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Pastor Marcus MackayFollow
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Update to Opening the Doors of Advent – Time to come back!

Dear fellow redeemed,

It has now been almost six months since COVID-19 disrupted our lives, bringing many changes and uncertainty. As schools, workplaces and businesses have opened, this letter intends to encourage you. Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church is open and the Lord has gifts to give you! This letter will also explain our current policies and hopefully, answer any lingering questions that our members may have.

But first, it is good, right and salutary that we hear of the steadfast love of the Lord which endures forever and His mercy which never comes to an end.

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. Malachi 3:6

Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. Psalm 102:25-27

The Lord does not change. He is the same. His years have no end. We are His children, adopted into His family through the waters of Holy Baptism with our names written into the Lamb’s Book of Life! As such, COVID-19 will not consume us, nor death itself. You have been purchased, redeemed and set free from the morbidity of sin, death and the devil by your Savior’s life, death and resurrection. Christus victor!

The Word, Christ, yet prevails. Thus one of our favorite liturgical verses, from the Prayer Office of Matins, is Psalm 119:89, sung as a Common Responsory after the Readings: Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. And the refrain from Luke 11:28 is a great reminder and confession of where and how we receive His gifts of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation: Lord, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells. Marvelous!

It has been such a blessing to see so many of you here in this place, either for individual/household Absolution & Sacrament or Divine Service. His glory comes where His Word is read and preached and His Sacraments rightly administered. Thus His house is a place He has consecrated and set aside, for you. He bids you come, without fear, worry or restraint. Thanks be to God that Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church has been able to do just this in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic! From the start of the pandemic when we chose to temporarily postpone our large Sunday gatherings, we offered a very safe option of coming individually or by household for a short 15 minute service where your sins have been Absolved, even fed with the very Body and Blood of Jesus. We also offered, and continue to do so, a Livestreamed service for you to hear the Word read and preached, all the while knowing that church never really closes! Having heard from many of you that have been quarantined, we are pleased that this has been a blessing to you. And after we reconvened Sunday services, though limited at first, you were once again able to gather, even with 6’ distancing and masks, with your fellow saints in this place.

If you are still sheltering in place and never leaving your home, our private individual or household services at church are still available to you. And if you are venturing out of your home (grocery store, gas station, doctor’s office, work, etc), then you should be able to come back to this place knowing that this is the Lord’s will and desire for you. And when and if you require quarantine, know that we will continue to offer the Livestreamed services and Bible Studies, all the while looking forward to when your quarantine ends.

However, if you are not under quarantine and have not come to church, either privately, or corporately, we would humbly encourage you to do so. It is at such a time as this where the Lord’s gifts should be of great desire and value to a Christian. In 1350 the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) swept through Europe, killing over 1/3 of the population. There was a recurrence of it in 1527 in Wittenberg. Elector John Frederick ordered Luther to leave, especially since his wife Katie was pregnant. Luther stayed, also writing some wise words of counsel for his flock that encouraged quarantine as needed. However, he yet encouraged and provided opportunities for them to receive Word and Sacrament. He wrote: “One must admonish the people to attend church and listen to the sermon so that they learn through God’s word how to live and how to die.” https://blogs.lcms.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Plague-blogLW.pdf

As we have learned that the digital/online classroom for our schools is not a replacement for in-person attendance, so we have also learned the same for church and worship. To be fair, the Covid-19 pandemic has tested our faith and our trust in God. We certainly should not tempt God, as Luther writes in his essay (link above and also used for Bible Class on Sunday August 16th, 23rd & 30th, which you can watch/listen to on our YouTube channel). But we also should not ignore His commands or His gifts. Thus, we protect our neighbor. We wear a mask. We social distance. But we do not neglect our faith nor the reception of Word and Sacrament. Our reality has not changed because of Covid-19 nor has our need for our Lord’s gifts.

Consider Psalm 44:22 and Romans 8:36,

We face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

Therefore, thanks be to God that HE does not change NOR His means of sustaining our life here and unto eternity!
With all of our effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19 we simply ask this question for all of us to ponder: are we making the same effort to receive the Lord’s gifts?

Scripture instructs us: do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25

Perhaps you are filled with fear and worry about coming to this place, individually or as a household, or gathering with others. Come receive His gifts! Have no fear little flock!

A Christian’s vocation is not one of fear, but rather of trusting that our life is in God’s hands and that even our days and life have been planned accordingly by Him!

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. Psalm 139:16

Thus we have taken good and necessary precautions as outlined in our reopening plan. And for the time being, these will continue. We remain in between Stage 4 and Stage 5, summarized in the attachment that follows. Know that our leadership team is steadfastly monitoring both state, local and synod/district guidances and will update the congregation if a change from our current situation is warranted.

