COVID-19 "Coronavirus" Info
Dear friends in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! In Romans, chapter 8, the apostle Paul proclaims the certain hope he has by the faith given him through God’s means of grace in Word and Sacrament: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). We also are given to receive and rejoice in that same comfort and confidence, trusting in the same Lord, for “His love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5).
On Monday, March 23, Indiana Governor Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-08, directing Hoosiers to stay at home. Governor Holcomb’s order becomes effective at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, and remains in full force and effect until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 6, 2020. Baptized in Christ Jesus and Him crucified and risen again, we are given His righteousness that fears and loves God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, including the governing authorities of our land instituted by God for our good to serve His creation. (Romans 13:1-7) Rather, we honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them. We also give them our prayers and our patience as they seek to serve those for whom their public office was instituted. Insofar as the recommendations and mandates given at this time by our government and health officials, particularly regarding precautions intended to slow the spread of infection, do not violate God’s Word or encroach upon our conscience, we are given to heed and obey them with patient endurance. According to the Lord’s wise, gracious, and merciful command, we at New Hope Lutheran Church will submit to Governor Holcomb’s order.
Effective immediately, and until April 6 unless otherwise updated, all regularly scheduled corporate worship at New Hope Lutheran Church is suspended. Videos [and/or livestream] of an appropriate Prayer Office will be posted to our website and Facebook page at the ordinary times appointed for these services (10 am on Sundays and 6:30 pm on Wednesdays during Lent). Even, perhaps especially, in this moment of suffering which is not worth comparing to the eternal glory that will be revealed to us (Romans 8:18), I encourage individuals and families to continue this worship schedule at home as much as possible. The Lord has blessed us with an opportunity for catechesis, and heads of families should consider how to teach the Lord’s loving will and ways, at this time as always, in a simple way to their households. That is, please consider getting up with your family when you normally would, dressing to receive the Lord’s Divine Service as you normally would, and using your hymnal to respond and sing throughout the Prayer Office as you normally would in God’s holy house. If you do not have Lutheran Service Book, please contact me.
Nevertheless, we realize and remember that this is not normal, nor is listening to and even participating in an on-line Prayer Office the same as being gathered by and around Word and Sacrament in corporate worship. “Lord, I love the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells…for a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 26:8 & 84:10a). Thus, please do not hesitate to contact me to establish a time when I may visit and serve you with the Lord’s Divine Service in Word and Sacrament. Please also know that you and your conscience are free in Christ Jesus, and you may also, for this brief time, faithfully and responsibly decide to keep to yourself and your family, trusting that the Lord “will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5b). In the meantime, I will begin calling you, the Lord’s people in this place, checking in and offering to serve you with the Lord’s appointed means of grace that grant forgiveness, life, and salvation. If you want to jump to the top of my list, then please contact me at any time.
We pray: O most loving Father, You want us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing except losing You, and to lay all our cares on You, knowing that You care for us. Strengthen us in faith toward You. Give us grace to trust You during this time of illness and distress. In mercy put an end to the epidemic that afflicts us. Grant relief to those who suffer, and comfort all that mourn. Sustain in their labors all medical personnel and all whose vocations serve our bodily needs, and cause Your people ever to serve You in righteousness and holiness. Grant that the fears and anxieties of this mortal life may not separate us from Your love shown to us in Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Blessings in Christ,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In order to do what we can to limit and slow the spread of the new coronavirus among us, we will be taking the following precautions (in addition to the precautions taken last weekend):
1. In order to continue offering the Lord’s Supper (which has been called the “medicine of immortality”) and the gathering of the body of Christ, we are, at this time, still offering worship services. In order to have gatherings of less than 10, as recommended by the government, we will offer additional worship services this week. These additional services will be offered as an alternative to the Sunday Divine Service, providing the same readings and sermon as that offered on Sunday morning. These additional services will be spoken services with only one hymn. The additional Divine Services will take places as follows:
Tuesday, March 24, 10 am (CANCELLED)
Thursday, March 26, 6:30 pm (CANCELLED)
If you are well and able to attend at one of these alternate times, please do so.
2. Please spread out throughout the sanctuary, leaving plenty of space between family groups.
3. We will offer a live stream of our services (please see our website for recordings).
4. If you are sick or at high risk (elderly or have a preexisting medical condition), please stay home. If you would like Pastor Burfiend to visit and provide communion, please contact the church office at 260-622-7954.
5. We will not hold Sunday morning Bible study and Sunday school for the time being.
6. Today, Randy Buuck, our head trustee, will spray disinfectant (Sani Clean) throughout the sanctuary, hallways, and bathrooms. According to the EPA, this disinfectant "has demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on hard non-porous surfaces."
7. Bulletins will be available in a box outside of the carport entrance for those who have missed church.
We are also taking additional precautions in the administration of the Lord’s body and blood. We will continue to offer our Lord’s gift, trusting that He will take care of us and give forgiveness and life to believers in this sacrament. Please contact Pastor Burfiend for more information.
Please check your email, our church website (www.newhopelutheranossian.org), and our church Facebook page for more information and resources to grow as a Christian during this time.
Blessings in Christ,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
With the outbreak of COVID-19, I have been in discussion with some of our church leadership regarding our response. We do not want to live in fear; we live in the confidence that our Lord Jesus Christ cares for us and that He has conquered death by His perfect life, death, and resurrection. In this time of trial, we call on our Lord in repentance, asking Him to forgive our sins and to grant a speedy end to this pandemic. Please continue praying fervently for medical staff, those infected, and all who are at risk. Pray for healing and health but, most of all, that Our Lord would bring repentance and faith where there is unbelief.
In love for all of our congregation, we have decided to take several steps to prevent the spread of disease while we gather to receive the Lord's Supper in the Divine Service (which has been called the "medicine of immortality" - a medicine we all need!). Please note that these steps are temporary. We will continue holding Sunday and Wednesday worship services and Bible class/Sunday School.
1. We will avoid shaking hands before or after the service.
2. We will not pass the offering plates during the service. The offering will be collected at each of the main doors to the sanctuary. If you would like to set up electronic giving, please print, fill out, and mail the attached form.
3. The individual communion cups will be spread out in the tray so that communicants are less likely to touch the cups of other communicants. When placing your cup in the collecting tray after receiving the Lord's blood, please begin in the center of the tray and proceed from there, leaving an empty space between cups.
4. The purificator for the common cup will be dipped in Everclear (95% alcohol) so that it sanitizes the outside of the common cup after each person drinks.
5. In order to limit the chance of disease transmission, we have also agreed to cancel coffee hour and our Wednesday Lenten Suppers. These are great blessings to us all, but they provide an extra social gathering where disease can spread.
6. We encourage you to stay home if you have a compromised immune system and if you are currently sick. Please contact Pastor Burfiend at 260-622-7954 for pastoral care and communion at home.
7. Our services will be live streamed on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NewHopeLutheranChurchOssian/). If you do not already have a Facebook account, you will need to set one up. You can also listen to past sermons at our website (www.newhopelutheranossian.org). In the future, we are looking into the possibility of having the service live streamed on YouTube as well.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. We want to hear from you! In this time of isolation and quarantine, we want to continue to support one another as fellow members of the body of Christ. Keep praying the Kyrie during this time "Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy."
Finally, I encourage you to view a short video on COVID-19 from our Synod President at the following link: https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/resource-helps-congregations-plan-for-widespread-illnesses/.
Blessings in Christ,