What is Worship?
Worship in the Lutheran church is an experience far different than what you might find in other churches. The first thing that you should know is that our direction in worship is completely the opposite of what you might expect or be used to.
You see, in the Lutheran church, a worship service begins with God. It is quite literally God's service to us! You may think this rather odd, since God is so great and we so small; how could God desire to serve us? But remember, Christ came down from the glory of heaven and became nothing, humbling Himself, even to death on a cross. He came to us in the form of a servant, not wanting to be served in any way.
It is this service of our Lord that saved us and that continues to sustain us and keep us in the faith. And if you think about it even more, when we hear the Word of God preached or read or sung, it's not as if we are doing anything for God (serving Him in some way), but God is GIVING to us - serving us by giving us His Word through preaching, Scripture reading and song, by hearing our prayers and providing us our needs of body and soul. The worship service is a concentrated version of what God does for us each day.
But it is certainly still a worship service, and we still play our part. We confess our sins, knowing and admitting that we would be lost and condemned without the blood of Jesus. We give thanks for all of the wonderful gifts God continues to give us. We serve each other by blessing each other with the Peace of God. We serve others by returning a portion of what God has given to us through our offerings or tithes. But none of these things we do in the worship service are prerequisites to God's service to us. On the contrary, they are responses! God is already generously giving to us all that we need. We have done nothing to earn it or "buy" it; it's given freely. But because of the gracious gifts of God afforded us through His Word and through the Sacraments, we can do no less than respond with joy and thanksgiving.
And so there you have it! Now that we have that down, let's move on to the service itself; what it looks like, what is done, why it's done, etc., and the blessed variety you find throughout the Lutheran churches regarding worship.
So what's so divine about the Divine Service? Well as we've already learned, it is God's service to us. By definition, that makes it divine! Some words you need to know:
Worship: Worship is EVERYTHING that we do as Christians on account of what God has done for us. Paul writes, "offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. For this is your spiritual act of worship." We ARE a people of worship, not just on Sunday mornings, but every day and all the time. However in our case we will consider "worship" within the context of Sunday morning.
Lutherans (and other denominations) see worship in four parts:
First it is an Encounter with God. God is right there with us! He is present through His Word being preached and proclaimed. He is present in the Sacraments. When someone is baptized God's Word along with the water proclaims salvation and forgiveness over the new Christian. He is present in the bread and wine of Holy Communion; the body and blood of our Lord mysteriously in, with, and under the bread and wine. The ear of God is present as we offer up our prayers and requests. God is present also in the fellowship of His people as we gather together throughout the world as one Body of believers.
Second, worship is an Expression of Our Faith. We come together knowing, by faith, that God is present and providing for us. Because we know this by faith, we respond with praise, thanksgiving, meditation, repentance, quietness, through listening, through being attentive to what God has to tell us, through giving, and through many other ways. As I stated earlier this expression of our faith is NOT a prerequisite to the encounter, but it is a response. God does not come to us only when we are truly ready or truly faithful or truly...anything! God comes to us even in our most dire weakness, in our darkest times, in our doubts, in our fears, and in our uncertainties. God turns these all around through the encounter and because we are turned around (because we are repentant), we can do no less than offer our thanks and praise.
Keep in mind, that on one one hand, how we dress, how we look, the actions we perform or the things that we say make no difference; God accepts us no matter how pious or humble we are. But on the other hand, because of our thankfulness, we may desire to dress respectfully. We may desire to comb our hair. We may put our hands in the air or bow or kneel. These are all responses, and they're all good, but they are not required and NO ONE should ever feel obligated or have a burdened conscience on account of these things. They neither impress or upset God our heavenly Father, thus you should not be upset or impressed by anyone else's piety either, unless they are expressing themselves for the wrong reasons (or their expression is causing division in the church or people to walk away from the faith).
