“God is our Refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, Though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, Though its waters roar and foam Though the mountains tremble with its tumult. – Psalm 46:1-3
How American Lutheran will Handle COVID-19
1. Visit our Web Site Regularly for Streamed Services, New Updates, and information on how to stay Connected.
2. Join our Facebook Page at American Lutheran Church Lincoln-NE to see our Live Services, stay connected with our Community and get updates fast! Click HERE to see our Facebook Group Page
3. Follow our Twitter Page @amlutheran
4. We are looking into New communication technologies like Zoom to have Bible Studies and even services!
March 16, 2020
Dear Friends in Christ,
Today our governor stated that all gatherings of 50 people or more are suspended for 8 weeks. Shortly after that Bishop Brian Maas of the Nebraska Synod, ELCA sent a message to all of the ELCA pastors of the state requesting that all of our congregations cancel worship and all public gatherings through Easter Sunday.
In his letter Bishop Maas said the following: I am urging this as a matter not only of Law but of Gospel. What is clear in this pandemic, as in other viral contagions, is that it can be easily transmitted by those who are not ill—or who do not know they are ill. Our love of neighbor demands that we refrain from endangering her or him by ignoring public policy, medical advice, and common sense. Martin Luther himself wrote of those who “do not avoid places and persons infected by the plague, but lightheartedly make sport of it and wish to prove how independent they are . . . . This is not trusting God but tempting him. God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body…” Now is the time to be using that intelligence and the medical knowledge God has granted us—for the love of our neighbor.
Remember: not gathering in a building does not mean we cease being Church! We are still part of the one Body of Christ, and we still connect with one another in prayer, worship, learning, and service. Regardless of our congregation’s size, we can be church together, even have a sense of worshiping together, without actually gathering face-to-face.
After receiving all of these messages, the executive council at American Lutheran met (over a text message chain), and decided to cancel all in person activities through Easter Sunday.
As Bishop Maas pointed out so well, this does not mean that we cease to be church. It means that we will gather as a church differently than before!
Congregational worship will continue but it will be done on-line. On Wednesday Lauren and I and a couple of worship leaders are gathering to record our Wednesday evening Lenten service for the week. We will also be recording a worship service for Sunday morning.
If you go to our church website: alclincoln.com you will be able to download worship resources to go with both the Wednesday evening and Sunday morning services (i.e. the music we will be singing, prayers and other things that would normally be in a worship bulletin). These pieces of information will be located under the worship tab on our website. Hopefully the Wednesday night service will be posted by 8 PM. The Sunday morning service will be online by 9:30 AM.
It will feel more like worship, if you prepare a worship space in your home to gather around. Take time to download the worship material from our website and participate in the service. I hope to offer communion on-line on Sunday mornings, so when you are grocery shopping this week pick up a bit of bread and some wine/grape juice to use for this part of our worship together. I am reattaching instructions on how to set-up an at home altar space with this email (and it's listed on this page at the bottom). It is nice to see everyone’s faces, so please post pictures of your in-home worship gatherings (etc.) in the comment section of the worship service video on our Facebook page.
Since most of the churches in the state/country will be closed this Sunday, you may have friends whose church is not set-up well to offer on-line worship and other resources. Please invite them to join our on-line worshiping community during this time.
Remember, that just like your household and business bills will not disappear over these weeks, church bills will not either, so please continue to give as you are able. Giving can be done through Thrivent Simply Giving (call Marilyn at the church office to learn how to enroll in this), through an online donation through the church web page (click on the “Give” tab at the top), or by mail. In addition to worship we will be finding creative ways to do some of the other ministries that we love. I am not exactly sure what these will look like yet, but members of the technology team, and executive committee are already thinking about what we can do and how we can do it.
In the meantime, I have spent a lot of time on the phone today visiting with members. This is a good use of time. Marilyn (our church administrative assistant) will be compiling a list of phone numbers and sending out emails asking members to get involved in an intentional check-in process. If you are interested in serving on a phone call team, please email the church office and let us know. God made us to be communal and we all need personal contact to thrive, so find your favorite chair, get a cup of coffee (or whatever) and pretend you’re at a coffee shop (or wherever) together.
Take time to send some letters! They will brighten the day of the one who receives it. Watch for more to come. Perhaps there are ways we can figure out to have on-line Bible Studies etc.
Most importantly, pray. We pray for those in the healthcare field and for their families who are making sacrifices so that they can care for us. We pray for those who were struggling with illnesses before COVID-19 and who are struggling to maintain isolated while seeking medical care. We pray for families who are not allowed to visit their loved ones in care centers and medical facilities. We pray for those who have been laid off from jobs and for business owners and leaders who are struggling to hold things together for their employees and community. We pray for education staff as they seek to care for their students from a far and for students who adjusting to a new routine and a new normal at present. We pray for the oldest in our community who have been told to stay home and who are struggling with loneliness. We pray for our national, state, and local leaders as they seek to provide guidance for us all. We pray for God’s Spirit to breathe life and hope into these days, that God might make even these hard days, good days.
Finally, the fastest and most economical way for our congregation to communicate with each other is electronically. However, we presently, do not have electronic means to connect with every member of the congregation. In some cases, we have out-of-date emails for phone numbers for members. In other cases, we have no email address at all. If you or someone you know has not received emails from the church office in the past few days, please contact the office and let us know. If your email was sent to an email address you no longer use regularly, please call the office and help us update your contact information. If you don’t have an email address but you have an electronic devise like a smartphone or tablet that could allow you to get email, please call the church office and we will talk you through the process of setting up an email account. If you do not have a Facebook account, we would be happy to talk you through the process of setting that up as well.
It is the season of lent, and we remember today more clearly than usual that “we are dust and to dust we shall return.” Life is uncertain and even staying home for days on end can exhaust us. Still into the brokenness of ashes and dust God breathed life. So it is for us…especially in these uncertain times our Lord lives, is with us, and can bring new beginnings into our most broken realities.
God is good, all the time…All the time, God is good. I’ll look forward to seeing you on Facebook or on our website on Wednesday night if not before.
With Love in Christ,
Pastor Carla Johnsen
402-466-6488 (church office)
Click below to find the instructions for making an altar at home.
This is a message from Bishop Eaton to the Church in Regards to the Coronavirus.