Dear Friends in Christ :
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
It is good to know that we serve a God Who is sovereign in all things, Who gives salvation to all, and we trust in His strength for all things, including the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and healing. Through such gifts of God, we have the medical sciences which help us.
We are going to have services tomorrow as is our custom so we may be strengthened by God’s Word and Sacrament.
However, some of our usual ways of doing things will be adapted in light of the wisdom needed to navigate our current circumstances. I was on a conference call with our District President, Dr. Lee Hagan, Saturday morning and he offered some things to add to what we, the Elders and I, had made plans to alter already.
Please, if you’re feeling sick or have any symptoms of fever etc., it is best to remain home. (I’m going to try live streaming the service on Facebook! Pray that that works!)
I’m also going to be wiping down all the normally touched surfaces, pew tops, door plates, knobs, and handles, and the altar railings with Clorox wipes.
So here are the changes for tomorrow (some of these may be in effect for the next several weeks, this is just to get us through tomorrow at a minimum) :
- As you enter, the greeters will give only a verbal greeting, no handshaking.
- The bulletins will be on the table in the narthex, please pick one up for yourself as the ushers are being asked to not handle them.
- The same goes for the bottles of water that will be on the same table. You’ll need one of those for a sermon illustration. You’re asked to wait to open them till that part of the sermon when I give you the go-ahead for that.
- There will be hand sanitizer bottles on the tables outside the sanctuary double doors – please use them.
- We will not be passing the offering plates and ask that you use them on your way in or out of the sanctuary. They will be on the piano, on the right, as you enter.
- During the “Passing of the Peace.” greet one another verbally only and refrain from shaking hands.
- We will not use or pass along the red attendance books.
- During the Sacrament of the Altar, please keep your hands or a hand flat open for me to place the wafer in your palms.
- Also, again with guidance from the District, we are suspending the use of the Common Cup for now. However, I am keeping it on the altar to remind us that we indeed share in this one Cup as the Lord called us to.
- The trays with individual cups have had the cups spaced so you may retrieve a cup without contacting another cup.
Also, following the service, Pastor Rhodes will greet you in the narthex with his hands over his heart to indicate his pastoral care for you. As the phrase goes, ‘out of an abundance of caution,’ he does not want to pick up and pass along a contagion to anyone or everyone. Please be assured that we are doing these things out of pastoral love and concern for the whole congregation and our guests and visitors.
The above is what we used to get through last Sunday. And it was good, thanks be to God!
I’m soon to be in a conference call with circuit pastors to discuss options and ideas of how to proceed the next few weeks / months.
I’ve been reading the whole letter Luther wrote to a brother pastor regarding whether or not it is permissible for a pastor to flee in the face of the plague. To boil it down a bit it comes to this.
- Take care of yourself so you can take care of one another.
- If you are free of the disease and can aid your neighbor without undue threat to yourself, do so.
- As a pastor continue to offer word and sacrament ministry in some fashion so that people have the spiritual nourishment, they need in the face of what the devil is trying to do by use of the disease to harm and separate people from their trust in the Lord.
- If your faith is such that you understand the disease to be God’s judgment on the sin of mankind (in general, not as a tit-for-tat for specific sins) and are accepting of both God’s judgment as well as His goodness to you in Christ and thus provides you the assurance that even if God allows the plague to kill you, you are not in fear because of the guarantee that Christ will bring you home to heaven, then do your best to serve your people and trust God to care for you.
Now looking ahead. I believe all of these options, or some combination of them, would be fine. We just need to decide a course to take and then monitor that for improvements as to how to best serve one another.
We could continue as we did 3/15
We could modify for time what we did on 3/15
We could suspend all meetings and services and seek to do something ‘online’
We could suspend all meetings and services and I could do something using the phonetree system.