From Pastor William D. Leitch

As is our custom and has been the custom of the church since the beginning, we gather, have dialogue, and eat meals together.  However, we have been challenged during this pandemic.  Everyone I talk to feels isolated, perhaps lonely, and perhaps afraid.  Still, there is hope.

First, read from Acts 2:  The Fellowship of Believers

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.  Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

In spite of the initial feelings of fear and loneliness, I hear and witness your efforts to connect in new ways.  Karen Bandy has been calling everyone in her neighborhood flock.  When someone did not answer the phone, she was afraid for them and shared her concern.  Later, that person returned the call and learned how concerned she was.  I cannot help but believe that we are sharing our feelings a bit more and our true heart is being revealed.  I cannot help but believe that through this weird isolation we will come to understand how precious each and every one of us is to the Body of Christ, and that in spite of isolation, God will bring us closer together and reveal our faith in new and wonderful ways.

This was to be a time of transition for Living Lord, and I wanted it to be a time of gathering and sharing our vision of what Living Lord could do and be for the sake of the Gospel.  Nancy Walters was and is excited about making that happen.  At first, we feared that this pandemic had derailed our plans, but Nancy simply came and said, “How are we going to make this happen?”  Yes, she put it in the interrogative; however, her tone of voice was in the imperative!  In other words, Nancy was saying, “Let’s make this happen!”  So, Nancy is taking the input from our first Town Hall meeting, along with notes from the Council, and is writing a draft of a “Strategic Plan” for our Ministry Profile.  We will send this to everyone to read.  We will pray for everyone to respond with comments and additional input.  From this sharing and study, we will be prepared to vote to approve our congregational vision of who we are and our plan to be “Church” in our community.  I pray that this effort will bring us even closer together than we were before this pandemic.

 

Church Information…Please remember that you can obtain church information from the monthly Lamplighter Newsletter, the Constant Contact emails you receive, on the church website (www.lllc.org), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Living-Lord-Lutheran-Church-493806727349110/), and postings on the church bulletin board.  Church Council Meeting minutes are posted on the bulletin board and sent out via Constant Contact.  We would like to see a better “open rate” when we send information to you via Constant Contact so that we know you are being informed of the activities that are occurring at the church.  If you have any other suggestions on how best to reach out to our parishioners, please see a Council member.

From the President, Nancy Walters

Christ has Risen!  Alleluia!  April is almost over and spring is here.  Seems like it has taken longer this year than those in the past.  But we actually had a mild winter where the church lot only needed plowed one time!  I am surely missing all of you.  It will be so nice when we can actually meet in person.  I want to thank Pastor Bill for recording the services with May Love playing the organ.  Randall Beckley plays the piano accompanying his awesome anthems.  Lynne Walters has directed the bell choir members Rollie Walters and Ronda Leitch for Easter.  The church was decorated in the white paraments and the lily cross was erected in the front corner.  I have been working on our Ministry Profile using the input from our Town Hall meeting.  We are further behind than we anticipated, but hopefully we can catch up fast.  Please remember to send in your contributions.  Lynn has been keeping up with the postings.  Even though the thermostats have been turned down and we are not using as much electric as before, the bills are still there and need to be paid.  I want to thank Rollie Walters for waxing the floors in the narthex and fellowship hall.  The floors are so shiny that you may need your sunglasses!  I am sorry that I cannot give you a date for when we can safely return to church, but when we do I am hoping to see all of you there!

