Opening the Doors of Advent

Dear Advent Family,                                [ DOWNLOAD this as a PDF ]
 
Perhaps it has felt like an eternity, but it was just eight weeks ago on March 11th that all services and activities here at Advent Lutheran Church & School were cancelled.  In the midst of the affliction we have faced because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Word of the Lord yet rings loud and true:
 
“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing 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 4:17-18
 
Let us pray.
Almighty God, heavenly Father, give us grace to trust You during this time of illness and distress.  In mercy put an end to the pandemic that afflicts us.  Grant relief to those who suffer, and comfort all who mourn and are downtrodden.  Sustain all medical personnel in their labors, and cause Your people ever to serve You in righteousness and holiness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
Alleluia!  Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!
 
The best of news is not what was announced by Governor Holcomb on Friday, May 1st.  The best of news is what Christ our Savior has done for you, nay, for the whole world!  Through His incarnation into our flesh, His complete fulfillment of Holy Law, the Lamb of God hung in utter distress upon Calvary’s tree, bearing all punishment and sin upon His sacrificial shoulders.  He did this for you!  Into death and the grave He descended, being raised for our justification.  The best of news is His complete justification…for you…to be received by faith, covered in Holy Baptism, absolved through His life-giving Word and fed into your very mouths.  Good news indeed.
 
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as through 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.”                                                      1 Peter 4:12-13
 
For the past eight weeks, His Word has continued to be preached and taught according to its truth and purity and His Sacraments have been rightly administered.  Granted, here at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church this has taken place over the internet and in private gatherings of individual households through Absolution & the Sacrament.  O how we yearn for the opportunity to gather together again in our beloved sanctuary, receiving His gifts without restriction or encumbrance! 
 
And should our Lord yet tarry in His return, that day, dear members will come. 
 
By now, most of you have probably heard or read of Indiana’s stages for reopening.  While some of you might chafe at the restrictions from the State and Federal government to date, we do not believe that we as churches are being persecuted for our faith in doctrine and practice. 
 
God’s Holy word teaches us:
 
“Be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.”              Titus 3:1
 
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.”
1 Peter 2:13-14 
 
“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
Ephesians 4:2
 
Accordingly, Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church & School has thus far followed the recommendations and guidelines sent forth, by our Governor and Federal government. 
 
And so, when we will be able to gather together again in our beloved sanctuary, receiving His gifts without restriction or encumbrance?
 
This may be the foremost question on our minds and hearts!
 
After careful consideration and consolation with the Pastors, the Board of Elders, our Chairman, as well as a sampling of current active and practicing physicians in our parish, we humbly submit the following plan for reopening our church doors.  Please note that we cannot address all the many variables and details associated with reopening.  Be smart!  Use your best judgment!  Details will be addressed further in the Q&A which follows. 
 
Here is an overview of our plan that has been mutually agreed upon:
 
 
Stage 1 (March 11th – May 9th)
  • School and Church closed with only essential staff working
  • Services and Bible Classes streamed online
  • Absolution & the Sacrament available by appointment for individual households (under 10 persons at a time)
Stage 2 (May 10th – May 23rd)
  • School remains closed
  • Church Office reopens with normal hours of 8:00am-4:00pm
  • Even though the State of Indiana is allowing churches to “reopen”, the restriction on social gatherings is limited to 25 (instead of 10).  The spirit of the law is best understood as services such as “weddings, funerals and baptisms.”  We read the following from the State of Indiana:  “Religious services may convene inside places of worship. There are specific practices that should be considered for in-person services that are driven by social distancing guidelines and protections for those 65 and older and individuals with known high-risk medical conditions. Examples of services include weddings, funerals, and baptisms.”                                                
 
It is not feasible nor advisable to therefore “reopen” our church doors just yet for the following reasons:
  • We would need at least 12 services on Sunday based on attendance
  • It would be difficult to clean and provide a safe environment
  • We are in the process of installing permanent cameras and equipment for continued “streaming” of services, which many will still need for the foreseeable future.  Currently, we have wires, mics and cameras draped over pews and the floor which would be hazardous for worshipers. 
  • As such and for the time being, we will continue Stage 1 practice of streaming the Sunday Divine Service and offering Absolution & the Sacrament by appointment
Stage 3  (May 24th– June 13th)
We kindly ask you to also follow and practice social distancing.  Masks are allowed and encouraged to be worn, but please note that not all members will choose to do so.  If you are uncomfortable with this, please continue to “shelter-in-place” at home, watching the services online and/or making use of a scheduled time for Absolution & the Sacrament.
Restrooms will remain open, but please use at your own risk.  We will be unable to properly sanitize and clean during the services or even between the Sunday morning services.  Rest assured, all areas will be sanitized and cleaned as normal during the week. 
 
