Christ is risen!
As I sit and write this it is Day 36 of our exile; that is the number of days since the schools were closed and Immanuel followed suit by suspending in-person activities. So, it has now been more than a month since the heady days when we could have more than 100 people in the same room and hug and shake hands with reckless abandon!
In those 36 days we have held 10 Services, usually with only a handful of people in the Sanctuary and only me in front of the camera. I have joked that if this keeps up much longer Iâ€™ll be asking for someone to do hair and makeup (especially hair). I also beseech you all to remember that the camera adds 15 pounds (allegedly).
But the real purpose of this note is to thank the many of you who are working Behind the Camera to keep up the good work of Immanuel Lutheran Church & School. (And, yes, I am going to attempt a list. There is a risk in that, of course, that I will forget to mention somebody: that is certainly not my intention.) With the following people I have continued to have a good deal of contact over the past 36 days:
Jonathan Anderson, our primary Videographer (and my wife, Jennifer, who has run the camera once); our Musicians: Linda Dzuris, Linda Nichols and Dave Pugh; the Congregation/Choir assembled for our recorded Services: Paul Wagenknecht, Dave Houghton and Jean Kleis; the Altar Guild (I have seen Carol Stowell, Pam Nelson, Ruth Lukemire and Jim Nelson).
Anna Wyss has produced videos and the Sunday School staff continues instruction; the Communications Team has kept us connected with the weekly email Digest and updates; Kristal Kemppainen has come in many times to count Offerings; Jan Taylor has kept the Office open and functioning.
The Teachers and Staff of Immanuel Lutheran School have kept instruction flowing to the more than 120 children enrolled in our School; a team of Dan & Bev Thelen, Rick Danielson, Dana Emberton and Jennifer VanOsdol have been working diligently to expedite the availability of online giving; and the Elders (especially Dr. Brandon Wyss) and Paul Mabrey have been meeting regularly to adapt congregational life to our current circumstances and help keep tabs on all of you.
And then there is you, the ones I havenâ€™t mentioned. You continue to give generously to support Immanuelâ€™s ministries and operations; you are sending encouraging emails and texts about our online Services; you are keeping in touch with and serving fellow Immanuel members, family members, neighbors and friends; and all while some of you have added homeschooling to your vocations!
I mentioned in my Maundy Thursday sermon that there are lessons to be learned while we are in this exile. To what I mentioned that night I will add this: we are learning to be Christ for others and to see Christ in others.
The body of Christ in exile is the body of Christ in each of its members, a royal priesthood of believers. As Martin Luther put it, we are to be Christ for one another and our neighbor, particularly our neighbor in need. And in our neighbor, we will also find Christ there to be served.
Jesus said: â€œFor I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to meâ€¦.Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.â€™ (Matthew 25:35 36, 40)
Immanuel Lutheran Church & School may be a bit scattered these days, but is still alive and well! I hope to see you all again soon, in the same place and at the same time!