From the Parish Nurse, Dora Muller

“The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”  Gabriel Garcia Marques

The present global pandemic drastically changes the way we live.  The Coronavirus has made us domestic prisoners, or as they say in the military, solitary confinement, or “the hole”, in an attempt to halt the progression of the virus.  But, as a literary book worm that I am, one of my favorite books is “Love in the Time of Cholera” (or today “Coronavirus”).  I prefer “Love in the Time of Coronavirus”.  As the news of first cases of the virus reached us, we tended to believe, not in my backyard-NIMBY.  Despite China’s far away distance, we soon moved into a panic mode and started to hoard things in preparation for the end.  Hundreds of years from now this will be remembered as the “toilet paper crisis”.  Quickly the Coronavirus epidemic changed in status to a worldwide pandemic.  We have witnessed many changes, no more large gatherings or sporting events, and we have become a society of reclusion as if in a cloister.  Now is a time of reflection.  We need to maintain our physical and mental health and re-learn how to rely on our neighbors and community.  The desire to help others, keep in touch, and show appreciation is sky high.  My neighbor generously offered to bring me groceries, I write letters to my girlfriends, and the internet highway is busy keeping up communication with family and friends.  The fear of acquiring the virus has transformed us so that we build physical barriers or social distance between friends and family members.  However, it has helped develop closeness in the sense of caring for the well-being of the community and helping others during this time of social isolation.  From businesses to family members, the goal is to minimize the risk of the spreading the virus.  We provide a collective effort for the good of the community.  The lessons learned from this event are that we need to be prepared, remain healthy, rely on each other, keep our spirits alive, and learn to appreciate a slower pace of indoor life.  Remember the bygone era of board games, radio music, and just being close to those who are dear to us.  Oh yeah, we do have television today.  And, more important, be humble and give thanks for surviving another crisis.

A Pandemic Prayer

From Kerry Weber, an executive editor for the magazine America, the Jesuit Review.  Weber writes:

Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.”  At your command, the sick were made well.  Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the corona virus, that we may experience your healing love.

Heal those who are sick with the virus.  May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.

Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.

Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.

Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.

Be with those who have died from the virus.  May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.

Be with the families of those who are sick or have died.  As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair.  May they know your peace.

Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers, and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process.  May they know your protection and peace.

Be with the leaders of all nations.  Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve.  Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks.  May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.

Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare.  In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.

Jesus Christ, heal us. Amen

 

Letter from Bishop Allende

Due to Bishop Allende’s recommendations, we will suspend gathering for worship through April. We will continue to record the services and send them to you via Constant Contact email.
Northeastern Ohio Synod
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
God’s Work. Our hands.
March 30, 2020
Lord, you have been our dwelling-place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
[Psalm 90:1-2 NRSV]
Dear siblings in Christ of the Northeastern Ohio Synod,
Grace to you and peace in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
The COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled our normal way of life since the beginning of March. We find ourselves in a state of anxiety, not knowing what the future holds, relying primarily on the guidance of the medical experts.
In my previous letter, I requested the suspension of all public worship and other in-person gatherings and meetings until at least April 1. However, the escalating number of confirmed cases give clear indication that the danger has not yet reached its peak. Therefore, I now encourage ministers and congregational leaders to extend that suspension for another month, through the end of April. This is one of the chief precautions we can take as a way of caring for each other and to deter the spread of the virus.
Last week, Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill (House Bill 197) allowing, among other things, for remote meetings. Thus, for now, every possible meeting should be arranged by whatever electronic means available. It does pose somewhat of a challenge, but it becomes easier to arrange the more it is done.
This news is no doubt disappointing to all who were enthusiastically looking forward to Holy Week and Easter worship and activities. It may be of some consolation to note that Easter is a season of seven weeks, not just one day. The Resurrection can be celebrated at a later date, and the delay may provide for an even more festive occasion. God is still with us, in times of separation as well as celebration.
I am grateful for the many ways our pastors, deacons, musicians, and those with the gifts of technology have risen to the occasion to care for the people of God whom they’re called to serve. Again, it is a challenge, but it does become easier as time goes on.
Our Northeastern Ohio Synod website has a resource page for those who may not have the capability to offer electronic services.
Of course, caring for God’s people extends beyond the Sunday service. And this involves everyone, not just the ordained. This time offers us an ideal opportunity to build on the gifts that each of us was given, as St. Paul says, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry.” Each one of us can make phone calls to other members, write notes, and perhaps even offer more tangible assistance – such as picking up groceries, supplies, or prescriptions. We are all in this together, to use a well-worn cliché.
On another matter, last Friday, our ELCA Presiding Bishop, the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, announced a series of grants designed to provide support for our most vulnerable congregations and ministries. I encourage you to visit the ELCA website for more information. We will announce other, more local grant opportunities in the weekly e-news. If you have not already subscribed, now is an excellent time, as it is a good source of late-breaking information.
Third, I wish to call your attention to the following scheduling items:
1.    The Renewal of Vows service, normally held Tuesday in Holy Week, has been canceled. That is one huge personal disappointment for me, as it would have been my final one as bishop. Should any of you be in need of oil, there are still vials available at the Lutheran Center (Synod Office) in the lobby which you may pick up Monday through Thursday, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. We will replenish the supply as needed.
2.    The Conference Gatherings to lift up names for potential bishop candidates has been changed to a mail-only process. See the Synod E-news for more details.
3.    Synod Council will still meet on April 25, most likely in an electronic meeting. We will most likely have an announcement regarding Synod Assembly following that meeting. As of now, the assembly is still scheduled for June 12-13.
Finally, Psalm 90 at the top of this letter is a reminder to us that our human existence is limited in comparison to the timelessness of God. Pandemics and the resulting fear and isolation, are as old as humanity. Yet throughout the ages, God has been faithful. God has promised to be with us through the ups and downs of life. That is the source of our strength and the source of our hope in this time of insecurity. Let us hold fast to God’s promises.
Peace and blessings,
+Bishop Abraham D. Allende
Pr. Bill

