ST PETER'S NEWS
March 15, 2020

LIVING LUTHERAN IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19
Greetings in Christ,

You are likely aware that the World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic. In response, last week we began adapting our gathering practices for Sunday worship with the sharing of the peace, how we receive communion, and reminders about hygiene and staying home if ill. As all this is developing quickly, we are adapting our practices as we go to best provide spiritual care and support for our congregation and community.

In following the recommendation of our bishop and synod leadership, I wanted to note that we will be suspending in-person worship gatherings until at least March 31st. Through email and other online means, we will adapt in how we worship, gather, and serve. Sign up for future emails on the front of our website so you can be kept updated.

Our calling as Christians is to not react out of fear, but instead respond in love. So, while there is no need to panic, we are adapting to the needs of the community and world to bear light and life to all. As new developments and details emerge we may change or adjust our current decision and will communicate as directly as possible and as quickly as possible.

One of the most repeated refrains across all of scripture is "do not be afraid." Isaiah speaks it to the Israelites in Exile in Babylon (Isaiah 41:10). The angel says this to the shepherds in the fields by night (Luke 2:10). Jesus says it over and over again to his disciples and to crowds of people...maybe because he knew how fear can so quickly overcome us. Yet, after the resurrection, when the disciples were huddled behind locked doors out of fear. ..Jesus calmly walks through the wall and says, "Peace be with you" (John 20:19). In this time of anxiety and yes...fear...of the unknown...of what's next, we hold to the promises God has been pouring into our lives and this world since day one. . .that you are loved, that you are never alone, that in Jesus you are forever connected to the life and love of God.

One of my greatest hopes and prayers in this time is that our congregation continues to embody this Peace of God which passes all understanding to BOLDLY live in ever-new resurrection ways, so as to pass through the walls of fear for the sake of our neighbor and world community...seeing God at work even in the midst of all things. Read this article I credit to Belva Latshaw sharing on Facebook of good things that emerged for a family living in lockdown in Wuhan, China. It is a rich read.

So, what does being church look like in this interim time? Below are a few important ways we will continue being church together, and continue living out our purpose statement to, "Together, BOLDLY live and share God's grace with all."

If you have any questions, concerns, or ideas on being church in new ways, don't hesitate to contact me or our Council President, Courtney Wing.

Peace,
Pastor Vanicek
WORSHIP RESOURCES
ADAPTING WEEKLY WORSHIP

This past Sunday, we gathered for worship, but also offered an email version of worship for those who chose to stay at home. Going forward, we look to provide a similar way of gathering in spirit, heart, and mind, adding unique pieces each week, and offering options to other ELCA congregations that provide a full live worship broadcast you can join in.

SERMONS ONLINE

We started posting our sermons on our website, so please feel free to catch up on Sundays you missed by CLICKING HERE .

OTHER THINGS PERCOLATING

Our worship ministry staff and committee are working on engaging ways of engaging this God who is both everywhere and also right beside us. We love being creative at St. Peter's, so be on the look out for new and creative ways we will be engaging both God and our community.

A WORD FROM PRESIDING BISHOP EATON
In a two minute reflection, Bishop Eaton invites us to reframe this disruptive time in light of the practices of Lent, and shares some ways other congregations are practicing physical distancing, but NOT social distancing, as they continue to be the body of Christ in their communities. Click the video to watch.
GIVING AND OFFERING
Your continued generosity toward our operating budget will be more important than ever during this time. This is especially true as we seek to take care of our amazing staff who will be working in this time on new and creative ways to worship together in Spirit but not able to gather in the same place, to grow in faith, and to serve our neighbors. If you’re not using electronic giving, you can still mail your offering to the church at 1803 Highway 1431 West, Marble Falls, TX 78654 . And if you’re not a sustaining member of our ministry through our Consecration Sunday process, I can’t think of a more important time to step in. A commitment of $5 or $10 a week can make a huge difference in this ministry we share.

CLICK HERE to give online one time,
or to set up a reoccurring offering.

Or, simply text the amount
you want to give to 830-460-5757.
LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR
When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, he said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt 22:34-40)

CHECK ON THOSE NEAR YOU
One way you can love your neighbor during this disruptive time is to check on those in our congregation that live near you . Please don't be afraid to check-in and see how others are doing. Let our Member Care Team (Nick Bohmann, Elizabeth Knebel, Cindy Struchen) and Pastor Vanicek know if you do talk to someone who is ill or self-isolating themselves. This will help us as a congregation follow-up with them see how we might be supportive in this time. Contact the church office if you would access to a click-able google map of our congregation to know who lives near you.

SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS WHERE POSSIBLE
As more and more people practice physical and social distancing, one group in our community that will be impacted by this are local restaurants. We all have a favorite place to eat. So, one way you can support these places we love is to buy a gift card from them now to use later in the future. It sustains them in this disruptive time, and you can look forward to eating there when things have calmed down.

PRACTICE THE LENTEN DISCIPLINE OF PRAYER
Pray  for recovery for those who have the virus and for comfort for those who have lost loved ones. Pray for communities and families disrupted by closings of school and businesses. Pray for those whose work and livelihood are impacted in this time. The Church is a praying people and it is our vocation as Christians to intercede for the world at all times, and in times like this in particular.

PRAYING DAILY AT NOON
Across the country, ELCA congregations are inviting their members to pause at noon each day, whatever you are doing, and pray. It could be a simple prayer. It can be extensive. Maybe it's just a moment to stop, be still, and know God. Know that others are pausing and praying alongside you. May this be a comfort and strength to you in your own life of prayer.
SMALL GROUP GATHERINGS
Should we gather as a small group this month?

We trust each group leader in making the decision on whether to meet or not meet. You know your group best and can make the most informed decision with them. We encourage following the same guidelines we offer who should refrain from attending worship in this time. If you are in a high-risk category , or already ill, please stay home and be/get well.

Groups are encouraged to utilize online ways of gathering. St. Peter's has a subscription to Zoom.us, an online way of connecting through video and audio for meetings, or group conversation and discussion. Contact the church office for the login credentials and help in setting up a meeting for your group.
HELPFUL QUICK LINKS
A QUOTE FOR THE JOURNEY
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves,
'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?'
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest
the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone!
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

- Marianne Williamson (author and activist)