Grace and peace to you, from God our Father and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This apostolic greeting begins several letters of the New Testament and is an important reminder to us in the midst of our nation’s rapidly changing response to COVID-19. We have always lived under the umbrella of God’s grace, especially made manifest to us in the person of Jesus Christ, the Great Physician and Shepherd of His Sheep. As his flock, we follow where he leads, even through green pastures and the valleys of shadows and death; he is our peace. Amid fear, panic, and anxiety, as the old hymn suggests: “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.”
This e-mail is intended to provide an update about ministry and life together. Please read this note carefully and thoroughly so that you understand the ways in which our community of faith will continue to minister to you and how you might minister to our communities. Please also tune into Facebook Live at 7:00pm tonight for a pastoral message. According to a news conference today, President Trump released a new recommendation that all gatherings of 10+ people be suspended, potentially for the next 8 weeks. In order to “flatten the curve” and to faithfully care for those who are high-risk and most vulnerable, we will abide by this recommendation until further notice. The staff and members of the church council met this morning and we have discussed the following necessary steps to abide by these new recommendations and to continue to provide pastoral care, spiritual support, and community connection even though we are to limit our in-person contacts for the foreseeable future.
- Sunday Services: Beginning, March 22, 2020, at 9:30am, we will livestream an abbreviated worship service on Facebook Live. We hope to provide a small service outline for you in an e-mail on Friday. These services will be archived on our Facebook page and will be accessible at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/HolyCrossLutheranChurchLCMC/videos/
We will continue to provide a Sermon Video via YouTube each week as well.
- Pastoral Care in Time of Need: I am still available for pastoral care, prayer, and mutual consolation at church by appointment only. Please don’t hesitate to call the church. Thankfully, there are no weddings scheduled in the above window. Regarding funerals, individual funeral homes are making recommendations. The church council and I discussed private burial at the time of death and memorial services will be scheduled at a later date.
- Right Now Media: During the season of Lent, we were watching Ray VanderLaan’s The Dust of the Rabbi video series. https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/501 Like Netflix for Bible study, our members and friends have access to the countless resources available on Right Now Media. You can text Rightnow HCLMN (the space between the 2 keywords is necessary) to 41411 and start watching, downloading, and growing in faith today. A QR code is also available in today’s eNews. Parents: This may be a helpful resource to you with your children at home over the course of the next couple weeks.
- Congregational Faith Formation: Jean is still working on providing Faith@Home for daily devotions. This will be available in a special addition of the eNews tomorrow. On Fridays, we will also provide a condensed Children’s Faith Formation lesson for families to enjoy in their homes each week. We are working to distribute Bethel Series materials (via pick-up or US Mail). Pastor Culynn will resume teaching Bethel class through online means beginning next week (March 23). Other Bible study and devotional materials will be provided next week as well.
- Offerings: We cannot express our gratitude for the faithful, generous, and consistent giving which our congregation has demonstrated over the last several years. We ask that you continue to honor this commitment, even though we will not be passing the offering plate. The most convenient way to provide these gifts is through the USPS. However, you are welcome to drop off your check during office hours (Monday or Wednesday 12Noon-3pm) or on Sunday morning (9:00am-10:15am). Jean Wagner will be in touch about a counters’ schedule.
- For our elderly, high risk members/friends: We want to provide as much support as possible without putting you at risk. If you need assistance with groceries or errands, please call the church office and we will connect you with a member volunteer who is willing, ready, and able to assist you.
- Working Families & school-aged children: Please check with your local school districts to find out what resources are available. The Maple Lake School may need some assistance to deliver meals to students; check with your local district to volunteer also. There has been some discussion about providing small group childcare here at church for working families as well. If you have an immediate need in this area, please let Pastor Culynn know by replying to this e-mail.
- Volunteer Opportunities: Pastor Culynn and Jean would like to develop partnerships for our members. This may include running to the grocery for elderly/high-risk members. Do you have high-school aged or college-aged children who are home and could help? Maybe they could spare a few hours to help out with childcare or assist with distance learning. Are you willing to cook meals and deliver them? Maybe you have an idea we have not thought about. Please reply to this e-mail with your 1) name; 2) phone number; 3) how you are willing to assist. We will be in touch as we better understand the needs of our community.
Two more things: First, one of our members contacted the manager of Cub Foods in Buffalo yesterday. He wanted to remind people to remain calm and stop over-buying to minimize shortages. As Christians, let us lead the way in faith-filled action; as we know: “daily bread” comes from God’s gracious hand.
Lastly, in the last several days, I have prayed the ancient words of the “Kyrie” often. The congregational response is “Lord, have mercy.” That prayer is enough on its own. But the minister’s words are quite striking for this time. I would encourage you as individuals, couples, or families to pray this together and often:
In peace, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace from above, and for our salvation, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For the peace of the whole world, for the well-being of the church of God, and for the unity of all, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
For this holy house, and for all who offer here (and abroad) their worship and praise, let us pray to the Lord. Lord, have mercy.
Help, save, comfort, and defend us, gracious Lord. Amen.
I will be on Facebook Live tonight at 7:00pm. God’s grace and peace in Jesus Christ to you all, I pray.
P.S. Remember the Holy Cross YouTube Channel: HERE