Third, worship involves Education. We learn about God, His plan, His Word, our lives and much more in worship. Hymns, in part are emotional, but more importantly, they are tools used to teach us. A hymn such as "Thy Strong Word" or "Chief of Sinners" may bring a tear to our eyes, or a hymn such as "A Mighty Fortress" or "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" may cause us to want to stand reverently and joyously, but more importantly the hymns we sing teach us and fill us with wisdom and knowledge which strengthens our faith. When the pastor preaches, it's not a time to judge whether the pastor is a good speaker or not, but instead it is a time of learning, where his message helps us understand more deeply and fully the Word of God and the salvation of Christ.
Finally, worship is Evangelical. This means two different things. First, worship equips the worshipers with the necessary tools needed to be God's witnesses in this world. Second, worship may be a way by which someone comes to faith. In other words, as Christians assemble for worship, they are enabled to go out into their vocations and into the world to witness Christ's Gospel to others. This happens through all the other facets of worship we've seen above. But from time to time an unbeliever may come to church, and through worship be convicted of his sins, repent and believe in his Lord's salvation. The evangelical part of worship is certainly not the primary part of worship (as worship is for the believers not the unbelievers) but it is certainly a result of worship.
Parts of the Liturgy
Because of our approach to worship, we also have a very rich and orderly liturgy. What is liturgy? I'm glad you asked! Liturgy is a word that originally comes from the Greek language used in the New Testament. It is also found in the Old Testament but in a different way. The Greek word for liturgy is leitourgia. It literally means "public service" or "to perform religious or public duties". Why this word was applied to worship is to date unknown. However the word is fitting and it is the word we use to define our "orders of worship."
The Lutheran Service Book (our Hymnal) has several orders of worship included (five to be exact). While each has its differences, they all have common elements between them as well. The "LSB" (as we like to call our hymnal) also has several of the ancient "Daily Offices" (such as Matins, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Vespers and Compline) which churches are opted to use when appropriate. Not all Lutheran churches strictly use one of the supplied orders of worship (which unfortunately is one of our ongoing and very divisive debates in the Synod), but most all LCMS churches follow some sort of basic structure which is derived from one of the orders of worship. Let's take some time to go through each part of our liturgy...
First some terms:
A Rubric is an instruction regarding the liturgy (for example, "sit", "stand", "kneel", "bow", "face altar", "face congregation," etc.). Rubrics never change, so a "sermon" is a rubric, as well as the "prayer of the church" or a confession of sin, etc. Rubrics may be optional, for example, an "opening hymn" may or may not be used. A pastor may not preach a sermon, or the Lord's Prayer may be excluded or even moved to a different part of the liturgy.
A Proper is a portion of the liturgy that changes from day to day or week to week or season to season (if you are unsure what a "season" is, do a search online for "church year"). Propers are the assigned lectionary readings (scripture readings), collects (special prayers), psalm readings, prefaces, introits (entrance readings or hymns) and the like. They often change based on a 1 year or 3 year lectionary. These lectionaries have been around and used in churches around the world for a long time (the 1 year lectionary is very ancient; the 3 year lectionary is relatively new but still well-used). Most Lutheran churches will design the entire worship experience around the lectionary's Gospel reading, incorporating it into the sermon, the hymns, the prayers, the colors used and symbols, and even the confession of sins. This way there is always variety amongst the order.
So then, let's start at the beginning. The first part of the liturgy is generally a Hymn. The congregation will sing a hymn which may or may not fit the theme but that will certainly prepare them for the service. Sometimes the congregation will stand for the entire hymn or they will stand on the last verse.
After the hymn the pastor will stand and say the Invocation. It is not until this time that the actual Divine Service begins. God is present with us! God's holy Name (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is in our midst and God wants to share with us His good gifts. The Invocation, therefore is "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The pastor will also make the sign of the cross in front of him and the congregation is always welcome to make the sign of the cross on themselves as well.
Next we have the Confession of Sins. Not all denominations have a confession of sins, but we do in the Lutheran church. The confession is done corporately, meaning that everyone in the congregation joins in speaking the words of the confession (including the pastor). The confession is a time where, as sinners, we turn to God with nothing to offer him but our weak, sinful selves, asking for mercy on account of what Christ has done on the cross. More and more Lutheran churches are offering private confession and/or a Saturday evening Service of Confession as a preparation for the Lord's Supper on Sunday. This is still relatively uncommon, but it is growing.