According to current State & CDC guidelines, consider not attending if:  
  • You are high risk and/or age 65 and older
  • If you have had a new cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pains, headache, sore throat, diarrhea, nausea or new loss of taste or smell within the last 14 days.
  • Use your best judgment for your own health and that of your neighbor.  It is not sinful to continue “sheltering-in-place”, participating in the Divine Service from home via our streamed service and/or making use of the offered opportunities for Individual Absolution & the Sacrament as needed.
  • Starting May 24th and for the next two Sundays (5/31 & 6/7), we will reopen our doors and offer a 45 minute Divine Service at the following times:  8:15am, 9:30am, 10:45am. 
  • In order to attend one of the services, you will need to sign up online (link below), call the Pastors or the Church Office.  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090b4eadac29a4fb6-sunday
  • There will be no Bible Class, Fellowship or Sunday  School
 
Social distancing measures will be in place with the following practices: 
 
  • Enter the church no earlier than 10 minutes before the schedule service
  • Church doors will be opened before, during and after each service
    No congregating with others outside your household in the Narthex, Sanctuary or other parts of the Church
  • The Order of Service will be printed for you on a stand as you enter.  There will be no hymnals, bibles, tracts or attendance books in the pews.
  • Offering Plates will also be set on stands for you to drop your contribution
  • You may sit anywhere in the Sanctuary in the pews NOT marked with blue painter’s tape, maintaining at least 6’ separation from other parishioners.  To clarify, open seating will look like a normal pew.  Households may sit together but need to maintain separation from other individuals and households.  If you have questions about this or need assistance when seating, the Elders will be available to direct parishioners while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
  • For communion, an Usher or Elder will direct you and/or your household to come forward down the Center Aisle.  Maintaining separation and moving towards the Chancel, you will await the Pastor’s invitation to come forward.  After he has directed you forward, please come forward to either side of the Chancel, where a tray will be placed on a stand, containing our Lord’s Body and Blood.  At the Pastor’s direction, you may eat and drink of our Lord’s precious Body and Blood.  Please note that for the sake of social distancing and sanitary practices, we will not be using the Chalice or kneel at the Communion Rail for these three Sundays only.   
  • After communing, please return to your pew location, dropping the glass individual cups in a bowl placed off the side aisle.  Please do not let your children touch or play with this sanitizing solution. 
  • After the Service has concluded, please wait patiently in the pew until directed by an Elder or Usher.  During this time, using the disinfectant wipes you have brought with you, please wipe down the pew where you have been sitting and any parts or items that you have touched. 
  • Once you are dismissed by an Usher or Elder, please depart immediately through Narthex.  The Ushers and Elders will then proceed to clean and ready the sanctuary for the next service.  Congregating after the Service in the Sanctuary, Narthex or other parts of the Church will be discouraged.

    Stage 4 (June 14th– July 4th)

    • Social distancing measures still encouraged
    • There will be no Bible Class, Fellowship or Sunday  School
    • Offering plates still placed by the doors
    • Hymnals and bibles placed back in pews for use
    • Kneeling at the Communion Rail and offering of the Chalice returned to practice, as is Distribution by the Pastors. 
    • Individuals and households will still be asked to wipe down (disinfect) the hymnals, pews and any item they touched before departing Sanctuary.
    • June 14th will be a grand and glorious service, barring any changes from the State regarding the Covid-19 pandemic

    Stage 5 (July 5th onward)
    Services continue as before
    Social distancing measures still encouraged!
    Bible Study & Fellowship in between services reconvenes!
    There will be no Sunday School for the rest of the summer (this could change)
     
    Please be patient as we slowly “reopen” our doors, attempting to honor our authorities and protect our neighbor.   For those still “sheltering-in-place” by choice or illness, we will continue to stream our services online as well as offer individual and household opportunities for Absolution & the Sacrament. 
     
    This is our current plan moving forward, which of course could change as needs or circumstances arise.  Please use common sense and good judgment for you and/or your family!
     
    Have no fear little flock!

    As “social gatherings” will be increased to 250, we will resume our “normal” schedule of Sunday Divine Services at 8:15am & 10:45am with no signup required.

In Thine arms I rest me;
Foes who would molest me
    Cannot reach me here.
Though the earth be shaking,
Ev’ry heart be quaking,
    Jesus calms my fear.
        Lightnings flash
        And thunders crash;
Yet, though sin and hell assail me,
Jesus will not fail me.
 
Satan, I defy thee;
Death, I now decry thee;
    Fear, I bid thee cease.
World, thou shalt not harm me
Nor thy threats alarm me
    While I sing of peace.
        God’s great pow’r
        Guards ev’ry hour;
Earth and all its depths adore Him,
Silent bow before Him.
 
Hence, all fear and sadness!
For the Lord of gladness,
    Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father,
Though the storms may gather,
    Still have peace within.
        Yea, whate’er
        I here must bear,
Thou art still my purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!
 
