Updated 3/18/20. See PDF for plan.
1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.Psalm 90
12 So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
For thousands of years, many Christians have found peace in “social distancing” and confining themselves at home. And it wasn’t negative.
In the Old Testament, God established the Sabbath day, a day of complete rest at the end of each week.
In the Early Church, believers such as Augustine journeyed to seclude themselves – to cloister – and live for a while in what came to be called a monastic life.
At their core, these periods of life were times for prayer, meditation, and giving thanks to God for His mercies, which continue to be new every morning.
Of course, this virus is not good. But this period of your life can be. We often crave peace, but panic when we get it. God has given us a time in which we can refocus and be at rest and peace. Take it from Augustine himself,
“Thou hast formed us for Thyself,(Augustine, Confessions (Book 1)
and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.”
After all, the Lord is our dwelling place.
This can be a sudden shift in our lifestyles. So what to do? Here are some tips and resources which may help in this time:
Tips for staying home from a Nun who has been practicing “Social Distancing” for 29 years – She recommends establishing a structure, planning time for prayer and worship, creating a peaceful rhythm.
Faith Sermon Podcasts – Updated each Sunday after church with audio of the sermon.
Live Stream Worship at Faith – This will be added soon – save this link for info.
Links to ELS Live Streaming Services – ELS Lutheran Churches around the country who stream their services.
Online Study Resources from CPH – These are newly made free due to COVID-19. Of note are “CPH Faith Courses” – I plan to try to organize some online Bible Studies from these as our period of cloistering continues.
ELS Online Bookstore – a perfect time to start reading.
Issues, ETC. – Daily Lutheran radio talk-show and podcast. The program features expert guests, expansive topics, while extolling Christ.
Online Home Devotion Resources from CPH – Christ’s love and message can be overshadowed amidst nervousness, uncertainty, and distress. Draw closer to Him during these times with devotional material to re-center on Christ while at home.
Coloring Pages for Kids – From Catechesis books; these are beautiful illustrations which families can use for a fun and edifying activity.
Daily Video Devotions – Peace Devotions are recorded by ELS pastors across the country.
Congregation at Prayer – Links to each week’s home devotional, published by our church.
Members & Friends of Faith Facebook Group – Connect with members of Faith on Facebook.
Pastor’s cell: 608-405-9522
More coming soon, including free devotions from the ELS Book of Family Prayer.
Adapted from “A Christian Attitude In Times Of Widespread Sickness And Rumor Of Death” by Immanuel Lutheran Church, Roswell, NM, March 10, 2020.
A pandemic can be overwhelming. Compounding the virus have been the stock market crash, panicked media reactions, closures, and everyone sharing their opinion.
God doesn’t give His opinion. He gives His Word. His promise.
Christians are not to be conformed to the world’s anxiety and fears (Romans 12:2).
God loves us (1 John 4:9).
He sent his Son to be our brother according to the flesh (John 1:14).
Having made satisfaction for our sins through his death, our Lord Jesus rose and ascended to sit at the Father’s right hand in power of all things (Romans 8:34).
This changes everything.
The eyes of faith see the world for what it is. No virus, stock market crash, or panicked media reactions can rob Christians of their hope that Jesus will give his victory and dominion over sin and death to all who believe in him (Romans 8:37). Christians have peace.
When Christians get sick and are dying, they haven’t lost God’s blessing. Rather their confidence is strengthened (Romans 5:3).
Sufferings teach that nothing in this world lasts. God’s love for us in Christ, however, endures forever. For those who have been baptized into God’s name, he has promised resurrection and eternal life. This Word of promise will not fail. God is faithful.
WHAT TO DO?
When sickness and death test the foundation of Christian trust in God’s mercy, the Scriptures teach a four-fold attitude of faith, prayer, compassion, and mercy:
FAITH – Trust in God’s Salvation, Kindness, and Fatherly Care
Psalm 27:1 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Everything that robs this world of comfort reminds us to repent. This world will pass away. God’s kingdom will not. In other words, disasters force a Lenten piety on the church whether it’s time for Lent or not. So, take out your Ten Commandments, read them slowly and out loud. Go to your pastor and confess your sins. In the absolution he preaches, you’ll discover a greater kingdom than can be found in this world. You’ll discover your Father’s unconditional love bought with the price of Jesus’ blood.
