COVID-19 Response

A letter to You
July 2021

Dear members and friends at Trinity,

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

“To everything, turn, turn, turn – there is a season, turn, turn, turn; and a time for every purpose under heaven.” I heard this song (composed by Pete Seeger) for the first time in the 70’s, performed by Joan Baez. As a (ahem . . . badly) guitar-strumming young adult, I loved playing and singing the musical interpretation of these words. Can you imagine?

I think I always liked the honesty of the author of this biblical lesson. It is not meant to be a sweet poem about only beautiful things. Because the world around us is both, isn’t it? It’s wonderful and evil; it’s filled with moments of bitter grief and moments of profound joy. People are born and they die. We weep and we laugh. We work and we play. Again, in the midst of all of life’s uncertainties, there are certain things we can expect to encounter sooner or later. Some are fantastic. Some are painful. Some are pretty ordinary.

At the same time, the words remind us of the movement of the seasons of our lives. They are a reminder that we are each a part of something far bigger than the seasonal moment in which we find ourselves.

As I think about this passage, I am aware that many of you might connect with some of its words; they speak to the unique, complex and common seasons of our lives. They capture a truth that at times is hard to embrace. They capture a hope we eagerly wait for.

I also know that some of you have chosen these biblical words as words read at the celebrations of life of loved ones. In the midst of grief they make sense. They provide us with an unexpected solace.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.

After a little more than 15 years (beginning in March 2006) it became clear to me that now is the time to seek a new opportunity and to refrain from embracing being a pastor at Trinity. I have been given the opportunity to work in another bilingual (German / English) congregation in Vancouver and recently signed the contract. I will be serving as a “transitional Senior Pastor” with the goal to prepare a congregation for a new future in ministry and mission.

I am excited and sad, of course. I accompanied so many of you by baptizing your children, teaching young adults, preparing for marriage and walking along with you in times of grief and mourning. Together we had to break down things in order to build them up again; together we wept and danced, mourned and laughed, planted seeds and plucked up some of them.

My husband Kosmas and I and our four-legged companions will be moving to Vancouver in the fall, so, there is still time to say goodbye.

For now let me conclude with a few verses from this ancient blessing: God bless you and keep you. God make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. God look upon you with his favor and give you peace!

Faithfully yours,
Pastor Ingrid
(Office: 780-433-1604)

A Letter to You
Thursday, June 16, 2021

Dear Friends,

As we approach the official beginning of summer, I write to you today with the news that Trinity Lutheran Church is planning to re-open for in-person services beginning July 2021. Such good news!

Our Reopening Task Force, along with the Church Council, has been working hard to develop the best and safest way our church body can safely meet together once again after a long and weary year. We are paying attention to the provincial government, to AHS, and to the recommendations from the Synod.

At this time, the plan is to resume in-person services in July 2021, alternating services in German and English each week. Sunday, July 4th will begin with a German indoor service, with a combined outdoor service on Sunday, July 11th. We will continue to offer English online services during the weeks we are not meeting in person.

Please be aware that best medical practice and safety measures will remain in place, regardless of what the province allows. We are aware that the Delta Variant can still be contagious and infectious even for people who have received the vaccine. Until we can see our numbers dropping long-term, even with the variant present in our communities, we will continue to care for our neighbours by wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, and remaining physically distanced from one another. Pre-registration will also be required for anyone wishing to attend any of our services.

It is has been a challenging year for so many of us, and we are not quite at the finish line yet. I invite you to join with me in continuing to give our best efforts to help each other through this difficult season. It will be wonderful to see all of you in person when you feel ready!

On that note, Pastor Ingrid and I want you all to know that we respect your personal choices for yourselves and your families. If you do not feel safe returning to in-person worship just yet, we will support you and love you in that decision. If you choose to come back, we will also support you and love in that choice.

Anxiety and social unease will be hallmarks of returning to in-person activities. As we emerge out of the pandemic, some folks will want to throw away our masks quite quickly, while others will need to wear them even after the pandemic is declared officially over. Some people will want to give and receive hugs, while others will experience wariness about physical contact. Even the thought of passing the peace using handshakes or side-hugs may cause distress for many of us.

