Return to Live Worship (Updated 08/17/2020)

Passionate People of Hope,

The last months have been filled with tensions, stress, fear, and emotions at all-time highs for our church. Fingers are pointing and the majority of opinions regarding the current state of affairs in our nation, state, and community seem to be just a reflection of political party or biased news outlets.  Whether you wish to recognize it or not everything is twisted to serve or support various agendas and it is very difficult to find the facts in the midst of all the noise of this ongoing mess to formulate our own opinions and the best course of action for ourselves our families and our church.

The good news for us as Christians is that in times of doubt, we do have answers and we do have the truth. God’s Word is always our guide, in all places, all times, and in all circumstances. We have in Holy Scripture clear commands to obey God above everyone else. We are to gather, worship, sing, and fellowship regardless of everything else that may be happening in the world. It has been decided that as People of Hope we will gather to worship our God, receive His gifts, and obey His commands with in-person worship services. (Hebrews 10:25, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians13:12, 1 Thessalonians 5:26)

As we obey God’s commands, we will try to accommodate all of our member’s various and potential risks in providing Word and Sacrament.  We will also respect differences of opinion. After all “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart” (Prov. 21:2) As we attempt to minister to your needs we will continue to update and modify in-person worship services, guidelines and times as the circumstances change.  We will also continue to maintain the online service and provide private/family Confession/Absolution and Communion for those who are continuing to worship at home.

Starting August 23rd the following changes will go into effect for Sunday Worship Services.

7:30 AM:  This is an “ALL MASK SERVICE” (Masks for the purpose of this email and our guidelines are to include all face coverings including face shields.) Everyone entering the building for Worship is to wear a mask during the entire service. The only time the mask should be lowered or removed is when serving at the altar or pulpit and when receiving Holy Communion. All other service guidelines will also continue to apply such as distancing inside the building.  This service is intended for those who are at High risk. DO NOT come to this service if you are unwilling to wear your mask for the entire time you will be in the building and fully follow the guidelines. 

9:00 AM & 10:30 AM: Services will continue with these current guidelines. 

Worship Service guidelines.

  • We ask that anyone who may be exhibiting any symptoms to refrain from coming to the church and to watch the service from their home.
  • Doors will be blocked open prior to and after service.
  • Sanitizer is available at entry for use by all who attend.
  • Disposable Masks are available for those who do not have their own. We strongly recommend at this time that everyone who can wear a mask or face covering do so!

 Everyone who is able is to wear a mask or face covering as they are coming into and exiting the church.

  • When you are unable to maintain distancing guidelines between your family or contact groups.
  • When in the Narthex.
  • When walking the aisle to receive Communion, read or pray etc.
  • Seating will be staggered between family/contact groups to maintain (6’) distancing guidelines.
    • Maintain distancing when seating yourselves between family/contact groups.
    • Do not sit directly behind another group allow one pew in between.
    • Note: Contact groups are those families or individuals who have regular personal contact with one another.
  • The entire service will be printed in the bulletin. If you touch a bulletin take it home with you or discard it do not leave it for the following service.
  • The “Greeting of Peace” will not take place during the service until it is deemed safer to do so.
  • The “Offertory” will not take place during the service until it is deemed safer. A basket will be placed in the Narthex for you to place your tithes and offerings.
  • We will not have live music during the services until such a time as it is deemed safer. We will have special music pre-recorded and played throughout the service.
  • Pastor and Elders will sanitize their hands prior to and wear masks during the distribution of Communion. They will also wear masks when they are unable to maintain distancing before, during, and after the service.
  • Individual cups will be used for Communion, the common cup will not be used at this time.
  • Please refrain from fellowship inside the church building before and after the services. If you wish to visit with one another, please do so outside the building.
  • At the end of each service the pews, and all commonly touched surfaces will be sanitized.

Monday Online Worship:  We will continue to provide a taping of the service online for all those who continue to Worship from home. (Livestreaming is not a viable option currently.)

These guidelines are meant to help mitigate the possible spread of the coronavirus should one of our members become infected. However, if you have any reservations or concerns about coming to the church for worship services please continue to worship at home until you are ready.  Gathering together for Worship and receiving the Sacrament should fill you with joy and gladness, never anxiety.  If you continue to Worship from home appointments can be made for individual/family Confession/Absolution and Communion.

If you have any questions or concerns about this or anything else, please contact me. These recommendations and guidelines will continue to be updated as the situation changes.

We live in a world divided, and it is truly a time of testing for the Church. However, that which unites us as people of Hope, Christ Jesus our Lord, is far greater than politics, whether or not you wear a mask, or even what time or where you worship.  In all things let us love one another as we follow and obey Christ Jesus our Lord. 

May God bless you and keep you safe in Christ to life everlasting. 

IHS,

Pastor Paul Kollek

08/06/2020

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Maundy Thursday Thoughts

April 9th, 2020
Dear Hope,
As I was driving into the office today I was having a little pity party for myself. Feeling kind of sad because we can’t go to my sister’s house for Easter lunch, I’ll miss the bright morning Easter service and getting my girls to wear a dress one time during the year. I miss the carefree shopping for Easter basket goodies. But as I drove up to the church I realized that today is indeed Maundy Thursday where we remember the Last Supper, and the beginning of Christ’s suffering and journey to the Cross. It made my “vain cares” petty in comparison. Don’t let this virus shift our focus from why we remember and why we celebrate this weekend.
 