Lutheran Service Book #743  “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”  Text: Public domain
 
Let us pray.
Almighty God, merciful Father, Your thoughts are not our thoughts, and Your ways are not our ways.  In Your wisdom you have permitted this pandemic to befall us.  Keep all of us from despair and do not let our faith fail us, but sustain and comfort us.  Direct all efforts to attend the sick, console the bereaved, and protect the helpless.  Deliver any who are still in danger, and bring hope and healing that we may find relief and restoration;  through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 
 
Peace be with you,
Pr. Mackay, Pr. Grady, Mr. Chuck Long (Chairman) & Mr. Steve Vogtman (Head Elder)

REMINDER:  We will be Livestreaming this announcement tonight at 7:00pm on our YouTube channel:

At that time, we will also take questions by text or email:  317-847-7215  mmackay@adventlutheran.org

 
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

When can I come back to church?
The opportunity to come to church and receive Absolution & the Sacrament has been offered for you as an individual or household since the initial closure and will continue for the foreseeable feature.  You may signup online, call the Church Office or either of the Pastors to schedule a time to do so. Starting Sunday May 24th, services of 100 or less will take place at 8:15am, 9:30am and 10:45am.  You will need to signup ahead of time here:  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090b4eadac29a4fb6-sunday 
Beginning Sunday June 14th, we will resume our “normal” worship schedule of 8:15am and 10:45am with no signup required. 

What can I expect when I come back to church on May 24th ?
Please bring hand sanitizer and a few disinfectant wipes with you.  Please do not enter the building prior to 10 minutes before the service.  The doors will be open and an Elder/Usher will direct you immediately to the Sanctuary.  Face masks and social distancing practices will be allowed and encouraged.    Please pick up a printed order of service and as you desire, placing your offering in the collection plates on a stand.  You may sit anywhere in the Sanctuary in the pews NOT marked with blue painter’s tape, maintaining at least 6’ separation from other parishioners.  To clarify, open seating will look like a normal pew.  Elders will be present to assist you if you have questions.  There will be no hymnals or bibles in the pews, so feel free to bring your own for the singing of hymns.  The Divine Service will be shortened slightly so that all may have the opportunity to worship.  For communion, an Elder/Usher will dismiss you and/or your family to come down the center aisle, maintaining 6’ separation between those in front and behind you.  There will be a stand with a tray containing our Lord’s Body and Blood placed on each side of the Baptismal Font.  No kneeling at the rail will be allowed at this time.  Only one individual and/or family should come forward at a time, at the direction of the Pastor.  After the individual and/or family has communed, please wait until they depart down the side aisle to come forward, at the direction of the Pastor.  At the conclusion of the service, an Elder/Usher will dismiss you.  While waiting, please take a moment to wipe down the pew you have been sitting in and anything you have touched.  Please depart the Sanctuary through the Narthex immediately.  The Elders will then begin to clean and ready the sanctuary for the next service.  Congregating in the Narthex or other parts of the Church will not be allowed at this time. 

Can I bring friends or other family members with me?
Yes, but use your best judgment.  For the services on May 24th, May 31st and June 7th, all those in attendance are required to sign up online.  After June 14th, all may come as they are willing and able! 

Will there continue to be online services?
Yes.  We will continue offering weekly Services and Bible Studies via our website and our YouTube channel.  Thanks to a few generous donations, new cameras and equipment are being installed in the Sanctuary, Library and Fellowship Hall.  You may watch them online at http://www.adventlutheran.org  or https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7WT2Fb-oxn7Fs7dfYgDuzw/featured   There will also continue to be a printed bulletin for you to download and follow/participate at home with your family. 

Can I still communicate with the Pastors if I need Private Confession & Absolution, Counseling or help?
Yes, please!     
Pr. Mackay’s cell #  (317) 847-7215  
email mmackay@adventlutheran.org
Pr. Grady’s cell #     (317) 372-6289    
email jgrady@adventlutheran.org

What if I need/desire communion and choose not to attend services just yet?
Our Pastors will continue to be available by appointment to give you Absolution and the Sacrament.  Please do the following:  use the online sign-up on our website, call the Church Office or call the Pastors directly. 

What if I need help with bills, food and/or medicine?
Please call the Pastors, the Church Office, any of the Elders or a fellow Advent member.  Please don’t hesitate to let us know your needs.  We are here to help!

Why are we slowly reopening instead of just immediately “returning to normal”?
For the good of our neighbor and in obedience to our civil authorities. 

What about other activities?  (Council, Board Meetings, Choir, etc)?
While most of these meetings have been taking place online or via conference call, we will slowly begin to have in-person meetings.  Your Chairperson or Director will be in touch with you regarding these meetings.  Call the Church Office if you need help setting up an online forum or conference call. 

What about Ushers & Altar Guild?
We will resume using Ushers and Altar Guild starting June 14th.

What about Advent Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten?
Our School is closed for the remainder of the year. 

