Update on Tuesday, April 29, 2020
To the people gathered as Risen Lord Lutheran Church:
When we first decided to cancel in-person worship on March 15, 2020, our scripture text included Jesus telling us the two greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:28-34). At that point, we knew that loving our neighbors required us to do our part to slow the spread of Covid-19.
None of us pictured that we would be required to practice extreme social distancing or stay at home for these seven weeks and yet, that is what has been required of us. As we wait for further guidance from our governor, the Leadership Team has decided that we will continue to suspend in-person worship. The team is meeting weekly in order to stay on top of developments. As we consider when it will be safe to join together for worship, we are watching the rates of new infections, the White House plan for Opening Up America Again and recommendations from our bishop. We are also considering what worshiping together would look like in different phases, including whether masks would be required, singing would be included or time for fellowship can be allowed. At this point, we will continue to worship from our own homes until the Leadership Team sees a significant decrease in risk and has systems in place to support needed protective measures at church.
This is the time for the church to truly be the church. We know that it is more than the building - so we continue to grow in faith, respond in gratitude and support each other. While we must continue to be physically isolated, we do not need to be socially isolated. If you or anyone you know have any needs - physical, financial, emotional - please reach out to Pastor Lecia or another member of the Leadership Team so that we can support you.
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (from Evangelical Lutheran Worship p 317)
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,
Pastor Lecia Beck
Risen Lord Leadership Team (Melissa Day, Fred Freeman, Carol Retz, Cara Ruble, John Schilling, Connie Temm and Dayna Zook)
Update on Tuesday, March 17, 2020
On March 15, 2020, the CDC released guidance that gatherings of fifty people or more should be cancelled for the next eight weeks. In light of the current CDC recommendations, we will not gather for worship or any meetings at Risen Lord Lutheran Church through at least the end of March.
While it is difficult to forego worship in this time, we know that it is an important measure to protect everyone's health. In this time, I will continue to post Sunday sermons, mid-week studies and other items. You can connect with us on Facebook or our website. I encourage each of you to continue to reach out by phone or email to those you know, fulfilling our call to love one another, even in the midst of physical distancing. If you are in need of pastoral care, please reach out to me by email or cell phone.
As we are facing much that is unknown, I would like to share these words from The Rev. Dr. William O. Gafkjen, Bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod:
You might not be surprised to know that I am revisiting Isaiah 43 yet again these days. I need to be reminded again and again of what is most true in this coronavirus wilderness: God is with me. God is with you. God is with us and with the people among whom we live and serve. God is with others in our communities, including the most vulnerable, those who are serving in medical and service settings and with people who are sick or afraid or hurting in some way. I invite you to stay focused on and to help others to center in this great truth. In other words, keep proclaiming the good news of Christ crucified and risen for the life of the world in every way possible! God will give us what we need, water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, so that, one way or another, the people whom God has formed for God's self will sing God's praise and our neighbors will be loved and served.
Please join me in praying this prayer from A Prayer Book for the Armed Services:
Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of fear, danger, and trouble, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation and nations around the world with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
As we go forward, we know that God goes with us and we are called to be God's people in the midst of this. If you have any need or learn of any community needs, please share them with me so we can work on filling them.
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,
Friday, March 13, 2020
Dear people gathered as Risen Lord,
As the situation with COVID-19 rapidly develops, we face difficult decisions as a community of faith, but Jesus made clear what is of utmost importance. In our Scripture reading for Sunday (Mark 12:28-34), Jesus enumerates the two greatest commandments: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,” and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In obedience to these commandments, we will not gather for worship on Sunday, March 15, 2020. We will also forego our work day scheduled for Saturday, March 14 and Journey groups that are to meet during this coming week. Journey hosts will be in touch regarding arrangements to meet with a partner by phone or in smaller groups.
These decisions are difficult, but the Leadership Team and Pastor Lecia seek to make them in accordance with guidance from the CDC and our bishop. While our gatherings are small enough that we can continue under our governor’s guidelines, we have a very large population who is at higher risk for the virus and complications. This may feel like an extreme decision to some, yet we are called to love our neighbors and this is one way to put that love into action. It is essential that we try to limit the spread of the virus as much as possible, looking out for the most vulnerable among us. By doing so, we help to allow healthcare providers the space and time they need to focus on those in greatest need of care.
We don’t know how long this period of heightened concern may last, but we still have plenty of resources and opportunities to support one another. We will gather for worship on Facebook Live at 10:00 am on Sunday morning (watch here). While we are not yet making a decision about future Sundays, we will continue to communicate about any other changes as needed.
If you typically make your financial contribution to Risen Lord in person, please consider mailing your contribution to the church office or submit it electronically. If you need assistance, please contact the church office.
Please know that Pastor Lecia is available if you need support. Also keep in mind that as needs in our community grow and become clearer, our congregation may find new ways to be Christ to our neighbors. We don’t know what that may look like, but we will be in touch if and when opportunities arise, knowing many of you will be ready and eager to serve. If you happen to be one who faces an unexpected need due to these changing circumstances or know those who do, don’t hesitate to share that need with the pastor or another member of your church family.
This surreal time should help us to see why our faith really matters, and it may reveal strengths we didn’t know we had as a congregation.
Finally, let’s draw on our Lutheran heritage and remember, “A mighty fortress is our God!” Or, as the psalmist put it first, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” (Psalm 46:1).
In the abiding hope of the Risen Lord,
Pastor Lecia and the RL Leadership Team