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.”
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.