Wednesday, March 25, 2020
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).
We all need a good laugh now and then! I recently heard a story about a car that sputtered to a complete stop near a field filled with cows. The driver, getting out to see what the matter was, noticed one of the cows looking right at him. “I believe it’s your radiator,” said the cow. This startled the man, and so he ran to the nearest farmhouse and said to a farmer there, “A cow just gave me advice about my car!” he shouted. “Did the cow have big black spots on it?” the farmer asked. “Yes, it did,” the man replied. “Well, that’s just Ethel,” said the farmer, “Don’t pay any attention to her. She doesn’t know a thing about cars.”
As mentioned before, we all need a good laugh. Laughter is strong medicine! However, we could also use a good dose of wisdom. For in these trying times that we are living in today, there are so many who are at their wit’s end, and who are seemingly unclear as to what is the best policy moving forward. And so, we pray for wisdom with the simple trust knowing full well that we have the assurance of God’s help.
Many of you undoubtedly read the governor’s “Safer at Home” order, which lists religious facilities as an essential place. In my view, it offers nothing new regarding religious facilities and gatherings, apart from a timetable being added. It is therefore the (tentative) plan to resume the outdoor worship at 9:00 a.m. this Sunday in the same manner as the previous Sunday, albeit with some changes and clarifications that I will shortly indicate in this letter. As before, parishioners will be asked to stay inside their car and listen to the service broadcast on their FM radios. Communion will be offered car by car at the end of the service. An offering basket will be available. There will be no need to leave your car, however the church building will be open in case anyone needs to use the restroom.
Some of the changes and clarifications…
· During the distribution of Communion, please indicate whether you prefer wine or grape juice.
· A basket will be provided to deposit communion cups and to dispose of them in a reverent manner. NO trash cans.
· If you desire to pray after receiving Communion, you may park in the back of the church parking lot or in the ECC parking lot.
· You are NOT required to receive Communion or give an offering if you attend on Sunday. You will be directed by the ushers toward the exit at the end.
· Worship will go on even on rainy days. However, we may have to hold off the distribution of Communion on those days.
· The FM station will likely change on Sunday morning. We will keep you informed.
· We will have someone sing along with the pianist’s playing so that you will know when to sing during a particular hymn. We will also try to select hymns that are more familiar to everybody.
· We will give instructions in the bulletin how communion will be served.
· We will send out a copy of Sunday’s worship bulletin and the Communion/Attendance card by e-mail if you would rather print them out at home.
Some of these changes and clarifications come from my own evaluation, the evaluation of our elders, and from a number of you who have communicated your thoughts. While we had heard many favorable things about last Sunday’s worship service, we are also aware of shortcomings. We will definitely address them each week so to prevent them from falling between the cracks. Overall, these are unusual times and circumstances that we are facing, and it is important to let grace prevail.
We will keep you informed each week of changes. As of right now, Sunday morning Bible study, Sunday School, and Midweek services remain cancelled. Next week, however, I will be sending out information concerning plans for Holy Week and Easter. I am looking into the possibility of having Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services online either through an interactive medium or by video tape. In addition, if you are interested in participating in an online/interactive Bible study/Sunday School lessons, please let me know. I have a personal blog at jatvierkant.blogspot.com where I publish devotional writing and videos. Finally, I would also refer you back to last Friday’s update (3/20/2020) for additional resources and help.
Please call or e-mail me at any time if I may serve you. I also appreciate your suggestions going forward.
Your in Christ,
Pastor Jon Vierkant
Friday, March 20, 2020
Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It seems that this tiny virus has sent the entire world into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, markets are going crazy, entire countries are shutting down, and we have no clue what the future holds. …Or do we?
In Psalm 31:7, the Psalmist writes, “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul….” If there is one thing I know for sure about times of trouble is how often God works through these to draw our attention away from ourselves and back to Him. And although the devil may attempt to use this tiny virus to discourage and disrupt our regular “meeting together” (Hebrews 10:25), the “Word of God is not bound” (2 Timothy 2:9). In fact, through these trying times, God gives us the tools and resources we need to think outside the box as ministry continues.
Question 1: What about Worship and Church Activities?
Church activities inside the church building will be very limited because of the state mandated restriction that no more than 10 people meet inside at a time. Starting this Sunday, March 22nd, we will be having an outdoor service at our regular time of 9:00 a.m. Parishioners are asked to stay inside their car and listen to the service broadcast on their FM radios. Communion will be offered car by car at the end of the service. An offering basket will be available. There will be no need to leave your car, however the church building will be open in case anyone needs to use the restroom. Sunday morning Bible study, Sunday School, and Midweek services are cancelled for now. If you are interested in participating in an online/interactive Bible study, please let Pastor know.
