By now, you are most likely aware that we have been asked by our Diocesan Bishop, Mark Lawrence, to cancel all worship services for the next two weeks (in effect, because of the strong suggestions by the CDC and the President of the United States). Our country and our world has changed rapidly with the advent of Social Media, and the reactions to the Coronavirus are widespread and varied; but mostly, extremely cautious. Some parts of the world and places in our own country are in "complete shutdown," and the goal is isolation that will limit or even "burnout" the virus. But there is still way too much "unknown.” I have heard that in parts of our country the shutdown is eight weeks; and as we have seen with many of the sporting events, total shutdown indefinitely. Projections run anywhere from two weeks to a year or more, with the possibility that this could be "next year's flu virus." We are clearly in the "unknown" and if we are honest, no one knows where this is going and what the impact will be ultimately.
At St. Luke's, we are attempting to respond to our Church leadership (Bishop Lawrence and the Standing Committee of the Diocese) and our Government in a responsible way; and at the same time provide what we are able as a Church, for the needs of our St. Luke's Parish Family and Community.
We have made a decision that all meetings at the Church, such as Bible Studies, mid-week services, Youth activities, Children’s activities, our Wednesday Night Supper & Family Night, and Alpha have all been suspended for the next two weeks. We will continue to evaluate and monitor what our directives might be from the Diocese, the Government, and the CDC, to consider what we might do next. But our goal is to "live stream." We are working toward having the capability to "live stream" the 10:00 AM worship service, beginning this Sunday, the 22nd. Look for details on how to stream the service in Friday's E-Zine, and on the front page of our website (www.stlukeshhi.org). This means that we need our Musicians/Music Team to provide part of what we need; the Altar Guild to set up; and outside of these wonderful servants, just the Clergy to lead the worship and preach. We will need our Sound Team as well! Since we know that some will not get the word that we are attempting to "get out there," and we could even have visitors, we will post a sign on all of the doors for the next two weeks. We are sorry to inconvenience you who would want to come to worship, but with all of the announcements and the Bishop's directive, we feel compelled to act accordingly. Please use good judgement! Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, please keep a reasonable distance from people you don't know or who you aren't regularly in contact with. Most of us will need to go out from time to time to shop for groceries or possibly go to the doctor's office or pharmacy. I encourage you, while you are being cautious to still be as friendly and loving as possible!
We are also going to provide whatever assistance we can for those who are alone and have no one to assist them at this time, if there is a need. For those of you that may need food, or have other personal needs, please let us know! We will respond as best as we are able. And if you would like to be on a list as a helper, please call the office and let us know. The office will be operating at reduced hours for at least the next two weeks. We will be open from 9:00AM until 2:00PM Tuesday - Thursday and then 9:00AM until 12 noon beginning on Friday. Hours may be adjusted as needs arise. Please leave a message and we will return your call as soon as possible.
This is not a time to panic or to be fearful; and a great opportunity to be prayerful, a good neighbor, and to love, support and encourage one another. We need to be wise, discerning, and use good judgement; and not everyone should feel the need to respond "the same as everybody else," since we are all in a different place, with different needs and abilities.
This is one of the most unusual, challenging and unprecedented times of not knowing, of what could happen to our nation's health, and economy. Please pray, love others, and be a good witness of God's love and grace. Seek His Holy Spirit for God's grace and peace; for wisdom and patience. He is faithful, He loves us; and we will, in time, be "back to life as it used to be."
In His Service,
Let us pray:
Our Father in heaven, we are so grateful for all your blessings that you shower on us daily! For your mercy and grace, for all your good gifts, especially for the gift of your Son, Jesus; for the depth of sacrificial love, the gift of salvation and eternal life, and the gift of the Holy Spirit that brings your peace. We are in a time like none of us have ever seen or experienced, and we are struggling to know how best to respond to what is happening in our country and the world in the face of the Coronavirus; with the ramifications to our lives, health, economy, caring for people, and even knowing exactly how to respond to the rapidly changing landscape.
Lord, please give us wisdom, discernment, clarity, and peace as we seek your guidance individually and as a Church family. Help us to be loving in a day when it would be tempting to be selfish and fearful, even angry. Provide for the needs of those who are suffering and will be suffering with sickness, isolation, and economic devastation.
Guide us in these coming days, weeks and months as the unknown continues to unfold. We trust you, Lord, amidst the questions, challenges, and struggles. Keep us in your peace and grace as we seek to be a source of your grace and peace to others. We know ultimately that our future is secure in and through your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen!