August 1, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
God Is Our Refuge and Strength
If you’re anything like me, the confusion created by the pandemic and the anxiety it continues to foster are difficult to escape. This crisis is constantly in front of us and, as much as we’d like to avoid it, the pandemic has impacted every facet of our lives. This is even true of our own church and school family. As a new school year approaches, many will be faced with yet more disruption to the routines that have come to define their lives, and interruptions like this can easily be disorienting and demoralizing. In times like these, it’s important to remember that the Lord is still in control, and His promises have not wavered—even when we feel lost, frustrated, saddened by, or angry with the circumstances around us.
The apostle Peter wrote: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (I Peter 4:12-13). While our current situation doesn’t compare with that of the martyrs to whom Peter wrote, his encouragement is definitely for us. It’s important to remember that this world is not our home, and in the midst of this crisis and the turmoil is has brought to our lives, we have an opportunity to care for each other and for those in our community with grace. This is a time for us to express and exercise the faith in which we stand, and to bear witness to the joy that is ours in Jesus.
This weekly email has become a primary means of communication with the congregation, and I have used this platform to share information as things at Emmanuel have constantly changed. It became painfully evident to me last week that I haven’t done a good job of encouraging our people with the promises of God through this communication tool. Please forgive me for this failure as your pastor.
With this mind, the most critical thing I want you read in this week’s email is the assurance that we will get through this, not because of any vaccine, treatment, mandate, or political decision, but because, “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…The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:1-3, 7).
At Emmanuel, we will continue to promote the recommendations of our health departments and work hard to protect people in and outside of our congregation. We are called by God to submit to the “governing authorities” (Romans 13:1) and to “help and support our neighbor in every physical need” (Luther’s Explanation of the Fifth Commandment). We do this by washing our hands, wearing face-coverings in public spaces, and honoring social distancing protocols. These health practices haven’t changed. But the primary mission of Emmanuel is to deliver the life-giving, life-changing, life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. We will never stop proclaiming this Good News, and by God’s own promise the “gates of hell shall not prevail against” His Church.
Through the ages, the Church has persevered. And whether through persecution or pandemic, false teaching or cultural upheaval, God’s promises will persist. With confidence in this truth, so will we.
Please join me in this prayer adapted from our hymnal:
Almighty God, merciful Father, Your thoughts are not our thoughts, Your ways are not our ways. In Your wisdom You have permitted this pandemic to befall us. We implore You, let not the hearts of Your people despair nor our faith fail us, but sustain and comfort us. Direct all efforts to attend the ill, console the bereaved, protect the helpless, and show grace to our brothers and sisters in this confusing time. Bring peace to our troubled hearts and restore us according to Your plan and promise; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Worship this Weekend
This weekend, Holy Communion will be served in the 5:00 and 10:30 services. Our regular weekend schedule is as follows:
- Saturday Evening Divine Service—This service offers a contemporary setting and is held on Saturdays at 5:00 p.m.
- Sunday Morning Divine Services—These services are held on Sundays at 8:00 and 10:30 a.m. and feature worship in a traditional liturgical setting.
We continue to practice social distancing and encourage mask-wearing during our worship services.
We Need Your Help Building Our New Database
One of the opportunities the spring shutdown provided was the ability to transition to a new congregational database called “Breeze.” Under the leadership of Pastor Sheafer and Business Manager, Dick Shively, we are now managing all of our congregational information through this new ministry tool. Not only will this enhance our ability to involve our members in Emmanuel’s ministry plan, it will also serve as a current congregational directory.
On Thursday, many of you received an email from Pastor Sheafer through our new database asking you to update your personal profile on Breeze. If you didn’t receive an email from Pastor Sheafer about this, it could have been filtered by your email provider. Please check your “Junk” folder. If you are unable to find the email invitation, Pastor Sheafer and I will be available in the main level of Ebenezer Hall between our Sunday services throughout the month of August from 9:15-10:00 a.m. to help you. Or you can simply call the office at 423-1369 during the week, and we’ll happy to help you update your profile.
On Sunday, August 16, in the 10:30 service, Emmanuel will celebrate the Rite of Confirmation for 25 of our young members. We anticipate the entire main level of the sanctuary to be filled with our confirmands and their family members. While the balcony will be open for additional seating, we are encouraging members who normally attend Divine Service at 10:30 to consider worshipping at 5:00 on Saturday, or in the 8:00 service on Sunday. With this in mind, we will be offering Holy Communion in all three services on the weekend of August 15 and 16.
Washington School Supplies
Over the last decade, Emmanuel has had a wonderful relationship with our neighbor, Washington School. Our partnership has grown every year, and one of the ways we have been blessed to extend care to the children, families, and staff of Washington is through our school supplies project. We anticipate spending approximately $4,000 on this project this year, which will provide school supplies for every child at Washington. If you would like to contribute to this year’s school supplies project, please clearly designate the amount you’d like to give on the “Other” line of your offering envelope, or through our online giving portal. Thank you for your support of this important ministry.
