Though we are not meeting in person for worship these days, it is still the Sabbath. We will not be able to be together for corporate worship through April and possibly longer. We just don’t know yet. Out of an abundance of caution, we will continue to honor the advisement and recommendations of our experts.
In anticipation of today, palm branches were delivered to the church. (We did consider how we might distribute the palms, but decided that we would not invite distribution of them in order to keep germs from being waved every which way.) And we want to continue to guard against and protect one another from the possibility of people passing in close proximity.
Nevertheless, remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy!
What does this mean for you?
Here’s hoping that you can do some intentional things that will keep it a special and sacred day. And on the flip side, it might also mean choosing to NOT do certain things in order to allow it to be a holy day!
1) Might there be value for you in disconnecting from the news media for today? To stay informed and educated is important. But to subject oneself to the nonstop flow of all manner of media will wear on you. I encourage you to find a focus for today that is good and Godly, with hopeful and promising things. For this is what a Sunday represents; the third day; the gift of New Life.
2) Just as disconnecting from the media might bring blessing and renewal, so also a re-connect with certain people will bring refreshment to your spirit. (And to those individuals as well). Certainly consider this with people that you love, and with whom you ought to be regularly staying in touch. But also think about that person who might be surprised to receive a caring call from you today. Perhaps this would be one whom you don’t know that well, or one that you’ve not spoken to in years, or even perhaps one with whom you share a difficult history that makes it challenging. Now is the time, perhaps, to overcome that. Bring your sincere interest in the well-being of others, and honor God by loving people today.
3) Worship. We are blessed to have access to a variety of meaningful worship experiences online.
– Contemporary Worship, Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines
– Traditional Worship, Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
– We have heard from one of our members who has discovered a meaningful reflective worship experience from another local source, the Iowa Episcopal Diocese (Look on the right hand side of the page under “Sunday Morning Worship”)
(Additional online note: We are working to prepare special audio Good Friday and Easter messages to deliver to you for your online listening. This will not substitute for an entire worship experience, but it will be from your Interim Pastor representing your St. Paul Lutheran Church! These messages will come to you in the same format as these EPISTLE messages via email with the link to the message embedded within, and will also be available on our website and through our Facebook page.)
4) Perhaps today is a day that you can sit for a time, for some thoughtful reading. Find the happiest place in your house, or perhaps outdoors if it is nice. Soaking up God’s Word will not return void. If you currently are not engaged in a specific Bible reading practice, I would suggest that you either a) start (or continue) Luke’s Gospel into the book of Acts bringing you back to our Christian church roots, or b) read the assigned scripture readings for this Sunday:
– Isaiah 50:4-9
– Philippians 2:5-11
– Mathew 21:1-11 (Palm Sunday narrative) or Matthew 26:14-27:66 (Passion Sunday narrative.)
5) If there is some kind of re-creation opportunity allowing you to be safe and distanced from others, go for it. It will be good for the body and the soul.
6) Pray. Pray for people who lead. Pray for people to be kind and compassionate, generous and caring. Pray for people to be smart. Pray for the sick and lonely and sad and scared. Pray for those who are doing things for the rest of us. Pray that through this, all would come to know Jesus.
7) Consider the palm/passion journey of our Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to enrich your understanding of just how amazing God’s love is for you – during this pandemic and forever!!
Have a fantastic and blessed Sabbath day today!
Pastor Brian Mortenson
Church office phone: 515-462-4270
Church office email: StPaulLutheranChurch@hotmail.com
Pastor Brian Mortenson email: StPaulPastor1941@gmail.com
Pastoral Emergencies: 605-351-0867