God is with us in Word and Sacrament

Resuming Church Services

Dear Saints of Immanuel,

As mentioned in the most recent Immanuel News & Notes, Governor Pritzker has included churches in the category of essential services. This means that we are able to attend church again. However, the number allowed to gather is only ten. Why liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries are able to fill up to fifty percent capacity and churches are only allowed ten people is still not clear. Nevertheless, we are able to meet. 
 
Meeting together as the church is what it means to be the church. The church is the assembly of all those who trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Virtual services, while helpful in a pinch, are no substitute for the life of the branches who only have life by their connection to the Vine. And that connection is not virtual. Since the restriction has been partially lifted, we will meet within those guidelines. 
Here’s the plan: 
I will be offering a number of Divine Services with Holy Communion on Saturdays and Sundays. The service will be spoken except for one hymn. The service will include a short homily on the appointed texts for the day. 
To reduce cleaning after the service, the hymnals have been removed from the pews. The entire service will be printed in the bulletin. The bulletin may be kept and taken home, or it may be thrown away in a wastepaper basket provided in the Narthex. We will not reuse these bulletins for future services. After the service, congregants are asked to wipe down everything they touched with disinfectant wipes provided in the pews. 
During the distribution of the Lord’s Supper, the same precautions instituted at our last service will still be used. Everyone is to remain standing during the distribution at the communion rail at the recommended six feet distance.
The entire church has been thoroughly cleaned by a few volunteers and disinfected by KleenRite Cleaners with a solution that kills viruses and bacteria, including the COVID-19 virus.
To attend one of these services, you must call, text, or e-mail me and pick a time. That time will be your slot every week until further restrictions are changed. If when you call, text, or email, the service you chose is already filled, I will ask you to pick a different time slot that has not yet been filled. 
The times of the services are as follows: 
Saturday: 3:00 pm; 4:30 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am; 9:30 am; 11:00 am; 1:30 pm; 3:00 pm; 4:30 pm. 
I realize that this is still not optimal. It won’t feel the same as gathering with everyone at once, singing with the organ, and having the acolytes and full ceremony we’ve come to cherish. That day will return. But for now, even though it will not feel the same, it will still be the delivery of the forgiveness of sins for eternal life and everlasting salvation. It will still be church. 
Please contact me on my mobile phone (listed below) to schedule your time. I will continue to appeal to our governing authorities to treat the church as just as essential as other essential services. I encourage you to do the same. If you have any questions, please contact me. 
Yours in Christ, 
Pastor


Rev. Jason M. Braaten
Immanuel, Tuscola, IL

(O) 217.253.4341
(M) 217.460.2077

pastor.braaten@gmail.com
www.immanueltuscola.org

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