What to Expect When You Visit

The Building

Where do I park?
We are a pleasant walk from anywhere in Federal Hill, Otterbein, and Sharp Leadenhall.
We also have a large parking lot next to the preschool playground on Henrietta St.

What’s the best entrance to the building?
Any double door with a sidewalk going up to it will get you into the building on Sunday morning.
Even though our parking lot is on the side and rear of the building, some folks like to walk around to the Henrietta St. side and enter through the big wooden double doors.
Most use the parking lot doors, especially if attending Sunday School before worship.

Once in the building…
Rest rooms are in the main hallway across from the drinking fountain.
Signs will point the way to the worship area
The building is accessible and air conditioned.

Where do I sit to worship?
Pick a pew – any pew!   Pastor likes you to sit in further forward than the back two pews.
You’ll hear the church bells, and the organist will play some pre-service music.  Pastor will welcome us and make announcements, and then we’ll sing the opening hymn.

The People

We want to appreciate you and honor God for bringing you here.  We want to be true to God, genuine in living our lives, and warm in our welcome to you. Our ushers will hand you a worship bulletin. We hope you’ll sign our guest book, and include contact info if you’d like to be contacted. If you come with a special burden or need, ask that usher to point you to the prayer table, and you can make your request there, which is taken to the altar at prayer time later in the service.

What to wear?
No worries.  You’ll see that our people wear the entire spectrum of fairly relaxed to fairly formal.

We sometimes refer to the church building as “the church,” for short.
But the church is, according to the Bible, the people whom God has brought together.

The people at Martini are from all walks of life, and most have a personal or generational history rooted in South or Southwest Baltimore, no matter where they live today.  They represent the stories of the nearby neighborhoods across many decades and scores of years.  When here, you’ll add your story to theirs.  Our oneness is in the faith we profess and by which we live.

Martini church is a Christian church which calls itself Lutheran.  Think of “Lutheran” as an adverb, telling how we’re Christian:
Lutheran style reflects practices of the historic church, set in the present.
Lutheran teaching is based solely on Scripture, the written Word of God. (See “What We Believe”)
Our affiliation of churches works together to coordinate world and regional outreach, and the training of church workers.  This affililation is called The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. We are congregational.  Our decisions are made here, giving us, under God, a distinct ownership in what we do.

The Worship

What’s the worship like?
Worship is from the burgundy colored Lutheran Service Book.  While it’s true that we worship from a book, be sure to let it also be from the heart.

Navigating the worship
The usher will have handed you a bulletin, which will guide you through the worship.
Pay attention to the line in your bulletin’s right hand column which says, “Bookmark,” and mark the pages so you can navigate the worship most easily once we’ve started.
The titles of the parts of the service are printed in the bulletin, with page numbers, so you can easily find your way through what may be a new way of worship.
Oh – and if you get lost, don’t worry, most of the people around you did, too, when they first came to Martini, but they came back because they found it spoke to every area of their life.

The heart and center of the worship
Lutheran worship centers on Christ, and His death on the cross to pay for our sins.  The reading and preaching of God’s Word as it relates to Christ and to our lives is its high point.  Everything prior to the readings and the preaching are leading up to it.  Everything after is a response to it. On Communion Sundays, the Communion is a second high point, with its own lead-in, or Preface, and responses.

The togetherness of worship
Worship is participatory: You are a participant, not a spectator.  For instance, instead of Pastor saying, “Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth,” and the congregation just standing there, listening, he starts the verse: “Our help is in the Name of the Lord,…”  And the congregation finishes it: “…who made heaven and earth.”  It makes us all an active part of the worship.

Our posture changes as we participate.  We may stand, kneel, or sit.
Generally, standing shows respect; kneeling demonstrates a humble surrender; and we sit to be taught.

Make the worship yours.  If you are in spiritual crisis, and you just want to sit and meditate, church is for that, too.  If you’re joyous and you want to sing out during the hymns, go for it!

That phrase, mentioned above, “Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  is actually a Bible verse (Psalm 124:8).  Much of the worship is Scripture verses, so we use God’s Word, rather than our own, for a significant portion of the worship.  Once you get used to it, you start to know the words by heart, and suddenly you know a lot of Bible verses which help you relate to God!

Holy Communion is celebrated on the first Sunday of the month.  It is also celebrated on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Easter, and New Year’s Eve.  At Holy Communion time, most visitors come forward for a blessing when they visit, or remain in their seat for prayer, reflection, and singing the hymns at that time.

Because you, as a visitor, are an answer to our prayers, and this page is about expectations, we want you to have an appropriate expectation on Holy Communion, as well.  While most churches in the U.S. practice an “Open Communion,” where just about everybody comes forward and receives, most Christians throughout the world practice a “Close Communion,” as we do. It means that only the members present (and, by extension, members of our affiliated congregations) receive the sacrament when it is offered.  This practice comes from an emphasis on the teaching that preparation of the head (right believing) and of the heart (scriptural repentance) are necessary preparation for this meal, because Holy Communion is the true Body and Blood of Jesus. As stewards of this mystery, the Pastor and congregation are to treat the holy things as “set apart,” which is the meaning of “holy.” Our synod website has a resource on this: lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=1097

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