Worship (or what we call the Divine Service) is an important and central part of our life as a congregation here at St. Athanasius Lutheran Church. We are happy for all who are with us -- both members and guests -- and have prepared this little explanation to help you understand why we worship as we do.

If you have never attended a Lutheran Divine Service before, much of what we do may seem strange and unfamiliar to you. That's okay! In the beginning, it was to us too. You see, the Lutheran Divine Service is not easy to learn. That is because it is full of symbolism, our rich heritage, and unique Biblical language.

(1) The service begins with The Preparation, where we confess our sin to God and receive His forgiveness. Thus cleansed and forgiven, we are free to come into His presence and receive His gifts. You will notice that it is at this point that the pastor first walks back to the altar, to show this in a visual way.

(2) The service continues with The Liturgy of the Word. Of primary importance in this part is that we hear the Word of God in the reading of the Scriptures and the proclamation of the Gospel in the sermon. In these you hear not the words and opinions of man, which change and err, but the voice of our Lord, eternal and truthful, speaking to His own.

(3) After receiving the gift of God's Word, The Liturgy of the Sacrament, or Holy Communion, is celebrated. Here we enter into the most intimate union with our God as we actually eat His body and drink His blood. With this eating and drinking, God promises us His forgiveness, life, and salvation. Having received these and the fullness of His gifts, we then joyfully depart back out into the world with His blessing, to share His Word and forgiveness with others.

About Our Liturgy

Our Liturgy Unites

People of all ages, ethnic groups, and backgrounds are united in our liturgy. We do not "target" any one group, but strive to unite us all - young and old, rich and poor - in the body of Christ. The liturgy is not natural to anyone when they first hear it. The church has a language and culture of its own, which we are all drawn into. This gives us a new common identity based not upon human factors, but upon our being children of God.
Our Liturgy is God Serving Us

Many people think that the one hour they spend in church on Sunday morning is to serve God. Not so! We serve God with our whole lives, all 168 hours of the week, as we live the lives He has given us as fathers, mothers, workers, friends, etc. When we gather in church it is the time that our Saviour serves us. He comes to us with His gifts of Word and Sacrament and feeds us, strengthens our faith, so that we can live as His children in this sinful world. As the Scriptures tell us, Jesus came "not to be served, but to serve." And this He is still doing in the church. Here we come to receive from Him!
Our Liturgy is Historic

We're not innovative. Although the liturgy does change and adapt as each generation makes it their own, we do not change and adopt the latest fads and trends. We use the liturgy that has been handed down to us since the time of the Old Testament, uniting us with believers of all times. All changes to this liturgy come slowly, over time, in a conservative manner, so that these changes belong to the church, not only to one segment of her.
Our Liturgy Focuses on Christ

In our liturgy, we focus not on ourselves or what pleases us, but on Christ. The liturgy is almost completely quotations from the Scriptures, and those parts that are not are paraphrases from the Scriptures. Here we come into the presence of our Saviour to receive His gifts, and our liturgy focuses on that.
Worship at Saint Athanasius
The Three Main Parts of our Worship
Missouri Synod
Church Location: 114 Kingsley Road SW, Vienna, VA  22180
Mailing Address: 3057 Nutley Street Suite 822, Fairfax, VA  22031
703-455-4003                       Rev. James Douthwaite, Pastor
Saint Athanasius Lutheran Church
But don't let the difficulty stop you! Anything worth learning takes time, like learning to play a musical instrument, or learning to drive a car, or practicing a sport - the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the better you understand.