The following announcement is from Pastor Mark Tiefel and the Redemption Church Council – March 18, 2020:
Grace and peace in Jesus Christ, who is Lord of heaven and earth,
We are certainly in the midst of a troubling time of uneasiness – at least from our perspective. These are moments when God is refining and building our faith to trust in His power and grace. Yet, we are also called to be wise stewards of our time here on earth and of our calling as Christians. In weighing all the variables of the last week, we (the Church Council and I) have decided to cancel all services and congregational activities. This decision was not made lightly. You know that at the beginning of the week we planned to continue with services; however, the situation facing our community and nation changes daily. We know that God places a high priority on meeting regularly at church and we should not forsake opportunities to do so (Hebrews 10:24-25, 3rd Commandment, Psalm 122:1). However, God also expects us to be wise within the context of our lives (Matthew 10:16), and obedient to those who are in authority (Romans 13).
On Monday, President Trump and his staff issued several guidelines for our nation, one of which includes refraining from meeting in groups larger than 10. See the full document here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/03.16.20_coronavirus-guidance_8.5x11_315PM.pdf In a desire to keep these guidelines, we have decided to cancel services until the end of March, which essentially completes the suggested 15 days. Near the end of March we plan to re-evaluate the situation and potentially resume services; however, please understand that this postponement could last much longer. As we traverse this situation, I wanted to share something that a fellow pastor sent to me:
During persecution, Christians defy government regulations in order to gather out of love for God and neighbor. We obey God, not government.
During pandemics, Christians obey government regulations by not gathering out of love for God and neighbor. We obey God by obeying the government.
The situation we find ourselves in is the latter. This is also a good time to be reminded that although we long for a church community at times like this, church is not about any one location. Jesus reminded the people His age, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20) The psalmist also tells us: “How sweet Your word is to my taste– sweeter than honey in my mouth.” (Psalm 119:103) During this time of uncertainty and social isolation, it is of great comfort to know that God is still among us, and His Word is just as effective in our homes and at our tables, as it is in church on Sundays. Though we will not meet together for some time, we can continue to encourage one another in the faith and rejoice in the peace of forgiveness through Jesus.
For our next Lenten Midweek service, I encourage you to make use of Ascension Lutheran’s live stream tomorrow evening, found here: https://www.facebook.com/Ascension-Lutheran-Church-253348354690092/. Pastor Libby, who was going to preach at Redemption this evening, will be broadcasting his service on Ascension’s Facebook page. The service begins at 7 pm tomorrow evening. It covers the next theme in our Lenten series from Zechariah.
I am also working on putting together a digital service for Sunday. This may not be streamed live because I would like to add a few features that we cannot do live and increase the quality. But I plan to share it on Sunday morning, on our YouTube page, Facebook page, and website – so that you can make use of it in your homes during the normal Sunday worship hour. I am also working on delivering Sunday School lessons and potentially Bible studies in a digital format, though I may not have all that ready by this weekend.
Please continue to keep an eye out for resources and updates on Redemption’s Facebook page and on our church website. I hope to add more items for your personal use at home as the weeks move forward. One such thing that I will post on our website, is CLC President Michael Eichstadt’s letter on the coronavirus. It is encouraging and beneficial.
As always, please reach out with an email, text, or phone call if you have questions or concerns, or even if you just need someone to visit with. I am willing and happy to help out in any way I can. May God give you peace in your heart, health in your body, and the hope of faith in Christ in all things!
Pastor Tiefel and the Church Council – March 18, 2020