When this shut down is all over, I hope we have one humdinger of a service to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection, but until then…
Pastor Paul has a reading for Maundy Thursday on Youtube. You can access it here: https://youtu.be/FNr8LnKdD-Q
 
He will have a followup Bible Study tonight, April 9th at 7pm via Zoom. Here is the link for that study: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/396263186
Meeting ID: 396 263 186
 
On Good Friday, Pastor has recorded a Tennebrae service that can be found on Youtube as well.
 
And finally on Sunday, April 12th there is an Easter Celebration Service that will be on Youtube, for which the bulletin is attached. You can access both the Good Friday and Easter Sunday Services here: Hope Lutheran Church of Linden Services
 
I don’t know about you, but I am feeling pretty techie these days with all of these digital meetings and services! If you have any questions or problems accessing these, please call the office! If Pastor is not here, and in the likely event that I cannot answer your questions, I will call my daughters, and we will figure it out together. (only partially joking here)
 
Thank you for your continued patience during this unusual time!
 
April
~Office Manager

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Remote Worship Opportunities

March 20, 2020
Passionate People of Hope!
Let us pray, O God, the helper of all who call on You, have mercy on us and give us eyes of faith to see Your Son that we may follow Him on the way that leads to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
 
I would like to thank everyone who has volunteered to help care for one another during this time of separation. If you are in need in any way during this pandemic please call the office, myself, or your elder. Don’t forget to go to our website or Facebook page on Sunday to watch our Worship Service. Gather the whole family around sing praises to our God and hear His marvelous Word. We will also be starting up distance Bible studies this next week. If you have a PC, tablet, or smartphone with access to the internet you would be able to participate. Please email me so I can send you an invite.  You will also need to download Microsoft Teams to your device. There is no charge to do this. We are also working on a unique way to provide Confession/Absolution & Communion if these restrictions are in place for an extended period of time. May the Lord comfort you through His Word and give you peace.
 
2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
 
O Christ, our true and only light,
Enlighten those who sit in night;
Let those afar now hear Your voice
And in Your fold with us rejoice.
 
-O Christ, Our True and Only Light (LSB 839:1)
 
Almighty God, merciful Father, who created and completed all things, on this day when the work of our calling begins anew, we implore You to create its beginning, direct its continuance, and bless its end, that our doings may be preserved from sin, our life sanctified, and our work this day be well-pleasing to You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen
 
Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
 
IHS,
Pastor Paul Kollek

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Suspension of Services

March 17, 2020
Passionate People of Hope!
Each and everyday new and more stringent recommendations and instructions are being issued. I had spent much of the day yesterday talking with Healthcare professionals, church leaders at Hope and throughout our Michigan district making plans for worship that would meet those recommendations while doing our best to keep our most vulnerable protected. I spent a significant amount of time reaching out to those who are at a higher risk in our congregation recommending self-quarantine and offering help in procuring groceries or pharmaceuticals with the aim of keeping them from being exposed to the coronavirus. (I would like to thank all of those who have emailed or called to volunteer to help do this!)
 
It has been and remains our desire to follow the instructions issued by our authorities for the safety of our members and our communities. Great care and prayer have, is, and will go into everything that we do. However, as I expected even before I left the office yesterday new guidelines were issued dropping the number of people at gatherings from 50 to 10. Therefore, it is with a very heavy heart that we must suspend our normal Worship services. We will do this for as short a time as necessary. As soon as these recommendations are changed to allow us to Worship together in the flesh we will do so.
 
Hope has never been the most technically savvy congregation. I am so thankful that Hope has been blessed with Mark. Together with him and a small worship team we will be recording and posting services on our website, Facebook, and YouTube. We will be forwarding that information to you on how to watch as soon as we have it ready.
 
As our lives are upended by this pandemic, we as Christians should not give in to or perpetuate the panic that we see in the world around us. (staying off social media may help) St. Paul writes to Timothy; “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) During the years of the early church, plagues and epidemics were more common and more deadly than anything we have seen in our lifetimes. One thing that differentiated Christians from the pagans was a lack of fear. Where others fled, Christians out of love cared for the sick and the dying both Christians and non-Christians alike with many contracting the diseases themselves from those whom they cared for. But, it was through these actions of love that many received Christ and the church grew. We live in a different time but in many ways, it’s the same world. Panic and fear gripped unbelievers both then and now. Let it not grip the hearts of Christians or the people of Hope. While we can take every precaution and follow every recommendation ultimately we are all in the hands of God. If you are anxious or worried you are told to pray. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God”.
 
Ultimately it is a matter of trust. Do we trust in God’s goodness, do we trust that He has our best interest at heart. “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8) If we truly trust in Him we will not fear, but be moved by the power of His love to care for all our neighbors, Christian and pagan alike.
 
As we journey together through this time of uncertainty receive comfort in our Lord Jesus’ victory over sin, death, and the devil and in these words to you “In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world”. No matter what may happen to you in this life you are and always will be Christ’s he has overcome this world and through Him, you will also overcome it unto life eternal.
 
IHS,
 
Pastor Paul Kollek

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