While we still need to remain physically distanced from each other at this particular time, let us be mindful of the various needs we will all encounter as we slowly open back up. Touch and physical interaction will not be as easy for some people as it will for others. We can take this time to practice asking for consent before reaching for a handshake or a hug; we can find ways to offer kindness and greeting that support folks needing to refrain from physical touch; and we can learn multiple ways of supporting each other through this time that meet multiple and complex needs. Learning to ask for consent is a good and holy practice to engage in, regardless of the pandemic!

Below is a summary timelines of our Reopening Plan. We look forward to seeing you, whether in-person, via Zoom, or over the phone!

July Worship Services

 Sunday, July 4th, 2021, 10 AM: indoor German Worship Service
 Sunday, July 11th, 2021, 11 AM: outdoor Joint Worship Service (parking lot)
 Sunday, July 18th, 2021, 11 AM: indoor English Worship Service
 Sunday, July 25th, 2021, 10 AM: indoor German Worship Service

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me or Pastor Ingrid. If you wish to pre-register for any of these services, please call Sorin at the church office (780-433-1604).

Peace to you all today!

Warmly,

Pastor Erin Thomas
Associate Pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church

A Letter to You,
May 17, 2021

Dear Family in Christ,

I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Peace to you all today. Once again, Alberta finds itself in the midst of more severe health restrictions as we struggle to cope through a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Having heard from some you, I know there is a lot of exhaustion, anger, frustration, and a heavy sense of being fed up with this season in our world. Even through these more difficult feelings, you have mentioned how grateful you are for the warming weather, for being able to fill your bird feeders, to prepare your gardens, and to receive vaccines.

I urge you all to continue to be gentle with yourselves. Our world has undergone a traumatic event of which we are still feeling the impacts. The ripple effects will last for years to come. Learning to extend greater gentleness and understanding to our bodies, hearts, and minds right now are critical exercises to practice. And I do emphasize the word ‘practice’ – for we are not perfect in such things. These are things we learn throughout our whole lives. Each day brings opportunity for us to gain greater insight into how we can love each other, ourselves, and God more and better.

In the meantime, Pastor Ingrid and I will continue to pray for you, to be available for you, and to support you for whatever you might need. Should you require pastoral care, both of us will make ourselves available for in-person, outdoor chats in our community garden. We see these types of conversations as frontline services, supporting you with your mental, emotional, and spiritual health. If you would like to have such a conversation with us, please do call the church office or email us, and we would be more than happy to set that up for you.

As we celebrate Ascension this week at the time of writing this letter, I encourage you all to remember that just as the disciples were caught in between the now and the not yet, so are we living in just such a time and space. God loves us here and now, and gives us important work to do; and yet the healing of the world has not yet come. For this we must wait a time more.

Take heart, my friends, that we are not alone. God does not abandon us in such liminal space. In fact, God reminds us daily how much we are loved and not alone. I leave you today with a poem from Jan Richardson expressing in human terms what Ascension may mean for us today.

Peace to you all and much love,

Pastor Erin
for
Pastors Erin and Ingrid
Trinity Lutheran Church

Stay—A Blessing for Ascension Day

I know how your mind
rushes ahead
trying to fathom
what could follow this.
What will you do,
where will you go,
how will you live?

You will want
to outrun the grief.
You will want
to keep turning toward
the horizon,
watching for what was lost
to come back,
to return to you
and never leave again.

For now
hear me when I say
all you need to do
is to still yourself
is to turn toward one another
is to stay.

Wait
and see what comes
to fill
the gaping hole
in your chest.
Wait with your hands open
to receive what could never come
except to what is empty
and hollow.

You cannot know it now,
cannot even imagine
what lies ahead,
but I tell you
the day is coming
when breath will
fill your lungs
as it never has before
and with your own ears
you will hear words
coming to you new
and startling.
You will dream dreams
and you will see the world
ablaze with blessing.

Wait for it.
Still yourself.
Stay.

