O God, where our hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
We’re Online Together! As the old Sunday School song reminds us, “The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people.” While our building may be closed, our church is open – we can still be church, even if we’re not together. Click here to find our Online Together page with worship, prayer and devotion resources.
Let us hold each other in prayer. Let us pray also for all who are sick, those who care for them, those who are distressed and those who grieve loss of loved ones, those entrusted with ongoing decisions — all who need God’s saving help throughout our world. Amen.
With the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) we are in a time of uncertainty unlike anything many of us have ever experienced. In times like these we seek comfort and good news. And a lot of us find those things in worship. “It is a place we can find solace and reassurance in the midst of our fears.” (ELCA)
So, how can we gather for worship safely? Would it surprise you to know that Martin Luther had a plan for that? In response to the plague of 1527, Luther wrote, “God has created medicines and has provided us with intelligence to guard and take care of the body. … Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence.” At Good Shepherd we’re following his advice, along with more specific and up-to-date recommendations from the ELCA and the Centers for Disease Control. Our goal is to continue to gather for worship, making some small changes that will help keep us healthy and alleviate some anxiety.
Greeters When you enter Good Shepherd, you are usually greeted with a warm handshake. For the time being, greeters will be encouraged to greet you without physical contact – a wave, a bow, or just a warm smile.
Passing of the peace When we pass the peace we are recognizing the presence of Christ in each other. We generally do this with handshakes and hugs. For now, we encourage you to use a non-contact approach. Sign language, prayer hands and a bow, a salute, jazz hands – whatever feels right for you.
Holy Communion Communion servers are being instructed to wash their hands thoroughly before serving communion, as well as use hand sanitizer. If you do not feel comfortable receiving communion at this time, you can simply ask for a blessing. Communion servers are also being asked to give blessings without touching. Hand sanitizer is located in the front pews on either side of the center aisle. Feel free to help yourself on the way to and from communion.
Offering To reduce the amount of touching and sharing of germs, we will not be passing the offering plates. You will be able to place your offering in the plates near the doors as you leave the sanctuary. (You can also choose to give electronically through GivePlus – instructions are in the pews.) We will have a few moments of music and meditation during the time the offering plates are usually passed.
If you’re concerned about our re-usable bulletins, we invite you to use the hymnals.
You might notice the stuffed animals have been removed from the sanctuary. Since it’s very tempting to touch and love them, we’ve gathered them up and they’re spending time in the Nurse’s office. They’ll be sent out to spread love, not germs, at a later date.
The nursery staff will continue to make sure all toys are thoroughly cleaned after use.
How can you help? Bishop Eaton (and the CDC) offer these simple steps: Wash your hands, stay home when you are sick, wear a mask if you have symptoms, consult your medical provider.
And last but not least, pray. Keep those afflicted with COVID-19, as well as those who are vulnerable, and their families and caregivers in your prayers, along with scientists, healthcare workers and leaders. It might also help to remember these words from Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
Cathy Li and Naomi Gillette were recently hired to staff the nursery on Sundays from 8:45 to 10:30, and then help with Sunday School until 11:30. They will also staff the nursery on Wednesdays during Lenten worship, bell choir rehearsal and choir, from 6-8 pm. Cathy explains the nursery is “a safe place for younger children to play during worship if they need someplace to go. There’s a lot of activities and toys to keep them entertained so parents can really enjoy worship without needing to focus attention on keeping kids to stay still”.
“As nursery staff, we are there to make sure that children are always entertained and safe so parents have no need to worry. We are trained to work with kids and have safety training such as CPR and First Aid certification. We are there to make sure that all churchgoers with young children have no need to worry about their children during worship.”
Both Cathy and Naomi are first-year students at UIUC, and graduates of Champaign Central High School. Cathy is studying Chemical Engineering, and Naomi is studying Kinesiology. Cathy has worked as a camp counselor at the Savoy Recreation Center, and Naomi has worked in the Childwatch area at the YMCA. They are excited to be working at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church as nursery staff!
The Good Shepherd Nursery is open to children from 0-4 years old on Sundays from 8:45-11:15, and Wednesdays from 6-8 pm.
Jason Fisher will lead a study focusing on spiritual practices for resurrection during the season of Lent. According to Jason, “Lent is a time of humility and sacrifice, not for the sake of giving something up just to make life hard, but so that we can see how easily we depend on the things that God provides and how quickly we take them for granted. It is a season of greater dependence on God and gratitude for what God provides. This season gives us a chance to dwell with the brokenness of our humanity and in that our theme for the Lenten Studies will focus on Recovery & Spirituality.”
During the Lenten Study, members “will watch videos about people going through 12 step recovery programs while practicing various Christian spiritual practices and how these practices have helped in their healing and wholeness. It is [Jason’s] hope that people will discover they are not alone in their brokenness, and that through trying at least one of the Christian practices regularly God might guide them to greater peace, honesty, and healing.” Jason has also created a daily devotional booklet for Lent with 40 days of prayers and meditation. You can pick up the booklet in the church office or narthex, or download it here.
Jason is Director of Youth & Family Ministry at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and serves as Deacon, calling to Word & Service Ministry. He focuses on teaching and connecting people to opportunities to lead the community in Jesus’ name.
Sunday, February 23, is Bold Women Sunday, “celebrating all Lutheran women who have acted or are acting boldly on their faith in Jesus Christ.” Members of WELCA and others will lead a special worship service at 9:00 am, and Adult Forum after worship.
“During our event on Sunday, we are having our worship service be led by all women and they will serve as greeters, ushers, communion assistants, fellowship servers, readers, etc. for the service,” Nancy Holm, WELCA member says. “We are using a special liturgy for that day modeled after a service developed by the National WELCA. More than 30 women are participating in the service in addition to those singing in the choir. Women will provide special music, and our hymns that day are written by or about women.”
“Bold Women Sunday is for our church members to learn about and celebrate bold women from the Bible, women in the early history of the Lutheran Church, and Lutheran women today all over the world who are teaching, preaching, and following God’s call to them. During Adult Forum both women and men will look at examples of bold women during the Reformation and then examine our own strengths and how we can be bold in our actions of caring, advocacy, and teaching.”
Nancy mentions Bold Women’s Day is promoted and celebrated by annually on the fourth Sunday of February. As the WELCA website states, ‘Some women are bold in their unceasing prayers. Other women are bold in their service to those in need. Still, other women are bold in their advocacy or through their hospitality. Whether we live out our bold story of faith in the workplace, family home or community, our faith compels us to make a difference in the lives of others. It’s all about living out our baptismal call, about being a disciple of Christ’.”
We made a joyful noise on February 2, singing many hymns you voted for in our Favorite Hymn poll. The top vote-getter was “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” All of the following hymns were selected as a favorite by at least one member of the congregation:
“Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?”
On Sunday, February 2, we are celebrating the ways in which we use music to worship God. Because hymns are such a big part of that, we want to include some of the congregation’s favorites. We’ll tally them up and sing our favorites on 2/2!
Do you love to sing? During the next few weeks we’ll have so many extra opportunities for singing all your favorite Advent and Christmas hymns – during worship and out and about around Champaign-Urbana. We hope you can join us!
Caroling & Lunch – Sunday, 12/22, after worship We’ll visit local retirement homes to sing carols for residents and then return to Good Shepherd for lunch.
Christmas Eve Worship – Tuesday, 12/24, 4:00 & 6:00 pm Candlelight worship with communion – all are welcome!
Service of Lessons and Carols – Sunday, 12/29, 9:00 am It’s your last chance to sing those favorite Christmas carols during worship!