After the confession, the pastor turns to the congregation and announces God's grace and forgiveness in the Absolution. It is a time of joy and comfort for the entire congregation (including the pastor) to be assured of God's forgiveness of sins through the voice of the pastor; the man who the church called as their pastor, and who speaks in the stead and by the command of Christ (Matthew 18).
We have now begin the part of the service that is called "The Service of the Word". It's where God's Word is spoke, read, preached or sung. It will continue on for the next several parts.
The Introit is an ancient tradition. Hundreds of years ago pastors would run from church to church to lead worship. Because of the time it took to go between churches, everything the congregation did before the introit was done without a pastor (often). So, when the pastor finally arrive, the pastor and the congregation entered (introited) the church to begin the next part of the service. Now we use the introit as a time to sing a hymn, to responsively read a psalm or another appointed passage. The introit is a proper, by the way.
Next a responsive, often chanted portion of the service, called the Kyrie, takes place. In Latin, Kyrie means "Lord, have mercy", and in fact the words spoke/sung/chanted are generally "Lord, have mercy." The pastor may say or chant a sentence (something like "In peace let us pray to the Lord') to which the congregation responds "Lord, have mercy". There are many many different forms of the Kyrie.
After the kyrie comes the Gloria in Excelsis or the Hymn of Praise. This hymn is based on many different passages of Scripture. The Book of Revelation is used A LOT in this hymn of praise. There are several different forms of the Gloria In Excelsis; some are used for specific times of the church year, some are used for Communion services, some are used at other times. Many of the hymn of praise settings are very ancient; going back many hundreds of years even to the time of the early church!
Note: During the season of Lent the Hymn of Praise is excluded from the liturgy.
The Salutation and Collect of the Day come next. The salutation is simply a greeting between the pastor and the people: "The Lord be with you; and also with you!" The collect of the day (a proper) is a selected prayer which is relative to the theme. The collect is either read or chanted by the pastor or the congregation reads it aloud. Thousands of these collects have been written throughout the hears and are used in churches.
Next we have the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel Readings. These again are propers and change from week to week. The pastor will generally choose hymns and preach his sermon based on one or more of these readings (most often the Gospel). The "Epistle" reading is most often one of St. Paul's 13 letters, or one of the other letters written by John, Peter, Jude, James or whoever wrote Hebrews. Revelation may also be considered as an Epistle, and sometimes the Book of Acts.
Between the Old Testament and the Epistle is the Gradual. The gradual is a short verse or part of a psalm that is sung/spoke/chanted. It originally was a very important part of the service and often included a procession and was much longer than it is today.
Between the Epistle and the Gospel an Alleluia Verse is sung/chanted/spoke. During Lent, this verse is omitted.
After the Gospel reading, the congregation will either sit and sing or stand and confess. Some churches prefer to move from the Gospel reading right into the Hymn of the Day. This hymn sort of sums up the theme for the day. Otherwise the Confession of Faith is spoke by both congregation and pastor. This is either the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed, and on occasion the Athaniasian Creed.
After the creed or the hymn comes the Sermon. Sermons in the Lutheran church are generally about 12-15 minutes long (with some variation). Sermons are Law and Gospel orientated (since Law and Gospel are the two great doctrines of Scripture). We believe that only males are permitted to preach (and to be pastors), as taught in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy and throughout the whole of Scripture.
Depending on the church, either the Hymn of the Day is sung or the Creed is professed right after the Sermon.
At this point the Service of the Word ends.
The Prayer of the Church is a long-form prayer where general prayers (for faith, forgiveness, daily bread, good government, good weather, etc) are offered and where specific prayer requests are made. Some churches allow the congregation to uplift these specific prayers while in others the pastor collects prayer requests and offers them on behalf of the congregation.
Of course, it wouldn't be church without the Offering. This is a time where members are asked and expected to support the mission of the church through their financial gifts. No Lutheran church 'requires' members to give, but it is expected, and it is taught in Scripture that God's people support the work of the Church. Tithes are not required of us, but a tithe (10%) is a good goal to have. If only 1/2 of an average sized congregation gave just 10% of their income to the church, that church would NEVER struggle and could help GENEROUSLY in its community and have a great mission program. Truth be told, most only give about 2% of their "disposable" income (meaning that they give 2% of what's left over after they spend it on bills, food, etc.). I hope I'm not making you feel guilty...but maybe you should :oops:.
