Friday, March 13, 2020

Mark's thoughts: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church and the coronavirus

Good Shepherd members,

The last few days have seen a series of cancellations as major sporting leagues and events have been suspended and cancelled.  State universities are ending on site classes, and students will have to continue using online means.  We wait to see if further measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus will impact local schools.

While it is possible to question whether all of these measures are necessary, putting the best construction on things, we can say that this is a precautionary move that is intended to prevent the health care system from being overwhelmed.  The flu season is a time when hospitals and health providers are already taxed.  Coronavirus has shown the ability to spread very quickly and can be life threatening to the elderly and those with pre-existing health problems. A rapid spread of the virus could infect people from this group and add them as a new and additional burden to the health care system.  In particular, the limited capacity of critical care areas (with the essential presence of respirators) is a major concern.

Humanly speaking, it is important that we do not overreact in fear.  We are not dealing with the bubonic plague.  While it spreads easily, the coronavirus poses a very low threat to most people.  A few adjustments may be necessary during this time, but on the whole it is not going to change life at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

Good Shepherd will continue to be the place where Christ’s Means of Grace are administered to deliver the forgiveness of sins and strengthen faith.  There will be no changes of any kind to the schedule of services.  We always need what Christ gives us in the Divine Service, and so it will never stop at Good Shepherd.

Members are encouraged to follow the common sense guidelines that have been provided through many media sources.  Wash your hands thoroughly.  If you feel that you may be sick, stay home. These are measures that I trust you would do in any circumstance.

If you are elderly or have health issues that put you at risk, and therefore you do not believe you should be present in gatherings of people, stay at home and contact me.  I will be happy to bring the Sacrament to you and have the Divine Service in your home.

When present at church, if you don’t feel comfortable shaking hands, do not do so.  The chalice will continue to be used in distributing our Lord’s blood.  If during this time you are more comfortable receiving His blood from an individual cup, then do that.

As Christians we do not fear times of uncertainty because we know the certain truth of the risen Lord.  Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death by his cross and resurrection. We live by the truth of the apostle Paul’s words:
For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (Romans 14:7-9).
Trusting in Jesus Christ, our prayer now and always, is that of the psalmist:
Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine. Our soul waits for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. (Psalm 33:18-22)
In Christ,

Pastor Surburg

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