“Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”
(1 Peter 4:7-11) Peter writes this letter to the Christians in Asia Minor. They are experiencing “separation anxiety.” They were so dispersed that they were addressed as “exiles.” He wrote it when it was tough to be a Christian. He wrote it because he was convinced that following Jesus would only get tougher as time went on. Their situation put them in conflict with their culture, leading to suffering, persecution and alienation. This letter then is an addressed on how to live out their baptism in such difficulties. The baptized should be prepared for action and have their hopes set on the grace of God and this will in turn produce holiness.
This letter speaks to us as well. We now have entered a time when a deadly virus is roaming around the earth. We too are feeling the anxiety. We are afraid, we don’t know what to do, what is the right path. It has led to fear, suffering and sometimes death. Peter says that we live in hope, and the source of this hope is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and because he lives we will live also.
This hope leads to a new way of living, and this new way of living leads to purity which is obtained by obedience to the truth and leads the baptized into genuine love for one another. Our church is still open, and we are doing ministry. Although we are not in our building we have been doing worship on Sundays, funerals, praying for and providing for those in need.
When days of difficulty, pain, or loss sweep over us, that is not the time to pull away from the Lord, but an opportunity to draw closer to him. Trials help us grow into mature Christians. Troubles help us grow into more effective channels of God’s love and grace to others. Peter’s letter shows us how to survive in a world turned hostile and how to focus on the hope we have in Jesus instead of on the hopelessness of the situation around us.
Yours in Christ,
We express our condolences to the family of John Miller (Sally Calvin’s brother) who died in Ohio on April 29th.
We express our condolences to the family of John Bottenfield (Carl & Judy’s son) who died in Hermitage on May 5th.
We express our condolences to the family of Ron Haun Sr. who died on May 6th .
We express our condolences to the family of Harold “Pete” Dinger of Brookville, Pa who died on May 5th. Pete was an active lay person who was part of the greater NWPA synod and the former Western-W. Virginia synod.
We extend our condolences to the family of the Rev. Richard “Dick” Schultz who died in Erie on May 10th. Pastor Schultz’s last call was to St. Paul’s Lutheran in Erie (Millcreek) before retiring.
WHEN WILL WE BE BACK IN OUR BUILDING?
First of all, we are thinking about June 14th, but as they say, we are following the science not the politics, and the data not the emotions. We will consult with our governor, the CDC, and our Bishop, but the final decision will be the pastor and our council. As of now we want to you know that your church council has been working at some things that need to be done in preparation for whenever we return to the building. We need to do a deep clean and our sextons have agreed to do that. The building needs to be cleaned after every service. We will need to wear face masks and sit at least six feet apart. We will not physically share the peace, have children’s sermons, greet each other after the service or have a social time after the service. One of the big challenges is how do we distribute communion? I have talked with our Bishop and other pastors about it and have some suggestions. We are also considering having worship out in our parking lot. We are ordering a low volt transmitter that would allow people to dial in a certain station on their car radio. We would also have to stay in our cars and not get out. We are open to any ideas that you may have. In the meantime we are worshipping and ministering to each other and our community. It’s just different.