hymn and the recession of the cross. Our closing hymn one last time reflects the theme for the day. On those days it is used, as the recessional cross passes, we turn towards it and focus upon it. We follow Christ as He leads us and goes with us back into the world. As He guided us into God’s holy presence in the Divine Service, so now He guides us back into the world to the places of our various callings to live by the mercy he has bestowed upon us in Christ by loving and serving our neighbor as Christ has first loved and served us. He is with us and guides us throughout our earthly life. And in the end he will guide us safely to our heavenly home.