Special Communion Services Extended through August
We are glad to be able to offer online resources for worship and Bible study for those who remain safe at home, but we also recognize that the internet doesn’t provide an option for sacramental ministry. In order to meet this need, we are offering a special service of Holy Communion on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 in the Sanctuary. This service will be led by our pastors and honor all social distancing recommendations. There will be no singing in the service. If you would like to attend one of these communion services, please register by calling the church office at 423-1369 by noon on the Tuesday before you plan to attend. We have extended these special sacramental services through August.
Sunday Bible Class Has Resumed
Pastor McFadden is teaching a summer Bible study on Ruth and Esther. The class meets in the lower level of Ebenezer Hall on Sunday mornings from 9:15-10:15.
Wednesday Pastor’s Bible Study
We will resume our Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. Pastor’s Bible Class this week. Please plan to wear a face covering into the building. For those who are unable to attend on Wednesdays, please note that the online version of this Bible class will continue to be offered each week on our website.
Emmanuel Golf Outing
Emmanuel’s 35th Annual Golf Outing will be held on Saturday, August 29, at Eel River Golf Course in Churubusco. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start at 8:00 a.m. Cost is $70 per golfer, which includes 18 holes of golf w/cart, coffee/donuts, snacks, and beverages. This year, because of the coronavirus and social distancing, we will not be offering a meal after the outing.
Emmanuel considers quality Christian education a tremendous blessing and a major focus of our church mission. We strive to make Christian secondary education possible for all who desire it. The Heidbrink Scholarship Fund helps make this vision a reality. This scholarship fund serves as the sole source of financial assistance to young men and women pursuing careers in church work and provides need-based grants to young men and women wishing to attend Concordia Lutheran High School. Last year, we were able to raise approximately $7,000, and this year, we are hoping to surpass that amount with your support.
If you do not play golf, but would like to show your support with a monetary donation, you can use the “Other” line on your contribution envelope and mark it “golf outing.” You can also make a monetary donation online through Emmanuel’s online giving portal or by clicking this “Subsplash Giving” link, then selecting the “Other” fund when asked, and writing “golf outing” in the notes area. Thank you so much for your attention and support of this most worthy cause.
Emmanuel has received an abundance of special gifts designated to provide crisis support to those economically impacted by the coronavirus shutdown. If you need assistance, please contact our Director of Congregational Care, Lana Hille, or one of our pastors at 423-1369.
Counseling Assistance for Health Care Workers
Through their Serve Our Servants (SOS) fund, Cross Connections is offering free Biblical counseling to healthcare professionals and their immediate family members. If you have any questions about this gracious offer, please call Cross Connections at 373-0213.
Our congregation continues to care for one another through a faithful prayer ministry. Please pray for the following people this week:
- Pray for healing for June McPheeters, who is undergoing radiation treatments.
- Pray for Gene Brunow and Jodie Karrick as they recover from back surgeries.
- Pray for healing for Julie Harper, who is recovering from double pneumonia.
- Pray for God’s peace and healing for Scott Krueckeberg, who is awaiting quadruple bypass surgery and dealing with health complications that need to be resolved prior to surgery.
- Pray for Randy Barron, who has been diagnosed with bladder cancer and is awaiting a treatment plan.
- Pray for Cheryl Chapman, who is undergoing chemo treatments for skin cancer.
- Pray for healing for Dick Alfeld, who is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
- Pray for Mary Louise Spice's daughter-in-law Barb Spice, who has glaucoma, that the current eye drops she is using will help stop the progress of the disease.
- Please pray for Dex Hoyer’s sister Brenda, who is receiving hospice care.
- Pray for Peggy Tittman, daughter-in-law to Walt and Phyllis Tittman, for relief of pain and comfort.
- Pray for Kelly Bulnahs, sister-in-law of David Wyss, as she recovers from COVID.
- Pray for all who struggle with the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
- Pray for peace and provision for all who are unemployed.
- Pray for all health care workers as they continue to care for patients and residents.
- As the schools in our community and congregation prepare for a challenging start to the new school year, ask the Lord to provide our administrators, teachers, and staff members and families with wisdom, patience, strength, and peace.
- Pray for the Lord to bless the ministry of Christian education carried out by ESM and all Lutheran schools.
Join our staff in praying for the following families and individual members this week:
- Jim and Debi Kruckeberg
- Hallie Kruckeberg, Landon and Leanna
- Jacob Krueckeberg
- Stan and Lila Kruckeberg
- Weston Kruckeberg
- Ed Krueckeberg
- Margie Krueckeberg
- Scott and Glenna Krueckeberg
- Tom Krueckeberg and Andrew
- Eric Krull
Together in Christ,