ANOTHER UPDATE AS OF MARCH 17, 2020
GOVERNOR EVERS BANS ALL GATHERINGS OF MORE THAN 10 PEOPLE AND EXTENDS SCHOOL CLOSINGS INDEFINITELY
Shortly before school was out this afternoon, Governor Evers announced a ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people and extended school closings indefinitely. Like other WELS churches in our area, we now have no choice but to discontinue church services until further notice.
Starting tomorrow, we will attempt to live stream worship services to our website at www.stpaulsbangor.com. These live services will also be saved and archived on our website and Facebook. Check in to the website at 9 a.m. or 7 p.m. We ask for your patience as we get the technology up and running.
As indicated in yesterday’s update, you may also view many past services which are archived on our website. You may also wish to make use of the Lutheran Radio Service, Sundays at 8:00 am on WKTY, 580 AM or Time of Grace TV Service, Sundays at 7:00 am on WKBT, Cable channel 7.
We pray that this pandemic may, by God’s grace, soon pass over our country and others, that God in His mercy will spare the lives of the suffering, and that we may resume our regular worship services. It may well be that an unintended consequence of this crisis could be a renewed appreciation for the privilege of gathering in worship around word and sacrament.
Psalm 46, the psalm on which Martin Luther based his hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, has bracing words of encouragement for us in these difficult days:
God is our refuge and strength,
a Helper who can always be found in times of trouble.
That is why we will not fear when the earth dissolves
and when the mountains tumble into the heart of the sea…\
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted on the earth.”
The Lord of Armies is with us.
The God of Jacob is a fortress for us.
There are times in our lives when the earth seems to move beneath our feet. All the usual supports are gone. Forces larger than us, uncontrollable, become nothing less than mountains hurled into the heart of the sea. The world comes crashing down around our heads in some storm of confusion, weakness, sorrow, illness, disaster, even death – and God is there – our mighty Fortress.
God is our refuge, says the psalmist, our shelter in the storm of overwhelming troubles. People today are anxious. You and I are not immune to the worries of our times. Illness may strike us or those we love. Wars wind down in one place and crank up in another. The economy rides a perpetual roller coaster. It occurs to us that our prosperous American lifestyle could one day become a thing of the past. Could it be that we may have to live on a lesser level like countless others on the planet?
The earth may seem to be giving way beneath us. The mountains – things we thought would always be there – crumble into the heart of the sea.
But no matter how bad things get, we will not fear, because God is a Helper who can always be found. When the skies grow dark, when troubles loom large, God lets Himself be easily found. He is as close as your Bible. He is as close as the promises He has made and which you memorized when you were very young. In every place where trouble bears down, you can bear up because God is the wall around us, the strength within us, the helper alongside us.
“Be still,” says God to His enemies. Drop your weapons. It’s all over.
“Be still,” says God to His friends. Drop your worries, relax, let go, and know that I am God.
“Be still and know that I am God.”
Let us resolve that Luther’s hymn shall be our own: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God!”
Yours in the Savior’s Service,