A Pastoral Letter re: COVID-19

Pastor Michael shared a letter with the congregation on March 15, 2020, and it's posted here for those who weren't able to be in worship.

March 15, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In the midst of uncertain times like this, information, advice, and opinions are swirling around like buzzing flies. Everywhere we turn—TV, coffee with friends, family gatherings, businesses, the Internet—is full of coronavirus talk. With the situation changing so rapidly, and so much information coming at us, it’s difficult to know what is the wisest course of action for us.

Here at Concordia, our primary purpose is to receive the gifts of God, to respond in thanksgiving and praise, and then serve the people in our lives to whom God has called us: family members, friends, co-workers, and many more. When it becomes necessary to distance ourselves from one another in order to prevent the spread of an infectious disease, it’s completely expected that we as Christians would struggle with not wanting to have too much distance from one another. After all, the Christian Church is really all about what the Bible calls koinonia: fellowship, participation. The Church in the New Testaments is often described as ekklesia, which means “assembly”. So when our public health officials say, “don’t assemble”, and seemingly everything which would involved assembling people together in groups get cancelled, there is so much tension.

The reality is that we need to be as wise as we possibly can in this situation. We need to listen to the advice—and particularly the orders of—public health officials. We owe them our respect under the Fourth Commandment. And we want to act out of love for others under the Fifth Commandment, not wanting to harm others in any way, but help them in every way possible. In this time, that debt of love includes taking prudent measure to avoid the spread of this disease.

Simply put, we don’t know even what the next few days will hold. I want to encourage you as strongly as possible to make prudent decisions for your own health and for the health of others: wash your hands diligently, and follow the advice of health experts. And at the same time, heed our gracious Lord’s word to “cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). We’re constantly struggling to discern the line between prudence and fear, and it’s a constantly changing line.

The Governing Team will be meeting early this coming week to discuss what sort of steps we might need to take as a congregation in the coming weeks, including setting up online tools to reach out to those who need to be isolated in this time. The team will be discussing many aspects of congregational life, and we’ll seek to communicate especially through email as we go through this. (If you’ve not yet signed up for our weekly email list, please do so at https://concordialive.ca – that will be a good way to get timely information.) If you don’t use email and our office isn’t already aware of that, please phone the office and let us know so that we can ensure we communicate with you in another way.

As your pastor, I want you to know that I want to make the best decisions possible for the providing of your own spiritual care, not distancing ourselves from God’s Word, but maybe needing to engage with it in different ways for a short while. I encourage you to read the Scriptures at home; make use of the Lenten devotional booklets, pray, and stay connected with one another through phone, texts, emails, etc. Though we need to be more physically distanced from one another for a time, we can still be close in spirit and heart. After all, our congregation’s name—Concordia—literally means, “with one heart”. I pray that we are able to even grow in that in the midst of these difficult times.

Let me leave you with the word of God, given to us in Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
   though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble at its swelling.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
   God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
   he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress.

—Psalm 46:1-7

May God give us all His wisdom and peace in Jesus Christ.

Pastor Michael.