Notes from Pastor Steve

He is risen! As I write these notes our church has just celebrated Easter on April 4th – and what a celebration  it was! After more than a year of pandemic related lockdowns, shut downs, cancelled events, the absence of fellowship activities and meals, and restrictions of all kinds we were able to honor the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ in a proper fashion. We were able to experience a Son Rise service led by our youth, we enjoyed a fellowship meal (breakfast), we had our traditional Easter egg hunt on the back lawn, and we concluded the morning by worshipping the risen Savior with Easter lilies, banners, and joy! He is risen indeed!

Even though we did have a wonderful Easter celebration and worship, please be aware that we are currently following several pandemic guidelines at this time. We do still require masks to be worn for all indoor church activities and gatherings (an exception was made for a brief moment during Maundy Thursday communion and at Easter fellowship breakfast where families only could sit together), we observe social distancing in worship, we continue the ban on singing in worship, we do not pass communion elements or offering trays, and masks and hand sanitizer are made available for use throughout the building. I am hopeful that some of these restrictions will be lifted in the near future but as of April 11th  all of these remain in place.

February was a banner month for our church family as we had two infant baptisms! Carolyn Renee Giesler was baptized on February 5th at a special service for the family only. Carolyn is the daughter of Jim and Kate Giesler, the sister of Nicolas Giesler, and the granddaughter of Rhonda Giesler. I am sure we will see Carolyn attending Sunday School and church with her brother and grandmother when she is old enough. On February 21st  Elliott Michael Schaefer was baptized in another family-only service after our regular church service. Elliot is the son of Kyle and Rikki Schaefer, the brother of Harper, and the grandson of Rick and Marcia Schaefer. Elliot has already become a regular attender of worship and he occasionally will make his presence known to us – perhaps in reaction to one of my sermons? It is unfortunate that our church family could not celebrate in person for these events – yet another pandemic-related sacrifice we have made in the past year or so. But we do celebrate with both families and we will keep both Carolyn and Elliott in our prayers!

Maundy Thursday worship marked the first time since March 2020 that we actually participated in taking communion together. Maundy Thursday celebrates the original Lord’s Supper when Jesus gathered with his disciples in that upper room and had his last meal as a living human being with them. So of course we MUST partake of communion for this worship. (We did so only online last year.) Our communion elements were placed in the pews before worship in prepackaged containers and everyone had to lower or remove their masks for a brief moment when they did partake of these elements. But it was nice to be able to return to this semblance of “normalcy” in worship! The actions of a group of church strippers concluded this service and afterwards we departed in silence. Even though this service did take place on April 1st, this is no April Fool’s joke. The “strippers’ actually stripped the chancel area of the sanctuary of all worship elements (the cross, the Bible, the banner, the paraments, the candlesticks, the communion pitcher, cup, and plate, etc.) and carried them out of the room. This reminds of us Jesus being stripped and beaten – one of the darkest and most barren days of all time. But don’t despair - the resurrection is coming!

What will the remainder of Spring and then the Summer bring in the life of the church? I know it is difficult to plan very far ahead as we continue to cope with this pandemic. But it is my hope that the next few months will bring a sense of “normalcy” back to our lives. Regardless, we know that God is always with us: For God is always above us, watching over us; God is always below us, supporting us and holding us up; God is always behind us, protecting and guarding us; God always goes before us, leading and guiding our way; God always stands right beside us, giving us a shoulder to lean on; and God is always inside us, bringing us peace and joy.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3: 5 & 6 (RSV)

Yours in Christ,                    

Pastor Steve