Dealing with Covid-19 has impacted every aspect of congregational life. We have, like most of you, found daily changes and adaptations we need to make to continue to be the church. Some have said that being a pastor these days is like learning to fly an airplane – while you’re flying the airplane! This is true for most of us, I imagine.
I find myself full of gratitude today. I previewed the first Church School lesson for our new School of Love. It is awesome! Kelly Heuton has learned a whole new way to offer Jesus to the children of the congregation. I listened to the plans to launch affirmation classes this evening. Anne Williams has morphed everything to keep kids safe while she does what we always have – raise up disciples. I have heard praise for the music that David Fandrich made part of last weeks worship. At our prayer service this evening on Zoom, people were thankful to come together on Zoom to do what we do as people of God – “persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12) I wrote a letter to the congregation to thank everyone for the financial support we have received that has kept us going through the pandemic. Our finances are solid.
Hello and God’s Peace! My name is Matthew Milbrodt. I am originally from the rural Toledo suburb of Genoa, Ohio, and I am coming to this internship via Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. I am a 2007 graduate of Bowling Green State University with a bachelor’s degree in adolescent education for English language arts (I had intended to teach high school literature). My home congregation is St. John Lutheran Church in Williston, Ohio. The area of Northwestern Ohio that I’m from hosts a delightful mix of experience and culture from rural, urban, and Lake Erie island life (and when I say I lived near Cedar Point, people recognize the area). The majority of my family have lived and worked in this same part of Ohio for generations.
Right now, there is a lot of discussion about “reopening” the economy. The nation, states, counties, and cities are wondering what should and what should not be safe, vital, necessary. The discussion is important. There is also lots of talk about “reopening” the church. If I may parrot Bishop Michael Burk a bit, the church has never closed in this time.
Over and over, during Jesus’ public ministry, ministry happens and community is built around the breaking of bread. From the Wedding at Cana to the Feeding of the 5000 and, of course, the Last Supper, one thing seems abundantly clear: when Jesus wanted to convey a particularly important or meaningful lesson, it was often done surrounded by food and in the context of sharing a meal. In fact, after the resurrection, one of the most notable “aha!” moments, in which the disciples recognized the Risen Lord, occurs when Jesus breaks bread at the table.
I miss church. I miss seeing you at to worship. I miss the gathering of the church school children. I miss hearing the choirs sing and the congregation blend their voices in song as we belt out some of those favorites. I miss the Lord's Supper and sharing the meal with you as we are assured that the Lord is with us. I miss baptizing babies and sharing the joy of this special moment of God proclamation of love. I miss shaking your hand after worship. I miss the rhythm of worship, that predictable flow of the Lutheran liturgy that has cradled me through the good times and the hard times in my life. It is not the building that I crave. It is the experience of the Divine. So where is God, the Divine One, when we can't gather for worship?
U.S. Surgeon General warns that the coming week “…is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives.”
This grim headline greeted me as I logged into Facebook on Palm Sunday in order to join the HTLC “Watch Party” for virtual worship. How strange, I thought, that the terror, which has been building in our nation for weeks, would reach its supposed pinnacle during the holiest week of the church year.
Monday, January 6th was Epiphany. Some know it as the day to take down our Christmas trees because the 12 days of Christmas have passed. But we also know it as the day that Christ was made known to the Magi in Bethlehem. The story is found in Matthew, chapter 2. It’s interesting to me that the story of the Magi’s journey and visit to the Christ child is longer than the story of the Christ child’s birth, which tells me that Matthew thinks this story is important for us to hear and know. A key point in the story is worship.