17 March, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

In my homily for Ash Wednesday I welcomed all of you to the quarantine, to the 40 days of Lent. I had no idea in that moment how prophetic those words would be. As you certainly know by now, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, severe restrictions have been put into place which make it impossible for us to gather on Sunday morning or during the week in the way to which we are accustomed. All that is merely to say that Satan is on the offense. His strategy, of course, is to get us to play defense; to shut ourselves in, to live solitary and isolated lives, to cut us off from one another, and from Christ and His Word. Good. It’s good because this is an attack that leaves our enemy exposed. And so, we will not go on the defensive. With the full arsenal of weapons Christ gives to us, we are launching a counterattack, and it’s going to hurt.

If you are not sure that Satan is as vulnerable as I have suggested, just remember that evil always overreaches. Satan is so ruled by his passionate hatred for Christ and his Church that it blinds him to his own limitations. The chief example of this is the cross. Satan thinks he has Jesus where he wants Him. But he goes too far. Though he knows the Scriptures, though he knows the consequence of bruising Jesus’ heel, namely, that his head would be crushed (Genesis 3), still he cannot help himself. Jesus goes into the tomb, but on Easter Sunday, the serpent’s belly is burst as Jesus proves Himself to be indigestible. Now, again, he has overplayed his hand, and in the middle of Lent no less.

We used to have 180 people hearing the Word of God from our pulpit on Sunday. Now we’ll have more. We used to have 40 people in Bible Study, now we’re aiming for 80. We used to have a weekly Catechism lesson before the Hymn of the Day. Now we’ll have five. We’ve never had regular devotions as a community. Now we’ll have them almost every evening. Last week our neighbors didn’t know us. Next week they’re going to be getting groceries from us. This is the plan of attack:

Daily Catechesis. Beginning at 12 P.M. on Monday, March 23rd, we will begin daily catechesis. This will involve Scripture, prayer, and a selection from the Small Catechism. The venue for this will be on First Lutheran’s Facebook (FB) page, where a live broadcast will begin at 12 P.M. For those who cannot tune-in, it will remain on the page after the live session is ended. If you’re not on FB, please set up an account now, and begin to follow us at @FLCBostonLCMS

Evening Devotions. Beginning at 5 P.M. on Monday, March 23rd, we will begin evening devotions. Like the daily catechesis, the venue for this will again be our FB page, where we will go live at 5 P.M. We will have readings from Scripture, prayers, a brief meditation, and a hymn.

Sunday Morning Worship. Virtual attendance in worship is the new norm for now. We will use the order of Matins in lieu of the Divine Service. If you have a Bible and your hymnal at home, you have all you need. Nevertheless, we will post a bulletin in connection with other media. You will be able to access this on FLC’s YouTube Channel, and also on our website, flc-boston.org. We will also send out a link on our social media outlets. This will post at 9 A.M. on Sundays.

Sunday Morning Bible Study. We are so close to finishing our study on prayer, and we will not leave it unfinished. At 10 A.M. we will go live on our FB page to begin Bible Study. We will be there for about an hour. The great thing about “going live” for this and other things (e.g. Evening Devotions) is that we get a sense of community back. We’re all there together, so to speak. At Bible Study we can even participate in a way not completely different than we’re used to. In the comments section you can join in the conversation. You can ask questions, provide insights, etc. And I’m hoping you will.

Wednesday Evening. On Wednesday evening we will have devotions, as usual. However, since it is Lent, this will not be the same order of devotion I’ll be using on other nights. On Wednesday we’ll have Vespers, complete with hymns and homily, accessible on FLC’s YouTube Channel, and also on our website, flc-boston.org. Again, there will be a bulletin posted for those who do not have their hymnals at the ready. On that note, please feel free to come by church at a pre-arranged time to pick one up

Visitation. At present, I have been conducting a wide range of things virtually via FaceTime, email, phone call, GoToMeeting, etc. If you are desiring personal pastoral care, please contact me:

Email: james.hopkins@flc-boston.org

Office: 617-536-8851 (press “2” when prompted for my personal voicemail to leave a message and I’ll respond as soon as possible)

Future Plans. If we have learned anything over the last week or so, it is that things are changing by the hour. Thus, it would be premature to make specific plans at this time. Please pray for God to end this pandemic that has fallen upon our world. Ask that His Holy Spirit make us faithful, patient, and at peace; that we may endure this and any trial, finally overcome, and win the victory.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Rev. James P. Hopkins – Pastor

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