Will the Nursery, Cry Room and Restrooms be open?
Yes, but please use according to your best judgment.We will attempt to clean during the week in advance and after Sunday services, but cannot guarantee complete cleanliness.Please use disinfectant wipes to clean any areas or items you have touched.Note also that others may be using these areas at the same time so social distancing is encouraged.Be smart!
  
What about Sunday School, fellowship and adult Bible study on Sunday mornings?
Fellowship and Bible Study will not resume until July 4th.Sunday School remains on Summer Break unless informed otherwise.

Where can I find more information on Covid-19 and the reopening of Indiana? Please use the CDC website as well as the Indiana Department of Health website.
CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
ISDH – https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/   
IN – http://backontrack.in.gov/  
 
How do I make an offering to the church while activities and worship services  are reopening?
By Mail:  Send check to:
Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church  
11250 N. Michigan Rd. 
Zionsville, IN 46077
Enroll in Direct Deposit from your bank(s).  Contact Juanita in the Church Office at  (317) 873-6318 or info@adventlutheran.org
 
Use our Online giving platform, ShareFaith, through our website  https://secure.sharefaithgiving.com/go/form.php?rid=3ae7f61b6601&
 
Drop off at the Church during normal Office Hours.
 
Bring with you if you schedule a time for Absolution & the Sacrament.
 
Beginning May 24th, bring with you when attending services.
 
Will the Pastors still make house calls?
Yes.  If you and/or your family are under quarantine, it would be best to limit the pastors’ exposure, not just for their sake but also their own families.  Please keep this in mind.  This is a difficult time for pastoral visits, as they are not currently allowed to visit hospitals or nursing homes.  Yet they stand ready to give the members of Advent the Lord’s gifts and serve accordingly. 

What is the church phone number and email address?
(317) 873-6318               email:   info@adventlutheran.org

What are the Elders doing?
Praying for you and your family.  Making phone calls to members.  Ensuring that our pastors are cared and provided for.  Assisting the pastors with the work of Word and Sacrament ministry.  Feel free to call them if you need any assistance, have questions, or concerns.

As a member how can I help?
Pray.  Remain in the Word.  Follow the recommendations of the CDC and the State of Indiana.  Practice social distancing.  Wash your hands.  Care for your family.  Check in on your neighbors, family and church members by phone call, email or text.  Continue to provide your offerings to the Church as our bills, payroll and commitments yet continue.  As appropriate, we will publicize additional opportunities for service. If you would like to donate hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, this would be most helpful!

                                      
Helpful links to information about the COVID-19 VIRUS:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/  Our government website 
https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/  Our state website
http://backontrack.in.gov/  Our state’s plan for reopening
https://www.adventlutheran.org/  Our church website with information, services, bulletin and more.  Please check and use this regularly!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7WT2Fb-oxn7Fs7dfYgDuzw/featured  Our YouTube channel for streaming and recorded services, bible studies and other events.

THANK YOU, Advent family!

http://www.adventlutheran.org
11250 N. Michigan Rd., Zionsville, IN 46077
317.873.6318



Advent Activities Cancelled

Dear Advent Family

Effective immediately, all activities at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church are cancelled until further notice. 

The Church has endured for over 2,000 years withstanding plagues and persecution.  Rest assured, she will endure throughout this current pandemic of Covid-19. 

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.  Psalm 46:1-3

Last week, we promised to continue in vigilantly monitoring and evaluating the coronavirus situation and inform you if further changes were made to our plans.  We have now arrived at such a juncture.  As you are most likely aware, our government authorities are requesting that no groups of over 50 persons should assemble.  As we write this letter, we are receiving reports that that number could be dropped to 10.  And so this past evening via conference call, Pastor Mackay met with Pr. Grady, Mr. Chuck Long (the Chairman of Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church), Mr. Steve Vogtman (Head Elder) and our Board of Elders.  The question before us was how to best continue the work of the Church while caring for our neighbor and respecting civil authority.

Since almost all of our services and other gatherings number 50 persons or more (and certainly 10), we unanimously agreed to CANCEL all services, bible studies, classes and fellowship activities.  This will fulfill what is being asked of us by our civil authorities, with regards to social distancing and preventing further spread of Covid-19.

How will we continue the work of the Church in terms of Word and Sacrament ministry? 
Regarding the Word, we have purchased and are currently testing equipment to offer our worship services over the internet (on our website), along with Bible studies and devotions, hopefully even Sunday school lessons.  The Lord’s Word is still efficacious as it is preached and taught in this medium.  Please continue to read and study God’s Word in your home, for yourself and your family.  Remain diligent in your prayers.  Make phone calls, texts and emails to your family members that you may be apart from, but also fellow members from Advent.  While isolated and/or quarantined, you are yet a member of the Body of Christ and part of the flock here at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church!    

