May 6, 2020

 

To All Our Members and Friends at Saint Paul:

 

A helpful word from the Illinois Conference of Churches.

 

The Illinois Conference of Churches represents Christians in 13 denominations.  (Our denomination is not a member.)  They issued this press release on May 5:

 

The Leadership Team of the Illinois Conference of Churches (ICC) believes sheltering-in-place guidelines save lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.  We support careful, evidence-based steps to re-open the economy.

 

We believe that the health and safety of our wider community rises above individual autonomy in this unprecedented global emergency.

 

Limiting public excursions for anything but essential purposes and exercise and the wearing of masks in public while practicing social distancing are practical ways of showing respect for the communities where we live and serve.

 

But we don’t like it.  Those we love and serve are hurting.

 

It ends: While we do not know what science will indicate about coming back together for worship, movies, concerts, and even haircuts, we are hopeful that human kindness, not to mention the grace of God, will flourish just as wildly as springtime is blooming across our state.  We are in prayer for our beloved state and her people, particularly mindful of those whose lives and livelihoods are most endangered.

 

I wish they had quoted the Bible more, but it is hard to argue with what they are saying.  Is stay-at-home necessary?  Yes.  Do we like it?  No.  I especially despise the way it stops us from coming together in worship, hearing the Gospel with other believers, and receiving the Lord’s Supper.

 

So I turn to God and hear Him say, “walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2).  Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  

 

We are not being called to give up our lives, but the sacrifices are many.  Many people say that staying at home is becoming more and more difficult.  We are all giving up a lot for the common health and welfare of society.  Like Jesus, the strain may make you feel like praying, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for You.  Take this cup of suffering from us all” (Mark 14:36).  But wait, the verse also says: “Yet not what I will, but what You will.”

 

No matter what, may God’s will be done.  I praise God for the many acts of love and service I see everyday as I watch His people come together to help one another.  Just wearing a mask is a God-pleasing act of Christian care.

 

But, may this time pass quickly!  May God continue to bless us with the power of His Holy Spirit so we will serve the living God by avoiding acts that lead to troubled consciences or even death (a paraphrase of Hebrews 9:14).

 

From the Governor’s May 6 media briefing:

 

Question:  Can the governor provide more clarity to churches regarding holding services, should they plan not to hold services larger than 50 people until their region has moved to phase five?

 

Pritzker:  Well you know that in phase three there can be gatherings church gatherings of 10 or fewer and phase 4 is 50 or fewer.  So that’s the guidance that’s been given to me.  I’m not the one providing that guidance, it really is what the scientists and epidemiologists are recommending. 

 

Pritzker is referring to the new five phase “Restore Illinois” plan.  This plan requires a region to show 28 days of progress before moving on to the next phase.  You can read the full plan on several internet sites.  The entire state of Illinois is in Phase 2 right now.  No part of the state will move to the next phase of reopening until May 29 at the earliest.

 

What does it mean for Saint Paul?

 

These lists are not exhaustive.  We all are doing more than I am highlighting here.  That said:

  

On a personal level, no matter what happens, we will:

   

      — praise God for all His blessings.

      — use this time to grow closer to God by reading His Word and offering prayers.  (Not sure where to begin?  It is all good, but why not       
            start with the Gospel of Mark, and then read Genesis.  It is also good to read a few Psalms and some parts of Proverbs every day.)

   

      — seek to honor God by doing what we can to love Him and serve Him no matter what our circumstances.

    

As a congregation, we will:

 

      — closely monitor developments and respond appropriately.

 

      — continue enhancing our internet presence.  I praise God for the progress we have made so far.  We have gone from having zero You
           Tube videos to producing one or two a week.  Our website is vastly improved.  We also will continue to send out these email greetings
           whenever something new occurs.

 

      — look into various options for holding meetings and Bible studies over the internet.  (Our Executive Committee has already held two
           such meetings.)

 

      — stay in touch.  The Elders have begun canvassing their zones.  I have also been calling members on the phone every day.  I hope to
           complete our entire membership list by then end of May.   

    

      — help everyone stay in touch.  Debbie Line and others are working on producing our new membership list.  This list will include email
           addresses when we have them.

      — be ready to resume group worship as soon as possible.

 

A few reminders:

 

Please check our website for new information: stpauladdison.com

 

Please feel free to phone me directly if you have a special need (or just want to talk).  My cell number is 630.797.8246.

 

The Church Office is open most days from Monday to Friday.  Please call first before you come.

 

We thank all of you who have continued to give offerings during this time.  Members have been using electronic giving (see our website), have mailed their offerings to Church, or have dropped them off at the Office (please call first).

 

And, remember this promise — and challenge — from the Lord: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

 

May We All Rejoice in God’s Comforts,

and Share Those Comforts,

in this Challenging Time!

Pastor Zimmerman