“I am hope for all who are hopeless,
I am eyes for all who long to see.
In the shadow of the night,
I will be your light.
Come and rest in me.”
Dear Friends in Christ,
In a time when Easter cannot come soon enough, and knowing that Easter will and must be different this year, remember that clarity in communication really matters. And, not all decisions for the coming weeks and months have to be made right now. These difficult days call us to be patient and kind, not only with others but also with ourselves.
Here are some things to consider:
- Unless unfolding circumstances suggest a need for more frequent communication from me, you can look for a weekly letter in our eNews that will be published Monday afternoons (this later publication/release allows us to have the most current information to you as the new week gets underway).
Resources related to this era of living with COVID-19 will continue to be updated as new things become available and old resources no longer apply, so keep checking throughout the week.
- We are initiating a weekly “drop-in” with the bishop for pastors and deacons. These 30-minute sessions will be provided via ZOOM. If you are interested, please join us on Wednesdays at 11:00 am. If more time is needed, we will consider expanding this opportunity.
- Just because tools are available to live stream worship, it is not necessary that every local community of faith provides this service. We will list congregations that let us know that they are providing online worship during times when in-person worship continues to carry the risk of spreading the coronavirus. You may share the listing of opportunities with your own community, your friends, family, and neighbors, remembering that we are #inthisTogether.
- Proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ remains the essence of what it means to be the church in all times. In these days of pandemic, that good news can come to expression in what may seem like tiny acts of love that convey overwhelming grace. Share with one another (and with us at firstname.lastname@example.org) emerging ways that you are discovering to extend care and to empower others to extend care to members and those in the community beyond the church.
- And pray. Pray alone. Pray with others. See the resource of how church bells can be used to remind us to pray, which some congregations of this synod are already using in ways that works in their context.
- A word about Holy Communion. Many are asking about, debating (via social media), and even insisting that they know how best to think about and act related to the Eucharistic meal in a time of social distancing. In addition to insights provided by the ELCA worship staff, I’ve found an article written by Dr. Timothy Wengert, with its confessional perspective, to be helpful. Whatever approach is taken locally, I pray that it is done with great care and humility, respecting our sacramental heritage, and knowing that there are many things in our life together that we will get wrong. As for me, I will continue to fast from the meal, trusting that the Word itself is full of the presence of Christ. And then in a healthier time, I will work with you, as a dear mentor suggests, “to rebuild that wonderful Sunday eucharistic-frequency that has been built up so lovingly among us.”
Jesus says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:5) As we all pray for vision in the fog that surrounds us, please know that we pray for you. As you work to find ways to be present to people in the communities where you live out your faith and calling, remember that we are here for you. If we can be of help beyond what we are already doing, please let us know.
Hold fast to the promise.
Christ is with you,
Bishop Michael L. Burk
“Do not be afraid, I am with you.
I have called you each by name.
Come and follow me, I will bring you home;
I love you and you are mine.”
- 581 Evangelical Lutheran Worship