Dear Saints of Immanuel,
St. Paul writes in the first chapter of 1st Timothy, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Concerning the COVID-19 virus, or any danger or time of concern, we as Christians ought to remember that our Lord has blessed us by the Gospel to know, understand, and believe the truth. We see the big picture. As Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Being confident in His promise of salvation and the forgiveness of sins, we are able to meet every situation with a confident spirit.
Jesus said, “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God.” Thus, holding services and hearing the Word of God is something vital for all of us. At the same time, we also need to be mindful of how to make wise decisions–how best to serve our neighbor and aid the government’s attempt to slow the rate of infection so that the health care system is not overwhelmed. These recommendations and updates are changing rapidly as the governing authorities and the medical community seek to do what is best for halting the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
With this in mind, the Board of Elders and I have decided the following with regard to our service schedule. This is in addition to the decisions that we sent out on Monday.
- All midweek Lenten services are canceled. I am looking into offering an online prayer service through Facebook Live. So if you are on Facebook, watch the Immanuel page for updates.
- The Saturday night and Sunday morning Divine Services are canceled for the next two weeks, resuming again in some form on Palm Sunday. We will be in contact through e-mail and phone with updates.
If you desire the Sacrament of the Altar during these two weeks, please contact me to schedule an appointment, and I will bring it to you. This is not a burden but a joy. So, please do not think you should go without.
There are many opportunities to hear the Word of God preached within a Lutheran service both online and even through local television stations. Below is a list of a couple I recommend:
- Worship Anew (This airs on WCIX 49 MyTV on Sunday at 7:30 a.m.)
- Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fort Wayne, IN (This airs on YouTube at 10:30 am Eastern Time. This was my home congregation in Fort Wayne while at seminary.)
We are in the midst of a swiftly changing situation. Undoubtedly, we will have to continue to modify our plans and schedules. Immanuel is not only looking at how to react, but also how to be proactive in this situation. The Elders and I will continue to meet to formulate a plan for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter services. I will be checking in with our members and making sure the Word of God can continue to be heard by other means if in the weeks or months to come we are not able to meet as a congregation.
The Church has been commissioned to proclaim the Gospel of salvation. We are a chosen people, blessed by the forgiveness of sins and washed in the blood of Christ. Many are tempted in a crisis to let their spirit lurch this way and that, stumbling in fear and anxiety. I encourage all of you to continue to point each other, and all men, to the Rock and Anchor of our lives–Christ our Lord.
Yours in Christ,