—Jan Richardson

A Letter to You,
April 2021

Dear friends and members of Trinity,

Greetings to you! In this letter, I have included an image of our church window at Trinity presenting the “Good Shepherd.” In the weeks after Easter biblical lessons about the “Good Shepherd” will be read often, especially Psalm 23: The Lord Is My Shepherd, is one of the topics at church.

Psalm 23, which I have read in the beginning, is considered as one of the most beautiful and most comforting writing in the Bible.

Some of you might be still acquainted with the text of this psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; You restore my soul, O Lord, and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake. And though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The imagery is that of a flock of sheep, and all that constitutes the “good life” for a sheep: green grass, abundant water, and a good shepherd, who leads and guides in this life and through this life. Our God has given us a home. The writer calls it the House of the Lord. The House of the Lord lacks for nothing. It is a place of abundance and beauty. It is a place of vibrant and nourishing green pastures. It is a place of deep, still waters. Especially in times like this, when the pandemic is increasing feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety. Some of us even feel living in the darkness caused by illness, loneliness, despair, rejection. Living in this kind of darkness is terrifying.

Please remember, Psalm 23 describes a journey. And we know that life is a journey through restful green pastures and beside quiet waters; a journey through the deepest darkest shadows of death, a journey to the light again. A journey that will have its destination in the House of the Lord, as Psalm 23 concludes: I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. We dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The author of the Psalm, probably King David, points to the Good Shepherd, who for us is personified in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who wants to open our eyes to the beauty of creation, who wants to feed our hunger to be loved, who wants to comfort us in our distress and everywhere and always witnesses to the universal and unending love of God.

So, be well and safe, guided by the love of the Good Shepherd.
May God be with you till we meet again!

Yours Pastors Ingrid and Erin

P.S.: Please don’t hesitate to give us a call when you want us to listen, to pray for you or to pray with one another on the phone or just to chat!
P.P.S.: Please let us also know if you don’t want to receive the letters anymore.

A Letter to You
March / April 2021

Writing this letter on Palm Sunday at home, I remember so many celebrations of Palm Sunday at church. I remember the children’s processions and us singing: “All Glory Laud and Honor,” and I remember the silence at the end of the service, after we have been dismissed with the first verse of the song: “Go to dark Gethsemane . . .” Jesus enters Jerusalem to cries he knows will turn to accusations. He comes down from heavenly glory to take on our life. The son of God takes on the form of a servant and dies the death of an outcast.

Why? Not, in the end, to show us how messed up we are. But to invite us into a real, genuine relationship with God and with each other.

On the cross, Jesus joins the suffering and death of all of us and with that, he came to bring the healing, renewing, life-changing love of God to all of us.

But to truly understand what that means for us, we again have to remember the story of the arrest, trial, suffering, and death. Again we have to look at the cross and imagine what it means, really means, to us and for us. We will see fellowship in the midst of betrayal, love despite despair, suffering when there is no other choice, death as inevitable, and yet the promise of new life. And again, in the end, we will be celebrating together that love is stronger than hate and life stronger than death and how deeply involved we are in all of this.

A prayer for you:

Loving God, your great love raises the dead,
and condemns what is wrong in this life.
During this holiest of weeks we see hatred and brokenness, and hypocrisy;
but also beauty, and mercy and undying love.
Your death made clear what must come to an end:
our fear, our waste, our selfishness.
Yet we rejoice that in this dying lies our rebirth
and that you will bring the world, and all the grace-filled good in us, back to life.
Amen.

From the bottom of our hearts, we wish you a blessed Holy Week and a joyful Easter Sunday!
Yours Pastors Ingrid and Erin

If possible, please join our services online or in person (some of you):

Maundy Thursday (April 1) from 6 to 7 PM via Zoom.
Good Friday (April 2) in English , together with Hosanna Lutheran Church and other churches, online only.
Good Friday German in person: at 10 AM at Trinity Church. Please register by calling the office: 780-433-1604.
Saturday (April): 6 – 9 PM. (Ball Park) we will meet at the large bonfire site behind Picnic Shelter #1 at Hawrelak Park. Please register by calling the office: 780-433-1604.
Easter Sunday English and German worship services with brass bands online only.

