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Fulfilling Our Mission in a Very Strange Time

Written by Bonnie Scranton. Posted in The Seed

Stu Bell stopped in a few minutes ago and, as he typically does, asked if he could help with anything. My prompt reply was, “Yes, you can write the cover article for The SEED for me. My mind is a blank slate.” Stu just kind of chuckled, shook his head, and went back to the yellow room, which is one of the spaces where his talents blossom and bring forth all sorts of blessings for this church. As I thought about that moment, it made me once again appreciate all of those unique gifts and talents that each of you bring to this church family.

While most everyone has stayed hunkered down during this COVID-19 pandemic, a few of our members have been able to get out and use their talents to the benefit of our church and our community. Some of that work on behalf of the Lord is quite visible and can be seen in the tending to our church and church property. Jeff Clauss’ knowledge of lighting, and facilitating of a major gift of new LED lights throughout the church, will make a huge difference in the ability of many of our members to see better when here and will make a big difference in our utility bills as well. It also greatly improves the appearance of our worship and fellowship spaces.   Judy and Roger Wegehenkel’s time, talent, and leadership, along with others who have helped tend to our outdoor spaces, have made an enormous difference in the beautification of the church grounds. It began in earnest with the Memorial Garden and continues this spring with new landscaping and gardening in numerous spaces around the church.

We also have members who have been using their time during this crisis to help meet growing needs of others in our community. A number of our members have been making face masks to meet a most unexpected need for safety and wellness. Since we can’t gather at church for Sunday School, Trish has been putting together Sunday School packets for us to mail to the homes of our members with children, and to the homes of a couple of families who aren’t members but have visited frequently. Sue & Jim Hobbins have led us in helping to meet an ever-growing need for feeding the hungry in our community, especially those who have been adversely affected by a loss of income during this pandemic.

We are extremely blessed to have a team of people, led by Amy Stollberg, who have found a way to bring our worship services into your homes, and the homes of others, every Sunday via technology. It is so important for us – especially now – to stay connected to our faith and to continue to be spiritually fed each week! And thanks to the major commitment of time on the part of our Shepherd Leaders, we are able to stay connected as a church family while being asked to stay safe and stay home.

These are just the things happening that I know about. And knowing who we are as a congregation, I have no doubt that there is even more going on now in your homes and your lives to make a difference in the lives of those around you. Whatever you are doing to help, thank you! It makes me extremely proud to be a member of this church family, where we take seriously our mission, “Christ Cares. Share the Faith!”

Honoring His Sacrifice

Written by Bonnie Scranton. Posted in The Seed

heart & cross

What a strange time we find ourselves in! I can recall conversations in my family when I was growing up about my mother’s mother dying in the flu epidemic of 1918. It changed my mother’s life as she ended up being raised by her grandmother. I never imagined that we would be facing a similar situation in our lifetime.

Martin Luther also lived through a plague in 1527, when it returned to Wittenberg, Germany. Two hundred years earlier the plague had swept across Europe killing up to 40% of the population. People were anxious, just as we are today. Many of them also wondered what a safe and faithful response might be. In answer to this, Martin Luther wrote “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague.” In it, he emphasized the duty to care for the neighbor, the responsibility of government to protect and provide services to its citizens, a caution about recklessness, and the importance of science, medicine and common sense.

As ELCA Bishop Elizabeth Eaton wrote in her March 6, 2020 article, “Luther's counsel, based on Scripture, is still sound. Respect the disease. Do not take unnecessary risks. Provide for the spiritual and physical needs of the neighbor. Make use of medical aid. Care for one another, especially the most vulnerable.”

But heeding Luther’s and Bishop Eaton’s advice about avoiding unnecessary risk (which today means sheltering-in-place) during Lent, Holy Week and Easter makes our response to the virus even more distressing. Not being able to gather together as a Christian family to remember our Lord’s crucifixion, and to celebrate His resurrection, is downright hard and disappointing. But in reality, while it may be hard, this sacrifice is so small, so insignificant, in comparison to the sacrifice Christ made in order that we might have everlasting life!

How we respond to this small sacrifice says a lot about who we are as Christians. As I mentioned in my March 22nd Lenten message, during this time we can find solace and take comfort in the 23rd Psalm. God does not abandon us in hard times, but rather leads us through the valleys of life knowing we will eventually find a table prepared for us, our heads will be anointed with oil, and our cups will overflow with God’s love and mercy.

While the valley we find ourselves in right now isn't good, the Shepherd is. He knows the way. We need but follow. But how do we do that in these trying times? How do we follow Jesus when we’re not even supposed to leave our homes? By sharing Christ’s love. Amidst this very difficult and somewhat scary time, sharing God’s love is one of the most important things we can do.

But as a person whose love languages are physical touch (I am a hugger by nature) and shared time with others, I have to think about how to love in new ways, as I suspect many of you are having to do. We can reach out to others and write letters of gratitude to people we know and to people we don’t know, like those putting their lives on the line to treat the sick. We can call friends that we’ve lost touch with or acquaintances that we would like to get to know better. Or we can use our time and talent do to what I know a number of you in our congregation are doing – making face masks that are appropriate for health care workers and others that can be used by our friends and neighbors.

Heart & CrossThrough demonstrating love for others, however we choose to do it, we can turn this time of fear into a season of hope, working towards love in new and significant ways. Christ sacrificed his life that we might have new life. This Easter season, in honor of that sacrifice, it is only appropriate that we also find new and significant ways to share our faith and to love one another in His name.

His Holy Word is Always a Comfort in Times of Trial

Two members have shared with me some scriptures that they are finding comfort in at this time. I wanted to share some of those with all of you. Romans 12:1; John 14:27; 1 Peter 5:7; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 46:10; Psalm 91:1-16; Isaiah 41:10; and Isaiah 41:13. Let me know if you have a comforting scripture that you would like me to share with others via the e-News.