What Is Gottesdienst?

Gottesdienst is a German word meaning God’s service or divine service. The word itself is beautifully ambiguous as it explains what happens when we gather. Lutherans use this word sometimes to describe worship, however, the word gottesdienst more accurately than the word worship describes the interaction that takes place between God and man. God giving His gifts to us in word and sacrament and us responding to Him. Not simply a transaction or a singing at God but a relationship. 

In Zephaniah there is a beautiful passage about God restoring His people. In this passage God paints a picture that embodies this idea of gottesdienst, restoring His people and inspiring song in them. Then, one of the mind blowing parts of this passage happens in verse 17 where God himself sings over His people, rejoicing in the fact that they are there and they are His.

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
    shout, O Israel!

Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
    O daughter of Jerusalem!

The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
    he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
    you shall never again fear evil.

On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
    let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
    so that you will no longer suffer reproach. 
Behold, at that time I will deal
    with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
    and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
    and renown in all the earth.

                             Zephaniah 3:14-19 (ESV)