Dear members and friends of St Peters Lutheran Parish, Hobart,
I share with you three items for your information and encouragement. Firstly the webinar, as you should probably book this as soon as possible as it will be live-streamed from 7.30pm tonight. I recently shared the following with our leaders and some others:
This looks like it could be very worthwhile both in helping us to further our understanding regarding COVID-19 and also to prompt us further regarding how to make the most of the present time to share the Gospel and care for God’s people. I have just booked mine and the process was easy. Click here to register: The Gospel Coalition Webinar (COVID-19)
Secondly, I include a message from our Parish Chairperson Kim who plans to keep in touch in this way in an ongoing way and finally, below that, is a mail-out to Pastors which I received from our District bishop Lester Priebbenow yesterday.
Remember our service will be live-streamed this Sunday at 10.00am (if you miss it you can on later to view). It has been fascinating and enriching working on the text for the sermon. It is deep, rich and profound and so I am sure it will make for engaging listening. I will be meeting via phone conferencing with our Pastoral Assistants tomorrow morning so if there is anything of a pastoral nature that you believe needs consideration or attending to please contact me or one of them. As a reminder, they are Gundars, Tony, Garry, Pauline and Juergen.
Warm regards and blessings,
Social Isolation without being isolated.
Dear Members of St Peters,
This is a time of unprecedented unrest in Australia’s history and many of us have never gone through such a period of uncertainly before. The leadership team is however committed to ensuring that while we are practising social isolation we as a body should not be isolated from each other. We have moved to online services, this way many are still able to experience church on Sunday, albeit in a form we have not previously experienced. We are still one body in Christ and though we are unable to worship together in one building we are still able to worship. We are also lucky that we have wonderful communication facilities here and though we can’t physically be together there is no impediment to us remaining in contact. Phoning members and friends or emailing is a wonderful way for us to stay connected and to keep encouraging and lifting each other up. Prayer and praying for each other is also vital throughout this time. I will be providing a weekly update message to members so that you are aware of what we are doing behind the scenes to keep us together as a community. We are taking the health warnings very seriously and will do everything in our powers to keep our members safe from this dreadful virus. Please feel free to contact me at any time with thoughts or suggestions on how we are able to keep our members better informed and together.
Yours in Christ,
From Bishop Lester
My prayers are with you at this time as together we adapt to the unusual times in which we find ourselves, both as citizens and as church workers. As we reflect on the Scripture readings for this Sunday, we may well ask, “What opportunities does this situation give us to ‘live as children of light’?” (Eph. 5:25).
I do not wish to overwhelm you with information in this communication but to share a few pastoral reflections and seek ways that we may serve one another.
Official communications concerning the church’s response are via the LCA/NZ COVID-19 Response eNews and via the obvious orange link on the LCA website homepage. Information on that page is frequently updated to reflect the most recent developments and responses. Please note Bishop Henderson’s communication of today, Friday 20 March, for pastoral guidance and advice offered by the College of Bishops regarding suspension of Holy Communion.
RESPONSES WITHIN THE DISTRICT
Thanks to those who have taken the time to inform District Office of what you are doing with worship services etc. Some have already suspended publicly gathering for services. Some have sent helpful resources including a copy and commentary on Luther's advice in his 1527 "Plague Letter".
If suspension of public worship is to become more widespread, it will be important to consider the wording we use. We are not ‘cancelling’ services or ‘closing churches’ but ‘suspending public gatherings’ and offering alternative arrangements for people to participate in services of the Word.
This is a time for us to be creative and adaptive in the way we serve our people and lead them to care for one another. In this vein, Gordon Wegener has offered the following:
“I am sending this to support you in these unique times. There are many ways that you will be impacted and disorientated by what is happening, how normal life is changing, what we trusted as normal. Our normal connections and systems are being interrupted, and words like “distancing” and “isolation” can have negative connotations. I offer this little reading, which is simple, but encouraging, and suggests a way of turning these words we are experiencing into positives. This is a short reading from Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky:
“Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place.
Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.
Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another,
must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other should the need arise.”
It is a time to be creative in response, to be adaptive besides reactive, and to care for each other.”
I don’t wish to give you a whole lot of advice about things you can do, but rather to ask you to share with me some of the adaptive approaches that may be helpful for others in relation to:
As time goes by you will likely hear of more events cancelled across the church. District eNews has already circulated news regarding some events like Women’s Convention. I need to announce to you that one further casualty is our District CEP, scheduled for early in June, which has now been cancelled.
COMFORT AND HOPE
At times like this, Scripture passages offering comfort and hope come to mind. Yes there are anxious times, but God says, ‘Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you’ (Psalm 55:22), ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you’ (1 Peter 5:7). Creation is ‘groaning’, but our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us’… nothing ‘in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom 8).
These are words for the people we serve and they are words for us too. May God lead you in his comfort and hope as you serve.
Yours in Christ,
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