Regarding the Sacrament
Pastor Grady and Pastor Mackay stand ready to give you Absolution and our Lord’s Body and Blood as you so desire.  We will meet privately with individuals and families here at church or in your home (as appropriate and with adequate precautions).  Please call either of us on our cell phone numbers to arrange such a time.  We will also be posting an online sign-up on our website adventlutheran.org   In the event that travel is restricted, any of us become sick or ill, rest assured that it is ok to wait patiently to receive the Lord’s Body and Blood.  While it is a very great gift, the medicine of immortality, we are justified by faith and not by the frequency of our reception! 

These are all great changes to how we “do” Church.  Please note that we do not particularly like any of this, as we are sure you have the same feelings with the changes to your work and family schedules.  However, the Word of the Lord endures forever!   

This is our plan of action at this juncture.  Please know that we will continue to vigilantly monitor and evaluate the coronavirus situation and that further changes could be made to our plans.  In the event that further actions are required, we will inform you via email, our website, Facebook and phone calls.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Pastors, the Elders or the Church Office. 

Above all, know that the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!  Have no fear little flock! 
 
Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;
Curb those who by deceit or sword
Would wrest the kingdom from Your Son
And bring to naught all He has done.

Lord Jesus Christ, Your pow’r make known,
For You are Lord of lords alone;
Defend Your holy Church that we
May sing Your praise eternally.

O Comforter of priceless worth,
Send peace and unity on earth;
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life.

LSB #655  “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in your Word”  Text: Public domain
 
Peace be with you,
Pr. Mackay, Pr. Grady, Mr. Chuck Long (Chairman) & Mr. Steve Vogtman (Head Elder)

 Additional Questions and Helpful Links:

  1. How long will this last?

Until you hear otherwise from us.  No one really has an answer to this question at this time, but rest assured we will continue to vigilantly monitor this situation.  Remember that our Lord could also return at any moment, resurrecting us and creating a new heaven and earth!  Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.  Amen.

  1. Will there be online services?

Yes.  The Pastors at Advent, along with our organist, will be recording Worship Services.  You may watch them online at www.adventlutheran.org  There will also be a printed bulletin for you to download and follow/participate at home with your family.

  1. What time will the online services be available?

It is our intention that the services will be made available by the normal service times.  We may have to pre-record some of them, but for the Wednesday Lenten Service, it will be available to watch by 7pm that evening.  For Sunday, it will be available to watch by 8:15am.  While we might “livestream” some of them (check the website), all of the services will be available AT ANY TIME for you to watch and participate with your family.

  1. Can I still communicate with the Pastors?

Yes, please!     
    
Pr. Mackay’s cell #  (317) 847-7215  
email mmackay@adventlutheran.org

Pr. Grady’s cell #     (317) 372-6289    
email jgrady@adventlutheran.org

  1. What if I need/desire communion?

Our Pastors are available by appointment to give you Absolution and the Sacrament.  Please do the following:  call the Pastors directly, call the Church Office, use the online sign-up on the website.

  1. What if I need help with food, medicine?

Please call the Pastors, the Church Office, any of the Elders or a fellow Advent member.  Please don’t hesitate to let us know your needs.  We are here to help!

  1. Why are we making this decision?

For the good of our neighbor and in obedience to our civil authorities. 

  1. What does the Bible say about the pandemic?

Here is an excellent article (as well as LCMS President’s article pasted below)  https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/coronavirus-nothing-new-about-disease-or-the-need-for-the-gospel/

  1. Does this cover all activities (i.e. Confirmation, Council, Choir, etc)?

Yes.  All activities, including Council, Board and Committee meetings are cancelled.  Please use phone calls, email and/or conference calls to conduct business of the church.  Call the Church Office if you need help setting up an online forum or conference call. 

  1. What about Advent Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten?

Our School follows Zionsville Public Schools regarding closures.  Mrs. Deb Trewartha, our Principal, has been maintaining contact with our school families and staff.  For the time being, as long as Zionsville is closed, Advent Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten will remain closed as well.

  1. Where can I find more information on Covid-19?

Please use the CDC website as well as the Indiana Department of Health website.
CDC – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/
ISDH – https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/

     12. How do I make an offering to the church while activities and worship services are suspended?

  1. By Mail:  Send check to:

Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church  
11250 N. Michigan Rd. 
Zionsville, IN 46077

    13.  Will our church employees still be compensated?

Yes.  We will continue to pay all of our employees as budgeted for the time being.  Some of them may work from home and/or have some of their duties adjusted accordingly.

  1. What is the recommendation of the LCMS?

We are following the suggestions of the LCMS.  More information, along with an excellent video from our President, may be found here:  https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/resource-helps-congregations-plan-for-widespread-illnesses/

  1. As a member how can I help?

Pray.  Remain in the Word.  Follow the recommendations of the CDC and the State of Indiana.  Practice social distancing.  Wash your hands.  Care for your family.  Check in on your neighbors, family and church members by phone call, email or text.  Continue to provide your offerings to the Church as our bills, payroll and commitments yet continue.  As appropriate, we will publicize additional opportunities for service. 

