Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

                             Greetings! Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus                                   Christ! Just like everything else right now, this letter is noticeably different                                 than my “normal” monthly addition to our Newsletter. I’m using this letter as an                               opportunity to share with you some information as well as various ways that we                               can stay “connected” during this time of isolation.

I’m sure you all know everything there is to know about this current pandemic, so I won’t try to add anything. Our Governor has now issued an executive order to stay home from March 27—April 10, except for “essential business.” So, when you’re out and about, be cautious and safe, take all necessary precautions, and be at peace. God is still in control, working all things together for good for those He has called according to His purpose—that’s you! In his speech, Gov. Walz said, “Follow the media.”  I think I’ll continue to follow Jesus.

For your information, we now have several different online resources available to keep you current and participating in “stuff” going on here at St. John. The most recent addition is a new Facebook page, “St. John Lutheran Church, Wadena, Mn.” You can find it at: https://www.facebook.com/stjohnwadenamn/. I’ll probably refer to it as “my Facebook page.” Included on this page are video recordings of daily devotions and sermons, letters, announcements, whatever. I’m adding new stuff every day. If you visit, make sure you “like” and “share” it so others can check it out.

Our other Facebook page is “St. John Lutheran Church Youth and Family Ministry, Wadena, MN.” You can find it at: https://www.facebook.com/stjohnwadenayouthfamily/. This page contains all the Youth and Family Ministry news. Check this page often. We (and by “we” I mean Missy Seelhammer and whoever’s helping her) are in the process of adding Sunday School lessons for parents to share with their children and use as a family devotion.

And finally, our third online resource is the St. John Web Page. You can find that at: https://www.stjohnwadena.org/. This page contains information on service dates and times, as well as current Newsletter articles and sermons. Another very helpful feature is “links” that will take you to various LCMS sites. If you think of anything else that would be helpful, contact either Ruth Clark or myself.

If that’s not enough new stuff for you, I have one more. I’m calling it St. John B.A.S.I.C. News—St John Brothers and Sisters in Christ—get it? I’m pretty clever, aren’t I? Well, anyway, this segment/letter will include the latest news, schedules, schedule changes, prayer requests and prayers of thanksgiving, and whatever else I can think of to put in there. I’ll post it on the webpage as well as in letter form probably once a week. If you’re not online, I’ll print and leave a stack on the table in the Narthex. When you’re out, stop and pick one up. The most recent sermon is available as well.

Hey, here’s an idea! Send me your favorite jokes—message, email, phone, whatever—and if they’re “Grandmother approved” I’ll use them. If you’re really brave, include your name. That way you can share the consequences with me.

If you’re on my Facebook page, you’ll notice that under the “About” headings, after “Hours of Operation,” it says, “Always Open.” While our gatherings look decidedly different these days, as each one of us has decided the level of quarantine to observe, the church doors are always open, and I’m always available.

Should you just want to talk, give me a call. Need groceries? We’ll figure it out. Some particular sin or temptation that you’re struggling with? Come on in for Individual Confession and Absolution and hear the Gospel message of the forgiveness of your sins. Do you desire to receive the Sacrament? Just let me know! The church is clean and sanitary, all precautions are being observed.

Now, for the time being, Worship services are still being held. If you’re staying home, be at peace. Check our websites and St. John B.A.S.I.C. News for current messages or sermons. Use your time Sunday morning to read your Bible. Pray and meditate on the text. Feel free to share your insights or questions with me. And don’t forget that Lutheran Hour is broadcast on KWAD at 8:30.

If you do come, please use the hand sanitizers at the various entrances to the church. Avoid close contact; space yourselves out in the Sanctuary. We’re able to accommodate a fair number of people while still maintaining the acceptable “social distance” mandate. And remember that all this is subject to change. As conditions change, we will continue to work on creative ways to stay connected as a family.

Speaking of creativity, if there’s anyone out there with the knowledge and the time to help me with my Facebook page, I would really appreciate it. I are really smart at Bible stuff, but technology? Not so much…

Let’s see… a letter from the Board of Stewardship. You can check their report in its entirety in this month’s Newsletter, but the gist of it is this: “Even during this time of social distancing and isolation, the Church still needs your money.” Boy, I sure am glad they said it so I didn’t have to.

But seriously, that’s the reality. In order to assure that we have a building with electricity and water, a pastor, secretary, organist, and custodial staff to come back to when this is all over, we still have to pay our bills. I know that this pandemic has placed a financial burden on a great many of you. Remember that Stewardship isn’t just, or even primarily about money. It’s about using all the gifts the Lord has given us as we’re able—time, talent, and treasure.

If you have time on your hands, consider using it to keep in touch with your neighbors. Let them know that you’re thinking about them and praying for them. Ask if they need anything. If you can help, help. If you can’t, try to think of someone who can.

I already talked about a way the technologically talented people can help, but each one of you has been given gifts, talents, and abilities. Think of creative ways to use them in service to the Lord and your neighbor.

And finally, treasure. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” In other words, as you are blessed, be a blessing to others. 

There are several ways you can continue to support the church. The easiest way is to just mail your check, or leave it on the secretary’s desk. You can also do it electronically through your bank. If you choose that option, Doug Stromberg can help you out.

All right, that’s enough for now. Share this information with your friends who may not be online or receiving the Newsletter. Mid-week Lenten service is at 6:00, Sunday service is at 9:00, and we continue to prepare for Holy Week and our Easter celebration, cuz I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: Christ is risen!

Hey, cast your burdens onto Jesus for He cares for you.

Pastor M. <t><

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