By bishop Marianne Christiansen, Diocese of Haderslev
The Danish Lutheran Church contains many church voices, and each parish and church has its own particular way of being a church and a congregation. There is a great variety, but what gathers our Church into one is our belief in the triune God, revealed in Jesus Christ the Son of God, as the liberator of joy.
Faith alone constitutes our relation to God
Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ we know God as the Creator, who has created the world, every being and every person. We know God as Jesus Christ, who acts with mercy in the world and preaches his word. And we know God as the Holy Spirit who is always in the world and among us and creates faith, hope, and love.
The core of our Church and our faith is an understanding of the Gospel as a liberating, joyful message. We do not need to deserve God’s love, for we already have it, because of Jesus Christ and what he did for us. For the Evangelical-Lutheran Church it is a central belief that God has become the man Jesus Christ and has entered the world and our life in order to bear it. He bears the sin and guilt and death that are our life-conditions as human beings. Faith in God’s mercy – God’s love and forgiveness of our imperfection – constitutes our relation to God. This is not something we ourselves have to achieve. Faith is the Holy Spirit’s gift to us.
In consequence of this belief that we cannot do anything for God in order to be saved follows the Evangelical-Lutheran idea of ’the priesthood of all believers’. This means that every person who is baptised is priest, bishop, and pope! This in turn means that we have the same relation to God whatever our church status.
These ideas find specific expression in our Church structure. The Church is led by the church members. It is the individual congregation that calls its pastor to serve them.
The Gospel brings joy
Martin Luther (1483-1546, German monk and reformer) understood the Gospel as being the good news which we cannot help but sing and tell, so that people can hear it and be happy! This focus on the joy that the Gospel brings has influenced the way that the Evangelical-Lutheran Church holds its services. We sing a lot when we worship. Our joy receives extra expression through singing and making music.
A number of passages from the Bible are also read aloud during the service, and their interpretation in the preaching is also important. The joyful message of the passages from Scripture, together with their interpretation in the hymn-singing around them, is therefore a special characteristic of our Church.
Baptism and Holy Communion
The two sacraments in the Lutheran Church are also a special characteristic of our faith. These are Baptism and Holy Communion, and both are an integrated part of the Sunday service.
Baptism is the covenant between God and humanity that forms the foundation for the rest of our lives, meaning life accompanied by Jesus Christ. You can only be baptised once.
Holy Communion is a recurring ceremony in memory of Christ and what he did for us. But it is also a means of ’embracing’ the Word/Jesus Christ not as a symbolic act but in reality. In our Church, we have the principle of an open Holy Communion, which means that you do not need to be a member of the Danish Lutheran Church in order to participate