OSL Responds to COVID-19
Pastoral Letter #33
Week of 6 January 2021

Dear Our Savior’s,

Happy New Year! 2020 is in our rearview mirrors, and with a vaccine for the coronavirus now being distributed, we are noticing a few more smiles behind those masks you’re wearing. (We really can tell!) As we strain together to see the proverbial light at the end of the Covid tunnel, may the light of Epiphany—the light of Christ shining within us and in the world—assure you of God’s promises and give you hope.

Worship This Weekend
This weekend signals the beginning of a new season in the church, Epiphany. In a way, it’s sort of the “so-what” season on the church calendar. Christmas has come and gone, we have celebrated the arrival of Emmanuel/God-with-us, and now we naturally, being the good Lutherans we are, begin to ask questions like “What does this mean?” and “Who is this baby that was born in Bethlehem?”

This weekend, we begin to answer a few of those questions as we both hear again the story of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River and use the opportunity this story gives us to reflect on and give thanks for our own baptism, that moment when the veil separating heaven and earth was pulled back and we were filled with the Holy Spirit.

If you’re planning to join us for worship this weekend, either in person or from afar via television or Facebook, we invite you to bring with you an artifact or two from your baptism that will help you remember that occasion in your life: a candle, your baptismal certificate, a picture or two, the outfit your wore, etc. If you can’t find any of these, you can simply use a candle and/or a small bowl of water.

Epiphany Places
Throughout the season of Epiphany, we will do our best to identify a variety of places we encounter this One who has come to be God-with-us. To that end, we encourage you to designate a place in your home or office that can be for you a sacred place of prayer and reflection, a place where you can step away from the busyness of life—if only for a few moments—and allow yourself to be truly and fully open to God’s presence in your life. You might consider placing a candle and a Bible in this space, a prayer shawl, a devotional book, some incense, etc. Make it your own, or create the space together as a family, and then use it throughout the season to reflect on and experience the nearness of God in your life.

Open Question Season
In our new governance structure, each of you plays a critical role in shaping the future of the ministry we share here at Our Savior’s. Each year the Governing Board invites you to respond to a few “open questions” so that your thoughts and ideas may be considered at the board’s planning retreat in February. At this retreat, the annual vision for ministry is discerned. This statement of purpose and direction sets a course for us to follow as we identify ministry goals and objectives for the year and a plan for funding this ministry we share.

Please make time to prayerfully reflect on and respond to the questions you will find Please make time to prayerfully reflect on and respond to the questions you will find here, or you may complete the paper survey that was mailed with this letter and return it to the Church Office by January 31. Thank you in advance for your feedback and for your partnership.

Annual Meeting of the Congregation
The annual meeting of the congregation will be held on Sunday, January 31, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. in The Gathering Place. A minimum of seventy-five (75) voting members need to attend to make the meeting official. The Governing Board intends to keep the agenda brief so that we can tend to the business of the church in a safe and responsible manner. Pandemic protocols will be followed.

In addition to electing three new members to the Governing Board, the congregation will vote on proposed amendments to our Constitution and Bylaws. The proposed changes to the bylaws are minor, but the changes to the constitution are substantial. These changes are necessary not only to align the constitution with the bylaws, which were ratified by the congregation in January 2020, but also to bring our constitution into compliance with the Model Constitution for Congregations of the ELCA.

You may review both the current constitution and bylaws, as well as the versions that will be voted upon at the annual meeting, here or at the Welcome Center.

Our Ministry of Prayer
Together we are the church; God has called us to proclaim Christ and nurture faith that connects faith to everyday life. This ministry we share compels us to pray for one another, especially those with particular needs. This week, please pray for all who are involved with the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine; for our community leaders and their staff; for (healing) David Lehmann, Willard Martens, Mary Jo Colby; and for (grieving) Jeff, Jessica, and Joseph Siegrist and family as they mourn Dee’s death, the family and friends of David R. Knudson as they mourn his death; and for Brian Sittig’s sister Holly and her son Lucas, as they mourn the death of Holly’s husband, and Lucas’ father, Bobby Swenson. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Until next time, be well and press on.
Your pastors at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church
Randy Gehring,
Tim Lemme,
Justin Kosec,
Shelly Gehring