  1. Will the Pastors still make house calls?

Yes.  If you and/or your family are under quarantine, it would be best to limit the pastors’ exposure, not just for their sake but also their own families.  Please keep this in mind.  This is a difficult time for pastoral visits, as they are not currently allowed to visit hospitals or nursing homes.  Yet they stand ready to give the members of Advent the Lord’s gifts and serve accordingly.

  1. What is the church phone number and email address?

(317) 873-6318               email:   info@adventlutheran.org

  1. What are the Elders doing?

Praying for you and your family.  Making phone calls to members.  Ensuring that our pastors are cared and provided for.  Assisting the pastors with the work of Word and Sacrament ministry.  Feel free to call them if you need any assistance, have questions, or concerns.
                                      

Helpful links to information about the COVID-19 VIRUS:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/  Our government website 

https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/  Our state website

https://www.adventlutheran.org/  Our church website with information, services, bulletin and more.  Please check and use this regularly!

https://blogs.lcms.org/2020/a-message-from-lcms-president-matthew-c-harrison-amid-the-coronavirus-pandemic/   Our denominational website with a special message. 

https://thecross957.org/  An LCMS radio station available online with faithful and excellent programming. 

https://www.youtube..com/channel/UCPCSuCbAv-7iZ-IIKD2Gqeg  A YouTube Channel of a faithful LCMS pastor, Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller. 
 
www.issuesetc.org An online Lutheran talk radio radio program on a vast variety of Issues.  They have an excellent host and helpful guests. You can click on the “on demand” button to find your topic.
 
https://lutheranpublicradio.org/  If you are missing quality Lutheran Music (especially music in which you can understand and trust the words) check out Lutheran Public Radio.  Lutheran Public Radio streams Sacred Music for the World, 24/7, following the course of the Church Year. Listen anytime, anywhere.
 
https://thewordendures.org/archive/  Study the Bible with the Church Past and Present with this daily verse by verse Bible Study led by Pastor Will Weedon, former Chaplain of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. 
 
https://worshipanew.org/  An LCMS website with worship services. 



Eyes on Jesus

Eyes on Jesus - Lent 2020We are soon to enter a most holy and sacred time of the church year.  Historically (and as we will observe here at Advent on February 2nd), the Transfiguration of Our Lord serves as a conclusion to the Epiphany season.  From there we begin our pre-Lenten preparations with the “Gesima” Sundays, a countdown to Easter.  The season takes a much more somber and penitential turn with Ash Wednesday, falling this year on February 26th.   During Lent we will refrain from singing the Gloria as well as Alleluias.  These are reserved for the joyous occasion of Christ’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. 

As we have done in the past, a Lenten theme has been chosen for our meditation, beginning on Ash Wednesday.  Our theme this year is “Eyes on Jesus.”  A devotional booklet will be provided for each of our households, that we may pray, watch and learn together.  New this year, a Lenten Calendar will also be provided to guide us, young and old, down our Lenten path.  As we marvel at the glory of Christ’s divinity, let us fix our eyes solely upon Him who yet works marvelous deeds for us children of man.  

O come, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Gradual for Lent, based on Hebrews 12:2)

When the characters in the Passion narrative look at Jesus, what did they see? In most cases, people misunderstood who He is and what He was doing. In some cases, by faith, people recognized Him aright. Our Lenten series this year, based on the Gospel according to St. Mark, will examine how the various people around Jesus viewed Him—and how we should view Him. We will “fix our eyes” on what Jesus has done to save us from our sins by His holy, precious blood and innocent sufferings and death, and celebrate what God sees on account of His work: our justification for His sake.

On Ash Wednesday, we will see how, in spite of Jesus’ repeated predictions about His upcoming Passion, the disciples with “Misjudging Eyes” fail to recognize that soon He will not be with them, and they cannot see the anonymous woman’s anointing of Jesus as preparation for His burial. But Jesus sees her actions as a beautiful deed that will be proclaimed throughout the world wherever the Gospel is heard.

At our midweek service after the First Sunday of Lent, we will look through Judas’s “Betraying Eyes” and learn why he did this awful deed. Yet the behind-the-scenes-reality is that Jesus was “handed over” (another way of translating the verb for “betray”) by God the Father Himself, so that Jesus could die for the sin of the world.

“Sleepy Eyes” is the theme for the second week of Lent. In Gethsemane, Jesus’ inner circle of Peter, James, and John cannot keep their eyes open to watch and pray with Jesus for even an hour, while Jesus comes to see that His Father’s will is that He drink the cup of God’s wrath when He comes to the “hour” of His suffering.

