Christ Lutheran Church Stover, MO
Christ Lutheran Church
Monday, May 25, 2020
Loving GOD Through Worship and Service
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Pastor Tuura

 

Returning to Normal?

 

By Rev. Tom Tuura

Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church

 

Our world has come down with a virus.  Is it on the mend?  We are finally anticipating the return to open public gatherings, post shelter in place.  Can we say return to normal?

We all have our own strong opinions about what’s really going on here.  However, we don’t have that luxury of operating from our opinions.  There is too much at stake.

This has been a new and unique experience, with very few parallels in recent time.  The church has gone through epidemics before, and Luther had this to say about the “black death” in his day,

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 the letter "Whether one may flee from a Deadly Plague" written to Rev. Dr. John Hess


Being that this is an anniversary year, the following is offered for our records going forward.


Late 2019, and early 2020-there was a request made to the council to purchase equipment to allow our church to be able to live stream our services.  Council approved the project in mid 2019.  Equipment installed late February and was functional, early March.  

Historical note: this equipment was procured at cost, with no installation, or labor charges.  The price of computer equipment continues to fall in our day, yet it adds tremendous value to our existing sound amplifier investment of almost 20 years ago as it is integrated into the total system.  That is a nice change from the almost continuous obsolescence that characterized the equipment purchases of the last 25 years as noted in our history reports and the unused technology that is idled in our basement.  Examples are the typewriter and film projector.

Timeline:

Sunday March 8, handshakes ceased (almost) at the end of Sunday service.

Wednesday March 11: WHO declares Covid 19 a Pandemic; Last Lenten Service: 

March 15, Last Sunday Service at was a CLC 150th Anniversary Event with the Moll’s presentation of Katy and Martin Luther.  Offering was held with Klingelbeutel, or offering bag, to minimize hand to hand contact.

So on Tuesday March 17, everything began to shut down in our church as a result of President Trump’s nationwide order to close all non essential businesses.

March 18, No Lenten Services: Emergency CLC Council meeting: Wednesday in place of Lenten Service.  Decision to close the March 22, and 29 Sunday morning services and March 25 Lenten Services to gathering of over 10.  Comment, the council was really torn about this, but decided on this action not wanting to cause harm to any of our faithful elderly members.  Small group Bible Studies can go on as scheduled.  Facility to remain open during the day for anyone to come in.

March 29, CLC council reconvenes to make decision to continue the closures for the final Lenten Service and Palm Sunday April 5 per now the Governor’s order over the state of Missouri.  Concern by the council continues over this, but closure’s remain in place.

More and more members and new people begin to find the live services on our Blackberry pulpit You Tube page, and Facebook.  Many watch afterwords as the recordings are all saved there for future viewing as well.  Bugs are worked out, and quality is fantastic.

On Sunday March 29, the council met once again, and felt no choice to 

At some point early on, Tara comes in to record a bunch of hymns on the piano, that are converted and forwarded to the new computer system for use in the live streaming.

April 7;  We reconvened one last time, but felt there was no choice but to continue the status quo until further notice including the services of Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

Tara comes in a second time to record songs specifically for Holy Week and Easter including the Good Friday number “Three Rusty Nails” narrated by Scott Bauer.

I was asked by the editor of the Lutheran Ambassador to write a very brief article about this subject and I wrote, “I’ll never take for granted preparation for worship services again.  Even the most basic task of picking out hymns for an evening service.   Add to that prelude and postlude.  I had been recording her (our organist) beautiful preludes, and a few hymns, but it wasn’t suitable for Easter.

And then there’s communion.  We thought we had a good plan but it was denied by the health department guidelines.  Even communion servers in masks, plastic gloves, and "private" Communion in church would, according to the health department, require disinfecting between families.

So what if we just say come at your own risk?  Then that increases the possibility of burdening our medical system.  So what to do.  I’m still working on that.

So here we are.  Finally on about April 25, we began to receive word from Jefferson City that Governor Parson would be lifting the closure orders on May 4.  


So we are at this point of writing looking forward to meeting together on May 10, Mother’s Day.

Are we back to normal? That is the pressing question.  There are those who say we may never get back to normal.  I guess the final chapter on this virus called Covid 19 is yet to be written.


As of today, according to the Missouri health.gov website, there are 3 cases in Morgan County.  Statewide there are 7425 cases and 318 deaths.  When you break that down by age range, there are 941 cases in the 20-29 age group and only 1 death (less than a 100th of a percent).  In the 50-59 age group there are 1396 cases and 28 deaths (2%).  And in the 80+ category, 781 cases and 134 deaths (17%).  Do the math.  Check out the numbers carefully.

Nationally, on April 30, there are 1 million cases and 61.7 thousand deaths.  And 28.1K deaths in just NY, NJ and Mass.  Almost half of the deaths are in those eastern states.  


Perhaps someone out there can make and apples to apples comparison to the flu, I certainly can’t.  The prevailing wisdom is that these case numbers and those who had it and didn’t know it, will rise dramatically, while the deaths will stay the same.

They say it is serious.  This is what they call the first wave.  And the second wave is out there, and could be worse. 

The economic pain from the shut down of virtually all of society is certain, and has been felt by many more.  The percentage of those who have succumbed from the illness is still small, but the percentages of those who have had devastating economic ruin are much, much higher.


That’s why we’ve prayed for wisdom.  And we continue to pray for wisdom, as for how God want’s to lead us.  Are we changed?  I suppose in one sense yes.  Is it for the better?  That is yet to be determined.  

Perhaps the biggest question is, is it over?  That we don’t know either.  But God does, and He will position His church for it’s use.  May we be vigilant to be at our Lord’s disposal to be His hands and feet.

 

What a way to begin the next half century of ministry here at Christ Lutheran!  Buckle up!

"That's My View From The Blackberry Patch Pulpit" 

-Pastor Tom Tuura