Dear Parish Family,
As we continue through this unprecedented and difficult time, I wanted to write you to “stay in touch” as we are unable to “gather” as a Parish Family in worship, small groups, and meetings that are the “usual schedule” for many of us! Worship, fellowship, working together for the sake of the gospel are many of the “mainstays” that bless us and encourage us in our faith, in our daily walk and daily lives. Whether you are an extrovert or introvert, the reality is that social interaction and caring for one another together are a part of how God has made us. And, whether in a limited fashion or on a regular basis, we need to be sharing our lives with one another.
I had the joy and pleasure of meeting with one of our dear members last week, Gillian Spooner, and she had a wonderful idea that I want to share with you. Coincidentally enough, she said that she had heard Eric Metaxas earlier, and he had shared the same thought! Gillian suggested that everyone have “5 Friends” that they stay in touch with regularly, even daily, just to touch base and see how they are doing. That allows us to check on each other for health reasons, for needs, for fellowship. I think that this is brilliant! Even if your 5 includes family members “from afar,” they could always call the police should you be in dire condition or need. We need others; God has made us for personal relationships: first with Him, and then with each other. God is Trinity: one person “in community.” God made Adam, then Eve: “it is not good for man to be alone.” He encouraged them to procreate to provide more people for them and for others.
I heard today on the news that a young person had contracted the Coronavirus at a “Coronavirus Party.” That is not a helpful gathering! We need to keep the “6 feet rule” as much as possible! But “parties” that gather and have one or more people in them that have been at risk is not wise. Please be as careful as possible! We all need to get groceries; and, if you are a “high risk” person, call someone to pick them up for you; and/or, if you are able, hire a delivery service from the grocery store or call in and have them bring them to you in the parking lot. If you need to go to the pharmacy, go to the “pick up” window! If you need to get gas, wipe the handle! Whatever precautions you can take, do them!
Stay in touch through any means you can without putting yourself at risk:
I encourage you to phone friends and family. But, please use wisdom and discretion in social interaction. Many of you know that I love to play golf on my day off (Thursday); I am planning on playing Thursday this week, but being careful; not touching “the pin” as they suggest. Being out and about is part of my life; but, I will not, in the near future, be visiting people in their homes, care centers, or the hospital, where I could put others at risk. Please practice care as much as possible, which includes limited social interaction.
Please avoid being selfish:
I am going to share with you something that happened this week that broke my heart! We have a basketball pole and hoop in our church parking lot. For the past week, every morning, the children and students who have been playing in our parking lot have left litter, including bottles, strewn everywhere; and, this has happened near the playground near our preschool. Sad. Steve saw a group and asked them to be more considerate. Unfortunately, when Steve left, these students (probably out of school with time on their hands), jumped on the roof of the car of a woman from our church who has been in the hospital (probably out of spite). So sad!
Hording is also selfish! Please get what you need, and maybe a little extra; but please be considerate enough to leave supplies for others. Just because others are doing so, please don’t do as the hoarders do, but as our Lord would have us do!
Trust the Lord:
I encourage you to read encouraging words from Scripture: Psalms 23, 46, 91. The words we sang last Sunday as we streamed the worship: “Be not afraid”: see Isaiah 43:2. Pray I Thessalonians 5:16-18; and Philippians 4:4-7. Trust the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34; and Matthew 28:20b: “and, lo, I am with you always!” Trust the Lord that He is and will be with you. Seek Him through His Word, in prayer, and through the presence of the Holy Spirit, seeking to be filled daily to be strong and bear His fruit.
I also encourage you to “stream” the worship service. We had over 180 households stream the service this past Sunday! A great start! Our website has directions with how to stream the service. We had a few “glitches” this past week; but have been working on them, working out the problems to make the experience better for those at home this week! Also, if you don’t want to watch the entire service because you can’t “receive communion,” at least come online for the first part of the worship: the music, the Scripture readings, the sermon, the prayers. I want to thank Norm Galloway, Jordan Sturm, Nina Rodman and the Music Team, the Altar Guild, and the Sound Team who are working to provide what we are sending out through the air waves! Also, one last note on worship. Part of worship is giving! I realize that this is a very difficult and uncertain time, and some of you are struggling with the current economic state and uncertain future with our economy. Let me encourage you to give as you are able so that we can continue to function and keep our staff! Some of you may be able to give more! Now would be a time to do so. Some need to delay giving, and can catch up later. I understand! You can send your pledge or gift by “snail mail” or, you can give online through our website. Please pray about God’s call on your stewardship and life at this delicate time economically! Thank you!
Working on another mid-week message:
Norm has also ordered another piece of equipment so that I (and, at times Steve) can get a spoken message to you during the week. Eblasts are great and I appreciate the fact that I can communicate with you through this means. But, I like to speak more than write! So, stay tuned! And, thank you for reading this eblast!
Let us Pray:
Lord God, you are so good to us, so loving, so gracious! We thank you for the gift of your Son; the gift of your Holy Spirit, the gift of family and friends during this time. We thank you for our hospital workers, care center workers, and all those in the health care profession and public servants who are seeking to serve us during this difficult time. We thank you, too, for those who are continuing to work at grocery stores, gas stations, and utility companies to provide for our basic needs. And, we thank you for those who are reaching out and caring for others during a fearful and uncertain time. Lord, I pray that we would be thoughtful, caring, compassionate, unselfish, and wise during this time of National and International upheaval and uncertainty. Lord, send out your Holy Spirit to bring comfort, strength and peace. Infuse in people the need to be considerate and not selfish. Protect people who do not have the virus and comfort those who are walking with family and friends who have the virus. Comfort those who have lost loved ones due to this pandemic. And, bring us all to the other side of this time, all the while providing for our needs: spiritual, emotional, and physical. We thank you for your faithfulness in the past and for your trustworthiness for our future. We ask and pray all this in the strong Name of Jesus, your Son. Amen!
Love in Christ,
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!