May the steadfast love of the Lord which endures forever and His mercy which never comes to an end preserve us in body and soul until life everlasting. Amen.

Peace be with you,

Pr. Mackay, Pr. Grady, Mr. Chuck Long (Chairman) & Mr. Steve Vogtman (Head Elder)

O come, let us sing to the Lord,
Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving,
Let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise.

For the Lord is a great God
And a great king above all gods.
The deep places of the earth are in His hand;
The strength of the hills is His also.

The sea is His, for He made it,
And His hand formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and sheep of His hand.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son
And to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Venite “O Come, Let Us Sing” Psalm 95:1-7 LSB Matins p. 220
Used by permission. © 2018 Concordia Publishing House

Stage 4.5

  • The Church is open during normal office hours Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:00pm
  • Private Individual/Household Services can be scheduled through our website, by calling the Church Office or one of the Pastors.
  • Sunday Divine Services are at normal times of 8:15am and 10:45am • Sunday Bible Class is held at 9:40am in the Fellowship Hall.
  • Sunday School, Weekly Bible Studies, Confirmation Classes and other events will reconvene after Labor Day, with appropriate protocols in place.
  • You should NOT come to church, according to current State & CDC guidelines, if: you have 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.
  • When you do come to church, we ask that you please wear a mask and maintain 6’ separation from other individuals/households.
  • Please bring with you: hand sanitizer and a few disinfectant wipes in a Ziploc bag. We are unable to provide these supplies for every member, although we have two tables in the Narthex with these supplies as available. Donations will be gladly accepted!
  • Restrooms will remain open, but please use at your own risk. We will be unable to properly sanitize and clean during the services, between the Sunday morning services or after each individual use. Rest assured, all areas will be sanitized and cleaned by our custodial staff during the week. • Enter the church no earlier than 10 minutes before the schedule service.
  • The Order of Service (bulletin) will be printed for you on a stand as you enter. Hymnals are in the pews but use at your own risk/desire. Please wipe them down if you do use them. Attendance books are still removed for the time being.
  • 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 with blue painter’s tape, maintaining at least 6’ separation from other parishioners. 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, please wait patiently in your pew until an Elder or Usher motions to you. You and/or your household should then come down the Center Aisle, maintaining appropriate distance between other Individuals and/or Households that will be in front and behind you. You may kneel or stand at the Communion Rail. Please maintain appropriate distance from other parishioners. If you are wearing a mask, please remove it and hold out your hand to receive our Lord’s Body, the Common Chalice and/or Individual Chalice. After communion, please exit to the side aisle, placing the individual chalices carefully in the bowl provided. Then return to your seats, maintaining appropriate distance from the other communicants.
  • After the Service has concluded, please wipe down the pew where you have been sitting, using the wipes you brought with you, and any parts or items that you have touched. Please depart the Sanctuary immediately through the Narthex, maintaining appropriate distance from other individuals/households. https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/files/IN_COVID-19%20contact%20tracing%20FAQ%207.23.20.pdf
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, please isolate at home as recommended by the Indiana Department of Health. Those who test positive will be contacted by the health department (i.e., contact tracing). This is to determine who you have been in close contact with and based on that who would subsequently require quarantining for 14 days. The health department defines close contact as anyone you have been within 6 feet of for more than 15 minutes. https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/files/IN_COVID-19%20contact%20tracing%20FAQ%207.23.20.pdf
    • If you were in close contact with another member of the congregation at church and need help identifying them please contact us as we may be able to assist you.
  • If you have been in close contact (i.e., within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please quarantine at home as recommended by the Indiana Department of Health. While you may not have symptoms, 25-40% of persons who test positive for COVID will have no symptoms but may still be able to pass the virus on to someone else. Persons should quarantine for 14 days regardless of whether they test negative after an exposure. Information on home quarantine can be found at https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/files/Family%20quarantine_COVID-19_8-17-20.pdf
  • If you are thus quarantined due to Covid-19, please notify the Pastors and/or your Elder so that they may pray with you and encourage you accordingly. Please utilize our online services and studies during this time.
  • Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church is required by law to maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws in accordance with religious practices. Our policy at Advent Evangelical Lutheran Church is to follow the guidelines of the Indiana Department of Health.
  • In the event of an outbreak or mass occurrence, we will follow the direction of the Indiana Department of Health, which will most likely be a 14 day closure.
  • Additional resources or references that inform our current policy can be found at:

https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/files/IN_COVID-19_Worship_6.27.20.pdf
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/faith-based.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fphp%2Ffaith-based.html