Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
1600 East College Drive ● Marshall, Minnesota 56258
Pastor James J. Stefanic
Church (507) 532-4857 ● Parsonage (507) 532-3982
Friends in Christ:
“In these last days of great distress grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness that we keep pure till life is spent Your holy Word and Sacrament” (LSB 585 v.2).
These are days of great distress as this generation of God’s faithful are challenged in an unprecedented way. These are the last days not because of disease but because Christ came as an infant, He was crucified, He is risen, and He ascended in glory. The opening words of Hebrews remind us of that: “In many and various ways, God spoke to His people of old by the prophets. But now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2a).
The Lord’s Word, to which His name is attached, is kept holy without our prayer, but we pray that it would be kept holy among us also. That name is kept holy when “we do not despise preaching and His Word but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.” The people of God honor His Word by hearing the pure preaching of the Word and by receiving the proper administration of the sacraments.
Our Lord also calls us to honor our parents and other authorities. We are not to despise them but “honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.” Our governing authorities have mandated limiting gatherings to under 50 people. They have recommended meetings be limited to groups no larger than 10. This is in the hopes of flattening the COVID-19 curve.
Our Lord has also commanded us to “not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body but to help and support him in every physical need.” We now are to help our neighbor by limiting our interaction with him.
These are trying times, and I do not pretend to have answers. I do not know how to reconcile everything. I do not know what is best. The Lord is humbling me. My wisdom is reduced to nothing. The Lord again shows His foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of men.
The foolishness of God is Christ crucified. It is my desire as your pastor to preach this good news into your ears. It is my joy to feed you His lifegiving body and blood. It is also my desire to keep you physically safe.
After much conversation with the elders the following has been decided:
1) All worship services, Bible studies, and activities at Good Shepherd are indefinitely cancelled. This may last a week, two weeks, or longer. Until you are notified otherwise, there will be no events or gatherings of any kind at Good Shepherd.
2) Matins will be recorded daily. Abbreviated Sunday services will also be recorded. They can be found at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4_BtjEImWQpp0nNEKS3SXQ. It is my hope that such a resource will serve you well in this time of our exile.
3) There are no firm plans on what else might be made available to you through YouTube. I am considering the possibility of adding Bible studies and periodic reflections.
4) As indicated in a previous letter, our financial giving to the Church is still important. You may make use of electronic giving, mail your offerings to the church, or utilize your bank’s Bill Pay service.
5) There are a few volunteers who are willing to pick up groceries, medicines, and other items of necessity for those of you who are most vulnerable to the disease. Please contact Scott Peterson or me if you need any help.
6) If you desire spiritual care, please do not hesitate to contact me at 414-305-8565.
“We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).