The start of the fall programming in September (Rally Day) felt much like a return to normal. At least here at church. Schools and hospitals are still on the front lines battling COVID, along with the very difficult decisions that come with it. But for most of us, our workplace and our church place are pretty much back to normal.
As I look around it looks like the deck has been shuffled more than you might think. There are things we continue to do here that are left over from the pandemic: masks and hand sanitizers at the doors, offering plates no longer passed and two services still on Sunday. What is more difficult to see is a bit of shuffling of volunteers. Some of our “old” people who we expect to do certain things are not ready to do what they’ve been doing for years. New people have stepped up to take over, volunteering in ways they have never helped before. The deck, as it were, has been shuffled.
The delay of the Codfish supper is perhaps the most visible sign of this “new-normal.” Just to clarify, the Codfish supper is the responsibility of a group called The Men’s Club. This is not the same group of men who meet on Wednesday mornings to tackle church do-it-yourself projects, and drink lots and lots of coffee. (Believe me, even if coffee prices tripled, the church would still be getting the better end of this deal!) This Wednesday morning group is called Helping Hands. And while there is pretty much a 100% overlap of Men’s Club and
Helping Hands members, it’s not as simple as it may seem.
Planning for the annual Codfish supper starts in the summer. During the summer months many media mouthpieces were very vocal about how dreadful things would be this fall for COVID. Unfortunately, many of the planners and volunteer leaders of the Men’s Club are still dealing with COVID-19 issues at home or in their family. The supper itself involves dozens of volunteers, both men and women, in order to serve the meal effectively. While doing the supper seems like a simple thing to do after so many years of doing it, this shuffling of the deck of volunteers has made it much more difficult than it looks.
This is true all across the church. Some of the regulars in our women’s ministry have still not yet plugged back in. The addition of the early service on Sunday, while helping with social distancing (and parking oddly enough) has also doubled the need for worship volunteers – ushers, readers, projectionists, altar guild and so forth. With the two services on Sunday morning, we don’t always conveniently run into a person we were hoping to run into to talk about what needs to happen next.
Clearly, what does need to happen next is that more “new” people need to step up to the plate. God will supply us with what we need to do whatever he asks us to do. Scripture is very clear on that point. Meaning, we have been given all of the lay people we need to do ministry in this place. We just need to get them into place. To pray. To ask. To pray again when asked. And to respond with a “Lord, send me, send me” if and when we feel the Holy Spirit prompts us to serve.
A running joke with the Helping Hands group is that we pay them over-time the same rate as regular time. All the coffee you can drink. And yet every Wednesday morning a dozen or more men show up to trim hedges, move landscaping rocks, tighten handrails, clean out corroded faucets, paint poles, spray weeds and find a dozen and more tasks to do around the church. Tasks that we do not pay a janitor to do, but that we do ourselves as part of our thanksgiving response for what God, in Christ Jesus, has done for you and me.
2 Corinthians 9:6–8 (ESV) 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
May our Good Lord make this truth work powerfully here at Rushford Lutheran Church.
In Christ’s Loving Service,
Time to Return to “The Family Altar”
Luther originally wrote the Small Catechism for “the head of the household.” That is, for parents to use at home with their family. Here are a few suggestions for establishing a family devotion time at home.
Lutheran Web Resources
Sponsored by Sola Publishing (Go to the “How To” link first).
Great short videos on the catechism/church life.
Search for “Family Devotions.” Devotional books to purchase.
See below for what we will be providing.
General Christian Web Resources
Search for devotionals.
Short videos to understand how to read the Bible.
One format for the “Family Altar” could be what your church is providing each week. We will be posting the Sunday sermon, along with the Sunday scriptures readings and a short worship format, each Monday by 10:00 a.m. (Hopefully without any technical glitches). While this will be helpful for many of our families, it may not be as helpful for our families with younger children. (There is a huge difference for a child sitting in a sanctuary surrounded by others and sitting at home watching a video). So feel free to adapt what we post on our website for what might work best for your family. Including using Bible story books, the Small Catechism, or some of the video links above in place of the “sermon.”
So how do we get going on this whole “Family Altar” thing? Pick a time and a place for this to become your routine. Sunday mornings at 11:00 would work, but so would Sunday nights or whatever time works best for you and your family. The principle here is to have a plan and stick to it. And a place. You may need a TV with web connection or laptop to utilize some of the links above. But all other distractions should be set aside during “Family Altar” time. Including cell phones, texting, email, all the rest. It’s going to feel a bit odd and uncomfortable at first, but I guarantee it will be worth it. Indeed, after a few sessions your older kids can probably start leading the family altar, with a little guidance. And keep it light and fun. It the devotion ends up going down a rabbit trail of “why does the Bible say this?” then so much the better!
Another option for either “Family Altar” or personal devotions is a simple Bible reading list coupled with a copy of the Small Catechism. Simply read a chapter of the Bible, followed by reading a short section of the catechism (for example, one of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer), followed by Luther’s morning or evening prayer (also in the catechism).
If you need a Small Catechism, stop by the church office.