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.
St. Luke is presently meeting in person while taking many precautions (taking temperatures at the door, physically distancing, wearing masks, etc.) Even with the precautions, however, we recognize that doing so presents a health risk to those who attend. For those still uncomfortable worshiping in person, we're providing the following 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.
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.
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.
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.