During or after the Offering the congregation joins in the Offertory. This is a short hymn where we thank God for His many blessings and commit ourselves to give just as He has given to us.
When the Lord's Supper is served, The Service of the Sacrament now begins
The Lord's Supper begins with the Preface and the Proper Preface. The preface is a chanted or spoke responsive set of phrases which begins to prepare the worshipers for Christ's body and blood. After the preface, the pastor will speak or chant a much longer preface which changes from season to season.
Immediately following the Proper Preface the congregation joins in the Sanctus. The sanctus is a reverent, eternal hymn which proclaims the unity we as God's people have with all of heaven (as taught in Revelation). We join in with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, who are forever worshiping God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost!
A Prayer of Thanksgiving is offered by the pastor, thanking God for the rich blessings He gives us.
The Words of Institution or the Words of our Lord are recited over the bread and wine. These are the very same words that Christ spoke to His disciples in the last supper He had when he gave his last testament. Because Christ spoke these words and told us that whenever we eat this meal that we are eating his body and drinking his blood, we by faith believe it to be thus, along with all the promises that come with it. Yes, we see bread and wine, but Christ said that it is His body and blood, and thus it is!
After the bread and wine are consecrated (set apart), the pastor and congregation say the Lord's Prayer.
The Pax Domini or "peace of the Lord" is shared with the people. The pastor will often pick up the chalice of wine and hold up a piece of bread before the people and say "The Peace of the Lord be with you always". These words are assuring that God is at peace with His people and they are invited to enter into His presence to eat of the holy supper.
The congregation sings the Agnus Dei, or the Lamb of God. This hymn is a request for our Lord to have mercy on us and to receive our prayer, so that as we approach the table of the Lord we approach fully prepared to receive His body and blood.
The pastor and congregation receive Christ's body and blood in the Distribution. This is done in many ways and with many traditions which I won't get into. The bottom line is that it IS Christ's body and blood no matter how we receive it, though we MUST receive it in faith or it will do us true harm (1 Corinthians 10 and 11).
After Communion is served and the congregation returns to its seats a Canticle is sung, thanking God for giving us His body and blood and saving us from our sins.
The pastor speaks the Benediction before the people, which is the final blessing before the people go forth into the world as God's witnesses.
A final Closing Hymn may be sung.
Note: Some churches have processionals and recessionals where the pastor and the acolytes process from the back to the front before the service and recess from the front to the back after. This is actually quite common. In higher church festivals, they may process and recess with the Crucifix (see the next section) and with the Holy Scripture.
Furnishings, Paraments, Vestments, and the Senses
Furnishings - The Nave of the Ark
Furnishings in the sanctuary are very variable. No one church has the exact same setup as another church. I will supply you with a very general/standard way in which a sanctuary may be setup. The following image is of a make-believe church. However using it you will be able to see the different furnishings used in a typical Lutheran church. Remember though, your Lutheran church may not be setup like this:
The zones in the salmon color are the more significant parts of the sanctuary and are generally located where you see them. The baptismal font may be at the front of the sanctuary, at the back, or even in a different room such as in the Narthex. Some churches do not have the Lectern, where Scripture is read from, but will use the Pulpit only. The Music Area may be in a balcony, and sometimes it is closer to the front rather than in the back. Acoustically, any A/V control booth or area should be in the back. Depending on the age of the building, you may find that altars are against the front wall or, as in this diagram, pulled out a small amount so the pastor can walk behind. There are benefits of each option. For example, with the altar pulled away from the wall the pastor can face the congregation when saying the Words of Institution (since it's not being spoken to God for the people but to the people by God through the pastor). But again, this is all optional; there is no right or wrong way to do it. Do what is best for the congregation.
Now let us consider other furnishings you might find in the sanctuary.
