Ecclesiastical Glossary

This project will be completed over time. You can participate by revising, refining, or correcting these entries using the page comment function. if you think I have left something out, please, suggest it.

Each page contains all the entries for a single letter of the alphabet. Use the page controls at the bottom of each page to navigate: 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, 4=D, etc.


sabbath The name of the seventh day of creation, which God appointed to be observed by the Jews as a day of rest and worship.

sacrament  A sacred act instituted by God in which God Himself has joined His Word of promise to a visible element, and by which He offers, gives, and seals the forgiveness of sins earned by Christ. Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. From the Latin sacramentum, ‘oath’ or ‘solemn obligation’; used in early Latin editions of the Scripture to translate the Greek mustériaon ‘mystery.’

Sacrament of the Altar Sacrament by which the Lord offers His body and blood under the form of consecrated bread and wine for Christians to eat and drink; through such eating and drinking, communicants receive the gifts of the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of faith; also called Holy Communion, the Eucharist, and the Lord’s Supper.

sacred ‘Set apart’ for worship.

sacrifice To give up or destroy something, often in exchange for something else (verb); something offered to God (noun).

sacristy Room next to the chancel used for preparing and storing the altar linens and Communion vessels and where the pastor prepares for worship.

saint  Latin sanctus, ‘holy’. A believer in Christ who is declared holy because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection; the term applies to all who believe in Christ, but is especially used of men and women of faith who stand out as example for the Church–one set apart as especially holy (e.g., St. Paul, St. Francis of Assisi);  in Scripture refers to believers on earth (Acts 9:32; Romans 1:7) and in heaven (Matthew 27:52).  The Lutheran Reformation rejected prayers and devotions to saints. In Lutheran usage, the title of “Saint” is not used for anyone except those who were called such before the Reformation.

Salutation Special greeting between pastor and people: “The Lord be with you,” followed by the response “And also with you” or “And with your spirit.”

sanctify ‘To make holy’ by the Word of God, the means by which the Holy Spirit produces faith in every Christian.

Sanctus Latin  ‘holy’.  The great hymn of Holy Communion which follows immediately the Preface in the Service of the Sacrament. Derived from the song of the angles before the heavenly throne (Isaiah 6:3) and the song of the multitude at Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9).

Savior Jesus Christ, the one who saves people from their sins.

Scripture God’s Word; the Bible.

S.D. Servus Dei, or “Servant of God”

Septuagesima Latin, ‘seventieth’. The name of the first of three pre-Lent Sundays which falls approximately seventy days before Easter.

Sermon Latin  ‘speech’. The pastor’s proclamation of the Word of God which application of the Law and the Gospel based on the Scripture readings appointed for a particular Sunday or festival day in the Church Year.

Service of the Sacrament Second main part of the Divine Service, beginning with the Preface.

Service of the Word First main part of the Divine Service, beginning with the Introit.

Sexagesima Latin ‘sixtieth’. The name of the second of three pre-Lent Sundays which falls approximately sixty days before Easter.

sign/symbol A visual image that points to or represents something else, a greater reality.

sin Acts against commandments of God; every thought, desire, word, and deed which is contrary to God’s Law.

sinner A person who is guilty of sin, whose actions are against God’s command (sin of commission), or who shows inaction in doing God’s will (sin of ommission).

Songs of Ascent Psalms 120–134; they were perhaps read or sung on the steps during the great festivals; the title could also refer to the religious pilgrimages each year that went up to Jerusalem. The psalms would be sung as the worshipers approached Jerusalem’s hills.

stewardship The managing of personal property or money; for Christians, it is the proper use of one’s money or resources to benefit God’s kingdom.

sufferages Latin suffragium, ‘assent’. Short, concise petitions offered by the minister to which the people assent by their response. Historically part of the Divine Hours (monastic prayer offices)

Sunday The first day of the week. The day Jesus rose from the dead; customarily the day for Christians to worship God in church.

symbol Something that stands for or represents a person, idea, or thing.

One thought on “Ecclesiastical Glossary

I'm interested to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.