March 28, 2020
Dear People of God of Grace Lutheran Church,
The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. I, Pastor Dietrich, also send you my love and caring.
Saturday, March 28, 2020: If you have already read today’s daily devotion from Our Daily Bread, in booklet form or online https://odb.org/ today’s key verse is 1st Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
The Scripture passage to read is 2nd Kings 6: 1-7, and today’s devotion is entitled “The Would-Be Woodcutter.”
I recommend the Our Daily Bread daily devotional as well as the Christ In Our Home daily devotional booklet,
copies of which are available in our Book Exchange Box, and, as I said ODB is available online also (It is FREE!).
What an unusual yet serious time this is. Nevertheless, we are grounded in Christ our Lord and Savior.
Never in my life did I ever think I would be writing or saying the following:
We will not be holding worship on Palm Sunday (April 5), during Holy Week (April 6-11),
on the First Day of Easter (April 12), or the Second Sunday of Easter (April 19).
I do not anticipate us holding in-person services, meetings, Bible studies, etc. (anything) during the month of April 2020.
Our building remains closed for the foreseeable future. Certainly, if that changes, and restrictions are lifted, we will adjust, but current conditions inform us that we must continue to STAY AT HOME and in STAY AWAY, very possibly into the month of May. For the moment, the building of Grace Lutheran Church remains closed for all functions through, at least, Monday, April 20. As that date approaches, I will re-assess and see where things stand.
The Good News is this: Jesus Christ died for all and rose from the dead for our salvation, and the Season of Easter lasts 50 days. The 50th Day of Easter, the Day of Pentecost, is Sunday, May 31, 2020. It is my hope that we might be able to gather together by then, maybe even the week before, 5/24/2020.
But I do not want to give out any false hope. I am hopeful. I am cautiously optimistic. I would love it if we might gather in late April, but we simply must wait and see, and, in the meantime, act on the side of caution and take measures that ensure the best well-being of all. This virus is all too easily caught and transmitted, and I want to keep all of you safe and healthy so that we ALL may be reunited when it is safe to be so.
Despite not gathering together in person, we are still the church. Right now, the best care we can provide to one another is to keep apart from one another. I am both saddened and angered when I hear of congregations, -- in the United States and in other countries affected by COVID-19 -- gathering and worshiping in person and in numbers. Based on all the information we have at this time, this is not good nor faithful action! Pastorally, I believe that pastors who encourage and welcome people to worship at this time are not being good, faithful shepherds of their flock. In fact, given the information we have and given how easily this disease is transmitted, and given that none of us have any immunity from it, and given that it can lead to death, especially for those with underlying health conditions, it is foolish, irresponsible, and in fact dangerous for people to come together in person for worship at this time. Satan said to Jesus: Jump off this height; you know that God’s angels will bear you up and rescue you. Jesus replied: “Do not tempt the Lord your God!” If we are advised that, for the well-being and lives of one another, we need to STAY HOME, then we need to STAY HOME, going out only for the most basic physical need essentials, as needed.
I understand that it is hard not to be together. In time, we will be together again. But for now, we do what God calls us to do to care for one another, which, in this case, is to be physically apart from one another. We help and care for one another as we are able and as we are also called to do, but we do so with different protocols and behaviors to protect one another. And we do not congregate so that all may be as safe as possible.
For this Sunday, March 29, I will again make a Sunday bulletin and sermon available on Sunday morning (via 2 attachments in an email from me). Those of you who already “signed up” to receive this will continue to receive this. If you have not yet signed up, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know that you would like to receive the Sunday bulletin and sermon via an email from me. I will also place some Sunday bulletins & Celebrate inserts in the Book Box.
On Palm Sunday, I will bless the palms early on Palm Sunday morning, and we will leave them out on the landing of the church steps, by the Book Exchange Box, in some for of pail, bucket, or container from which you may come and talk some palms for your home. I will also leave Sunday bulletins and Celebrate inserts in the book exchange box on that morning.
For those who do go out and engage in necessary person-to-person services: we THANK GOD FOR THEM and WE PRAY FOR THEM and, if there is something we may do for them in some way, WE HELP THEM. My brother is in one such line of work. He works for the City Water Department where he and his wife live. (They are fine.) Communities need their basic services: gas, electric, clean, running water. So, we pray for all health care workers and their families, we pray for every person who continues to work out in the world or from home, and we pray for those who have lost their jobs. There is much to keep us occupied in prayer. So, we PRAY FIRST, we pray throughout the day and at night, before we rest our bodies for sleep. Also, remember to hold all children in prayer. This is a very confusing time for them, and their lives have been disrupted, also. Children, young and older, cannot play with their friends or go to school; high school and college seniors will graduate, but not with all the usual community and ceremonial “pomp and circumstance.” It is a trying and confusing time for children, too, so pray for them and for their parents.
I will write more in the April edition of our newsletter, which may be somewhat delayed, due to the death of Eileen Diffley’s mother-in-law, who just died this past Thursday. Please hold the Diffley family in prayer. If the newsletter is put on hold, I may have Toni send out to you my newsletter Pastor’s Message sometime next week.
Pray First, Stay Home, and Stay Well, and may the Peace of Christ uphold you.
Your Pastor in Christ,
+ PRAY FIRST
+ The Rev. Lauretta Dietrich
Suspended until April 5th
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