Dear brothers and sisters in Christ of St. John’s,
Much grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
As everyone is aware of by now, the recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and from the State of Illinois to limit all public gatherings and to practice strong Social Distancing have been extended until the end of April. The growing evidence regarding the infectiousness and danger of the coronavirus, and the need to “flatten the curve,” slowing down the need for our limited health resources makes it irresponsible for groups of mixed households to gather together.
All this comes, of course, during the holiest season of the church year, Lent and Easter. It has been painful to not be able to join together in our church home, to not be able to see you, brothers and sisters in Christ, to not be able to receive the Sacrament of Christ’s Body & Blood.
Pastor Ben, Pastor Mark and other leaders at St. John’s have struggled mightily trying to figure out a way in which we could safely still receive the Sacrament. Unfortunately, with the growing body of evidence regarding both the infectiousness and durability of this virus, we don’t see a way that minimizes the risk enough. It is our responsibility to protect the sheep given into our care and to not lead them into dangerous terrain. In particular:
- While we have thought of both small, in-person communion gatherings, and also the possibility of “drive-through” gatherings, especially on Easter Sunday, the logistics of such endeavors would challenge social distancing recommendations, as well as distracting us from the reception of the Lord’s Supper during a time when we should be focused on the blessings of this holy meal.
- Furthermore, while we would be following the “letter of the law” when it comes to these communion services, in encouraging people to deliberately leave their homes when, for the sake of their health and others, they should be staying home, we would not be following the “spirit of the law” that the governmental stay-at-home order intends.
- As important as the Supper is for feeding and strengthening our faith and for the forgiveness of our sins, it is not the only means by which God gives us His grace, and while we must be absent from the Table at this time, God is still pouring out His grace, His undeserved love and mercy, upon you, His people. We need Jesus and His forgiveness, and we receive them through His “means of grace”. Due to the present time and circumstances, receive the love and forgiveness of Jesus in your baptismal grace and through the written and spoken Word of God.
We will continue recording our services and making them available through Constant Contact, on our YouTube channel and on our Facebook page. Along with the services, times of devotion and prayer will be posted on Facebook Live, which will be available also on our YouTube page. As the situation continues and evolves, we will be weighing options for ministry and keeping you informed of any changes.
Please continue to be the Body of Christ where you are and demonstrate and live out your love for your neighbor. Pray for those who are sick, those who have or will lose loved ones, for our leaders and those who are on the frontlines daily helping in whatever way they are called. Know that whatever challenges and difficulties are ahead, our God is greater than those, and you are safe in your heavenly Father’s hand.
You are all in our prayers. We cannot wait to gather together in person and to receive the body and blood of our Lord and Savior! Stay healthy, stay home, stay committed to the mission and stay focused on Jesus!
God’s peace in Christ,
Pastor Ben Roberts
Pastor Mark Stapleton
Cary Preston, Head Elder