Dear friends,

What a bizarre time we live in!

When all of this started, we were hopeful that our time of physical distancing would be over by now. Or, if not, then we would be in the process of working toward reopening our buildings and planning on a happy reunion. But now, we are facing several more weeks of this “stay-at-home” time and, unfortunately, we are not entirely sure when we will be able to return back to normal, whatever that may turn out to be. But, even in this time of uncertainty, there are some things we want to share with you.

First of all, I want to thank all of your for your patience and understanding. I’ve shared this before, but this is not a situation they covered at the seminary. How to lead a congregation through a pandemic and the resultant stay-at-home orders is new territory for all of us. We have had some stumbles along the way and we’ve had to reevaluate some of what we were doing. But I truly do appreciate the way that all of you have continued to support Timothy through all of this.

Second, I want to thank the many volunteers who have stepped up to help with our online worship services. We shared their names in a previous eNote. We wouldn’t be able to continue to share the Good News during this time as effectively as we have without their help.

Third, I want to talk about Holy Communion. This has been one of the hardest parts of this time of separation. I think we are all hungering for the grace that we find in the Sacrament. And I know that there may be questions about why we aren’t doing this or that or some other thing like other congregations do (whether those congregations share our Lutheran understanding of communion or not). But while we may want to take communion together, we also want to be good neighbors. We remember what Jesus shared in Matthew 25, namely, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” [Matthew 25:40] We stay at home during this time and we are limiting our contact with each other as an act of service to our brothers and sisters and, in doing so, we are serving our Lord.

But here’s the thing we should also remember: while we may not be able to join together in Holy Communion, that is not the only Means of Grace that we have access to. We are still the baptized children of God and we can daily remember how God named and claimed us in those blessed waters. We are still able to be fed by and through God’s Word, either when we gather together virtually in worship or with our family in personal devotions.

We are not cut off from God’s grace during this time. Yes, we miss communion. We miss the opportunity to see each other face-to-face in our weekly worship services and in person Bible studies. But God is still with us. He continues to lavish His love and grace upon us. And His grace won’t fail us, even now. We are still His forgiven children and no pandemic or physical separation can change that.

As of now, we’re not entirely sure how or when this will end. We are monitoring the situation and having discussions about what our return to in-person worship and gatherings will look like. We continue to ask for your patience and prayers as we work together to continue to touch lives for Christ in such extremely unusual times!

Under the Mercy,

Pastor John