If possible, please visit our website for further information:

Pastoral Letter
January 2021

Dear Trinity friends,

It is January 2021, and we are still at the threshold of a new year. It is not too late to wish all of you a blessed new year, filled with new hope, joy, comfort, strength, and faith to cope with the tasks of 2021.

I also would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your continuous support of Trinity and for your commitment to Trinity throughout 2020. Last year has shown us how important community is and how powerful prayers and compassion can be. I also would like to give thanks to our staff, who so relentlessly worked throughout the last year exploring new ways to worship, to our office manager who is bravely working in the office, and to our custodian who watchfully takes care of the church building.

And of course, I would like to thank the church council. It was a hard year for all of our volunteers, both, on a professional and personal level. But together we made it through and hopefully emerged even stronger into 2021.

But most importantly, I would like to thank you for your prayers. Prayers have power, prayers support in ways we don’t know. Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to pray for your church. This will carry us through.

I am curious: Do you have a biblical story that sustains you right now? One of my favorite biblical lessons is the story of the prophet Elijah, told in the Old Testament, 1 Kings 19: the prophet Elijah finds himself on a demanding journey filled with peril and terror. Elijah has worked and fought hard against the pagan god Baal’s prophets and worshippers, and then, out of fear for his life, escaped into the wilderness.

He is at the end of his strength, literally asking God to kill him so that he won’t have to face the hardships of another day: “It is enough,” God, he begs “please, take my life. It is enough.”

For me what follows is one of the most gentle and tender passages in the Old Testament. Elijah awakens to the soft touch of an angel, who says to him, “Get up and eat.” When Elijah looks around, he sees that the angel has prepared “a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water,” for him to eat and drink. Elijah, still exhausted, still dead-beat, but eats and drinks and falls asleep again.

The angel let him sleep, but then touches Elijah again: Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.” The journey is hard, we hear the angel say, It’s hard. You won’t ever make it on your own. But listen, you don’t have to. Here’s the cake. Here’s nourishment. Get up and eat it. Eat it because there will be dangers along the way. Eat it so you’ll be strong enough to face the perils that lie ahead.

Elijah, so the story continues, ate and drank and walked 40 days until he finally reached Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. And there, in quietness and silence. He heard God’s whispering voice.

Elijah was given the permission to rest, to be nourished, to rest again, to be nourished again. There is no timeline for healing. What is needed though is nourishment – here in form of cake – and a healing touch by someone. What kind of nourishment do you need?

Let me conclude with a prayer for strength and guidance:

O God, I give you my worries and concerns and I ask for your guidance. You see it all, the outer circumstances, the inner turmoil. I know that you understand my life, that sometimes my heart weighs heavy with trouble. Right now I lay all these things before you. I breathe in, safe in the knowledge that I am held by grace. I breathe out, knowing that I am held secure in your arms. And I wait on you. For you are all truth, you are overflowing love, you are a beacon of hope and a fortress of faith. Lord, I choose to be attentive to your voice. May I be alert to your Spirit’s guiding as I journey onwards with you.

And please remember: We are only one phone call away. Office (Sorin: 780-433-1604).

May God bless you and keep you,
Yours Pastor Ingrid

Pastoral Letter,
December 10, 2020

Dear Trinity friends,

Perhaps you know that I started studying theology at the seminary in Saskatoon this fall. As part of the seminary training, I do a small practicum in my congregation every semester. This semester I wanted to run a few small circles for people without internet—but Covid-19 got in the way. We cannot gather in person.

Instead, Pastors Ingrid and Erin asked me to write you a letter. Well, this is the letter. The cancelled reopening of the church, the cancelled small circles are examples of what we experience all the time right now: Things that we want, that we yearn for, don’t happen or are postponed, and instead, we have to wait. So many of us yearn for the in-person church, the worship, and fellowship. Or perhaps we miss seeing friends and relatives. I have not seen my little niece in Sherwood Park since the weather got cold. And my visit to Germany, where there’s a new niece also, is postponed indefinitely. We yearn, we wait, and it’s hard. Very hard. Perhaps like me, you also yearn for more justice in our world, for an end to war and violence, for reconciliation between enemies, for a society that is not about profit and where the weak and creation are not made to suffer so terribly. Really, what we yearn for deep down is God’s reign and salvation.