In the third week of Lent, we stare into the “Denying Eyes” of Peter and the other apostles. They could not see how they could ever fall away from Jesus, but after Jesus is betrayed by Judas, ten of them flee, and
Peter—when he is spotted by a servant girl and sees that his own neck is on the line—sees fit to deny Jesus, which leads to his own eyes weeping in remorse. We sinners likewise deny our Lord in many ways, but Jesus denied Himself to take up the cross for our salvation.

“Murderous Eyes” is the theme of week 4 in Lent. The chief priests and scribes saw Jesus as an obstacle to be rid of by murdering Him through the Roman judicial system. Yet during the Passover festival, they would unwittingly bring about the Father’s sacrifice of the ultimate Passover Lamb.

In the fifth week of Lent, we look through the “Worldly Eyes” of Pilate, the Jewish leaders, and the Roman soldiers. Pilate can only view matters in a worldly, pragmatic way, wishing to placate the worldly Jewish leaders and crowd, so he consents to handing Jesus over for crucifixion. The soldiers see the opposite of a worldly king, but their ironic hailing of Him as “King of the Jews” proclaims who He really is. The world looks for power and glory; God’s way is suffering and the cross.

On Maundy Thursday, there is “More Than Meets the Eye” to the Lord’s Supper. We will look into the Old Testament background of the Last Supper and rejoice in the mystery that Jesus, in and with, bread and wine, gives us His body and blood in order to deliver to us the benefits of His Passion.

On Good Friday, we look through “God’s Eyes” to see what is happening during the Passion: the once-for-all atonement for the sin of the whole world and the justification of all sinners on Easter.

“Resting Eyes” is the theme for Holy Saturday. Various disciples rested their eyes upon the dead Jesus, cared for His body, and buried it. As Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus rest their eyes upon the sealed tomb and contemplate further anointing of His body the next day, they cannot see that Jesus’ own eyes are merely resting temporarily, and Easter morning will bring a dramatic reversal.

Finally, Easter Sunday gazes upon “Angel Eyes.” The angel in the tomb knows the whole story of Jesus’ resurrection. When he sees the women, he proclaims the Gospel to them, shows them where Jesus’ body had formerly lain, and tells them that they can see Jesus themselves in Galilee. Likewise, the “angels” or messengers of the Church in the apostolic ministry tell God’s people where they can find Jesus and His salvation in the Means of Grace.

Eyes on Jesus will continuously focus our eyes on Jesus Christ and Him crucified, buried, and risen for our justification. This is a vision that will never disappoint, for by trusting in Jesus, He promises that we will gaze upon His beautiful face now by faith and forever in heaven!

Rev. Marcus J. Mackay, Sr. Pastor

 

 



EPIPHANEIA

After the twelve days of Christmas have concluded, the Church celebrates Epiphany (a Greek word, transliterated above, which means “manifestation”).  It is a major festival in the Church Year, which unfortunately, often falls by the wayside after the excitement of Christmas.  The celebration of Epiphany covers the events that follow the birth of Christ, namely the visit of the Magi (wisemen from the East, at least two but probably more, who brought royal gifts and worshipped at the feet of the one true King).  They followed a God-given and created star that led them (probably from the area of Babylon, the East, which should make you recall the Captivity of God’s people, both the Northern and Southern Kingdom, as well as faithful wisemen such as Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego).  While they are often included in our Christmas Nativity sets and Manger scenes, they probably didn’t arrive in Bethlehem until some time after Christ’s actual birth, which is when the star appeared!  Regardless, Epiphany reminds us that Christ has come for all people and that the Gospel is to be shared with the whole world.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Gentiles! Or you and me . . . the whole world).  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith TO faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”  Romans 1:16-17

While Christmas emphasizes our Lord’s humanity (incarnation = God taking on human flesh), Epiphany serves to manifest His divinity, including the kingly adoration of the Magi, Jesus’ Baptism and His first miracles (most notably changing water into wine at Cana in Galilee).  Thus, the Church Year is a representation of the life of Christ.  Historically, these observances are known as “Major Festivals”.  Here is the list: 

  • The Nativity of Our Lord (December 25th), 
  • The Epiphany of Our Lord (January 6th), 
  • Ash Wednesday, 
  • Palm Sunday,
  • Holy Week [Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Holy (Maundy Thursday),
  • Good Friday,
  • Holy Saturday (Vigil)],
  • The Resurrection of Our Lord,
  • The Ascension of Our Lord,
  • The Day of Pentecost and 
  • The Holy Trinity.  

As you read through the list, you can easily see why the Church celebrates and observes such festivals:  it’s all about Jesus, the life of the world.  Truly, we are not to be ashamed of the Gospel!

In almost two decades of serving the Church, I have often lamented how The Epiphany of Our Lord gets moved around and unwittingly ignored.  While Christmas ALWAYS falls on December 25th, Epiphany seems to be relegated to the closest Sunday that doesn’t interfere.  Christmas decorations are often removed and God’s people are left waiting for Lent and Easter!  Historically, there is much evidence to show that the early Church actually emphasized and celebrated January 6th (Epiphany) over and above Christmas!  Can you imagine? 

