Grace & Peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus, Christ. Amen.
Another month has come and gone and our lives continue to be impacted by the coronavirus. This worldwide pandemic has affected us all – emotionally, physically, and socially. It has interfered with our work, play, school, family, and church lives. There is still a lot to be learned about this virus, and coupled with widespread misinformation many are left unsettled.
Faith’s Lead Team continues to meet every two weeks to monitor and discern the latest recommendations by local authorities and the CDC. It’s in love for our community, both Faith Lutheran and globally, that we are being extra cautious before resuming gathered activities at the church. Just this week our governor began lifting social-distancing restrictions to include recommendations for religious institutions. These delicate suggestions, coupled with the reality that over two-thirds of our congregation is in the high-risk category, have led our Lead Team to determine that it is not yet time to resume in-person gatherings.
The Lead Team’s initiative – to foster a vibrant connected community remains a top priority. Though we may not be physically gathered we can still be connected, sharing in our mutual joys and sorrows. I invite you to connect in one of the many online opportunities. The worship team is working hard to put together a monthly virtual communion service. Continue to reach out to one another through phone calls and written correspondences.
Amid this continued time of grief, Jesus’ words to his disciples come to mind. In John 14:1 Jesus says to his disciples who are about to be in the middle of their own challenges, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” Jesus gives this message of comfort in his farewell discourse as he draws nearer to the cross. Just as Jesus did for his disciples, he does for you also. Jesus calls us to find peace, not in health or financial-wellbeing, Jesus invites us into the peace of his trustworthiness. No matter what challenges we face, Jesus is there loving you.
We’ve seen this love exemplified in grocers, scientists, doctors, nurses, emergency responders, and others who are selflessly helping and providing for others. You too are loving with equal intensity in the important work of praying, sharing with others in grief and fear, and embracing others’ pain. As Jesus’ disciples, we continue with patience and hope in the trustworthiness of his love. A promise of love that survives and surpasses everything. Jesus’ promise of peace comes through each of you no matter where you are at emotionally, physically, or socially.
Let us pray together. Merciful God, in the stillness of our souls we listen for your voice to know again that you are God. Quiet our restless hearts with the knowledge that you are near us, keeping watch over your own. Rekindle our faith and light the lamp of hope within our hearts. Then take us by the hand into each day that lies ahead, for where you lead we can confidently go with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
God’s Peace, Pastor Josh
The Faith Lutheran Lead Team, which includes Pr. Josh & Dcn. Shannon, has decided to suspend all in-person gatherings, including worship, until at least May 10, in accordance with the recommendations of the CDC and Bishop Mike Girlinghouse.
The Lead Team is meeting every 2 weeks, via video call, to remain connected and in conversation about leading the church in this time. Please reach out to a member of the team if you have concerns, questions, or needs. Their contact information can be found on the Lead Team page of the directory.
If the situation changes and it becomes safe for our community to gather sooner or later than the decided May 10 date, the Lead Team will make that decision and communicate it to the congregation.
Redeemer Lutheran Church, ELCA (Hinsdale, IL) Traditional Worship Service
Pr. Josh and Dcn. Shannon completed their internships in the Chicago area at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Redeemer offers a great worship service which is fully streamed online. This can be accessed via Facebook Live or their website.
-Wednesdays, 7 pm: Holden Evening Prayer
-Sundays, 10 am: Worship
The Neighborhood Church, ELCA (Bentonville, AR) Contemporary Worship Service
The Neighborhood Church is an ELCA church in our synod lead by Pr. Joe & Jess Liles. The Neighborhood offers a Facebook Live worship service with praise music and a message from Pr. Joe.
-Sundays, 10 am
Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church (Little Rock, AR) TV Broadcasted Worship
Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church is one of our ecumenical partners here in Little Rock.
-PHUMC offers a televised worship service on Sunday mornings beginning at 10:30 am on KATV (ABC).
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Each Sunday we look forward to gathering together as we: we confess & hear the absolution of our sins, we sing songs of praise for God’s abundant gifts and mercy, we hear of God’s faithfulness to all of creation, we share in the tangible gift of God’s grace at the table through the bread & the wine, and we share in the community of Christ through one another’s presence.
