Dear Congregational Family,
1. Martin Luther: I love this quote from Luther which I shared in the message on Sunday. It is a good reminder to us that God is in control, and that we have a role to play in this as well.
“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”
(From Luther’s Works, Vol. 43, p.132 – His letter “Whether one may flee from a
Deadly Plague” written to Rev. Dr. John Hess.)
2. Technology: On Sunday we “crashed through the glass ceiling of technology” as one member put it. Special thanks to Dave Compel and Andrew Vogel for coming in early Sunday morning and making this possible! I am so thankful that just recently we had started having some of these conversations about expanding our technology usage for expanded ministry. God knew we needed to start thinking about this! We will continue to move forward in earnest on this, because of our present situation. If you did not yet get to view the Sunday service, please go online to Ruthfred.org or to our Ruthfred Facebook page. We have already had responses from viewers in many different states.
3. Future plans for worship services and events: Today, our council wisely decided to suspend services, and all events, in the church building until after Palm Sunday (April 5th), and then to reassess the situation at that point. Until then, we will continue to record and post the services online. We will be developing and posting bulletins for the services so that you can follow along that way as well.
At this point, the CDC guidelines are that there be no gatherings of more than 10 people for the next eight weeks.
4. Samaritan Ministry: Deb is the director of our Samaritan Ministry. Many additional people have volunteered to help her meet people’s needs, so please let us know how we can assist you during this time with unmet needs that you may have. You may contact her by calling: 412-805-2096. Please leave a message, if she is unable to answer immediately, and she will return your call.
5. Communication: We will be in regular communication with you throughout this time, both through email, as well as on our Ruthfred Facebook page. I will be posting a brief update later today on our Ruthfred Facebook page. Please think of ways to connect with our members who might not be able to access these means.
6. Finances: A number of you have asked about this. It is certainly an important matter. We certainly want to both, continue our ministry at Ruthfred, as well continue to worship the Lord through our tithes and offerings. In order to do this, you may go online to ruthfred.org and easily and securely go online and sign up for online giving. It is all set up, and a growing number of people have been utilizing it this past year already. You may also mail in your offerings (as some did today!) to the church office at:
Ruthfred Lutheran Church
3401 South Park Rd.
Bethel Park, PA. 15102.
Our leadership financial team has already put together a plan to securely count, credit and deposit these gifts. Thank you in advance, for your continued generosity in this matter!
7. St. Patrick:
Today is St. Patrick’s day. He is one of my favorite heroes in church history! His life (389-460 AD) is also a testimony of how fast the early church grew and spread throughout the Roman Empire, and around the world. I have included his life story as written by Chuck Colson in 2006 in a BreakPoint commentary production, along with a concluding prayer that is attributed to him. (It is at the very end of this Two on Tuesday.)
8. Lenten Services: Our theme is “Seek the Peace of the Neighborhood” which is based on Jeremiah’s (chapter 29) call to the people of God to love their new neighbors in Babylon, with the Peace of the Gospel. Thankfully Jesus came to our neighborhood to bring us the Peace of Salvation. God calls us to live out that peace and to share it in our neighborhood as well. How timely for us right now!
· Tomorrow’s service will be posted online.
· Unfortunately, there will no longer be any “Soup and Sandwich” Suppers this Lenten Season.
9. Sunday Sermon: Our plan is to record this Sunday’s service on Saturday evening and to post it, so that you can enjoy it Sunday morning at your regular time.
(Those of you who always wanted to bring coffee into the sanctuary with you, may now enjoy the service with your coffee at home!)
God bless you as we continue,
“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God”
The Story of St. Patrick:
Patrick was born in Roman Britain to a middle-class family in about A.D. 390. When Patrick was a teenager, marauding Irish raiders attacked his home. Patrick was captured, taken to Ireland, and sold to an Irish king, who put him to work as a shepherd.
In his excellent book, “How the Irish Saved Civilization,” Thomas Cahill describes the life Patrick lived. Cahill writes, “The work of such slave-shepherds was bitterly isolated, months at a time spent alone in the hills.”
Patrick had been raised in a Christian home, but he didn’t really believe in God. But now—hungry, lonely, frightened, and bitterly cold—Patrick began seeking out a relationship with his heavenly Father. As he wrote in his Confessions, “I would pray constantly during the daylight hours” and “the love of God . . . surrounded me more and more.”
Six years after his capture, God spoke to Patrick in a dream, saying, “Your hungers are rewarded. You are going home. Look—your ship is ready.”
What a startling command! If he obeyed, Patrick would become a fugitive slave, constantly in danger of capture and punishment. But he did obey—and God protected him. The young slave walked nearly two hundred miles to the Irish coast. There he boarded a waiting ship and traveled back to Britain and his family.
But, as you might expect, Patrick was a different person now, and the restless young man could not settle back into his old life. Eventually, Patrick recognized that God was calling him to enter a monastery. In time, he was ordained as a priest, then as a bishop.
Finally—thirty years after God had led Patrick away from Ireland—He called him back to the Emerald Isle as a missionary.
The Irish of the fifth century were a pagan, violent, and barbaric people. Human sacrifice was commonplace. Patrick understood the danger and wrote: “I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved—whatever may come my way.”
Cahill notes that Patrick’s love for the Irish “shines through his writings . . . He [worried] constantly for his people, not just for their spiritual but for their physical welfare.”
Through Patrick, God converted thousands. Cahill writes, “Only this former slave had the right instincts to impart to the Irish a New Story, one that made sense of all their old stories and brought them a peace they had never known before.” Because of Patrick, a warrior people “lay down the swords of battle, flung away the knives of sacrifice, and cast away the chains of slavery.”
As it is with many Christian holidays, Saint Patrick’s Day has lost much of its original meaning. Instead of settling for parades, cardboard leprechauns, and “the wearing of the green,” we ought to recover our Christian heritage, celebrate the great evangelist, and teach our kids about this Christian hero.
Prayer of St. Patrick:
“As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.