“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
April 26, 2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
In his 1992 book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster wrote this: “The Church scattered must become the Church gathered. We do not know exactly what forms these new gatherings will take in our day. . . we are entering a kind of ‘spiritual centrifuge.’ A centrifuge is an apparatus that rotates at such tremendous velocity that existing densities break up and new densities emerge. We are seeing this happen before our eyes . . .” Foster goes on to suggest that “In the days ahead we can expect Christian community to take one of four primary expressions, though there will be infinite variations on each basic form: institutional, communal, personal spiritual mentoring, and small group formation. These four expressions do not need to be exclusive of one another, and in many places they will all function together.”
We find Foster’s words eerily prescient today, on Day 40 of the shut-down of our society as we knew it before mid-March. We were scattered by the COVID-19 centrifuge, which broke up our society overnight with tremendous velocity. Yet even though we are scattered, we are finding new ways to gather together. We have created virtual church services. We are gathering on computer screens for church meetings, small group meetings, social hours, Bible studies, and prayer sessions. PLC has become an Outpost of Hope under Pastor Frese’s direction. We are finding new ways to move forward together as Christ’s body in the world and to worship our God.
We invite you to open your heart, mind, and soul to the love of God so that you can devote yourself to God’s plan for you—through your own private meditation and prayer time, with friends in small groups, through the devotions and messages of hope posted on our website (https://www.plc.cc), and by participating in the worship service posted every Sunday morning on the church website.
We will continue to post pre-recorded 30-minute worship services every Sunday, and new ideas are emerging from meetings of your church leaders, including those mentioned in this letter.
1. Online Sunday Services Continue.
To access the worship service, go to the church website and click on the worship link on the homepage on Sunday morning. If you would like to read the Scriptures or make a joyful noise to the Lord, please contact Denisa Hanna (VP@plc.cc) to offer your talents in the coming weeks. During the Pastor’s traditional post-Easter break, Pastors Emeritus Wally Mees and RZ Meyer will bring us messages of hope in the next two weeks. Communion is offered online on the first and third Sundays. Exciting plans are also currently underway to add short vignettes during the church service specifically geared toward children, and to expand our youth-oriented online offerings.
2. Prayer. In a recent email to church leaders, Pastor Frese noted: “’The family that prays together stays together’” is an old saying that I believe to be true of both biological families and spiritual families.” He suggested that we all pray the same prayer every day, in addition to the Lord’s prayer, as a sign of our unity in Christ and as members of the Palisades Lutheran Church family. Here is the prayer written by Pastor Frese that we are asking you to pray every morning. What a blessing it will be knowing that even though we are scattered, our brothers and sisters are joining us every morning in this prayer:
Gracious God, I thank You that Your love for me never fails – it is fresh and new each day.Let me experience beauty and joy today, and give me hope for tomorrow.Help me share Your love with others.Bring an end to the coronavirus, heal all who are infected, and protect all health care workers.Watch over my loved ones, my neighbors, all workers, and the unemployed.Bless every leader here and around the world who is dealing with this crisis, and help our church to always be an outpost of hope.I ask this in Jesus’ name.Amen.
3. Small Group Formation. As Richard Foster and many other theologians and church leaders have noted over the past four or five decades, belonging to a small group of people who support and spiritually nurture each other is a key element of healthy churches. Many of us are involved with small groups for mutual support and spiritual nurturing. If you are not currently involved in a small group, or if you would like to join an additional group, we encourage you to do so.
One way that you can become involved in a small group is to gather several people committed to following Home Bible Study the curriculum.As noted in previous Letters to the Flock, Pastor Emeritus RZ Meyer has offered to be the current advisor to groups who wish to meet monthly to follow this curriculum that he has used during his many years in ministry.
Pastor Frese has suggested that current groups looking for a new focus or new groups forming may wish to read and discuss Living the Resurrection by Eugene Peterson, noting that the book is short (150 pages) and is very readable for laypeople.It is an Easter-themed book that dovetails with the current Easter Season.The book includes stimulating Bible studies of the resurrection stories in the Gospels and Paul and it speaks to believers' needs both to make sense of the resurrection intellectually and to grow spiritually.Please give prayerful consideration to forming a small group of your friends (inside or outside of the church) to participate in coming together to read and discuss this book.
At this time, small groups are either meeting through phone conferencing or through video conferencing tools such as Zoom. The frequency of meetings is left to the members of each group.Being a part of such a group for a short period of time to read a book, or to continue for a longer period of time will bless you in ways that you cannot imagine—but God can, because he will be with you.Please contact the Outreach Team at Outreach@plc.cc
4. Messages of Hope. Pastor Frese has videotaped a few mini messages that are now posted on the website (https://www.plc.cc) to help us weather the current storm. Please check the website frequently to view the messages during this difficult period. In addition, Pastor R.Z. Meyer has prepared short written messages of hope based on Psalm 23 that are being e-mailed periodically to PLC’s entire mailing list. Please be sure to read these gems offered by RZ. They will lift you up to the Lord.
5. Symbol of Hope. St. Augustine is attributed with saying “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” Pastor Frese has encouraged us to adopt a symbol of hope that can be used to symbolize that we are called to be an Easter people. The church leaders have decided to create a symbol of the calla lily with the cross. For 50 years, the calla lily has been an Easter symbol for PLC, and combining it with the cross of the Risen Christ symbolizes the hope that we have in Christ Jesus. The design is being developed, and you will see it soon on the website, and in various other places.
Please continue to make your home an outpost of hope by keeping a hopeful attitude, especially through daily prayer and Bible study; show mercy and care to your family and neighbors in whatever way possible; and contacting other members of PLC as often as you can for mutual care and affirmation;
6. Committee to Call Intentional Interim Pastor. A small team is being formed to locate a part-time or full-time intentional interim pastor, who has been specially trained to help congregations reach their God-given potential. If you have regularly attended PLC for the past two years (except when out of town or ill) kindly submit your name to Diane Reagan (DianeReagan@plc.cc) or Rich Wilken (President@plc.cc) before April 27th. The Council will call a special meeting to discuss and confirm the formation of the committee.
7. Stewardship. We ask that you continue to keep PLC, its leaders, and its flock in your prayers daily. Please also contact the pastor if you have a skill or talent that the church could use at this time. In addition, we are asking for your continued financial assistance to help support the existing church staff and programs, in addition to the programs we are adding and hope to add to reach out to our neighbors in need. Your donations to PLC can be made in several ways:
Checks made payable to PLC, attention: Romana Pichel, 15905 Sunset Blvd. P.P., 90272;
On-line payments on the PLC website or through your bank’s website;
Direct Deposit (contact your bank’s website for instructions).
Moving Forward Together with the Risen Christ,
The Council and the Board of Elders