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Dear Members and Friends of St. James Lutheran Church,
After prayer and discussion among our congregation’s staff and leadership, we commit to the following:
We will refrain from hugs, handshakes, and hand-holding. Regrettably, we will forgo our typical greetings for the time being. Human contact is an important part of our life together. A hug has the ability to convey the love of Christ. But for now, an elbow or fist bump will have to do. And (I say it in love): If you’re sick, stay home.
We will have careful procedures in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The Pastor and communion preparers/distributors will wash their hands thoroughly just prior to each service. Additionally, we will use hand-sanitizer immediately before Holy Communion. As always, bread will be handed to you. And everyone will receive the wine (Christ’s blood) by `intinction’ (that means dipping your bread in the wine). No sipping by anyone, until further notice.
We will maintain an extremely clean building. We have begun daily wiping and spraying surfaces and door knobs, etc., in our building with sanitizing solution, particularly the Sunday School, Cafe area, pre-school, and bathroom areas. In the church (which doesn’t have so much traffic through the week), the backs of pews and communion rail will be cleaned every Friday and Saturday nights (before next day’s worship). And so on. There are also several hand-sanitizer stations throughout the building -please use them, and remind others to do the same.
We will continue to go to people in need. Your pastor, deacons, and care-givers will visit the sick. Christ went toward lepers and the sick, not away from them. However if, for the sake of the health of the sick person, medical professionals advise against them having contact from the outside, we’ll phone and/or write a card, and we will not stop lifting people up in payer. Our members who are medical professionals will also carry out their duties. All of us will go about our God-given callings in confident faith.
In short, we will pray AND sanitize. It is not either/or. It’s both/and. We’re not going to pray but then act carelessly. Neither are we going to overestimate our precautionary health measures. Our times are in the hands of God. The disruption of epidemic drives us to prayer and obedient trust.
We will not fear. There’s a time for concern, but we refuse fear. The stock market might plummet, but we remain generous. Sickness may spread, but we remain faithful. Our trust in God is not dependent on circumstances. Frankly, baptized into Christ and believing the gospel, the worst thing that can happen to you turns out to be the best thing that can happen to you, namely, going to heaven. So Christian faith upholds us also when things seem precarious. God gets glory when we cling to Him in every trial.
Finally, see the following quote from Martin Luther. He wrote this to answer the question Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague: “Therefore I shall ask God to mercifully protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it . . . If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me, and I have done what He expected of me. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid person or place, but will go freely.”
All for the King,