In the name of Christ Jesus, crucified and risen again, greetings from Saint James Lutheran Church.
Every year we have six Sundays in Lent to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate Easter. As you know, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with ashes on your forehead and the solemn words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” Thanks to the coronavirus, people all over the world are hearing a similar message. It is entirely understandable that many people are afraid. There are so many questions, and the answers seem to be changing every day – if not every hour. At the same time, it can be hard to believe this is really happening, and that makes some people reluctant to make changes. But the changes we are making here at Saint James are designed to be precautionary and not just reactionary.
When we are fearful, it is good to be reminded that none of this is taking Jesus by surprise. The message of this season of Lent is that Jesus loves us so much that He died on the cross for us. It is finished! He paid our debt in full. The Bible promises us that everyone who trusts in Jesus will not perish but have everlasting life.
We have an old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I hope you already know this is the real purpose of social distancing. People who know much more about this virus than I do are telling us that it cannot be stopped, but we can do some simple things to slow down the rate at which it spreads. Perhaps you have heard about “flattening the curve.” That is why we don’t shake hands, and we are not doing fist bumps, but we can still smile at each other and we can still speak to each other.
So, we are not in panic mode, but we are taking some unusual precautions, because we want to do the best we can to look out for each other – especially those over sixty and those who already have underlying medical conditions. We don’t want to become carriers who are spreading this virus without even realizing it.
Our Church Board met yesterday, and we decided to suspend all worship services here at Saint James beginning on Wednesday. Instead, the pastors and Tom Rowland and our audio-visual team will work together to make video recordings that will be available at the times when you would normally come here to church. Lord willing, the first one will be available tomorrow on Wednesday morning at 11:00. Of course, you may also watch it at 6:30 on Wednesday evening, or at any other time you choose. Sunday services will be available, Lord willing, by 8:00 on Sunday morning. We will continue to provide recorded services until we are able to resume worshiping together here at church. If you don’t have a computer, we will do our best to find another way to bring our services to you.
I want to thank Jim Frantzen, our congregation president, for his leadership and for the countless hours he and the Church Board and the Elders have already given to address this situation. I want to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers and your patience and support as we continue to develop new ways of serving each other.
Please watch for updates coming to you by email and posted on our Saint James website. Lord willing, we will provide regular updates every Friday. If you don’t have a computer and you prefer a phone call, please let me know or call Tam in the church office 651-457-9232.
Grace and peace,
Pastor Michael J Albrecht