OSL Responds to COVID-19
Pastoral Letter #5
Week of 15 April 2020

Dear OSL Family,

Easter blessings to you all! Although it was different for all of us – including a spring snowstorm!—Easter was not canceled (!) and we each found ways to celebrate the Good News of the empty tomb. May that good news continue to provide you with the perspective you need to weather this time of uncertainty and extraordinary circumstances.

Farewell and Godspeed
This week brings us to the point where we bid Pr. Sami and Susanna farewell and Godspeed. We will do so formally in worship at both services this weekend, but we also encourage all of you to shower Sami with cards and greetings so that she will know without a doubt how much her ministry has meant to you and your loved ones. Please get your cards to the church by April 17, and we will present them to her in worship on April 19.

And Now, A Word from Pastor Sami
Dear Church,
Under the best of circumstances, April 19 was always going to be a hard day. Now, not being able to see you and share our goodbyes in person – handshakes, hugs, laughter, tears, and all – it feels almost impossible.

But saying goodbye to you is hard for all the best reasons. It’s hard because we have shared life and ministry together for almost five years. We have grieved together, celebrated together, laughed and learned together. Some of us have traveled, served, and climbed a mountain together. We’ve seen dreams and hopes become reality. We’ve forgiven one another’s mistakes and not given up on one another.

I will always remember that you accepted me as a brand new pastor. And now you are sending me out into an unknown future, equipped with skills and experience that I know I will use again to serve the church wherever I am called next.

And I will never forget how you warmly welcomed Susanna from the very beginning. She already loves church because of you.

This goodbye is hard for me, but I am filled with nothing but confidence and hope for this congregation even in the midst of this difficult time. Your Faith Formation Ministry Team has never been stronger than it is now under Melissa’s, John’s, and Nicole’s leadership. They are the most creative and hardworking people I’ve ever worked with. Pastors Randy, Justin, and Tim have been incredible colleagues from whom I have learned so much. I have no doubt that they will continue to lead you with both vision and compassion through this pandemic. The whole staff is holding you in prayer and never stops thinking about how to serve you well in the midst of this.

So, church, I leave you with this promise from the scriptures because it has brought me comfort so many times, including this moment, and I hope it will do the same for you.

“For I am convinced 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

I love you, church,
Pr. Sami Johnson

Wash Your Hands!
With the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been much emphasis on washing our hands. We are told that twenty seconds is the proper length of time to completely clean your hands, but twenty seconds can seem like forever.

There have been many suggestions for what to do while you are washing your hands to make the chore less tedious: saying the alphabet aloud, singing “Happy Birthday” twice, etc. But why not do something that connects you with the comfort and grace of time in prayer with God?

That’s right; we are heartily endorsing saying the Lord’s Prayer when washing your hands. It takes about twenty seconds to say it, and since Paul encourages us in Ephesians 6:18a to “pray at all times,” why not make wash time prayer time? It might just become the best part of your day.

A Special Shout-Out
Holy Week and Easter would not have happened this year without the selfless service of faithful staff and volunteers. We extend our sincere thanks to the musicians who moved us with amazing music, the team in the television studio, those who prepared the presentation slides and the videos that helped us engage the work of worship more fully, the social media crew that curated our online programming, the staff members who designed, printed, posted, and mailed worship documents and those who made sure the facility was ready to serve, and the artists who decorated our worship spaces with flowers and paintings and bulletin cover art. All of your work made Holy Week and Easter this year both meaningful and memorable.

A Final Word
We have entered the season of Easter, a season that will carry us through the month of May. We will gather in worship, albeit at a distance, under the theme “Unfading Peace,” a theme intended to convey the gift God gives through our risen Lord Jesus. Even with all the uncertainty we experience day after day, may each of you know deep within your being the unfading peace of new life in Christ.

We miss you and we are praying for you,

Your pastors at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church,
Rev. Randy Gehring,
Rev. Tim Lemme,
Rev. Sami Johnson,
Rev. Justin Kosec

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