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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

March 2021

One year ago, this month, our lives were dramatically changed overnight by the newly arrived and rapidly spreading Covid-19 virus. One Sunday we were worshipping as usual and the next, we were watching the service on YouTube. Of course, it wasn’t just the familiarity of worship that was disrupted - how we shop, eat out, work, play and associate with each other were all things that were abruptly and significantly altered.

As the country came back “on line,” we noticed many changes to our daily routine. Social distancing became the new buzzword. “Safe Distance” signs appeared on floors everywhere to remind us where to stand in line. Takeout orders at restaurants became the norm and we ate at home more. Follow the arrows down the store aisles so everyone is moving in one direction and not passing each other. You’ve experienced all of this to one degree or another.

Businesses were forced to be creative and adapt in order to remain in business. I’ve seen very creative things happen as a result of the virus, and I am sure that many of these things will remain with us even after we return to some sense of normalcy when this is behind us.

We’ve had to become creative with how we worship as well, with the purpose that even those most timid of the virus can feel that worship is a safe place to be, as well as to avoid exposing fellow worshipers to what could be a life-threatening virus. As the virus spread becomes less of a threat, some things are coming back into worship:  limited congregational singing; hymnals and Bibles back in the pews; printed bulletins made available in each pew. It is good to see these things returning. More will follow as it is safe to do so. I want to thank everyone for their patience and sacrifice throughout the past year.

I have already spoken with Tom and Arlene about planning a celebratory worship for the day when we are able to return to normal worship once again. Oh, how I look forward to that day! I know you do too. We will plan a huge fellowship luncheon to follow that service, for we all yearn to get together as family again.

Each Lent we experience a small sacrifice in worship. The banners are taken down. The candelabras and such are removed from the chancel area. We do not sing or speak the “A” word. The hymns are more somber in nature. Worship changes to reflect the repentive mood of the season. All the while we know that Easter is coming! We know that these things we have given up are only temporary and that, by giving them up, we are aided in preparing for the empty tomb that is to come.

God delivers his people from flood; from Pharaoh; from Babylonian captivity; from trials and struggles of all kinds. God even delivers from death itself! God will bring us out of this pandemic and is doing so even now as vaccines have been developed in record time – what, did you think that was our doing? J  God is at work always! Give thanks in the midst of sacrifice.

Lenten blessings,
Pastor Alan

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Phone: 330-332-5042
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Email: lutheran251@gmail.com
251 S. Broadway Avenue
Salem, OH 44460