Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Psalm 46 begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”
We will not fear.We are in uncharted territory, doing our very best to make sense of what is happening with both the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the containment instructions we are receiving from the government. We certainly do not want to be fearful, because we know that God has this situation and us, his children, in the palm of his hands. We do want to be responsible citizens and leaders in our community of faith. To that end, this is where we now stand.
The Open Arms Appreciation Dinner has been postponed to be rescheduled at a later date.
The Food Bank will operate under normal conditions, to allow families to get some much needed food. The food is already in the house for distribution tomorrow morning.
The Funeral for John Kinloch scheduled for tomorrow morning will become a memorial service that will be rescheduled at a later date.
Worship on Sunday morning will take place with the following caveats:
- We will hope to get the necessary leadership to lead us in Prayer, Word, and Song. On-line Streaming for each of the first three services will be available. If you are not in a leadership role, please stay at home and tune into the website. If you are in a leadership role, but feel ill in any way, please stay at home and tune into the website. You will be able to access the website here: http://oursaviorlutheranchurch.yourstreamlive.com
- There will be a Children’s Message at each service.
- No passing of the peace.
- No Holy Communion.
- No passing of the plate during the offering. Offering will be collected in a single plate to avoid hands on touching.
- No Sunday School for Children will be available.
- No Bagels or Coffee will be available.
The vote for a new pastoral candidate from Concordia Seminary will be postponed.
The Children’s Choir Festival at the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew has been cancelled.
Tutoring is cancelled for this coming two weeks due to our following the policy that when the schools close, we close.
Wednesday evening activities will be cancelled except that we will have a devotional live streamed worship service beginning at 7:15.
The Messiah Choir Concert scheduled for Saturday March 21 is cancelled.
The Puerto Rico Mission trip has been cancelled.
Yet, with all of these cancellations, as of right now, Open Arms is remaining open. We have not received a definitive directive from the Office of Child Care from the State of Maryland. Closing creates all sorts of issues, but not closing creates others. Right now, we are waiting on the directive from the government, and choosing to take precautions with extra cleaning, washing hands, and keeping contact to the minimum possible in a Child Care Center where children obviously need physical touch. Pray for the health and safety of our workers, children, and their families.
With so many cancellations, we will have an opportunity this Lent that is also unprecedented. We will have time with family, and time with our Lord. Lent is a time of reflection and repentance. It is a time to think about the sickness of sin and how it affects each of us. It is a time to think about how the perfect blood of Jesus is the great medicine for sin’s condition, and how the spread of the Gospel is desperately needed. I will work to provide our congregation with some ideas on how to serve our neighbor. Maybe it’s telephone calling an elderly neighbor, fellow church. member or family member. Maybe it is doing an online Bible Study with some friends. There will be heightened worry and anxiety over this massive change in our lives, and our great God who is with us in the midst of it is our source of comfort and peace.
As the Psalmist writes, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.”
Pray for our leaders, those in authority, making decisions on our behalf. Pray for those affected by this virus, and those who are mourning the loss of loved ones. Pray for the church, that the Gospel might be advanced through this as we lean on our Savior ever more. These are unprecedented times, but we will not fear.
Please let me, or an elder, know how you are doing. If there is anything that we can do you help you, don’t be afraid to ask.
In the love of Jesus,