The Divine Service – The Invocation

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There has been much debate recently in our community regarding the topic of invocations. It just so happens that a few months ago, we began a series on the Divine Service, which, due to various deadlines, has not been continued until now. Though regretted, this temporary break now presents a wonderful opportunity for us to consider the use and purpose of the invocation in the Divine Service.

The invocation is simple and short, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” to which the congregation declares its, “Amen.” Though simple and short, it is profound. The Divine Service begins with the invocation because we desire to invoke (meaning “to call upon”) the Triune God to be present with His grace and mercy as we set apart a time to devote to hearing and meditating on God’s Word. We know this prayer is heard and answered by God because He promises us in His Word, “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

Within these few words, the Church is already teaching and reminding those present about the nature of our God. He is tri-une, three distinct persons, yet one divine being (or essence). Notice that we do not say, “in the names of…”, but “in the name of…”; one name = one God, three names = three Persons. This is not a distinction made by the Church on her own, but by Jesus Himself when He said to His apostles, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). Our God is the God of our salvation, as we will hear more explicitly in the Creed later in the service. Therefore, we call upon Him to save us once again from our sin and guilt by teaching us what He did and still does for our salvation.

It is no coincidence that the words of the invocation are those connected with Jesus’ command to baptize, as quoted above. The invocation also serves another purpose, it reminds us of our baptism, the factual event in our lives that we can point to where God adopted us into His family by putting His name upon us, just as adoptive parents do to their adopted children. At the baptismal font, He washed away our sins (Acts 22:16), and declared us His children. Here in the Divine Service we have a very intimate family reunion with all the promises of forgiveness attached to our brother and God, Jesus Christ.

While the invocation and its use is in question in our society, we have and make use of the full freedom granted us to use it in God’s house of prayer.

Rev. Gullixson is the pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church at 162 Sneden Street. The Divine Service begins at 9:30 AM every Sunday. To speak with Pastor Gullixson, please call (760) 873-6589.