Tree of Life Lutheran Church
A Member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Delaware Maryland Synod
Music: Our music is a blend of styles. Our members are from diverse musical backgrounds, so our music is, too!
Worship: Our worship follows the classic Christian ordo (fancy church word for order) of gathering, hearing the Word read and proclaimed, celebrating the Meal of Holy Communion, and being sent on Christ’s mission.
Finding Us: We are between US 13 N and S in Odessa, DE. On 13 N you can see our sign on the left, three blocks North of Main Street. On 13 S we are harder to find; it is the first left turn after the Sunoco station. If you reach the traffic light at Main Street, you went three blocks too far. Turn around and try again if you overshoot! If you are coming on 299 from Middletown, cross 13 S and turn left on 13 N. You will see the sign on the left.
Parking: Our lot has two entrances, both on Osbourne St. (the little cross street connecting 13 N and 13 S. Handicapped-designated spots are by the main doors. Additional parking is available on the street and across 13 S in the American Legion parking lot. We do ask that you be mindful of neighbors when parking on the street, as there are houses with driveways that open onto Osbourne!
Entry: The big red double doors on the left are your best option. The little door in the middle goes into the kitchen, and while it is used some during the week it is locked at about 10:20 a.m. on Sundays. The big red doors open onto our narthex (fancy church word for lobby) which opens into our worship space. Ushers are here to greet you.
Worship Space: The space is "L" shaped with the table and lectern situated at the angle. You enter at the back of the main arm of the L. Additional seating is available down the other arm of the L. You can get there either by hanging a right at the front of the main section, or ducking through the doors on the right at the back of the main section, taking a left in the hall and going through the door at the end of the hallway. The only reserved seats, unless otherwise indicated, are those in the front row by the piano.
Is there a dress code?: We think of ourselves as relaxed. Some dress in slacks and tie or in a dress, others come in blue jeans. We’ve yet to have an adult come barefoot, but this would likely not be too big a deal. We fall somewhere between boardroom and poolside.
Who takes communion?: As a congregation of the ELCA, we affirm that holy communion is the meal of the baptized. Those who are baptized are invited. There is no specific age at which one is prepared, and adults are still trying to figure out how God can be so graceful as to be in bread and wine.
What’s in communion?: The bread is made with wheat flour, and is NOT gluten free, but there are gluten free wafers available. There is a common cup with wine, as well as pre-filled individual cups with wine and white grape juice. Tree of Life has no rules about who can have wine and who cannot.
What Bible do you use?: Lutherans usually use the standard Protestant Canon of 66 books (39 Old Testament, 27 New Testament). Sometimes, though, we will read things that do not appear here but are nonetheless in other church’s Bibles, though this is rare. In worship and in Sunday school, we use the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible. It preserves the ambiguity and richness of the text while putting it in language comprehensible to contemporary Americans. There is no “official” or “authorized” version in the Lutheran church, so if you like to read a different translation, you will not find us opposing that. We just use this one here.
How do you use the Bible in worship?: Tree of Life, like most Lutheran churches, follows the Revised Common Lectionary, a scheduling of biblical texts followed by churches around the world. There are three readings and a psalm each Sunday. From December through Pentecost (late spring) these readings are all related to each other around a theme for the Sunday. After Pentecost, we read through the Bible continuously from Sunday to Sunday. Much of our worship music is also rooted in the Bible or is directly from the Bible. For example, most Sundays we sing “Glory to God in the highest,” just as Luke tells us the angels did on the night Jesus was born.