COVID-19

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pastoral Letter and Congregational Response

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“Deliver us from evil,” our Lord Jesus teaches us to pray in unprecedented times such as this and in every trouble.  He lovingly admonishes, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).  Jesus also promises, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).  Entrust yourself, your family, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, our nation, and all nations into His almighty and loving hands.

All Divine Services and group activities at Grace Lutheran Church have been cancelled until March 31 in compliance with Gov. Kim Reynold’s State of Public Health Disaster emergency declaration. Divine Services and group activities will resume April 5 unless Governor Reynolds extends the emergency declaration or we are advised otherwise. The Church office will remain open during regular business hours. 

Communication

It is simply impractical for Sarah to contact everyone by phone regarding changes, information, cancellations, resumptions, etc.  We have several means at our disposal for communicating efficiently and effectively. 

  • Congregation’s website: www.gracewaterloo.org
  • Congregation’s Facebook Page.  (Consider sending a Friend request).
  • KWWL

We are looking into the possibility of sending out mass emails and text messages.  Please provide Sarah with your current email address and/or cell phone number in order to be included. 

Pastoral Care

During this time I will not be making regular shut-in visits.  Most senior housing, care facilities, and hospitals are not allowing outside visitors, regardless. I’m not aware whether exceptions are made when an individual is near death. I may or may not be admitted, especially if there is a chaplain on staff.

I will make home visits upon request so long as I or any member of my family is not otherwise sick with a cold, flu, strep, etc. I do not want to risk spreading any type of disease unnecessarily, not just COVID-19. You can always call me with cares, concerns, and/or prayer requests at the church office (319) 235-6705 or on my cell phone (828) 446-2521.

Worship and Devotional Resources

In lieu of Sunday Divine Services I recommend worshipping individually or as a family on Sunday mornings. I will be audio recording a simple order of service with a sermon that will be available by Sunday mornings on the congregation’s website. This will include the Invocation (In the Name of the Father….), the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Scripture reading, Sermon, Benediction. If you have a hymnal at home, you have several other options for daily and weekly worship of varying complexity. 

 

                If you are confined at home much, if not most, of the time you can easily get cabin fever.  Some  great remedies would be spending time reading the Scriptures or a devotional book, praying, meditating on a Scripture verse, or working through a Bible study (several are available at church).  If you need ideas or resources, don’t hesitate to contact me. 

Once Divine Services Resume: Temporary Safety Precautions

  • Hygiene: Hand sanitizer (if available) will be placed at each entrance. 
  • Bulletins: Bulletins will be available for individuals to pick-up on a table at each entrance. 
  • Social Distancing:  Fortunately, we are blessed with a large sanctuary.  Please, maintain a safe distance from your neighbors by spreading yourselves throughout the available pews. 
  • Hymnals: Please leave hymnals on the pew to be wiped clean following the Divine Service.
  • Offering: Offering plates will be placed at both exits for the Collection following Divine Service.
  • Holy Communion: Communion will be distributed continuously rather than by alternating tables. Stay a few paces behind the person in front of you. (Think wedding procession).
  • Dismissal: Ushers will dismiss by rows to prevent clustering at the exits.  If you prefer not to wait to be dismissed, please exit during the final hymn.

The COVID-19 coronavirus reminds us that we live in a fallen, sin-cursed world shrouded in the darkness of death.  Into this darkness shines the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, the True Light and Life of Men.  The COVID-19 coronavirus also reminds us to be ever vigilant, watching and praying for our Lord’s return. Don’t grow too comfortable and complacent in this life, lest the Bridegroom find you sleeping when He returns (Matthew 25:1-13). One day—perhaps very soon—our Lord will return in glory. “’Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). 

 

A Prayer in Time of Need

LORD God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, Redeemer of Mankind, Holy Comforter, in Your steadfast love and compassion look down from heaven upon Your creation, stretch forth Your right hand and stop the spread of this disease. Protect and defend us from this deadly virus, especially those at greatest risk of dying from this disease—the elderly, the infirm, and the poor.  Grant knowledge and success to those developing a vaccine, courage and compassion to those caring for the sick and the dying, comfort and hope to the dying and those who grieve, wisdom and guidance to all in authority, and relief to all who are suffering physically, emotionally, psychologically, vocationally, and financially. Shine the light of Your Gospel into this darkness, creating faith, renewing hope, and bearing abundant fruits of love. LORD, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.  Amen! Amen!

 

The Benediction

The LORD bless you and keep you

The LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you

The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and + give you peace. Amen!

 

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