Question 2: What about Holy Week and Easter?
We will address this question in a later update. The recommended restrictions and status of the pandemic are everchanging. However, as Holy Week and Easter approaches we will continue to evaluate the situation and keep you updated.
Question 3: What about the Preschool/ECC?
From Sandy Ruback, Director:
I, along with the leaders of St. Andrew Lutheran Church and our ECC board members evaluated the recommendations by the state and our Washington County Health Department in regards to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and school closings. The decision was made to close our campus from March 16 to April 14 (15 school days and 5 days spring break). This was not an easy decision and my heart was heavy, but in order to do our best to protect our children, our families, and our community we felt it was necessary. We want to do our part to not overwhelm our health care facilities due to the spread of the virus. It is my sincere hope that our school doors will once again be opened on Tuesday, April 14th.
I will be extending our school year by adding 3 weeks/12 days in order to continue the education time that was lost. This extension of days was approved by my Licensing Specialist 2 days ago. The last day of school will now be June 5th. I sincerely pray that this will be possible. The teachers and I want to finish the school year on a positive note giving our students our very best.
In the past week things have changed minute by minute. Our families have been informed that if I cannot extend our school year, I will at that time, reimburse our families for payments given for field trips and for those that paid in full their tuition.
Please keep our teaching staff in your prayers, for a loss of income and employment is most certainly stressful and can be a hardship.
May God's will be done,
Question 4: Where do I send my Tithings and Offerings?
They may be dropped off at St. Andrew during normal office hours 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Mondays – Fridays. They may also be mailed in or received during regular outdoor worship services. Lutheran Church Extension Fund offers a program called Joyful Response that allows a tithe to be automatically sent from your bank account. If you are interested in enrolling, please see Pastor for a packet or you can download one for the electronic offering program at https://lcef.org/joyful-response/. Further details about this program will be available soon on the church website.
Question 5: Help!?
Pastor Jon is available and willing to make home visits if you would feel more comfortable with that during this time! Also, if you have a need for anything (toilet paper, food, ride to the doctor, someone to talk to), please let Pastor Jon know—we have members who are ready to help! If you have health questions or need simple medical help (ex. blood pressure check), Jodie Falk has offered her nursing assistance.
Please contact Pastor Jon and your elder if there is any way we may serve you.
During this time of state mandated restriction, office hours in which Cathy will be present include: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to noon.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Jon Vierkant
Monday, March 16, 2020
Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
During the past few months, I have begun each sermon on Sunday morning by saying, “Good Morning, Church!” And the usual response that I have received from you is “Good Morning!” or “Good Morning, Pastor!” We say it is a “Good Morning” because every day is a day of the Lord’s making, and a day where we are given opportunity as children of God to come together in fellowship around God’s Word. However, in recent days we have heard about the Coronavirus and its spread, and this has caused concern and panic among many people. Public and private institutions have closed, and social distancing has become the trend promoted by health experts and policy makers. While it is certainly good to take preventive measures in connection with this virus, I would encourage everyone to replace “panic” with “prayer.” For “panic” produces “paranoia”, but “prayer” produces “peace.”
Paul invites us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6). God also asks us to be wise, too (Proverbs 8:14). The Elders and I are prayerfully keeping watch regarding the latest coronavirus (Covid-19) developments and the latest CDC guidelines. We value your safety and health! As of this writing, it has been decided to cancel the church supper and worship service for Wednesday, March 18th. However, in the coming days we will determine whether or not to continue future services and educational activities at St. Andrew (beginning with Sunday, March 21st) during this time of social distancing. Please check in with the church website, (www.standrew-westbend.org) and your elder as we make further information available to you. I will also post updates on my own personal blog at jatvierkant.blogspot.com.
We ask that you take care of yourself and stay healthy with frequent handwashing and by keeping contact with others to a minimum. Also, we encourage you to stay home if you are feeling ill or experiencing symptoms of any illness. As we determine the status of worship and education at St. Andrew beyond this Wednesday, March 18th, we will keep you updated about the plans of the church. Feel free to contact me and your elder if you have any questions. Additionally, if you have any needs that the church can assist you with during this time (food and supplies, a ride to the doctor, a home visit from Pastor to bring communion, or even someone to talk to), please let us know. We are here to serve you.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Jon Vierkant
The Greatest Enemies of Confession and Absolution