Category Archives: Reformation

From Heaven Above to Earth I Come

A Christmas Eve Worship Service by Pastor Michael Zarling
Excerpt of the Worship Service:

A Christmas service based on Martin Luther’s Christmas hymn for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Processional Hymn: #55 — “Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful” (brass accompaniment)

As the hymn is introduced, please stand and face the processional cross in the back of the church, and turn to the front of the church as the cross passes you.


Minister: We worship in the name of the Father who gave us His Son, in the name of Jesus Christ, who came as the perfect Gift, and in the name of the Holy Spirit who brought us to faith in this Christ child.

Congregation: Amen.

 Introduction by Pastor

Pastor: This year, we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. There are many blessings that we enjoy today because the Lord of the Church allowed Martin Luther to rediscover for God’s people. Blessings such as the truth of Scripture alone, the Bible translated into the language of the people, the doctrine of vocation, the power of congregational singing, etc. The greatest blessing is the grace of God found in the person of Jesus Christ – the Son of God born of the Virgin Mary to be the Savior of all humankind.

Martin Luther’s writings and hymns focus on this doctrine of grace. His Christmas hymn “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” is all about the grace of God found in this Christchild, young and fair. Luther wrote this hymn for his children. It is recorded that “Luther was accustomed every year to prepare for his family a happy Christmas Eve’s entertainment … and for this festival of his children he wrote this Christmas hymn.”

“From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” is based on Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth in the second chapter of his Gospel.

Before we focus on Jesus being born to Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, we hear from Luke how the promise of the Savior was first given to Mary.

Luke 1:26-38

Here is the link to download the entire worship service program (it’s free!): From Heaven Above to Earth I Come

Thank you Pastor Zarling for sharing!

Reformation 500

Reformation 500

It was the end of a new beginning
When Magellan sailed the world spinning
And the Guttenberg presses started printing

A man was to be forged in God’s furnace ablaze
Hammered on an anvil into an unlikely instrument of praise
Whose effect would outlast a half millennia of days

1517 was that pinnacle year
When Martin Luther and scripture so tightly adhere
Inspired to make God’s word so crystal clear

He nailed his beliefs to the castle church door
Such courage and faith bent on God’s word to restore
Passerbys could not, would not, ignore

The hand of God was felt that October day
History had changed; 95 thesis, the communique
Prodded along by the monk who did passionately pray

Praying from matins to vespers to compline
Cloistered in a tiny cell, alone and in confine
Repenting into a state of madness; grief and relief combine

Translating the Bible, for generations to come and to own
A mighty seed had indeed been sown
When Martin Luther made his heart known

Leaning on scripture alone
Driven by faith alone
Saved by grace alone
To God be the glory alone

More poetry in my book: Lifestyle Worship – Poems, Prayers and Ministry Resources

Alone But Not Lonely

Alone But Not Lonely

Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone
Solus Christus: Christ Alone
Sola Gratia: Grace Alone
Sola Fide: Faith Alone
Soli Deo Gloria: Glory To God Alone

We are justified and sanctified – by grace alone through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone. It says this in scripture alone and for that reason – to God alone be the glory!

Lots of blessed loneliness there!

Just don’t put anything else on that list! And lots of people try to; especially church leaders, self included. Example – our musical diet consists of psalms and hymns alone. That right there is legalism alone.

Luther’s Morning Prayer Song

Luther’s Morning Prayer Song

A recent post on one of Martin Luther’s prayers prompted a reader to offer his musical arrangement of Luther’s morning prayer to all.

You can grab a copy of the leadsheet here:

And a copy of the MP3 here:

Why not consider using this piece to open up your Reformation service?

Luther’s Morning Prayer – by Kevin Bueltmann

Thanks Kevin & Sibling Harmony for sharing.

Responsive Luther Prayer

A statue of Martin Luther on the market place ...
Image via Wikipedia

Responsive Luther Prayer

P:         Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled.
C:        My Lord, fill it.

P:         I am weak in the faith; strengthen me.
C:        I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbor.

P:         I do not have a strong or firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether.
C:        O Lord, help me and strengthen my faith and trust in you.

