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St. John Lutheran School

DUE TO RECOMMENDATIONS FROM OUR PRESIDENT TO LIMIT GATHERINGS TO UNDER 10 AND THE MANDATE OF OUR GOVERNOR TO LIMIT GATHERINGS TO UNDER 50 DUE TO THE COVID-19 VIRUS, THERE WILL BE NO PUBLIC CHURCH SERVICES, CLASSES, OR ACTIVITIES 

DESPITE THIS, “THE ONE DTHING NEEDED” REMAINS “THE ONE THING NEEDED"! PLEASE READ BELOW HOW WE PLAN TO CONTINUE THE MINISTRY OF WORD AND SACRAMENT DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES:

April 14, 2020
Dear members and friends of St. John,

Our Easter services in our church building may have been cancelled, but Easter isn’t! Easter means…sins
forgiven!...death defeated…heaven open to all believers! Nothing can cancel that! Not a virus! Not even all the forces of
hell! God made sure of that 2000 years ago! Because Jesus lives, even though our church building was empty on Easter,
our hearts are full of Easter joy and our lives full of Easter hope!

Brothers and sisters, we are Easter people! Easter is more than a day. It is a way of life. It’s not as if Jesus were the
groundhog who saw his shadow and retreated back into the tomb. Jesus lives! Just as He met the women on their way
that first Easter morning, He meets us on our way. Just as Jesus stood among His disciples that first Easter evening and
spoke peace to them, so He stands among us and speaks peace to us. How? In His Word and Sacraments.

The resurrection of Jesus is the main reason that the early Christians chose Sunday as the day to gather for corporate
worship. They considered every Sunday as the Lord’s Day, as a little Easter. They considered the celebration of the
Lord’s Supper as a continuation of the resurrection appearances of the risen Savior. It was viewed much the same as
Jesus saying to Thomas, “Put your finger here and look at my hands. Take your hand and put it into my side” (John
20:27).
We look forward to the day when we are once again able to gather together in our Lord’s house and at our Lord’s table as
a congregation, to be strengthened by His means of grace and also to provide encouragement and love to one another. In
the meantime, we are grateful that our Savior continues to feed and nourish, comfort and guide us by His unchanging
Word in these uncertain times. We also trust His promise “where two or three have gathered together in my name,
there I am among them” (Matthew 18:20) to be true even as we must be content to worship Him in our homes during
this time of pandemic.

We take this opportunity to update you regarding the current situation and answer some questions you may have.

  1.  When will be able to gather together again for worship, study, and service?
    1. The short answer is we don’t know, but we pray it is sooner than later. At this point, our governor’s stay at home order has been extended through April 30, consistent with the latest CDC and White House recommendations.
  2. What about our school?
    1. Per our governor’s order, classes will not be meeting in-person for the remainder of the school year
    2. Instruction is continuing by means of alternate methods
    3. Principal Stob has contacted parents with further information
  3.  How can I stay spiritually healthy during the weeks we are not gathering in order to stay physically healthy?
    1. Weekly services and sermons on video are available by the usual worship service time at
      1. Our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sjhemlock/
      2. the Christ-Oakley YouTube channel
    2. Weekly worship guides for each service are also available on our Facebook page If you have any difficulty accessing these resources, please let us know and we will try to help you.
    3. Printed copies of worship guides and sermons are also available for pick-up at church on Sunday mornings between 10:30 and 11:00 AM.
    4. We are adding devotions and other resources to our Facebook page regularly. Here are a couple of resources that we especially want to highlight and encourage you to use:
      1. the 80 hymns with piano/organ accompaniment available from NPH at https://online.nph.net/cw-hymn-downloads
      2. the Sunday School lessons available from NPH for home use at https://online.nph.net/cl-ss-downloads
    5. Please know that Pastor Mielke remains available for pastoral care and counsel and for private communion by appointment (provided you are not showing symptoms of illness and do not have known exposure to someone with Covid-19). You can reach him at 989-845-2600.
    6. For the time being, visitation in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, etc. is prohibited.However, if you or a loved one are hospitalized, please let pastor know as he may be able to provide spiritual care and counsel by alternate means and so that he may include you in his prayers.
    7. Also, if you have been experiencing hardship due to the current situation, please let us know so that we may pray with you and for you and consider how we, as your brothers and sisters in Christ, may be able to help you bear your burden at this time.
  4. How can I continue to worship the Lord with my regular first-fruit offerings for His work being carried on through my congregation and synod?
    1. As you can see, even though we are unable to gather, our mission and ministry goes on! Our congregation still has work to do, bills to pay, and wages owed, as does our synod. As children of God, we also still have reason to give, namely, love for Jesus who gave His life to give us eternal life! Here are several options to allow you to continue to worship the Lord and support His work with your financial offerings:
      1. You may mail them to church (2290 Pretzer Road, Hemlock, MI 48626)
      2. You may drop them off personally at church between 10:30 and 11:00 AM on Sunday mornings when one of our church officers is available to receive them.
      3. You may use your bank or credit union’s “bill pay” service to have your offerings mailed directly or electronically transferred to the church While we certainly don’t view our offerings to the Lord in the same way as other “bills,” this is a service that you may wish to use as a tool in your regular Christian giving. There is usually no cost to you or the church for this service.
      4. You may save them up and bring them with you to God’s house when services resume.
      5. May our Savior be praised that in spite of the difficulties we are experiencing, faith is “stepping to the plate” and God’s people are remembering Him and how He works through the church. As Paul wrote to believers in the city of Philippi: [Your gifts] are a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will fully supply your every need, according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever! Amen.” (Philippians 4:18-19)
    2. How can I not spread the virus, but still spread the Word?
      1. Throughout church history, the Lord has used times of crisis and trouble to grow His Church by comforting people. This is a time for all of us to step out of the boat of our past comfort zones, and like Peter, walk on the water of new and bolder activity:
      2. You can display your faith in this time of fear in the way that you speak about and respond to this pandemic with your family, friends, and others. Tell them what Jesus’ promises mean to you. There are lots and lots of people who need the peace in Jesus that you have in these troubling times.
      3. You can use what is on everyone’s mind, namely disease and death, to lead into a conversation about sin and grace. You can tell them about the disease that is far more deadly than Covid-19, the disease of sin that infects 100% of people and kills 100% of people it infects. You can offer them the only cure of Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection and assure them it is 100% effective! This Easter season is a wonderful time to do that!
      4. You can “let your light shine” by simply sharing with others the various online resources; it is fairly easy to forward a link to them or invite them to check them out. Or you can share with them printed copies of the sermons when you are finished with them. Either way, they can “junk it” if they don’t want to read it, but you may be surprised how the Lord may use His Word to touch a heart. This may be a time when someone who may otherwise never accepted your invitation to come to church will allow you to bring the church to them!
If you have any questions that remain, please don’t hesitate to call. We would be happy to hear from you. Please also let us know if there is any other way that we might be able to serve you as a congregation. “God is our refuge and strength, a helper who can always be found in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church and School