Let’s bring Epiphany back! 

This year, I will be asking our Altar Guild to leave our Christmas decorations up just a little bit longer (we’ll take everything down AFTER Epiphany) AND we will have a special Epiphany service ON JANUARY 6th!  I know it’s a week night and not everyone will be able to attend (my boys will probably be at basketball practices or games), but for those that are able, Pastor Grady and I will be here to observe this MAJOR FESTIVAL and share the Lord’s gifts with you in the Divine Service.  On that note, we will also add TWO more MAJOR FESTIVALS this year (also occurring on days other than Sunday):  Holy Saturday (the night before Easter, where we will gather outside by a bonfire and prepare for His Resurrection – we’ll even have S’mores afterwards for the kids) and The Ascension of Our Lord (always on a Thursday, 40 days after Easter).    

And so we move, live and have our being, as saints at Advent, following the life of Christ in a wonderfully liturgical progression.  Faith to faith, we are given, regularly and often, all that supports our body and life – namely forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. 
 
Let us thus follow the Star as it leads us to the One who has come . . . for you.
 
Merry Christmas!  Happy Epiphany!  And a blessed New Year,
Pr. Mackay   


Behold the Child!

Dear Saints of Advent,
 
Advent is soon upon us. What a glorious time of year as we prepare for the coming (advent) of God in the flesh made manifest! A devotional booklet has been placed in your member mailbox, for you (& your family) to use. Our pastoral prayer is that such devotions and study further unite us as a faith family here at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church. Please also plan your upcoming weeks accordingly, as we will now have a family meal and a special worship service during these Wednesdays in Advent. In the midst of the holiday bustle, let us take but a brief pause each week to be filled with the light and strength of God’s mercy and grace. May the Lord bless and keep you and your family as we prepare for the coming of the Messiah…behold the Child!

Pr. Mackay

Behold the ChildBehold the Child!

      God’s own Son is born a child . . . ;
      God the Father is reconciled.
 
What peace is found in those words. As the Church draws nigh to the Nativity of Our Lord, many also draw nigh to the harsh reality of broken families and friendships. The sting of estrangement intensifies in this season as many delight in family gatherings—a delight that is glaringly absent for others.

We long for reconciliation—a marriage healed, the return of a prodigal child, the open arms of a formerly harsh parent. Advent is just the season for reconciliation. It is a penitential season, calling us to examine ourselves, acknowledge our sin with contrition, and trust that our sin is forgiven for the sake of Christ. Such self-examination reveals that the fault for our broken relationships is not one-sided. The sin visited upon me by another has driven a wedge between us, but so has my sin. Part of the distance between me and others is due to my sinful actions—my sinful refusal to forgive, my sinful pride that will not admit my fault, my sinful contentment with a cold shoulder.

Advent calls us to repent of our divisions. Advent calls us to rejoice in reconciliation. Though you can forgive another even when he refuses to acknowledge his fault, reconciliation is found when both parties are willing to admit their culpability, seek forgiveness, and amend their ways. That can seem so difficult. It is hard enough for one sinner to confess his sin and trust that the Lord purges it from his life. How much more challenging it is for two sinners to do so. Yet that is exactly what Christ works among and within us. He grants us confidence in His forgiveness so that we forgive one another, receive one another’s forgiveness, and are thus reconciled.

Reconciliation with some remains ever elusive. We hunger for it; we pray for it. Yet the distance remains. When a parent apologizes to a child so that they embrace for the first time in decades, we rightly rejoice. When our longing is not realized, sorrow results.

The only consolation amid such sorrow is the certainty of your reconciliation to the Father. It is certain because it is not dependent upon sinners humbling themselves in repentance. It is certain because it is dependent upon the sinless Son of God humbling Himself to take on human flesh and be born of a virgin.

That is the glorious, biblical proclamation found in “The Quempas Carol.” We are blessed to hear therein the refrain, “God’s own Son is born a child . . . ; God the Father is reconciled.” This is not wishful thinking driven by our longings. It is reality driven by Christ.

You are reconciled to the Father. Each stanza of “The Quempas Carol” announces our reconciliation to the Father in Christ. Wednesday of the first week in Advent will greet us with the first stanza, in which the angel of the Lord makes known that reconciliation is had because Christ has come “For You and All the World.” The second stanza will serve us on Wednesday of the second week in Advent as we hear that Jesus reconciles us to the Father “To Set You Free from All Your Sorrow.” Then, our ears will be filled with the promise that we are reconciled to the Father because Christ comes “For You, to Bear Your Flesh in Weakness.” Our joy will find its climax at the Nativity of Our Lord, when we hear the fourth stanza’s message that Jesus’ birth is the Lord’s visitation of “All the World with His Free Grace Supplying.”
 
Behind it all is the Word of God that the Spirit might quicken in us faith to trust these promises.


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