Once again this morning I was awakened by the sound of our bedroom alarm clock which happens to be set to our favorite Christian radio station, WBCL. During the initial few seconds, the alarm volume is gentle and soft, then gradually increases in volume to a predetermined level. It reminded me of the voices surrounding the living of these days–distant and almost indiscernible at first and now extremely loud and very clear!
The first words we heard were of one of the radio hosts bringing to us the “verse of the day.” He directed our attention to the fourth chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul’s mandate was somewhat radical, almost unimaginable, yet also thoroughly comforting and most reassuring. He wrote:
“Do not worry about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Last night (Thursday, March 12, 2020), a special meeting of the Congregation Council of New Creation Lutheran Church gathering to prayerfully discuss, discern, and decide on how, as a people of faith in Christ Jesus, to move forward given the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health threat.
After much conversation coupled with examination of the most current information and recommendations, the decision was unanimously made to temporarily suspend Sunday morning (and Wednesday evening) corporate worship at New Creation. At this point, the leadership chose to extend that, for the time being, until the end of the month of March. All groups that are presently using the building (Neuva Creacion Church, Weight Watchers, and Al-Anon) have also been asked to postpone gathering.
Immediate plans are also for the Congregation Council to meet via video conference at the typical monthly time of Wednesday, March 18, at 7 PM, to address regular business of the church and continue evaluating how to proceed given the health crisis.
As you might expect, the council opted to “err of the side of caution” as we attempt to navigate our way through these “unchartered waters.” We all wanted to be appropriately attentive to the authorities, medical professionals, as well as with the collective wisdom of those seeking to guide us. Extreme as it may appear, the council believes these measures were objective and not some over-reaction to the current state of affairs. The leadership team sought to be prudent, cautious, and faithful given the vast uncertainty of what lies ahead for us all. Needless to say, we are all impacted in many and various ways.
In the interim, and throughout this time, though we may find ourselves separated as we do our part to mitigate the chances of the spread of the virus, we will be doing everything we can from the church office to stay connected. With that being said, here are some ways we hope to carry this out:
❶ Each week we plan to have a new video link on right here on the website of the sermon/message and, if possible, some uplifting music to accompany the same. When new video is posted, we will inform you via e-mail and text. Please continue to check back as current information and updates will be available along with links to other helpful sites.
❷ Check e-mail and text messages coming from the church office (and perhaps more frequently, given the situation at hand) which will help to keep you informed of any changes and news.
❸ If, for any reason, clarification of any information is needed, prayer concerns arise, personal needs surface, or special circumstances occur and questions, I will continue to have regular office hours as will our Office Administrator, Elizabeth Schroeder.
Church Office: (419)-523-6250
Church E-mail: NCLCOffice@midohio.twcbc.com
Pastor Ken’s Cell: (419)-615-8943
Pastor Ken’s E-mail: PastorKen@midohio.twcbc.com
❹ Though our Lenten Candlelight Prayer Services will not be held in our worship space, each remaining Wednesday during Lent we will be sending you two music video links, which can be used to begin and end a prayer time. With this we will send a scripture reading and some instructions to help guide your prayers. Distance may separate us, but from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesday evenings we can still be very much united in prayer together!
❺ Be encouraged to keep yourself well-informed with reputable information gathering. Wash hands regularly. Attend to “social distancing” especially in settings of greater risk for yourself and others. Refrain from large public gatherings whenever possible.
❻ If possible, stay in touch with one another via other forms of communication, and especially be mindful of neighbors and those who might have little or no support available to them;
❼ Finally, with potentially more time on our hands, though our schedules may be very much “up in the air,” here are some initial ongoing situations, circumstances, and people to keep in prayer:
In closing, reading devotionally from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, I am reminded of the longing to be together that this “season” of distance and physical separation may stir within each of us. Paul wrote:
“For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you – or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
Similarly, Paul attends also to the relief of some anxiety for us along with the Colossians with this enduring promise:
“For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit,
and rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.”
These are, to be sure, unprecedented days that have come upon us. We are in it together, but more importantly, we are in it together as the Church, and with Christ Jesus our Rock, our Fortress, our Very Present Help In Trouble, our Shelter, and our God WHO WILL NEVER LEAVE US OR FORSAKE US, and who is WITH US ALWAYS TO THE VERY END OF THE AGE.
In Christ, In Prayer, and In This Together with You,
The Ohio Department of Health has supplied the following information to help you ensure you protect yourself and your family. Click on the link below.
In times of uncertainty it is easy to overlook our responsibility to thoughtfully guide children through this time. Our parishes and families can model healthy responses to COVID 19. We should not be afraid to discuss the coronavirus with children. When we are accessible to our children’s questions and fears, we teach them that we are worthy of their trust. It is important for us to be factual, but age appropriate. It is often best for us to filter news reports. As adults, we set the emotional tone, knowing that children are intuitive and can sense anxiety. We can reassure children in our communities that we are doing everything we can to keep them and their community safe. It is also important for us to fold these conversations into normal healthy routines. As Peter Steineke aptly said, “good structure corrals anxiety”.
God, our peace and our strength, we pray for our nation and the world as we face new uncertainties around coronavirus. Protect the most vulnerable among us, especially all who are currently sick or in isolation. Grant wisdom, patience, and clarity to health care workers, especially as their work caring for others puts them at great risk. Guide us as we consider how best to prepare and respond in our families, congregations, workplaces, and communities. Give us courage to face these days not with fear but with compassion, concern, and acts of service, trusting that you abide with us always, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.