COVID-19 Update from the Pastor

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to escalate, I would like to share with you some words that Martin Luther wrote to a fellow pastor amid an outbreak of the plague in 1527. Luther writes:

“God has created medicines and provided us with intelligence to guard and take good care of the body so that we can live in good health… act like a man who wants to help put out the burning city. What else is the epidemic but a fire which instead of consuming wood and straw devours life and body? …Therefore I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine, and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance infect and pollute others, and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me, however, I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely, as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God… If the people in a city were to show themselves bold in their faith when a neighbor’s need so demands, and cautious when no emergency exists, and if everyone would help ward off contagion as best he can, then the death toll would indeed be moderate. But if some are too panicky and desert their neighbors in their plight, and if some are so foolish as not to take precautions but aggravate the contagion, then the devil has a heyday and many will die. On both counts this is a grievous offense to God and to man—here it is tempting God; there it is bringing man into despair.” (Martin Luther, “Whether One May flee From a Deadly Plague,” Luther’s Works vol. 43, p. 131–132)

Luther takes an approach that we all might emulate. Rather than being dismissive or panicking, we acknowledge the seriousness of the situation in taking precautions for the sake of those around us, all while trusting in our Heavenly Father.

To slow/reduce the spread of the virus and keep from overwhelming hospitals, medical professionals, and their resources, the state and federal governments are taking and recommending strong measures to establish social distancing. During this pandemic, this social distancing is one way that we can love our neighbor in a similar fashion to Luther’s own suggestion.

In our congregational life, we too will be taking appropriate steps as we care for our own health within the congregation as well as for the community.

We will be moving all of our worship services online. You will be able to participate in the Wednesday evening services at 6:30pm and the Sunday morning services at 10:30am via live stream.

The services will be streamed live via our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeKkm3LY3uqU0-57RQzC5-g

They will also be streamed directly to the church’s Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/FirstLutheranOdenton/

During the week, information intended for the church office is preferably received via phone or email at this time.

Additional devotional resources can also be found at http://alecfisher.me/

As the pandemic continues, please continue to consult the CDC website:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

and the Maryland department of Health:

https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/

I will continue to provide updates regarding congregational life. Throughout all of this we will also be seeking new avenues of interconnectedness within the congregation as well as find ways that we as a congregation might serve our community. We will also be streaming Bible studies and devotionals as well as seek out resources for communion study online in addition to utilizing our phone lines. I pray that our new online resource would help us to celebrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ even in such uncertain times. Even in the midst of illness and cultural chaos, God will see us through this.

New information about this virus is discovered every day, and with it the situation changes everyday. We are told that this will not be a fast process. We could be looking at a big change in the way that we do things even for the next few months. It won’t always be easy, but we will take it one day at a time.

During this time, I pray that we would discover new avenues of relationship and interconnectedness—even at a distance—and new opportunities to serve our broader community, especially those who have no congregational home to rely on. We don’t know how this will affect the local economy and those around us, but I encourage you to think about how we might serve those those in need when those greater consequences become evident. When life for those around us becomes uncertain that is often when the gospel is heard best. Let’s show others that even when it seems everything is going to pieces, we have peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. We have hope in him. Our Lord reigns over heaven and earth. He will bring us through this.

I leave you with the words of Jesus:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Please pray with me:

Almighty God, Heavenly Father, give us grace to trust you during this time of illness and distress. In mercy put an end to this pandemic that afflicts us. Grant relief to those who suffer, and comfort all who mourn. Sustain all medical personnel in their labors and cause your people ever to serve you in righteousness and holiness; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect in Times of Epidemic)

The peace of Christ be with you all,

Pastor Alec

Worship Online

 

Until further notice, First Evangelical will be holding our worship services online on our YouTube channel.  Watch this space for announcement of when we’re planning to resume service, and whether it’ll be held in the chapel or outdoors.

Note: online service videos follow our Online Worship Bulletin.

