Dearly beloved of Christ the King,
The Lord be with you.
This is perhaps the most important letter that I have ever written and I write with God’s grace in my mind, my love for the saints of Christ the King in my heart, and my profound appreciation for Easter in my soul. I am blessed to be the pastor of our beloved congregation at this moment. It is a privilege to serve such a faithful assembly of people with God’s inspired Word and to administer the sacraments to a tribe of Lutherans who so clearly cherish what God wills to give. My personal cup runneth over. The director of the school is a strong ally. The deacon of the church is wise and faithful and possesses a servant disposition. The board of elders are godly men who love the Scriptures and support me in prayer.
We have attempted to walk a tightrope in the face of this viral pandemic, with the notion of safeguarding the vulnerable while still feeding those who are compelled to continue their life of faith in as normal a way as possible. That tightrope has been cut. The County of San Bernardino has made their will known in no uncertain terms. As a reminder, in the absence of appropriate guidance from San Bernardino County, we have been taking our governmental cues from Riverside County. Those guidelines recognized religious organizations and provided genuinely helpful parameters for us to continue to meet. On April 4th, those guidelines for Riverside County changed dramatically and then yesterday, April 7th, San Bernardino County published a document that forces us to discontinue “in-person” services for the time being. Long-held protections of religious liberty have given way to the state taking a very strident position regarding church services for Holy Week and Easter. “Thou shalt not” is their position.
A $1000. fine and the threat of 90-day imprisonment – these are not repercussions to which I can subject the congregation. I have fairly strong political opinions but my first love is for Christ’s church. The Gospel reigns in this place. The board of elders is in agreement regarding our course of action at this time. Regrettably, this comes as the High Feast of Easter approaches. Neither the covid-19 virus nor an overly pro-active state nor the fear of death that is making inroads in our culture can undo the empty tomb. The pivotal event in human history is the death and resurrection of the Son of God. It can’t be undone. Unfortunately, the place that we afford it in our lives waxes and wanes. It is my hope, my fervent prayer, that the resurrection of Christ and what in means for how we view life and how we live it, is waxing in our minds and not waning. Easter will be celebrated! Life, new life, is the reality that cannot be contained. Joy will break out this coming Sunday morning!
We intend to record the Holy Week Services and put them up online in as timely a manner as possible. Below you will find the link to our YouTube channel.
On Thursday, we still intend to strip the altar. On Friday we will have the Stations of the Cross. We will mic-up the deacon and the cantor so that the beauty of the singing comes through on the recordings and you may enjoy that beauty. The liturgy will be changed as we will not pretend to have communion when no communion is served. The preaching will remain the same. There will be no Holy Saturday service. We will record the services at the times that they were originally set to be recorded. We genuine are trying our best to serve you with the transcendent magnificence of God’s Holy Word that you may be strengthened by Him who holds us all in His hands.
Thank-you to all of you who have mailed in your tithes and offerings. It was a strong response to our plea for the members of our beloved congregation to remember the church and her financial commitments. Thank-you. We will continue to offer Holy Communion to small groups within the congregation on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the foreseeable future. This last-name alphabetical arrangement is as follows:
A-D (Tuesdays @ 11:00am)
E-J (Tuesdays @ 2:00pm)
K-P (Thursdays @ 11:00am)
R-Z (Thursdays @ 2:00pm)
If you would like to come but cannot make it when your name is scheduled, please just come at one of the other times as there has not been a crowd at any of these offerings.
Our school is a godsend to the families who need precisely what we offer. We are a light to those who continue to serve our community on the front line of this crisis. Whether our students are at home or still coming, they are connected to their teachers, they still receive weekly resources, and our commitment to them has not wavered. Our school is open because we have been deemed an essential provider of an essential service. Christine has maintained continuity with the school calendar. The normal procedures for registration that are a part of the month of April are ongoing as normal in 2020. The administration team has had to be innovative, but the ministry of the school continues beautifully apace.
Stay tuned. The board of elders is scheduled to meet on April 25th to reevaluate what to do going forward. Please pray. Pray for our nation, her leaders, Christ’s church, and for us all to remain faithful to His Word and one another. This is certainly not a time for sniping or fault finding. We rest on God’s grace. There is no perfect path at the moment. We walk by faith, and not by sight. What we do know is that ours is the resurrection. Ours is the reigning King of Life. Ours is the Triumphant Savior who crushed death from the inside and leaps out of the tomb to claim humanity for His Father. Christianity has never looked brighter to the saints of Christ the King. We are a unified congregation because our appreciation for our Loving Lord is robust and infectious. I pray that your celebrations of our Lord’s resurrection are equally joyful. It is assured, that we all pine for the day when we can say: “I was glad when they said unto me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122:1). May it be soon.
Peace be with you,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).