Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
On Monday at noon Governor Holcomb addressed the state announcing a "stay at home" order for all residents for the next two weeks. In his announcement he praised the efforts of medical professionals to safeguard our public health and care for the sick. We should be exceedingly proud of Alexa, Jason, Charlotte, Paula, Patti, Adam, and all partners and friends of New Joy who work in the medical professions and extend our Lord’s healing through their work. Let us hold them in prayer and reach out to them and their families during this extraordinary time.
Governor Holcomb is urging everyone to stay at home as much as possible. It is in times such as these that Christians would do well to "obey the governing authorities" (Romans 13) and honor their stewardship of the common good.
In his announcement Governor Holcomb also gave a generous word of praise for religious communities who have worked hard to provide online and streaming content for the comfort of their members. In his executive order, the Governor identified religious organizations among "essential businesses and operations" (Executive Order, paragraph 14.e). We play an essential role among our partners in ministry and in our community. We will continue to carry out our ministry in adapted ways appropriate to the current crisis and public health protocols.
Starting Tomorrow at New Joy...
Starting tomorrow the church office will be closed except for Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Our staff will work as much as possible from home, and only come to the office during designated times for essential in-person tasks.
We will reduce the number of personnel involved in our worship livestream to only one or two musicians, myself, and one or two people to operate our (new) technology. Assisting ministers, readers, and acolytes will not participate in the livestreams at this time.
We are increasing our use of Zoom video-conferencing platform for fellowship gatherings. On Sunday our TGIF youth gathered on Zoom, and on Tuesday morning our Seasoned Believers will do the same. We'll see more of that over the days and weeks to come.
“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30
In this time let us put our cares on our Lord Jesus, coming to him in prayer, worship, and in faithful conversation. Share your burdens with me, your pastor, and with your sisters and brothers in Christ. The prayers of the faithful are effective (James 5:16). Especially in these stressful times, may the church fervently exercise what Martin Luther called "the mutual conversation and consolation of the saints" – that is, the ministry of pastoral care, bearing each other's burdens, and mutual confession (see Smalcald Articles, .III, 4, Concerning the Gospel).
Blessings to you during this extraordinary period. I look forward to seeing you on a future Zoom call or on our YouTube Livestream, sharing with you on Facebook, or catching up with you on old fashioned phone call.