Sometimes visitors are surprised by the form of our services and may ask if we're even Lutheran. That's nothing new. C.F.W. Walther, the first president of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod faced such critique in the early years of our Synod. He responded masterfully (if also at length)!
In short: Yes, we are Lutheran! In fact, the order of service and manner in which it is celebrated at Mount Calvary is very much like how Luther and the first generations of Lutherans worshipped. The picture to the right is of a Danish Lutheran Service that was painted in 1561 (well after Denmark adopted the Lutheran reforms of the western catholic church).
We reject the false teachings of the medieval church which had crept in over time, and which the Roman Catholic Church affirmed despite the clear demonstration that they were un-biblical innovations which undermined the Gospel. However, the attitude of the Lutheran reformers towards the traditions and rituals of worship of the medieval church, in contrast to the radical reformers and Calvinists, was to retain what they had received, except for such changes as the purity of the Gospel demanded. The Lutheran Confessions (the public statement of what Lutherans believe) repeatedly state this:
Our churches teach that ceremonies ought to be observed that may be observed without sin. Also, ceremonies and other practices that are profitable for tranquility and good order in the Church (in particular, holy days, festivals, and the like) ought to be observed (Augsburg Confession XV, 1).
It is a false and hate-filled charge that our churches have abolished all the ceremonies instituted in ancient times (Augsburg Confession XXI, 4).
Our churches are falsely accused of abolishing the Mass. The Mass is held among us and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved...For ceremonies are needed for this reason alone, that [people] be taught what they need to know about Christ (Augsburg Confession XXIV, 1 - 3).
At the outset, we must again make this preliminary statement: we do not abolish the Mass, but religiously keep and defend it. Masses are celebrated among us every Lord's Day and on other festivals. The Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other such things (Apology to the Augsburg Confession XXIV, 1).
... ceremonies should be celebrated to teach people Scripture, that those admonished by the Word may conceive faith and godly fear, and may also pray. (This is the intent of ceremonies) (Apology to the Augsburg Confession XXIV, 3).
We retain the historic forms of worship of the western church, not because they are commanded by God or are essential for god-pleasing worship, but because we stand in continuity with our forefathers in the faith and we happily receive what they have handed on to us. We retain these historic forms of worship because they clearly confess Christ and what we are to believe. They also help us to be mindful that we are on holy ground, in the very presence of the Triune God, and that what is happening here is like no other place on earth!
If you want to know more about our form of worship and ceremonies, please ask our pastor, he will be happy to share more with you!