Introduction

Dear members and friends of St. Luke,

This world that we live in is broken. It has been since shortly after the beginning, but we're seeing it play out before our eyes all the more clearly with the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The situation is rapidly changing and we're doing what we can to keep up to date.

While it's very easy to panic in the face of such a disease and some of the global reaction to it, we also remember the word of the King David in Psalm 62:

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, 

   for my hope is from Him. 

He only is my rock and my salvation,

   my fortress; I shall not be shaken.

On God rests my salvation and my glory;

   my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

The point of this page is 1) to inform you of how St. Luke is responding to this crisis, and 2) to pass along resources that I've found to be helpful in processing everything that's going on. 

It shouldn't need to be said, but I'll say it anyway: I am neither a doctor or a fortune teller. I don't fully understand all the medical aspects of this outbreak, and I'm guessing you don't either. In any case, I'm choosing to listen to, trust, and obey our public institutions—both sacred and secular—in their advice as to how to best handle things. But I can't predict the future. I can't say that you will or won't get the virus, or how it might affect you. What I do know is that as we continue to trust in God for protection, we are also called to obey those in authority over us, use our reason, and do our part to help prevent the spread of this disease.

I'm jumping ahead of myself here, but in order to close this section, I'll share with you a prayer that we'll be repeating in our worship for the foreseeable future. Believe it or not, there's a prayer in the Altar Book that's entitled "During an Epidemic." I encourage you to make this prayer your own as we face the uncertain future together:

Almighty God, heavenly Father, give us grace to trust You during this time of illness and distress. In mercy, put an end to the epidemic that afflicts us. Grant relief to those who suffer, and comfort all that mourn. Sustain all medical personnel in their labors, and cause Your people ever to serve You in righteousness and holiness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

What is St. Luke doing in response to this pandemic?

After suspending all in-person gatherings for three months, St. Luke is in the process of re-entry! We are meeting in person for worship every Sunday, outdoors for the time being. Until we can safely welcome the entire congregation in the building, the following will still hold true:

  1. During all of our worship services, we will be praying for this pandemic to be brought to a swift end. Trusting God and taking precautions are not mutually exclusive. As we do what we can to help mitigate this crisis, we also know that God is at work in and through us to protect His people.
  2. We will be live-streaming our worship services at our usual worship times (9 am on Sunday mornings.) You can join in online by going to meet.jit.si/St.LukeWorship or join in by phone by calling 1 (512) 402-2718 and entering PIN 155 952 833#.
  3. We will be live-steaming our Bible Studies at the normal time as well (Thursdays at 7 pm and Sundays at 10:30 am.) You can join in online by going to meet.jit.si/St.LukeBibleStudy or join in by phone by calling 1 (512) 402-2718 and entering PIN 598 105 760#. At the time being, though we are worshiping together in person, we are not doing so for Bible Study. 
  4. Head here to find our recorded sermons online.
  5. Head here to find our recorded Bible Studies.
  6. I've been answering a few questions about our situation and posting them to our church's YouTube page.
  7. Worship Anew provides abbreviated worship services both online and broadcast on TV at 11:30 am. (I've been told that it's channel 2 with Charter, channel 24 if you have AT&T, 377 on DirectTV, 54 on Dish Network, and WTLJ 54.1, 54.2, or 54.3 over an antenna.) Or, for the early risers among us, Lutheran Hour Ministries broadcasts a worship service on WSRW 105.7 at 6:30 am every Sunday morning.
  8. Please consider mailing in your offerings or switch to online giving here.

Spiritual Resources

A message from Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod:

Rev. Harrison has this to add to his video statement.

A new message from Pastor Maier, President of the Michigan District:

Here's a great video that helps to take a look at this whole situation from a Christian perspective:

Every Moment Holy, a book containing modern prayers and liturgies has released two prayers—free for download—from their website that are applicable in this time of crisis: A Liturgy for a Sick Day and A Liturgy for Medical Providers. Whether you're sick or not, a medical provider or not, these are helpful resources in giving you words to speak in prayer.

And if coloring helps you pray, here's a free resource for you to download from Visual Faith Ministry (where we get our Children's Bulletins from.)

Concordia Publishing House is also offering free resources for Worship, for Bible Study, and for other Home devotions. 

If you need help with family devotions, Concordia Seminary has created a number of free devotions called, "Table Talk." Each one includes the text, a thought to process as a family, and some ideas to talk about. 

For a limited time, Barna is offering a free digital download of their research project, Households of Faith, which they put together in partnership with Lutheran Hour Ministries. This book takes a look at how to nurture faith in our homes and in a season when most of us are sheltering in place, the opportunities we have to do just that seem more present—and pressing—than ever. Check out this page for how to download your free copy.

Health Resources

The CDC and WHO should be your go-to resources for information regarding the coronavirus.

The State of Michigan has its own website set up for information more particular to our state.

If you haven't already seen it, Johns Hopkins has set up a fantastic page of information, displayed visually, to help you understand more about the pandemic.

Our local hospital systems—NOCH, Spectrum, and Mercy—have each set up their own websites to help answer your questions.

Martin Luther on the Plague

In 1527, the Bubonic Plague arrived in Germany. As Luther reflected on the plague and his role as a Christian and Pastor, he wrote the following as part of a letter (which you can read in its entirety here.) While I don't mean to imply that COVID-19 is the same as the Plague, the situations and panic surrounding them do share some similarities. Luther's words are surprisingly applicable for us today:

You ought to think this way: “Very well, by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal. Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.

Moreover, he who has contracted the disease and recovered should keep away from others and not admit them into his presence unless it be necessary. Though one should aid him in his time of need, as previously pointed out, he in turn should, after his recovery, so act toward others that no one becomes unnecessarily endangered on his account and so cause another’s death... 

If the people in a city were to show themselves bold in their faith when a neighbor’s need so demands, and cautious when no emergency exists, and if everyone would help ward off contagion as best he can, then the death toll would indeed be moderate. But if some are too panicky and desert their neighbors in their plight, and if some are so foolish as not to take precautions but aggravate the contagion, then the devil has a heyday and many will die. On both counts this is a grievous offense to God and to man—here it is tempting God; there it is bringing man into despair.

Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 43: Devotional Writings II, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 43 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 132.

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