PRAYER – Seek God’s Favor According to His Promises
Psalm 70:1 – Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me!
Continue to seek God’s mercy in his promises. For close to two thousand years both the church and Christians have survived countless plagues, famines, persecutions, and the fall of civilizations. Neither the Gospel nor the Sacrament needed to be curtailed and sacrificed to survive past disasters. Therefore, we should continue hearing the Word and receiving the Sacrament for our comfort and salvation. If you do not pose a risk of infecting others, as you are able, continue to attend the divine service and receive the Lord’s Supper with confidence. If you received the common cup in the past, take comfort in the fact that both the alcoholic content of the sacramental wine and the precious metal of the chalice mitigate the transmission of germs. Another great advantage of continuing to meet together is being able to pray in the presence of your fellow Christians for the afflicted. God has promised to hear these prayers and for the sake of the faithful the Lord will answer according to his good and gracious will.
COMPASSION & MERCY – Have A Heart Open to Your Neighbor & Love Your Neighbor As You Love Yourself
Psalm 41:1-3 – Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies. The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in illness you restore him to full health.
Once our hearts have been set at peace, we can consider how to best serve our neighbors. There is a two-fold danger of recklessness on the one hand and debilitating fear on the other. The Christian avoids both by faith. Reckless behavior – not washing hands, intentionally exposing yourself unnecessarily to infection, etc. – tests God and makes light of the means by which the Lord intends us to protect ourselves and others. On the other hand, running to the store and clearing out the shelves with more than you would normally need robs your neighbor of the necessities he and his family need to get by. Use your best judgment in changing habits that might contribute to the transmission of disease. There’s no law that you must shake hands. So if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, don’t do it. Follow the guidelines and direction of both government officials and the medical experts.
A GUIDE FOR PRAYER
Start by praying for yourself and those closest to you.
Pray for those who are sick.
Pray for those who are caring for those who are sick.
Pray for those who are working to stop the disease and prevent further spread.
Pray Psalm 91
2I will say to the Lord,
“My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”
3Surely he will rescue you from the fowler’s trap,
from the destructive plague.
5You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6nor the plague that prowls in the darkness,
nor the pestilence that destroys at noon.
9Yes, you, Lord, are my refuge!
If you make the Most High your shelter,
10evil will not overtake you.
Disaster will not come near your tent.
Make the sign of the cross in the name of the Trinity and pray Martin Luther’s Evening Prayer
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray You to forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.
And then lie down in peace, and sleep.
Wednesdays in Lent | 7:00pm – Lent Vespers. An evening service, focusing on prayer and catechesis, preceded by a meal at 6:00pm.
Maundy Thursday | 7:00pm – Confessional Divine Service, April 9. The evening our Lord instituted His Holy Supper for the forgiveness of our sins. The service concludes with the stripping of the altar in remembrance of our Lord’s betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Good Friday | 7:00pm, April 10 – Tenebrae Vespers. On Good Friday, the church remembers the crucifixion of her Lord. Her remembrance, while solemn, is not a message of gloom, but a service of adoration of Jesus the Lamb of God as He offers up his life.
Holy Saturday | 6:30pm, April 11 – Easter Vigil At Resurrection Lutheran Church, Verona, WI. The Easter Alleluia sounds forth for the first time in the midst of the dark night and we are carried in spirit to Christ’s tomb where the Creator’s Sabbath rest was transformed into a new Day and Age, the Day of the Lord.
Easter Sunday | 9:00am, April 12 – Easter Festival Service. The high point of the entire church year, the celebration of our Lord, risen from the dead. This service is rich in symbolism and even richer in hymns, lessons, and Gospel comfort.
Wednesday, February 26. Ash Wednesday is a solemn reminder that our sin condemns us: “For dust you are, And to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). But we are also buried with Christ in baptism, we are buried into Christ’s death.
The season of Lent begins with the Confession and the Imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday, and it ends with the Absolution on Maundy Thursday.
6:00pm Free Supper
7:00pm Divine Service with the Imposition of Ashes