“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1
Dear members and friends of Martin Luther Church!
For some time now, this explanation of what worship means has been on my mind.
Paul appeals to us by the mercy of God. And we have surely experienced plenty of this mercy, haven’t we! We have found ways to stay together as a church. We have used modern technology to let the word of our God be spoken to us. We have made it possible for essential work of our church to continue. The council has been able to meet virtually, different teams are busy with different forms of church life. We have kept in touch via communication channels like computer and telephone, and some have even rediscovered the good, old letter mail. Many things have been possible under these completely different circumstances. Who would have guessed that? We have been using the image of the detour for our church’s work and have learned that the detour also shows a path to the goal. I would like to encourage all of us to discover in this experience, too, an encounter with the mercy of God.
- Worship points to the service God provides us. He calls us, he gathers us, he gives us his presence and blesses us in his own way. We find ourselves as those who receive from him, from his mercy, through his blessing. This makes us grateful and sometimes makes us marvel.
- And worship points to the service we can render. We may respond to God’s mercy with our way of living. This is what we call “Christian behavior.” It is characterized by generosity of thought, by honesty and authenticity in human interaction, by tolerance and appreciation, by respect and attentiveness. This will be particularly important when we have overcome the pandemic, when our “detour” has brought us to our goal. I sincerely hope that we have learned a lot about worship along the way and that we will use the insights from this experience and keep them as an advantage for our church, for our congregational life.
We can only get the coin with both sides.
In summary, I would like to understand this as what the apostle Paul calls “spiritual worship”. Let us be called to this together!
– Pastor Gerhard Hille
I think that is what detours are about- new paths can show us truths that we missed before, lost in the repetition. The two sides of the coin, as offered by Pastor Hille, have instigated a season of discernment. Our council, our ministry team, and each of us are called to serve according to our gifts, skills, and charisms as lead by the Spirit, that is the universal Priesthood of all believers. We need to ask ourselves and each other, “What is church? What is important to us?” The way that we picture “church” is likely very different for many of us than it was 1 or 2 years ago. One thing we can likely all agree on is, we miss each other, we are better together, and we are looking forward to some time together to catch up.
The government has offered steps for reopening and some tentative dates.
NOW and in Step 1 (Possibly June 14): 10 people or less are allowed for indoor worship
Step 2: 15 per cent capacity (July 5 earliest)
Step 3: Capacity limited to permit 2 meters physical distancing (July 26 earliest)
Martin Luther Church will continue our detour and discernment with devotions and online worship until we can safely have indoor worship for 30 people with fewer restrictions. We have heard the feedback from the last time we were able to reopen, the days that launched our surprise-filled detour. That feedback was that we love to be together; we don’t love registration forms; we miss catching up over a coffee and strudel. We will ask big questions, and we will get ready to come together when we can do it our way. We hope that many of the restrictions will be lifted by step 3. We will continue to monitor the government regulations, timelines and recommendations by our Synod to discern the best course of action.
– Vicar Adam McComb on behalf of your ministry and leadership team