A recent visitor described worship at Holy Cross as "structured, yet relaxed." Our worship does have a clear structure to it. The four parts are: Gathering, Word, Meal, and Sending. Our friend at Why Liturgy? is developing a wonderful resource about how Evangelical Lutheran worship is structured (posts are added each night during the season of Lent in 2018).
The Gathering rite changes from season to season and sometimes from week to week. At times, we confess our sins and hear God's words of forgiveness, as we gather and before we enter more fully into worship. At times, we give thanks for our baptism, which has marked us as a child of God. And at other times, we ask God for healing as we begin worship, and receive God's anointing as a sign of healing and wholeness in the name of the Triune God.
The Word rite consists of a sung acclamation, a reading, and a sermon. The reading is selected from a resource known as the Narrative Lectionary. This resource helps us focus on one reading in a worship service. Generally the readings follow the order that they presented in the bible, which provides continuity from week to week. The sermon is usually presented by our pastor -- Colin Cameron, however we do have guest preachers on occasion, and on certain occasions, members of Holy Cross offer to preach.
The Meal rite is offered almost every week (sometimes our pastor is on vacation and we don't have another pastor filling in who can preside at the Meal). "Communion" (as the Meal is sometimes known -- a.k.a. Eucharist, the Lord's Supper, the Last Supper, Mass) reminds us of the night that Jesus gathered his closest friends and shared a meal with them before being handed over to the people who eventually crucified him. The language of the prayers during this rite remind us of the bond (covenant) between us and God. We believe that receiving the bread and wine (body and blood) of Communion changes us as we're physically reminded of our relationship with God. You are invited to receive Communion when you're at Holy Cross (we have Ushers who can help answer questions if you have any.)
The Sending rite is much more than a wrap-up and ending to the worship. It is designed to help worshippers make the transition from worship into service outside the walls of the building. Worship isn't the end point of our relationship with God, it is the beginning. During this rite we hear announcements about upcoming ministry opportunities and events, hear again God's blessing, sing a final song, and move out into the world.