March 20, 2020
Dear friends and family of Hope Lutheran Church,
I’m addressing you today to encourage you as you and I live through this time of international and national health concerns. We are all encouraged by Jesus, our Savior who understands troubles. It was Jesus who said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” [John 14:27]. Then, later that night before his crucifixion he adds, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” [John 16:33b]. He spoke these words so this his disciples would have courage and peace to overcome all that would come their way after Jesus’ work of salvation was completed.
Did you notice? Jesus gives the peace we need for troubled times. Jesus overcomes the world in order that we might have peace! Doesn’t this apply to his believers of all generations? It does. It applies to us today who face a pandemic virus that has caused our government agencies to instruct us to stay home. They do this in the attempt to keep the virus from spreading too quickly. While I don’t always understand the entire process, I do know that as believers we want to respect those God has placed over us in our government.
But even though I am not medically trained, nor do I understand everything about pandemics and viruses, I do know that our God is in control of all things. I do know that he will work out everything for the good of his people. I will not lose heart. I will take courage and not be afraid. I will live in the peace Christ Jesus gives. I will rest in the loving arms of my Savior. And so will you.
With this in mind, I urge you all to turn to the Lord God in prayer concerning this world-wide health issue. Pray in Jesus’ name for others. Pray that those who are sick be healed and those who are not sick to be spared. Pray that this pandemic will lead many to find the peace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I’m also addressing you today to inform you of the decisions we have made that will affect the worship, Bible study, and fellowship life of Hope Lutheran Church over the course of the next weeks. We want to show love to our neighbors and community by not giving the impression that we don’t care about the spread of this virus. On the other hand, we want to grow in the grace and peace of Christ Jesus through the hearing of the Word. Following are the decisions made by our church council yesterday:
1. We will not conduct any worship services for the next two weeks. On April 2nd, the council will meet to reevaluate the situation and act according to what is happening at that time.
2. We will be live-streaming elements of our worship service each Sunday at 9:00 am. You will be able to tune into this service by going to our WEB site – hopechinovalley.com. On the home page you will locate a box at the top of the screen which says, “LIVE CHURCH SERVICES.” Click on the box (link). It will take you to the live stream. All you need do at that point is click on the arrow and the service will come through.
3. Invite your family, relatives, associates, and neighbors to tune in or join with you in your home. Remember, “Where two or three are gathered together in my [Jesus’] name, I am there in the midst of them” [Matthew 18:20]. Remember, many need to hear the Word of God even as we do. This presents us with an outreach opportunity.
4. Bible classes will also be cancelled during this time. We are working on getting them online as fast as possible. Please check the WEB site regularly for updates and additions.
5. Easter is fast approaching. However, we have no idea how long the number restrictions will be in force. Therefore, we don’t know how to plan. We normally send invitations to our entire community. This will be put on hold. If the restrictions are lifted, we will hold Holy Week and Easter services. If we are not able to conduct normal Easter worship, we have an alternate plan to celebrate Easter at a later date. Again, keep checking the WEB site – hopechinovalley.com – regularly for updates.
As you can see, many things have been considered. I was hoping to keep this email short, but I found I could not because of the many things we wanted to convey to you.
I ask that you pass this information along to those who may be interested in hearing the Word of God at this time. Please make use of the worship services and Bible classes as they become available. If you miss the morning live-streaming worship, each will be saved on the WEB site, so that you can watch at a later time.
For those of you with confirmation age children or Sunday school age children, you will be contacted separately to engage you in how to keep serving our children.
Dear Family and friends, remember that these kinds of trouble happen in every generation. Wars and disease have brought trouble into the lives of many as this is bringing into our lives today. Personally, we have also endured the troubles that sickness, separation, and death cause. Please remember, Jesus has overcome all these things by his perfect life, death, and resurrection. Take courage! Live in his peace. Live this truth: Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again!
Blessings and peace through Jesus!
Pastor Tim Henning
Hope Lutheran Church