With the incursion of COVID-19 the coronavirus, we were unable to participate in this weekly celebration yesterday, and with the most recent recommendations from the CDC, it may be some time before we will gather here in Faith’s sanctuary as the body of Christ. With these developments, I am reminded of the Psalmist cry in Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord?”
The season of Lent is a time of intentionality on savoring God’s desire to draw nearer to each of us. With more and more everyday routines coming to a temporary halt, we have an opportunity to quiet our souls and seek God in that stillness, listening for God’s voice. In the chaos of frequent-new information and recommendations, we ask God to quiet our restless hearts, knowing God is near and keeping watch over us and all of humanity. Daily God takes each by the hand and accompanies them in what lies ahead.
I invite you to use this time for prayer. Pray for those who have contracted and are vulnerable to COVID-19, pray for healthcare providers, scientists and government leaders, pray for those who provide our daily needs, and that all the needs of those who are lacking will be met. Also please pray for Deacon Shannon, myself, and our leadership team as we discern the best course of action in response to this pandemic and for our community as we navigate this new way of being together while physically apart. I would also encourage you to reach out to one another, friends, family, and neighbors. A simple phone call, text, or email can go a long way especially if one is experiencing isolation and loneliness.
In the days to come, Deacon Shannon and I will be putting together and organizing different ways in which we can continue to be Faith Lutheran from the safety of our homes. If you have any immediate needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us or your Shepherding group leader. If you have any ideas of things you’d like to try, please let us know also. We’re in this together and with our every present God. We plan to use the Faith Talk Facebook group and email as our primary means of communication. While you might not be fluent in these communication tools, I would encourage you to give it a try as it is the most efficient means by which we can communicate and stay connected.
After pouring out emotions of pain, suffering, and confusion, the Psalmist ends Psalm 13 in this way, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart is joyful because of your saving help. I will sing to the Lord, who has dealt with me richly.” May you know God’s unfailing love and saving help wherever you’re at today, and may you share God’s unfailing love and saving help in whatever way you can. Know my prayers and love are with you all.
As cases & concerns of the community spread of COVID-19 continue to rise, we are taking precautions. We have decided to follow the plans of the local community leaders and find creative and alternative ways to be the church when we cannot gather physically.
Yesterday afternoon, it was announced that Little Rock School District would be closed through March 27th. It is with the same precaution that we have decided to cancel all Faith Lutheran Church activities, including worship, until March 27. Further decisions beyond that date will be made and communicated as they approach and as we know more about the impact of COVID-19 in our larger community.
We will send out more information and resources to come. In the meantime, we are considering the following and invite you to also.
-How can we care for the spiritual needs of one another in this time?
-How can we care for the urgent needs of those who have been quarantined or high risk and cannot get things like medicines or groceries?
-How can we care for our neighbors in the larger community?
Symptoms, Risk Factors, and What to do if you suspect you have COVID-19
COVID-19: fever, cough, shortness of breath, symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure
Influenza: fever, cough, chills, sweats, congestion, sore throat, fatigue, weakness, muscle aches
Allergies: sneezing, itchy nose or eyes, runny nose, watery eyes
-Anyone over 60 years old
-Chronic Illness: diabetes, heart conditions, respiratory problems (including lung diseases such as asthma)
-Those under treatment for cancer
-Any condition that weakens the immune system
*Even if you do not have a high-risk factor, you may be a carrier of the virus to infect others
If you suspect you may have COVID-19, call your primary care doctor first. Do not go to urgent care or the emergency room as you could then infect others at risk.
For further information, refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Do not rely on social media posts as a COVID-19 education.
If you have an immediate need, please contact us
Pastor Josh - firstname.lastname@example.org
Deacon Shannon - email@example.com
We will not be in the church office regularly so please do not call that number if you have urgent needs. Call or email us directly.
These choices have been made, not to add to anxiety, but to care for our community, both at Faith Lutheran and in the Little Rock area. Though we cannot safely meet together as a community in person, we continue to be the church and hold each other in prayer and care.