Pews are the traditional seating choice of many churches. They are sturdy and able to seat many people. Pews are generally not movable however and difficult to clean under. They are also VERY expensive! Some churches have opted to use "Cathedral chairs" which are plush chairs with arms. They are comfortable (maybe even too comfortable), but relatively easy to move. They are also costly. Some churches use more basic readily-available seating such as folding chairs, especially mission churches or small churches with limited funding.
You will almost certainly find candles in any Lutheran church. Candles are either wax or plastic and filled with oil. There are normally two candles on the altar (light only for Holy Communion). Other candles you may find in a Lutheran church are: The Christ Candle. This is a Large decorated candle which is lit throughout most of the year (except for specific seasons like Advent, Holy Week or Lent). This candle may be part of a processional or it may simply remain at the front of the church near the Pulpit. You may find a candelabra on each side of the altar with a series of 7 candles each. This is derived from the 7 candles in Revelation symbolizing the 7 churches. You may find a special candle lit during baptisms which may also be given to the party being baptized. Other candle settings show up for different seasons of the church year. There is also one additional candle that some churches have which burns all the time and hangs from the ceiling. This candle represents the ever-present Christ in the congregation.
The Crucifix (sometimes just a cross) stands in the sanctuary either the right side of the altar or behind the altar (free-standing). It symbolizes that the preaching is of "Christ crucified" (as Paul writes). The crucifix is also used in processionals.
Another crucifix or cross may be predominantly placed on the altar. Many churches, if not all, also have a large cross mounted on the wall behind the altar, sometimes with Christ and sometimes without.
You will find other things on the altar. During a communion service you will find the communion vessels. You will find many of the following:
A Chalice - the "common cup" that the wine is served from
A Ciborium - a cup-like vessel which is used to distribute bread/wafers
A Paten - a plate, which takes the place of a ciborium, to distribute bread/wafers
A Flagon - a "pitcher" where wine is poured into the chalice
A Pyx - a tray or container that holds extra wafers/bread.
The communion vessels are made of brass, silver, gold, wood, glass, or even stone. We must always remember that Christ served the first and last Supper in the plates and cups of his time. We should NEVER glory in what God may bless us with or envy those who have more (or criticize because someone uses a vessel of wood instead of silver). After all, we are not receiving the gold or silver of our Lord, but the body and blood! We could receive it on paper plates and napkins and it would STILL be our Lord's body and blood! Let us be humble and boast in the Lord.
You may find very ornate stained-glass windows, possibly statues (though unlikely) of Jesus, Mary, or of saints past. You may find other things that I have not mentioned. Every church in the Lutheran church does it a little differently, and THAT is what makes us richly traditional in a variety of ways!
On occasion you may also see a device hanging on a chain with smoke billowing out of it. This is an incense burner! Some churches still use incense in worship.
Clothing and Vestments
Pastors and other people serving in the worship may wear special clothing. Many pastors will wear a collar or a clerical. This is simply a shirt (black most often) with a white tab or collar. It distinguishes the pastoral office from the rest of congregation (so no one is confused or unsure). As a bus driver wears the clothing of his vocation, and a businessman wears the clothing of his vocation, so the pastor wears a clerical to distinguish himself from the slew of other vocations in the world.
During the worship service the pastor may opt to wear additional clothing or "vestments" fitting for the service. The basic liturgical vestment is the Alb. The Alb is a white robe, often with a hood, that completely covers the pastor. He will most often tie a "cincture" or rope around his waist (which symbolizes what a shepherd might wear while tending his sheep). He does not wear the hood! Some pastors choose to wear "cassocks" and "surplices" instead of the alb. A cassock is a long black rob which buttons in the front. A surplice is a white gown worn over the cassock. The black cassock symbolizes the sin of the pastor, while the surplice symbolizes the covering of Christ (Paul compared Christ to a garment of white which Christians wear to cover their sin).
All or most pastors wear a Stole which is a seasonally colored scarf-like garment which goes around the neck and runs down the front. Stoles are reserved for the ordained ministers, thus you will rarely see a layperson (or even a vicar) wearing a stole.
