UPDATED AS OF 3/17 5PM
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The State of Wisconsin and Federal Government have requested that the public do their part in containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Specifically, the government’s recommendation is to cancel group gatherings of 10 or more people. Therefore, St. John and Trinity are honoring this recommendation and we will not be gathering in person for worship until April 5th unless something should change, in which case we will update you further. However, please join us online on our facebook page or here on the video page of our website. As indeed the writer to the Hebrews encourages us, “Let us not neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some, but let us encourage one another all the more... (10:25)”
We did not make this decision out of fear or worry. Rather, we respect our government leaders and honor them in their recommendation. Matthew Harrison, president of the LC-MS, uses God’s Word to provide clarity and answers to many common questions regarding this decision in a Q&A published here on March, 16. Also mentioned by President Harrison as well as in Sunday’s (3/8) message part of the reason for our decision is an act of care and concern for our neighbor, as indeed Paul calls on us to place the needs (or in this case health) of others before our own.
As information comes out and then changes or progresses at what might feel like lightning pace, we recognize that some people are experiencing anxiety and fear about their health, uncertainty about the future, and a frustration at the normalcy of life and its general expectations being interrupted. While this new threat to our well-being may be at the forefront of media reports, we as believers in Christ are reminded by our Lord in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The writer to the Hebrews also reminds us, “God has said: ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?(Hb. 13:5b-6)’”
In these as at all times, people need to hear and be reminded of the good news of Jesus. There may be numerous opportunities to minister to your neighbor, colleague or friend. These times provide us ample opportunity to speak confidently and compassionately about the hope that fills us and the strength by which God causes us to stand.