Grace, peace and strength be to you during this critical time. We pray that you are well and caring for yourselves and others with the love of Jesus. Know that the Holy Spirit interprets even our “sighs” before the throne of grace so that we may have hope in our Lord, Romans 8: 15 ff. Know that a good resource for home devotions is found on page 4 of the Portals of Prayer. We hope that in the days ahead you will join us for live stream worship, see not below, or request a CD as noted, so that we worship the Lord, are strengthened by his promises and stay connected in Christ. We pray to the Lord that soon it will be safe to congregate together again at Christ Lutheran. If you have access, please also check our website and Facebook through this time. After much prayer and consultation of the Board of Elders, the decision has been made at this critical time to conduct services via live stream and Facebook only (no physical congregating at this time). The services will be live streamed on Thursday at 11:00 and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and should be available on Facebook thereafter. Should you need a CD of the service for pick up at the church or to be mailed, please email the church office at firstname.lastname@example.org and copy to email@example.com.
A Prayer at this critical time by people of faith, hope and love,
offered by Pastor Ray+
Heavenly Father, we are called anew in urgent prayer before you, together with loved ones in our homes or alone but really one with the whole Church by the Holy Spirit in the Community of Saints. Thank you, Lord, for the technology you have given so that we come together this way before you. We come in prayer: people of abiding “faith, hope and love,” I Cor. 13: 13.
Faith. Lord, drawn us near in trust worked by the Holy Spirit. There is much we do not know at this time, and it is frustrating. We know that sickness was not part of the “God saw that it was good”-world. But sin entered the world and so did sickness and death. We know that sickness is not part of your ultimate will, but we struggle with why you sometimes allow these pandemics over time. Truly, it is a struggle of faith. Draw us near in faith to you, the everlasting and merciful Lord. Assure us of your love grounded and alive in Jesus and the truth that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8: 35-39. Draw us in humility, Lenten repentance and grace-filled faith.
Draw us near as people of hope. It is so easy caught up in Godless anxiety and despair. Remind us that you are God, Psalm 46: 10. Your gracious promises hold as anchor of the soul, Hebrews 6: 19. Help us to turn to you in prayer and lead others to you, maybe back to you. Bring people together with their loved ones in prayer again. Work, Lord, through the amazing immune system you have created, for we are “fearfully and wondrously made,” Psalm 139: 14. We pray, Lord, work through caring and brave doctors, scientists and health care workers to put down this evil virus. Renew us in hope and in peace. Remind us in hope that Jesus gives peace beyond anything the world can offer as we remember a favorite passage of sainted Pr. Ledogar: John 14: 25-27.
Finally, finally. The greatest of these is love. Help us love neighbors as we love ourselves. Call us to that Upper Room love: To love “as you have loved us,” John 15:12. So prompt us to the discipline of practicing healthy etiquette in care for self, and, hey, we are Christians, for others! If I am praying this and know that I am a hugger, help me to hold back in love. Help us to hold back from congregating physically at Christ Lutheran and beyond right now and from sharing gathered Holy Communion for now. Our hearts are heavy at this spiritual distancing, but we know love requires even that pause. In faith and love continue to inform our Board of Elders’ and pastors’ counsel regarding worship by live streaming and otherwise, and Lord guide our congregational leaders in evaluation of all activities that would gather here. In love help our first responders, utility worker, plumbers, grocery store workers and all other essential service providers like these: ____________________ to continue to serve others in real need. So move us in love that means no handshakes and even congregating worship for a time, but also to move in love when you call us to be there for one is urgent need. Give us that brave love in and for the world, Savior and Lord.
O Lord, hears us, faith, hope, love people alive by grace in you, the living God. Lord Jesus Christ you are “the same yesterday, today and forever,” Hebrews 13:8. In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen