Not being able to attend church does not mean we stop being church. What Peter writes still holds true: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). Entirely by His own mercy and the working of the Holy Spirit, God has called us out of sin and unbelief into His kingdom by faith in Jesus. We who by nature were enemies of God are now one with Him and even royal priests who have the privilege of coming directly to Him with our praises and prayers. As Luther puts it so beautifully in the Catechism: “We may ask Him boldly and with complete confidence as dear children ask their dear Father.” Along with all believers of all time, we are members of the invisible Holy Christian Church.
We also cherish the fellowship we have with the Lord and with one another in our Messiah family. We look forward to gathering around Word and Sacrament every Sunday and for special midweek services throughout the year. It’s a time to catch up with one another, share our joys and encourage one another in times of disappointments and trials. Due to restrictions prompted by the COVID-19 virus, we will not be able to meet in person for a time.
But that doesn’t stop us from being church. We are still citizens of the Lord’s kingdom, people who trust in Jesus’ suffering and death as the full payment for our debt of sin. We still have the peace of God which transcends all human understanding, a peace which nothing can take from us. We are still under His loving care, and we still have one another. Now more than ever we want to be an active church in every way possible. Even though we cannot gather on Edgerton Ave. tomorrow, we have the blessing of online access to the Word and worship.
We are not able to shake hands or give one another a hug, but we can pray for one another. Ask the Lord to sustain our faith in these shaky times and to assure us that He has all things under His loving control. While we don’t know what the future holds, He does. “I make known the end from the beginning” (Is. 40:10). “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Is. 43:1). As brothers and sisters in Christ, may we stay in touch with one another and reach out with encouragement and help in any way we can. Pray for all people that the Lord would show mercy toward our world through His healing hand and preserve lives during this time of grace, so that many more will hear the gospel of salvation and be brought into the kingdom.
Pray for divine strength to meet each day with confident faith. It’s a prayer which will certainly be answered and quite possibly in ways more wonderful than we imagine at the moment. “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Is. 40:31).
Yours in Christ,
The 8:00 a.m. Sunday service will be streamed live on YouTube and later uploaded to Ustream as well. Go to our website: messiahhalescorners.com for links to the service and the bulletin. The service is intended to be interactive, so join in the responsive readings, hymns, and prayers, just as though we were in church together. Even though we won’t hear one another, the Lord will.
Note about offerings: Our weekly offerings not only pay salaries and bills, but above all, are an extension of our worship. “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income” (1 Cor. 16:2). “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:7-8). Giving to the Lord as He blesses us is an act of praise and trust in His continued provision for all our needs. Offerings may be mailed to the church address or dropped off. (Call in advance to be sure someone will be at the church).