Some of the more high-church pastors will wear additional vestments such as "chasubles" which are worn during the Service of the Sacrament, Copes or preaching gowns. You may also see certain lay people wearing deacon's stoles. You will NEVER (or should never) see a clergyman in the Lutheran church wear a hat (like the pope or other Roman Catholic clergy wear).
Paraments, the garments of the sanctuary
I won't spend a lot of time talking about paraments. Suffice to say that the altar and pulpit (and the walls and other parts of the worship area) are decorated according to the season of the church year.
The Senses; Why do all this??
Many churches, since the time of Luther, have walked away from the idea of colors, smells, tastes, sounds, and touch. On account of reactionism and rationalism, many churches abandoned the use of the senses and thus their churches are very plain and empty. Lutherans believe that the Word of God is received through ALL of our senses! It is why we use art, colors, smells, texture, taste, touch, and not just hearing. Our worship services are RICH and FULL of all sorts of things to help you absorb God's Word. God gave us senses to use, not only in our day to day life, but also in our worship life, to learn and grow in faith and love toward Him and others.
We must be careful, however, not to let the tools used in worship go to our heads. Luther said that we could have a complete worship service with nothing more than the Word being spoken and the Sacraments being distributed. All of the additional traditions, symbols, tools, furnishing, etc. that are used in worship assist - serve us! A pastor is no more or no less a pastor if he wear an alb or if he wear a t-shirt and a pair of shorts! The Lord's Supper is still the Lord's Supper whether it is served in silver or in plastic! God hears our prayers whether or not we flood the sanctuary with incense or with a Glade Plugin. Worship music is still worship music whether there is a 1000 rank pipe organ or a 88-key piano or a small keyboard or no accompaniment at all. Worship is still worship and liturgy is still liturgy whether or not we have pews, chairs or stadium seats.
This is not to say that having an area set apart for worship isn't important or that we shouldn't use these things. What I am saying is that we should not lord over them or criticize other churches because they don't use these things. Doing so is arrogant and self-righteous, and when we store up treasures on earth, we get no treasures in heaven!
Keeping the Tradition in a Variety of Ways
The definition of the word "tradition", according to merriam-webster.com, is "an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior". But why have tradition? After all doesn't the Bible tell us not to do repetitive prayers and chants? For Matthew 6:7-8 says, “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them,for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." And doesn't the Bible condemn any sort of tradition? For Mark 7:6-13 says, "And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
A zealous, fundamentalist American Christian would read these passages and, without looking at context or limiting himself to what Scripture says, conclude that all tradition is condemned and should be avoided. But that fact is that these passages are not condemning traditions or repetitive prayer. What these passages ARE speaking to are the use of repetitive prayers or traditions that supersede or contradict Scripture. For example, is some churches, a repetitive prayer is offered to saints or to Mary the mother of Jesus. In some pagan circles, repetitive prayer or chanting is done. Also in some churches, the traditions used are considered as important or even more important that the Word of God. In such cases, yes, traditions and repetitive prayers are not good. Tradition is no longer a tool but instead becomes almost an object of worship - and idol.
But Jesus had traditions. As was his "custom" (his tradition), he would go to the synagogue to read and to preach. This was something he did customarily or repeatedly. The Passover meal He and His disciples celebrated was something that they did as part of their Jewish tradition. And not only did Jesus have traditions, but EVERYONE who lives, breathes, or puts one foot in front of the other has traditions. God built into us the need for tradition! And it's no different in our churches. The most untraditional, anti-tradition church certainly has traditions.
Lutherans simply believe the following regarding traditions in the church: That while traditions are not necessary for salvation, they are in fact good for order, tranquility, and common practice. Now to parse that out, we must first understand that no tradition is commanded in Scripture; all tradition is man-made. However this doesn't mean that tradition is an automatic throw away. There are LOTS of things that we all as Christians do which are tradition in some way, shape or form. For example, meeting in a "church" is a tradition (meeting in an A-frame building with pews, chairs, a pulipt or lectern, etc.). While meeting for worship on Sunday is NOT tradition, the time we meet is, as well as the length of our worship, when we pray, when and what we sing, etc. Would you consider waiving your hands during a nice song a tradition? OF COURSE! God doesn't command it or forbid it.