The Pastor’s Page
April News Letter
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The above salutation is how St. Paul begins every epistle that he wrote to the early Christians, many of whom were huddled in fear throughout the Roman Empire where they were being severely persecuted. Right now we are facing some fearful times in our own lives as we hear every latest news report about the rise and spread of the coronavirus. And Paul’s words are a reminder of why we are people of faith—because God has given us true peace that can only come from above. As Jesus promised his disciples at the most trying time of his life, the Last Supper: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
As is often the case, Jesus’ divine advice and guidance is not always easy for us mortals to heed. I know many of you are worried and troubled right now. And, sad to say, the cancellation of our recent worship services may have brought you additional worry. At a time when many of you may have been looking for some peace and continuity in your lives by coming to our beautiful sanctuary to worship and have fellowship, you found that even your church was closed. I know this has been very disappointing to some of you. So, I would like to address why Zion’s Church has taken this step and what our plans are for the weeks ahead.
First of all, I want you to know that this decision was made by our Church Board and was not made lightly. While some disagreed, it was the decision of the majority to cancel our services. Personally, I trust the that the Holy Spirit guided the members of our Board to the right decision. As a vital part of our community, it was the right thing for our church to follow the advice and guidelines of our national and local leaders. When it was decided to close all schools in Pennsylvania, it would have been rather irresponsible to keep our doors open and perhaps exacerbate the problem, when we want above all to take every possible step to curtail the problem.
Unlike some churches who have already cancelled for several weeks ahead, we are going to make this a week-by-week decision in the hope that things might turn around sooner rather than later. So please check either on WFMZ.com (under snow emergency closings) or call the church office (610-683-7485) where you will hear a message about whether we will be holding services. Please know that I plan to be in the office Monday through Thursday if anyone wants to talk or is in need of prayer. Please do not hesitate to stop. That being said, I also want to make everyone aware that even clergy are being restricted from visiting hospitals and nursing homes, except in the event of death. Following that guideline, we are also going to cancel the Home Communion visits from our Eucharistic Ministry Team this month. Hopefully we can resume next month.
While we wait for this pandemic to ease (and it most certainly will – Wuhan province where it all began is now experiencing almost no new cases), let us all strive to be a non-anxious presence in a time when so many are anxious. And, in the meantime, please remember that though we are being called as a nation to practice “social distancing,” for Christians that is not the same as “spiritual distancing.” While we may have to maintain some social distance, we do not have to be spiritually apart from each other. We can still phone each other, send cards or e-mails, and keep each other, especially our shut-in and older members, in our prayers. And please do not hesitate to stop to see me at the office or give me a call to talk. I am here if anyone needs anything. And always remember, as our Conference Minister, Bill Worley has reminded us pastors: As Christians were are people of faith, not fear.
"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)
If anyone would like more information as to how our national churches are responding to the pandemic, please visit these websites:
Lutheran (national church): elca.org
UCC (national church): ucc.org
Northeast Pa. Synod (ELCA): nepasynod.org
Penn Southeast Conference (UCC): psec.org
Peace and blessings to you all, and see you soon!