Stay-at-Home Order

Pastor Bill and Lynn will be working from home in order to be in compliance with Governor DeWine’s Stay-at-Home Order.  We ask all of you to heed the Governor’s order and recommendations.  If you are in need of assistance in obtaining food and/or medicine, please do not hesitate to call Pastor Bill on his cell phone at 330-465-6221.  If you are anxious and would like Pastor Bill to pray with you, please call his cell.  Please stay in contact with each other by calling and checking on each other.  We will be keeping you updated and sending out weekly notices and worship service videos.  Remember, we will get through this together, with God as our guide and strength…lean on him in this time of uncertainty.  (or something like that).

In Christ,
Pastor Bill

 

SUSPENSION OF ALL WORSHIP SERVICES, EVENTS, AND GATHERINGS

Following the guidance of Bishop Allende and after confirming with the Church Council, Living Lord Lutheran Church will suspend ALL worship services, events, and group gatherings until Palm Sunday, April 5.
As your pastor, I will periodically post devotions or commentary on the Scriptures for the week. I will be counting this as vacation time. Only in life or death situations am I permitted to visit families and individuals. Please call me for a visit at 330-465-6221.
We will continue to send information concerning preparations for Easter and the need for flowers and offerings. Please reply to these messages to volunteer and/or pledge offerings to purchase or donate to these special worship events.
We just received pricing for the Easter Flowers. They are as follows: Hyacinth $8.00, Lily $8.50, and Tulip $8.00. If you would like to purchase Easter Flowers, please mail in your check along with a note stating how many of each flower you want and if it is in memory or in honor of someone or to the Glory of God. The deadline to order Easter Flowers is Monday, March 30.
We are still collecting the food for the Easter Food Baskets. If you have items to donate, please drop them off at the church Monday through Friday between 8:00 and 11:00 am. All food items should be at the church no later than Sunday, March 29. Food Basket pick up is Wednesday, April 8, between 10:00 am and 12:00 noon.
If you need a Larry L. Maggiano, M.D., Memorial Scholarship Application, please call the office and we will mail that out to you. Applications are due Sunday, April 26.
These can by trying times financially for a congregation. Please mail your offerings to the church or drop them off between 8:00 and 11:00 am Monday through Friday. Our Treasurer still needs to pay our bills.
We pray for everyone and especially for our healthcare workers during this fragile time of waiting.
In Christ,
Pastor Bill