Sunday, 22 March 2020
One Week In
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A week ago, Mt. Calvary decided to cancel face-to-face worship services for a few weeks. At the time, it may have seemed premature or alarmist. Today, I think the only Church services in Milwaukee were online. The speed at which all of this is happening is really astounding.

This past week has been difficult – it is hard to focus, to stay productive, and to know what should receive most of my attention. I have a kind of “mental fog” about what to do next.  Some of this, I believe, is the process of adjusting to a new pace and flow for work, family, and my spiritual life.

Talking to others, I hear about the same “mental fog” and a feeling of not being as productive as we would like. Things just aren’t “normal” right now. Too many things have changed too quickly.

Here is what is helpful to me as I begin a new week:

  1. God is in control and I’m not. I’m learning again to depend on Him for my significance and not on what I get done.
  2. Jesus died to redeem me from the consequences of my sin, and He can redeem my days in a mental fog.
  3. I am blessed beyond what I can imagine and certainly what I deserve.

This morning I asked people to send me their “faith stories” and I would share them at the end of the week. I am drawing enormous encouragement from seeing God at work in the lives of His people. This helps me see God has a purpose for my life, even when I am confused, unfocused, and unproductive.

To all who have sent in their “faith stories,” THANK YOU. You have blessed me and I look forward to how it can bless others.

In Christ,

Pastor Dan Czaplewski

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Posted on 03/22/2020 6:24 PM by Pastor Daniel P. Czaplewski
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Wednesday, 18 March 2020
Day Four
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This is now the fourth day of my disrupted life. Sunday went along pretty much as planned. With schools closing and our congregation’s decision to suspend in-person worship services, Monday was a new day. I’m still getting used to this.

What I am not getting used to is how we are so very divided as a nation. I still hear of people who think COVID-19 isn’t a big deal and we don’t need to make any real adjustments in our daily lives; they see this whole thing as over-blown. More people seem to have a deep feeling of panic – as witnessed by the “run” on toilet paper in our nation’s stores.

Somewhere between hoarding paper products and hugging strangers is a sensible and appropriate response. I also believe that it is possible to be both cautious and trust in God’s promises. We know God has this under control, yet it is important for us to make the appropriate adjustments and plan for an uncertain future.

What has been helpful to me and I pray is helpful to you is the words of St. Paul: “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7) In the best of times, we live with an uncertain future. We do our best to make plans for the future and something unexpected happens. Then we make new plans. Even when our plans are frustrated and our expectations are disappointed, we trust God is with us, God is for us, and His love for us is certain.

Your faith is for a time such as this. We trust God to bring us through our current situation even though we don’t see the way. We believe God is good even when times are bad.

To the members of Mount Calvary: know that I am praying for you and want to do what I can to remind you of what you already know: God’s got this!

In Christ,

Pastor Dan Czaplewski

PS – One of the best reactions to this crisis has come from President Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. His statement is HERE.

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Posted on 03/18/2020 7:44 PM by Pastor Daniel P. Czaplewski
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Sunday, 15 March 2020
A Pastoral Message on COVID-19
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Beloved in the Lord,

 

In a desire to keep all in worship safe, our Mission and Ministry Council (MMC) decided today to cancel in-person worship services for the next two weeks. To be specific, there will be no midweek Lenten services on Wednesdays, March 18 and 25; and no Sunday services March 22 and 29. In the next couple of weeks the MMC will reassess the situation as more information becomes available.

 

On Sundays, we will hold “virtual” services and Bible study. There will also be a Tuesday evening Bible study. These virtual events will be simultaneously on our Facebook page and web page. The worship service will begin at 9:00 am on Sundays; Bible study will be at 10:15 am on Sundays. The Tuesday evening Bible study will begin at 7:30 pm. All these events are archived on our web site and can be streamed at any time after the event.

 

This decision was not taken lightly, and we realize how disheartening it is to not be able to worship in-person, particularly during the Lenten season. Personally, this is difficult for me as I find the greatest rewards in ministry to be found in face-to-face contact. With health care facilities restricting access from the outside, it is already becoming difficult to offer pastoral care in the traditional format.

 

With that said, I remain your Pastor and will continue to provide for your spiritual needs. The format and opportunities may very well be different in the next few weeks, but I will do what I can to feed you with God’s Word to sustain your faith. We will use our web site and other opportunities afforded us by technology.

 

I would like to reinforce what I said in my sermon yesterday. I believe this can be the finest hour for the Church in America during my lifetime. We are witnessing a crisis the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in a long time. The Christian Church is built for times like this, and we have a tremendous opportunity to show love to our neighbors and witness to the love of God that is ours in Christ.

 

I remember very early in my pastoral ministry experiencing an analogous situation. On August 24, 1992 Hurricane Andrew made landfall in South Dade County, Florida. I was living about 30 miles north of where the eye of that storm devastated property and disrupted lives. In the days and weeks following the storm the Church was the center of relief efforts in the hardest hit areas. For months after Hurricane Andrew individual Christians and congregations loved their neighbors in tangible and meaningful ways.

 

All these efforts began with little coordination, no central command or control, and very few resources. It was for me a life lesson that God’s people can make a significant difference in the lives of our neighbors when we step out in faith to bring God’s grace to those around us.

 

On a personal level, it is easy in uncertain and turbulent times as these to experience fear and anxiety. Some level of caution seems appropriate given the facts we have at this time. At the same time, we don’t want to give in to fear and be driven by a sense of panic.

 

St. Paul reminds us: “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

The prophet Isaiah encourages us with God’s promise: “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

Christ’s own words to His disciples of all time strengthen us: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

 

This is a time to engage in prayer for our world, our nation, our leaders, and our neighbors. Take some time away from the constant coverage of how COVID-19 is disrupting life to pray to the Lord of Life for His protection, guidance, and peace.

 

Here is a prayer I have long found helpful:

O God, you have called your servants to ventures
    of which we cannot see the ending,
    by paths yet untrodden,
    through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with good courage,
    not knowing where we go,
    but only that your hand is leading us
    and your love supporting us
        through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

God bless and keep you in His care.

In Christ,

Pastor Dan Czaplewski

PS – We will continue to deposit checks mailed to us on a weekly basis. Gifts given through direct transfers to the Church will be posted on your statements as normal.

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Posted on 03/15/2020 5:18 PM by Pastor Daniel P. Czaplewski
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