A Pastoral Letter
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. You are, I am sure, well aware of the spread of the novel coronavirus which causes the respiratory disease called COVID-19. As Christians, we have no need to panic or fear, because we know that our Lord and Redeemer is Jesus Christ, and in his hands we know that we have everything we need, and that our eternal life with him is safe.
But we are not going to put the Lord to the test and be dumb about things, either. God has given us doctors and specialists and brains. You may have seen people saying that if you're staying home and not going about your regular life, that this means you aren't trusting God. Nothing could be further from the truth. We trust that God is speaking to us through the people he has given to us for this time of pandemic: public health officials, doctors, nurses. These people are exercising their God-given vocations as much as I am when I preach God's Word to you. Listen to them. And work to protect the most vulnerable among us out of charity and love.
Every precaution we are taking is out of love. Not because we are afraid, or panicked, or believing media hype--but out of love for the most vulnerable among us. By the time you read this, there may be additional information that has changed everything: this pandemic is progressing hour by hour and things are changing every day.
First, a summary.
Scientific evidence shows that this virus can be passed days before a person shows symptoms of being sick. This virus is having about a 7% mortality rate in Italy right now because their hospital system is overwhelmed. By comparison, the seasonal flu kills around .01% of the people it infects. Even conservative expectations of 3% mortality rate is still greater than the seasonal flu, and we have no vaccine or antiviral for this disease yet.
So the idea is to "flatten the curve" and avoid a spike in infections that overwhelms the hospitals. A nurse told me on Saturday that there are only 75 hospital beds available between Marshall, Redwood and Granite Falls. And only a couple of ICU beds in each facility. That's it. She said that when she worked as a nurse at Granite Falls hospital, they only had two breathing machines. But they never used them because they always transferred the patient needing them.
We need to slow the rate of infection, so that people don't get sick all at once and then there is no place to transfer patients from here, and then not enough beds or breathing therapy to go around. Remember how everyone went to the stores and bought all the toilet paper and sanitizer, and the stores were then out? We don't want that to happen with hospital beds. That's why things are being cancelled.
What about worship?
Prudence has for 1500 years been considered a cardinal virtue of Christians. So we are going to heed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other authorities.
This is, of course, not a cancelling of worship or of being the Church. I will live- stream Morning Prayer every weekday at 8:30 am on the church's YouTube channel, as well as Evening Prayer on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. In addition, Sunday worship will be at 9:00 a.m. The link is at the top of this page. A link can also be found on our church Facebook page. Even if you don't have Facebook, you can still view public content like our page on Facebook.
If you have a hymnal at home, now is a good time to dig it out. Have your Bible close at hand. We are the Body of Christ, even if we are physically separated!
What if I need something?
The three churches in Belview (Grace, Our Savior's and Word of Life) are working together to make sure everyone in the community is cared for. If you or someone you know is needing help finding food and other necessities, getting groceries and picking up prescriptions, call one of the pastors (numbers printed elsewhere in this newsletter) or Lori Ryer at the City Office, and we will find someone to help you, either to deliver you some groceries, or get your medication. If you are lonely or scared, please call. We are all in this together, and part of being the Body of Christ is that we care for each other and our neighbors.
What about going forward?
Watch social media and listen to the radio for information. As I said, this thing is progressing hour by hour. Remember, this is for the good of everyone. The point is to protect the most vulnerable people from suffering and death. It may be inconvenient to us who are healthy, but that's how we "love your neighbor as yourself."
And pray. Hard. Pray for those suffering, and that God spare us the suffering we are seeing in parts of the world like Italy and Iran, and even in our own country in Washington State.
"Most mighty and merciful God, to whom alone belong the issues of life and death; In this time of grievous sickness we flee unto You for relief. Deliver us, we beseech You, from our peril; give strength and skill to Your ministers of healing; bless the means of cure; and grant, that, perceiving how frail is our earthly life, we may apply our hearts unto that heavenly wisdom which leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
We will get through this. God will see to it. He is with us, and whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. God keep you, dear parish.
Worship in a Time of Pandemic
Worship is not "cancelled" and the church is not "closed." Instead, worship has been moved online for the time being, in this very fluid situation. We are following the recommendations of the authorities and not gathering in person for right now. We are still the Body of Christ, even though we are physically separated!
Morning Prayer is streamed live on YouTube every weekday at 8:30 am
Evening Prayer will be streamed Wednesdays during Lent at 7:00 pm (there is no in-person worship on Wednesdays)
Sunday worship is streamed at 9:00 a.m.
Click the link here for worship videos:
Daily Readings for March 30-April 5
Monday, March 30 – Psalm 119:73-80, Exodus 4: 10-31, 1 Corinthians 14: 1-9, Mark 9: 30-41
Tuesday March 31 – Psalm 34, Exodus 5:1—6:1, 1 Corinthians 14: 20-40, Mark 9: 42-50
Wednesday April 1– Psalm 5, Exodus 7: 8-24, 2 Corinthians 2:14—3:6, Mark 10: 1-16
Thursday, April 2 – Psalm 27, Exodus 7:25—8:19, 2 Corinthians 3:7-18, Mark 10: 17-31
Friday, April 3 – Psalm 22, Exodus 9: 13-25, 2 Corinthians 4: 1-12, Mark 10: 32-45
Saturday, April 4 – Psalm 43, Exodus 10:21—11:8, 2 Corinthians 4: 13-18, Mark 10: 46-52
Sunday, April 5 (Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord) – Matthew 21: 1-12, Isaiah 50: 4-9a, Psalm 31: 9-16, Philippians 2: 5-11, Matthew 26:14—27:66
To make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Who We Are
Grace Lutheran Church is Biblical, sacramental, liturgical, mission-oriented, traditional, community-minded, gracious, warm and inviting. We love noisy kids in worship and welcome folks who haven't been here--or anywhere-- in a while. We are not perfect people with all the answers, but we are a community of redeemed sinners gathered together by God and learning to live our name: "Grace." We worship in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and are busy following Jesus and inviting others to know Him, too.
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