My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
EDIT: Thank you to everyone who stayed at home and listened to our radio broadcast. A few additional notes:
1. I apologize, but while I included the Lord’s Prayer in our service, I did not pray specifically for the pandemic situation. Please allow me to share this prayer with all of you now.
Almighty God, heavenly Father, give us grace to trust You during this time of illness and distress. In mercy put an end to the pandemic that afflicts us. Grant relief to those who suffer, and comfort all who mourn. Sustain all medical personnel in their labors, and cause Your people ever to serve You in righteousness and holiness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
2. I made a Public Service Announcement regarding the latest information on the Corona Virus during the service. I have recorded that separately and included that in our sermon archive on this website. To listen to this, please go to https://stjohns-wharton.org/sermons and use the phrase ‘PSA’ in the search bar to find it easily.
3. I emphasized the basic facts of the virus in that PSA. What I did not say is that THIS WEEK is probably one of the most important weeks to practice ‘Social Distancing’ – being careful to not come into contact with others. In a week we will know who to avoid because people will say, “Oh, this person I work with got sick”. Due to the long incubation period (up to two weeks) with this form of the Corona Virus it is very easy to be the link between someone’s boss and someone’s Grandma even if you only interact with younger and healthy adults.
Below follows the original message that I emailed and posted Saturday night.
As you probably know, the Coronavirus is in the news, and the situation changes nearly hourly.
As a result from the latest and best information we have available, I am strongly encouraging all of our members, especially anyone over the age of 60, to stay at home tomorrow instead of coming to church. I will be there, and will lead the service, and encourage you to listen along at KULP radio on 106.7 FM & 1390 AM.
You can follow along with the service with this printout: CLICK HERE.
This is a copy of what I as pastor use to lead the service, and will contain all the readings, hymns, and prayers.
We will NOT be serving communion tomorrow.
I do ask your forgiveness for both the late notice and the abruptness of this notice. I ask for your patience as I assemble information in a more complete format over the next few days. Please do reach out to those who may not receive our emailed newsletters and let them know these developments.
In the meantime, please allow me to share a small quote from Martin Luther when he was dealing with the Black Death Plague…
“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 inflict 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 no foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
Luther’s Works Volume 43 pg 132
A more complete quote is available here: https://blogs.lcms.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Plague-blogLW.pdf
We take this seriously, and while we trust our Lord Jesus to protect and care for us, neither do we foolishly blaspheme by ignoring the Doctors, health officials, and public servants that God in his mercy has seen fit to make available to us today.
All of you are welcome to contact me via email (email ‘pastor’ at the church website ‘stjohns-wharton.org’) or my cell phone (979-488-4560) by text or voice at any time, day or night. If it goes to voicemail, please leave a message and I will get back to you rapidly.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor R.W. Lutjens
St. John’s Lutheran Church