UPDATED MARCH 21 5:03pm
Both the CDC and now, our federal, state, and local government, have recommended all of us to do our part to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus by avoiding gatherings of ten or more people.
The councils have decided, out of love for one another and for our community, to suspend all worship services, classes, and events until April 5th. Since that decision, our governor has banned gatherings of 10 or more, so our suspension is now until further notice.
It’s a decision that many, including sister congregations in the WELS throughout our area and nation, have also had to make. We have made this decision not out of fear but because we feel this is the considerate and loving course of action.
Here are some principles that helped guide this difficult decision:
- The Fourth Commandment and other words of Scripture reminds us to respect and obey the governing authorities as God’s representatives. We can recognize that by limiting the size of worship gatherings, the government is not attempting to deny our freedom of religion. Rather, governing authorities have issued directives that they believe will protect us and our fellow citizens from harm. The government is not singling out churches for closure, but is addressing its recommendation to everyone and to all sorts of organizations. This is similar to situations when a blizzard or ice storm prompts authorities to announce that people should not be on the roads, and churches in response cancel services for a Sunday. A difference is that our nation will be experiencing a viral “blizzard.”
- The Fifth Commandment and other words of Scripture tell us we have the responsibility not to do anything to hurt or harm our neighbor (or ourselves for that matter), but even to help our neighbor in times of need. The public health and safety concerns that prompted this government request are legitimate. More detailed information about the coronavirus and its dangers can be found in a statement put out by from Christian Life Resources (a church-related agency of the Wisconsin Synod). www.christianliferesources.com/2020/03/16/christian-life-resources-advisement-on-thecovid-19-coronavirus. We should certainly trust in God to take care of us, but we should not temp God by being unnecessarily careless concerning our health or the health of others. St. Paul encourages us: “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3b-4).
- At the same time, all of Holy Scripture shows us the blessings of worship and encourages us to make faithful use of God’s means of grace. I have quite a bit of experience in livestreaming worship, but with the slow internet speeds at our location and the time/equipment/cost to set it all up, it seems best to devote my time and our resources for a personal ministry to you.
Online Public Worship:
- Morrison Zion Lutheran’s Youtube channel (livestreaming: Sundays 9am Wednesdays 10am) Click here.
- St John Maribel Youtube channel Click here
- Messiah in Bellevue: http://messiahgb.org/
- St. Paul’s Lutheran in Appleton: 1280AM Sundays @ 8:00am
I realize not everyone of you has access to the internet. There is some talk in our circuit to work together to produce and mass produce services both for online streaming and DVD’s. This is still a work in progress. Please call me if you’d like a DVD or sermon mailed to you.
If you desire to receive private Communion, I am ready and willing to serve. I plan to be in the office for these types of visits and I will visit you in your homes. We should not be scared of the sacrament, and in particular we should not be scared of the body and blood of Christ or of the forgiveness and comfort our Savior offers to us through these sacramental gifts. But in these times, we can and should be cautious and careful regarding those things of this material world that surround the sacrament, and that surround us as we receive it. With the Lord’s help we will be appropriately cautious and careful. Contact me to set up a time.
Though this is an odd and rapidly changing time for us and our nation, I believe that through this God is giving us an opportunity to share the love of Christ with one another and our community. Try to think of ways in which you might be able to help your neighbor. Consider calling your church friends from time to time. And let us all pray for our country and for our world, as the human race deals with this unprecedented pandemic.