Greetings from the Pastor

Dear Safe Harbour Lutheran Church,

As the world around us reacts to the coronavirus with panic, fear and dread, I can think of no better words to share with you than those of our Lord Jesus. On the night before He would go to the cross and lay down His life for us, He said to His disciples: “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27)

The reason the world around us is reacting in fear is because it does not know Jesus and, therefore, does not know eternal life. If this life was all you had, you might panic and be afraid too.

We Christians have Christ. We have the One who has conquered death. We have the One who grants us God’s forgiveness. We have the One who will, “when our last hour comes, give us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.”  (Small Catechism, The Lord’s Prayer, The Seventh Petition) So, in the first place, we need not fear. No matter what happens, in holy baptism we have already died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:3) So for us, in the end as Christians, everything’s going to be okay.

In the second place, because Christ has so loved us, we want to love one another. Rest assured that we are actively monitoring the situation and our congregational response to it. Taking into account what we have been advised to do by government and health officials and leaders in our churches denomination we have taken the following steps.

  1. After setting up chairs for worship, we wipe them down with a cleansing solution as we also do the kitchen counters.
  2. Unfortunately we have suspended the hospitality food after the service. Bottled water is still available.
  3. Unfortunately we have suspended the use of common cup. (Thanks be to God, we can worship together as we are under 50 souls. Back home in California churches have been instructed to not meet and no groups over 10 are permitted.)
  4. Those preparing the Lord’s Supper are very conscious about washing hands before their preparations as am I before distributing the bread and wine which is the body and blood of our Lord.
  5. I know we love one another and we like to shake hands and hug each other but when it comes to containing the virus we have been asked to be creative in our greeting style.

Third, each day, pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs. Pray because our Father in heaven promises to hear you. Pray because it pleases God and is good for your soul. Pray because your prayers do indeed drive away the devil and help your neighbor. “God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.” (Small Catechism, The Lord’s Prayer, The Introduction). Pray this is a brief season for Grand Cayman and for the world. Pray for those who are infected. Pray for those who are more susceptible to the effects of this virus, that they may be spared. Pray for the health care professionals who put their lives on the line every day. Pray for the scientists who work long and hard trying to discover cures for that which ails us. (Scientific research doesn’t take weekends off). Pray for those effected financially by this crisis - offer one another the help they need. And to that end, let me know if you are in dire need.

At this point the government hasn’t closed the community center to public use but it’s possible. If that happens, we will get the word out to you as soon as we know and we will make decisions accordingly.

If you would like, the Sunday bulletin can be emailed to you. God brings good out of bad times and so this would be a good opportunity for the head of the household to read the lessons and the sermon to those around them, starting family devotions if you’re not already doing them.

Times like this remind me of the closing prayer in our Lutheran Vesper Service: The Collect for Peace. It goes: O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed, give unto Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Thy commandments, and also that we, being defended by Thee from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in peace and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.”

It is certainly appropriate to pray that our enemies are kept away from us but that’s not always going to happen. Sometimes God uses our enemies to strengthen our faith in Him. So we pray - defend us from the FEAR of our enemies. We don’t need to be afraid. Not just because we’re taking precautions and not just because most everyone who gets this virus is going to come through it just fine, but because we have nothing to fear. It is as the angel said at Easter - Don’t be afraid, the tomb is empty, He’s risen just as He said He would - He’s conquered your greatest enemies so trust Him - everything’s going to be okay

Do not be afraid.  Jesus, our Good Shepherd, knows how to take care of His flock.

As always, if you have any questions or need pastoral care, do not hesitate to reach out.

In Christ,

Pastor Hodel

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