A Message From the Pastor

June 21st 2020


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I pray that this email finds you well as we continue to navigate life. Still. separated from one another and looking forward to a time that we meet in-person again, I pray that our Lord keep you steadfast in his love and his joy. As I have spoken to friends of mine who are pastors going through the transition to in-person services in other congregational settings, I have observed that this process, as wonderful as it is, has the potential to bring its fair share of strife. Some have communicated that reopening the sanctuary has been, in many ways, much more difficult than closing things down back in March, as there are strong opinions clashing while trying to navigate moving forward. Though we all live in the same world and are a part of the same Christian community, we all bring different formative experiences into our communal life together. My prayer is that our own transition would be carried out with great patience and love for one-another. Whereas Satan might seize on this opportunity to bring division, I have the utmost confidence in our community as God’s people, and even more confidence in the Holy Spirit, that such a spiritual attack would be overcome. I thank our Heavenly Father for every one of you. Our focus has been and remains on Jesus.

That being said, I have no update for you at the moment. Just as the tech team has outfitted the sanctuary for streaming capabilities there has also been some discussion of outdoor services. It appears that even when we do begin in-person services, it will be a long transition, and there will always be an online option. I encourage you to follow your conscience and make informed and responsible decisions when the time comes. This weekend and next weekend will still be online.

Pastor Out of Town

We will be out of town, taking some time away, Monday to Friday of this coming week. Whereas I won’t be available by email, you will be able to reach me for pastoral emergencies only at 410-672-3358. Please leave a message if I don’t answer. 

Sunday Service

This Sunday, the service countdown will begin streaming 15-30 minutes before the service begins at 10:30am on our YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeKkm3LY3uqU0-57RQzC5-g

The YouTube link will also be posted directly to the church’s Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/FirstLutheranOdenton/   

Wednesday Morning Bible Study

All Bible studies are cancelled this week.

Pastor’s Web Site

There is also more devotional material on my webpage: https://alecfisher.org/

More Devotional Material

Copies of Portals of Prayer are also available as well. You can pick them up anytime from the information box at the Fellowship Hall main entrance. I also remind you of the resources from Lutheran Hour Ministries. They have free daily devotions (which can even be emailed to you) and the weekly broadcast of The Lutheran Hour radio program, all of which can be found at:

https://www.lhm.org/.      

Updated Contact Information and Call Request

We now have an online form to help keep our information current. If you would like to have your contact information updated, you can do so via the following link. You can also make a request for a phone call.

https://felc.churchcenter.com/people/forms/119816

Giving

There are currently two ways to give. One way to give is by mailing your offering directly to the church office (8397 Piney Orchard Parkway, Odenton, MD 21113). Only a few months ago we installed a secure mailbox with a lock to keep our mail safe. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to consider another way to give online. It is one easy way to be faithful in financial stewardship.

For online giving: https://felc.churchcenter.com/giving  

For further instruction see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oqxqUbWiQE   

Our God will continue to preserve us during this trying time

If you would like any prayer request updated, added, or re-added, please just send me an email or call, and I will update the list.

I’ll close with the final verses of 1 John. John writes, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:19-21).

There is a lot going on in the world right now. It’s easy for us to be led astray in one way or another, putting trust in things or people other than God. Amidst the many voices out there, I encourage you to remain focused on Jesus. He’s the one who brings us eternal life, and our God loves us as his very own children. When you’re looking for a constructive voice or message in your life, I encourage you to read your Bible. I pray for you all continually and I look forward to the day when we might all come together again.

In Christ,

Pastor Alec


In addition to the pastor’s message above, you can read more from the pastor on his Facebook page as well as his blog.

Upcoming Events

 


 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, church events are cancelled or have been made “virtual” until further notice.

 

Sunday service continues online at 10:30 AM each Sunday morning.  Pastor will be leading service via our YouTube channel and via our Facebook page, and should also be available above.  Please virtually join us Sunday as you always have!

 

 

 

 

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About Us

From its humble beginnings almost 80 years ago, First Evangelical Lutheran Church has brought the Gospel Of Jesus Christ to Odenton and the surrounding areas.

Come and join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 AM for worship as we come together in fellowship to grow as disciples of Jesus.