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 Statement of Sanctuary
As a community of the people of God, we are called to minister to all
people in our world, knowing that the world is often an unloving place.

Christ calls us to reconciliation and wholeness.  We are challenged by

the Gospel to be agents of healing within our society.




As we have come together over the past months and year, we have been training and storing reserves not knowing always how we will use them.

We have gathered around ancient scriptures, preaching, singing and music, a radical welcome against injustices, fellowship and times of silence and breathing to remind us that in God is a deep peace and lasting hope.

Who knew just a few days and weeks ago, life could bring us here.  Life has always been uncertain, yet we have been able to live with an illusion that we can control life.  Each year Lent puts before us our mortality and finitude.  Today, we stare at them in the face.

Today, we draw from the deep well of our faith.

We are fasting from all kinds of things these days.  Isolation and distancing could lead us to turn in on ourselves.  Prayer takes on new urgency as we hold close those who are isolated, stressed or ill.  Pray for those who do not have a home in which to shelter.  Pray that we would all find our home in God.

We fasted from the holy communion this past Sunday.  Heading the guidance of health care departments, elected leaders and ecclesiastical church leaders, we will fast from even gathering at all the next two Sundays.  The church council has conferred with congregational leadership and for the next two Sundays, we will not hold service.  

Therefore, I am asking and urging you this coming Sunday I invite you to take the time for silent prayer.  Find a quiet space, hold some sacred or special object, make the sign of the cross and pray for the body of Christ, pray for the health of the world, pray for me, your pastor who needs healing and health, and pray for yourself that you would know that you are loved and named beloved.

We have entered into a period when all the community is not able to be present together in bread and wine.  All meals are holy. I ask you take a moment for a table prayer and blessing before eating.  Remember farmers, food processors, grocers, and those who are anxious this day.

We stand on the edge of the tomb as we stare into the face of our vulnerabilities, uncertainties of what this virus means for our bodies, for our economy, for the world and for our lives.  

Thursday, March 19, was the first day of Spring.  Easter is near and the resurrection can not be held back.  Hold onto the assurances of the Gospel promises today and everyday:  Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

Council members will be calling you to check in in the coming days.  Please share your fears and hopes with them.  Know that as the church, we hold one another close as we remain so separated. 

Now, You are the body of Christ and individually members of it.   The peace of Christ be with you!

Pastor Jason Bense

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer

Gethsemane Lutheran Church


Do not be afraid!”  The message of the angels is the assurance of our faith amidst all of life’s unusual and difficult circumstances.


Living in a time of a world wide pandemic is a new experience for nearly all of us.  Presently, the call for public health preventative measures has the hope and potential to prevent, slow and stop the spread of COVID-19 and potentially exponential illness.


Along with congregational leadership, I am presenting the following measures through the season of Lent for keeping us all as healthy as we are able at this time. The decision for now is to suspend all parish activities except Sunday morning worship.  Sunday morning worship will continue to be simplified until Holy Week and Easter.


  • Worship on Sundays in Lent will be cancelled for the next 2 Sunday's 
  • March 22nd and March 29th. 
  • If you are not feeling well, please stay home.  Now is an important time for all of us to take care of ourselves and build our immune systems.  Please rest if you are tired or ill.
  • Keep calm and wash your hands.  Hand washing and basic health precautions are very important at this time.  We must act in bold faith and not in fear, so that we can stay healthy and serve our neighbor in need.
  • Wednesday midweek gatherings in Lent have been cancelled.  The study guide for The Return of the Prodigal Son is available online and will be distributed on Sunday.
  • Choir has been cancelled.  Michael Kravchuck, our Minister of Music, is arranging recordings that music can be rehearsed individually in preparation for Easter.
  • The memorial for Laura Epps originally scheduled for March 21 has been moved to Saturday, May 30 at 4pm.
  • The fifth Sunday potluck and combined worship for Sunday, March 29 has been cancelled.  We will offer instead the Service of the Word worship at 9am and 11am.


These actions are temporary until Holy Week and Easter and a portion of our Lenten discipline. 


Bishop Eaton writes:  “This pandemic and the need for social distancing is happening during Lent. Communion means community and Real Presence. Could it be that one of our Lenten disciplines in these days is fasting from the Eucharist?  When disaster or a crisis strikes the urge is for people to come together. Now the recommended response is to stay apart. Could this Lent be a time of reflection, particularly about what it means to be the body of Christ and the power of absence for good or for ill. How do we stay connected when gathering is discouraged? How do we care for the neighbor in need?


Choose love. Lent calls us to a discipline of simplicity and caring for one another in new and creative ways.  Please continue to reach out to one another to ensure everyone is fed, well, and staying healthy.   We want to pray for those who are ill.  I want to know if you are ill; please call or  email me at


We are always stronger together, stronger in faith, and sustained by grace.


Your pastor,




Let’s take a moment to reflect as the season of Lent begins. Prayer, Scripture, the sacrament of Communion, and the Imposition of Ashes will remind us of our mortality and the hope we have in Christ.




The Return of the Prodigal Son

 "The anguish of abandonment was so biting that it was hard, almost impossible, to believe that voice.  But friends, seeing my despair, kept urging me to step over my anguish and to trust that there was someone waiting for me at home.  Finally, I chose for containment instead of more dissipation and win to a place where I could be alone.  There, in my solitude, I started to walk home slowly and hesitantly, hearing ever more clearly the voice that says: 'You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests."  Henri Nouwen reflects in our book for Lent, The Return of the Prodigal Son.  Copies of the book are available in the church office and the focus of our study on the midweek gatherings of Lent.

Midweek discussion are cancelled


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