OSL Responds to COVID-19
Pastoral Letter #11
Week of 27 May 2020
Dear OSL Family,
As the Day of Pentecost approaches (31 May), may the words we find in Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth continue to shape our lives and our ministry here at Our Savior’s: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7; emphasis added)
As has been shared previously, the Governing Board extended the cancelation period of all in-person indoor activities at Our Savior’s through 15 June. Two exceptions to this extension include serving as a polling place on 2 June and hosting the Summer Feeding Program, through which children eighteen and younger may receive a free lunch Monday through Friday.
In the wake of a presidential declaration that houses of worship are “essential,” it seems that nothing these days can escape the taint of partisan politics. At Our Savior’s, we continue to be guided by sound science and data as well as our theology in our decisions regarding the resumption of in-person activities.
What we know to be true is that some of the normal things we do as part of worship—singing and speaking in unison, passing an offering plate, shaking hands while sharing the peace, all while sharing the same space together for about an hour—greatly increase the risk of spreading and contracting something like the coronavirus.
What we believe and hold as central to our theology is the idea that we follow a crucified Savior, one who offered himself for the sake of the world, one who was always serving those on the fringe, one who was quick to include the ‘other’ even when it meant offending social protocol or religious tradition. For that he was crucified in weakness and shame. And yet this is the One through whom God redeemed the world by communicating the life-giving news that God’s love is large enough to include everyone and powerful enough to defeat even death. As a result, we who follow Jesus find our unity and our sense of purpose not in acts of strength or defiance but primarily in our shared humanity, vulnerability, and need.
Therefore, any decision about the resumption of in-person activities here at church will be, by necessity, grounded in our calling to serve the common good. In other words, our decision and subsequent actions must demonstrate our desire to serve first the interests of our neighbor, particularly those most at risk of infection. May the Spirit given at Pentecost continue to guide us as we discern the way forward.
Living out This Calling
While we remain distanced from one another, putting this faith into action means we continue to be on the lookout for ways we can care for each other. In these days of phased reopening, it is possible that many of us are feeling a wide array of emotions and the burden of this ordeal is becoming heavier and heavier.
As the church deployed in the community, be sure to check up regularly on those within your circles of influence—your housemates, your neighbors, your fellow workers, your extended family. Give them a call and provide a listening ear; drop by for a front porch chat or a driveway conversation; send an email; write a letter; ship a care package. Find something each day that you can do to extend care to those around you, and remember—when you do something like this, you have done it also to Jesus, who is with you always.
Caring Ministries at OSL
Our OSL Caring Ministries team, which includes an expanded group of caring friends who are busy making phone calls to our homebound folks, is eager to provide whatever care we can during these prolonged days of isolation. If you or someone you know has a particular need that feels like it’s bigger than you can manage on your own, call the Church Office, 336-2942, and we will do everything we can to provide the assistance you need.
If you have not yet indicated your intent to be an OSL Mission Investor by returning your Estimate of Giving card to the Church Office, please do so as soon as possible. As an alternative, you may find a fillable form of the Estimate of Giving card here along with supporting information. If you have any questions, pick up the phone and give Barb Haugan a call at 336-2942, or drop her a line at email@example.com.
Prayers of the Church
By special request, we will begin publishing in this letter the names of those for whom we prayed during worship the previous Sunday so that you all can continue to hold these folks in your prayers. This week, please pray for Jayne Solberg, who was hospitalized last week.
A Final Word
As we anticipate celebrating the Day of Pentecost this Sunday, may each of you continue to find ways to share the fruits of the Spirit with those around you: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and may God bless you as you faithfully serve your neighbor.
In Christ’s unfading peace,
Your pastors at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church,
Rev. Randy Gehring,
Rev. Tim Lemme,
Rev. Justin Kosec