Dearly beloved of Christ the King,
The Lord be with you,
Thanks be to God – our happy congregation has progressed beautifully through this very difficult episode in American history. The coronavirus – which brings its own pressing concerns – and the ensuing governmental lockdown – which brings another set of troubling consequences – are both beginning to show signs of retreat. God is faithful. He watches over us, protects us, and leads us to where we find streams of living water – the font of our crucified and risen King.
Since the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday) we have been conducting the Divine Service in our courtyard. It has been a delightful time of repose and joy as we have luxuriated in the bright beams of Easter and received the grace of God in His appointed means. The weather has been cooperative, the gentlemen of the congregation have admirably served to ensure that all is well prepared, and the enthusiasm among those attending has been quite high. We intend to continue this outdoor service for the next two Sundays (Pentecost – 5/31, and Trinity Sunday – 6/7). The forecast calls for pleasant temperatures and there is a certain symmetry to concluding the festival half of the church year in our garden-like courtyard.
Beginning on June 14th, the Divine Service will be conducted in the church proper. To ensure that a diligent amount of caution is observed and to practice a prudent level of social distancing, we will be having two services – one at 8:00am and one at 10:30am. While this is certainly not ideal and it will not be our normal practice for the long term, it is a wise course of action that also allows our membership to acclimate themselves to an indoor service. Every other pew will be cordoned off for the first few weeks and then the membership will be trusted to manage distancing themselves in a way that is comfortable for them, using their own discretion. We will continue to distribute the sacrament in the manner we have employed as of late to further personal safety. It is expected that the first service will conclude by 9:15am. Bible study will begin on June 14th as well. In the Parish Hall, this study will commence at 9:30 and adjourn at 10:15. For those who wish to attend the Divine Service but would prefer to sit outside, a few EZ-UPS will be positioned outside the back glass doors (which will be opened), and additional outdoor speakers will ensure that audio of the service will be heard. The deacon and I will commune those folks from the back of the church.
All this is being done in a spirit of love that attempts to innovate ways to serve the faithful of Christ the King while coping with the risks of the virus. It is worth noting a few salient statistics regarding Covid-19. In San Bernardino County (population 2.18 million), there have been 176 fatalities (.008%). In Riverside County (population 2.47 million), have been 303 fatalities (.012%). Nationwide, it is estimated that half of all fatalities have occurred in nursing homes, this by virtue of some disastrous policy decisions made by public officials. Whereas the fatality rate to infection rate was once considered to be 3%, after more extensive testing it is better estimated to be 0.3%. The vast majority of people are either asymptomatic or experience very mild symptoms when contracting Covid-19.
This last Memorial Day, I communed Don and Pat Krahn in their home. I was glad for the invitation and they were glad to receive the sacrament. On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, I communed Deloris Koller and Harriet Ouimette over at Mission Commons. It was a delightful moment between two faithful saints and their servant of the Word. I hope to resume my shut-in calls next week. I am certainly not going to invite myself over to anyone’s home but I am also not going to refuse anyone who desires their pastor to pay them a call. I would dearly love to see all of you who have been sheltering in place. If it is your desire, I will come and stand in your front yard with my mask on and keep my distance just to be able to say hello and greet you with the love of God in Christ Jesus. Please call me if I can be of service to you in any way. Since the small group communion services on Tuesdays and Thursdays are no longer being utilized, I can use my time better to get out and see people on their turf. I am so looking forward to those visits. To be clear, the Tuesday and Thursday communion services are discontinued. I am delighted that I was able to serve those who made use of them during the dark days.
I wish to congratulate the saints of Christ the King for their faithful stewardship during this time of testing. While other congregations have suffered, understandably so, we have remained in a strong financial position. We are united. It is by virtue of God’s grace that we stand so firmly on the ground that does not move. The unity we enjoy is crafted by the Gospel itself which breathes into us a strength that is other-worldly. The solid rock upon which we stand is the crucified and risen Christ. The life of our living Lord is something that pulls at us, something that consoles us and inspires us and leads us into the future. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Peace be with you (John 20:19).
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).