Breathe with me

Breathe with me

Dear Friends,

Breathe with me. Slowly. For just a moment.

Inhale and say: “The Lord is my shepherd;”

Exhale and say: “I have all that I need.”

Changes in our country and in each of our lives are coming at us like baseballs. The virus continues its unsettling march through every organization, every family, every plan. The volatile economy threatens jobs and mortgages. Hungry people will soon grow hungrier. Sad people will soon be sadder. Families are separated by quarantine. And we? What do we, the people of God do?

Breathe. Breathe with me. Slowly. For just a moment.

Inhale and say: “You give me rest,”

Exhale and say: “and restore my soul.”

I write you with pastoral concern for your well-being, and with burdens for the many who rely on us for steady, faithful support.

As it grows increasingly clear that “business as usual” will not resume for weeks (I am grieving the very real possibility of a postponed Easter), I write with a heart open to you, our ministry partners, and all God’s people around the globe.

Breathe. Breathe with me. Slowly. For just a moment.

Inhale and say: “Even in the darkest place,”

Exhale and say, “I am not alone.”

For you.

Daily we receive messages from members of Ascension offering to run errands, deliver groceries, and make phone calls to those who are temporarily homebound. If you would like to be put in touch with a trustworthy Ascension friend to be your link to the world, let me know. We are happy to connect you with one another.

The Congregation Council met last night (by Zoom) and affirmed the following actions:

  • Staff will continue to be compensated without interruption
  • The facility will be closed to all activity
  • The Shine! tithe designated for our local food pantries will be distributed today

While the building is closed, phone calls will be routed directly to our office manager, Ami Frick, who will be in regular communication with me and the staff.

Vicar Julie Grafe and I will continue to provide pastoral care as we are able, even though we do not have access to hospitals or care facilities. Should you experience illness, disappointment, sorrow, or have a joy to share, please call one of us directly: my cell phone is 860.543.5564; Vicar Julie’s is 847.921.7036. Also, we will be “praying the directory” in the coming weeks, remembering each of you by name. If you have a specific request for our prayer, please let me know.

We are daily posting “Hymnal Handwashing Hits” to our Facebook page, and will post worship resources on our YouTube channel.

Since we cannot gather for worship, I encourage you to take advantage of daily worship offered remotely by the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). Join them online, starting March 23, every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. (Central time) for daily worship led by Rev. Erik Christensen, pastor to the community, and the seminary’s chapel staff. Learn more on their website.

Ascension thrives because of your faithful support. Please, as you are able, continue to support our ministries, so that we continue to support those who rely on us, and keep our own ministry vital and sustainable.

Breathe. Breathe with me. Slowly. For just a moment.

Inhale and say: “Blessings flow over my head;”

Exhale and say, “even my enemies are loved.”

For our ministry partners.

The ministry partners to whom we have pledged our support are in desperate need of our ongoing attention. Rather than suspend our Lent Challenge, I challenge us to redirect and multiply it, focusing on food and shelter. Please, as you have the capacity, go directly to the websites of ministries with which we are already in relationship to provide for their needs:

A Just Harvest

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois

Lutheran World Relief

New Trier Township Food Pantry

Northfield Township Food Pantry

The Night Ministry

Breathe. Breathe with me. Slowly. For just a moment.

Inhale and say: “Goodness and mercy overwhelm me,”

Exhale and say, “today and every day.”

For all whom God loves. We Pray.

God, our peace and our strength,

we pray for our nation and the world

as we face new uncertainties in this time of pandemic.

Protect the most vulnerable among us,

especially all who are currently sick or in isolation.

Grant wisdom, patience, and clarity to health care workers,

especially as their work caring for others puts them at great risk.

Guide us as we consider how best to prepare and respond

in our families, congregations and communities.

Give us courage to face these days not with fear

but with compassion, concern, and acts of service,

trusting that you abide with us always;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Breathing easier,

Pastor JoAnn Post

PS On Thursday morning I received a delivery from our UPS driver at church, a pencil-thin man with about as much personality. For five years, he has been immune to my charming patter, my chipper greetings. But at the door yesterday morning, he wanted to talk. “You know, I’m a Christian, too. And I’ve been praying.” I was silent. He went on, “I’ve been praying for direction and the other day God spoke to me: ‘Take up your cross and follow Jesus,’” I nodded, piously. He went on: “And then a minute later, I received another answer to my prayer: ‘And don’t even start with me about the splinters!”  The Pencil spoke! With a joke! I’m still laughing. In spite of the splinters.

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