March 17, 2020

Dear Friend in Christ,

I thank my God as I remember each of you daily in my prayers. Just a few days ago, I sent you my preliminary thoughts on the present pandemic. As the nationwide response has rapidly increased in these few days, I find it necessary to send this letter of encouragement as a follow-up.

In such an unprecedented public calamity, human confidence is radically shaken. Fears naturally arise, and then panic ensues. People need a steadying influence, a voice of calm reason to bring them perspective and hope. This is especially true regarding our communal worship services and practices of administering the Lord’s Supper. The leaders of the congregation met last night to discuss how we would do ministry in view of the restrictions suggested by our government.

We have decided to suspend all activities here at Immanuel, including our worship services for the next two weeks. This was an agonizing decision but it was thought best.

Having said that, I will continue to provide Pastoral care through this difficult time. Here is what I am planning:

 

  1. I will send out a daily devotion to any of you who would like it. (Good Morning Church)
  2. I will make myself available to any of you to come to my office to talk with me or you are welcome to call me at 612-499-1135.
  3. I will be present in the sanctuary during our regular worship times. I will meet with any individual or family during this time to offer a word from Scripture, confession and absolution, holy Communion, and a time of prayer where I will pray with and for each of you. You will also have the opportunity to place your offering in the offering plate. At this point I am planning the following times:

 

Saturday  5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Sunday  8:00 – 11:30 a.m.

Wednesday  10:00 – 11:30 a.m. and 5:00 -7:00 p.m.

 

I will only meet with one individual or one family at a time. If you have traveled out of the area or are feeling ill, please do not come. Every precaution will be taken here to keep you as safe as possible.

 

  1. We are dividing the congregation into 9 groups. One of the elders will be assigned to each group and he will be calling you periodically to see how you are doing and if there is anything we can do as a congregation to help you through this difficult time. Let us know if you need help with any immediate needs.
  2. Jeremy has created a YouTube channel for Immanuel. We will be taping a worship service that you can view from the safety of your own home. If you are interested I can also link you to other LCMS congregations who are also broadcasting their worship services.
  3. Please watch your e-mail, our web-site, and our Facebook page for updates. We will do our best to communicate to you information as it becomes available.

 

This will be our approach for the next two weeks. But we will be monitoring the situation continually and will make adjustments as appropriate. It is our hope and prayer that this will not last long, but we are preparing to deal with the situation as it changes.

We daily sin much and deserve nothing but His wrath and punishment. But God, who is rich in mercy, has sent His Son to bear all our iniquity in His own body and give us His perfect righteousness. Through this and other public calamities, God is testing both our faith and our love. He wants us to learn how we should act in faith toward Him and how we should care for our neighbor in love. I encourage you to reach out to your fellow members and neighbors to encourage them and help them in any way you can.

The great news is that God is at work in all His people both to will and to do that which is pleasing to Him. Therefore, you may be sure that He will supply all you need for this current challenge. He’s calling all of us to get out of ourselves and to live in Him by faith and to live in our neighbor by love. His promise is that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). The God of peace sanctify you wholly, dear brothers and sisters, and preserve your whole spirit, soul, and body, sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, and He will do it (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

-- 
 

Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

Rev. Dr. Brent L Parrish
Immanuel Lutheran Church
20200 Fairlawn Ave
Prior Lake, MN 55372
www.immanuel-fishlake.org

612-499-1135

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