– Martin Luther


A Liturgy Based on Five Solas

A Liturgy Based on Five Solas


Sola Scriptura : Scripture alone  

Pastor: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.   (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
All:      I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.   (Psalm 138:2)


Solus Christus: Christ alone
Pastor: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.   (Colossians 1:13-18)
All:  For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.   (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

Sola Gratia: Grace alone
Pastor:  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.   (Ephesians 1:7-8)
All: But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!   (Romans 5:15)
Pastor: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.   (Ephesians 2:8-9)



Sola Fide: Faith alone
Pastor: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.   (Romans 5:1-2)



Soli Deo Gloria: Glory To God alone
Pastor:  So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.   (1 Corinthians 10:31)
All: To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.   (Revelation 1:6)


Pastor: For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.   (Romans 11:36)


Consider following up with the singing of “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend, or “To God Alone be the Glory” by Aaron Shust. 


You can here “To God Alone” here:


Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem; Creatorem coeli et terrae.

Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem; Creatorem coeli et terrae

Apostle’s Creed Responsive Recitation

Latin is a beautiful language.  At Messiah Lutheran, we are fortunate enough to have a member that speaks it well.  The amazing thing about this langauge is that many of our modern English words have their roots in Latin, so that as we listen to it, we can often times pick up what’s being said.  We plan to recite the Apostle’s Creed responsively using the Latin language for Reformation Sunday (the language in which it was originally recorded).  Here’s our script:

Pastor: We will now recite the words of the Apostle’s creed responsively, together with the Latin translation, the language in which the creed was originally recorded.


Lay Reader: Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem; Creatorem caeli et terrae.


Congregation: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,


Lay Reader: Et in Jesum Christum, Filium ejus unicum, Dominum nostrum; qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto, natus ex Maria virgine; passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus; descendit ad inferna.

Congregation: I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell.

Lay Reader: tertia die resurrexit a mortuis; ascendit ad caelos; sedet ad dexteram Dei Patris omnipotentis; inde venturus (est) judicare vivos et mortuos.

Congregation:  The third day, He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.

Lay Reader: Credo in Spiritum Sanctum; sanctam ecclesiam catholicam; sanctorum communionem; remissionem peccatorum; carnis resurrectionem; vitam aeternam. Amen.


Congregation: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.


Reformation’s Coming ….

A Reformation reading based on Psalm 46

Pastor INTRO:            We will now recite Psalm 46 responsively.  I will use the NIV and the congregation will respond using Isaac Watt’s metrical version.


PSALM 46 (Metrical version – Isaac Watts)


Pastor: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

All:       The church’s safety and triumph among national desolations.

God is the refuge of his saints,


Pastor: Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

All:       When storms of sharp distress invade

Ere we can offer our complaints,

Behold him present with his aid.

Men:    Let Mountains from their seats be hurled

Down to the deep, and buried there,

Convulsions shake the solid world,

Women:           Our faith shall never yield to fear.

Loud may the troubled ocean roar,

In sacred peace our souls abide,

While every nation, every shore,

Trembles, and dreads the swelling tide.


Pastor:            There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

All:       There is a stream, whose gentle flow

Supplies the city of our God;

Life, love, and joy still gliding through,

And wat’ring our divine abode.


Pastor: God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

All:       That sacred stream, thine holy word,

That all our raging fear controls:

Sweet peace thy promises afford,

And give new strength to fainting souls.


Pastor: Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.


All:       Zion enjoys her Monarch’s love,

Secure against a threat’ning hour;

Nor can her firm foundations move,

Built on his truth, and armed with power.

Men:    God fights for his church.

Let Zion in her King rejoice;

Women:           Though tyrants rage, and kingdoms rise,

He utters his almighty voice,

The nations melt, the tumult dies.


Pastor: The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

All:       The Lord of old for Jacob fought,

And Jacob’s God is still our aid:


Pastor: Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth.

All:       Behold the works his hand has wrought,

What desolations he has made!


Pastor: He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.

All:       From sea to sea, through all the shores,

He makes the noise of battle cease;

Men:    When from on high his thunder roars,

He awes the trembling world to peace.

Women:           He breaks the bow, he cuts the spear

Chariots he burns with heav’nly flame;


Pastor: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

All:       Keep silence, all the earth, and hear

The sound and glory of his name.

“Be still, and learn that I am God;

I’ll be exalted o’er the lands;


Pastor: The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.


All:       I will be known and feared abroad;

But still my throne in Zion stands.”

Men:    O Lord of hosts, Almighty King,

While we so near thy presence dwell,

Women:           Our faith shall sit secure, and sing

Defiance to the gates of hell.