Frequently Asked Questions

Vocabulary and Special Terms —FAQs

Churches (including ours) sometimes use vocabulary or special terms that are not in common enough usage to be immediately understood by everyone. Even people who have been part of the church and our congregation for a long time may not know certain terms, phrases or acronyms.

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Please help add to this list of words. If you ask a question (in comments, for example) that can be answered here, it will be as soon as possible.

Click on a question below for an answer and additional information regarding those words and how they are used.

Advent. People use “advent” talking about a season of the year. What does advent mean? What season is advent?

What is Advent?

Ashes. At the worship service on Ash Wednesday, our pastor marks the cross on our forehead with ashes. Why does the pastor place ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday?

Why Ashes on Ash Wednesday?

Catechumen. Catechumens seem to be people in our church. When people mention catechumens I wonder who they are talking about.

What does Catechumen mean?

Confirmation. Confirmation is often mentioned for young people but not for adults. What is confirmation? Confirmand? Confirmation Sunday?

What is Confirmation?

Narthex. Someone often says that something can be found in the Narthex. I hear people referring to the narthex like a place.

What is the Narthex?

Palm branches. On the Sunday before Easter palm branches were passed out to everyone and many waved them while the pastor entered the Sanctuary. Why call it “Palm Sunday” and wave palm branches in church?

Why palm branches on Palm Sunday?

Sanctuary. The Sanctuary is part of the church it seems. What place is the Sanctuary and why is it called that?

What is the Sanctuary?

Tenebrae. On Good Friday Mt. Olive has a tradition of celebrating a candlelight service that ends in darkness and it is called Tenebrae. What does Tenebrae mean and how is it related to worship?

What is Tenebrae?

More questions and answers on many topics are available from the (LCMS) Lutheran Church Missouri Synod:

Frequently Asked Questions — LCMS Views