And what do we do when the fulfillment of our yearning is delayed, when our waiting doesn’t seem to end? Wait some more, I guess. But in that endless waiting, it can happen that we lose hope. Will I survive the pandemic? Will I ever see my good friends again? Will the church survive? Why are God’s reign and salvation still not fully here—will they ever come? Where is God? Why has God still not answered our prayers for healing, justice, and salvation? Why do we have to keep waiting and must witness so much suffering? Where is God?

Dear friends, right now I am in the middle of a class on the psalms, the Bible’s prayer book. And I am learning that the psalms have an answer to these questions. First, the questions are legitimate; even our hopelessness and despair are legitimate. And second, the psalmists address God with these questions and emotions. They turn to God in lament, they tell God their distress, they pour out their hearts, they complain, sometimes they even accuse God, they ask, “Where are you, God?”, they remind God of God’s promises and demand that God act. I find great comfort in this. It means that when I do not have enough faith left for petitions, I can lament.

Take Psalm 13 as an example:
1 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
4 and my enemy will say, ‘I have prevailed’;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

And then, miraculously, through the lament the psalmist finds new faith and hope in God. Psalm 13 ends with these verses:
5 But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

In the uttering of lament before God, the psalmist experiences God’s presence: God is listening, God turns to the person who cries out to God in distress. Suddenly the psalmist remembers God’s promises, God’s character that they doubted, and feels new hope—the psalm ends in praise. (But: The praise follows after the lament!)

I have now tried it myself: I have cried my laments out to God. This is a new way of praying for me, it’s not quite the same as petitions. And friends, I am finding it healing and comforting. Through the lament, I feel God again. And then I am also able again to make petitions and to praise God. The despair disperses—because I have lamented before God. I don’t want to skip the lament anymore.

So what can we do in this time of seemingly endless yearning and waiting? We can lament. When other forms of prayer fail, we can lament, lament before God. And then begin to breathe again.

Advent is a time of yearning and waiting. So why not cry out our yearnings and distress to God particularly in Advent? After all, what we are yearning for is God’s reign and salvation, indeed, for God’s own person and presence.

It happens in some of our advent hymns, for example ELW 243, “Lost in the Night”:

1 Lost in the night do the people yet languish,
longing for morning the darkness to vanquish,
plaintively sighing with hearts full of anguish.
Will not day come soon? Will not day come soon? (lament)

2 Must we be vainly awaiting the morrow?
Shall those who have light no light let us borrow,
giving no heed to our burden of sorrow?
Will you help us soon? Will you help us soon? (lament & plea)

3 Sorrowing wanderers, in darkness yet dwelling,
dawned has the day of a radiance excelling,
death’s deepest shadows forever dispelling.
Christ is coming soon! Christ is coming soon! (hope)

4 Light o’er the land of the needy is beaming;
rivers of life through its deserts are streaming,
bringing all peoples a Savior redeeming.
Come and save us soon! Come and save us soon! (hope & plea)

Lamenting, pleading, and praising God with you this Advent,
Andrea Wilhelm

Dear friends,

Please allow Erin and I to add a warm invitation to Andrea’s beautifully written letter. Pastor Erin, I (Pastor Ingrid), and Andrea would like to offer you a brief visit on December 24th, seeing each other separated by a window or a glass door. If you wish, we would bring a Christmas greeting to your door and either talk or even sing to each other on the phone or just wave to each other. If you wish, we also could bring you “communion in a box.” If you live in a senior home, we would meet you at the entrance and exchange greetings on the phone or we would wave to each other, separated by a window or glass door. Please let us know by phoning the office: 780-433-1604;

Faithfull yours,
Pastors Ingrid and Erin

Pastoral Letter
November 26, 2020

Dear members and friends,

On Tuesday, November 24th, a series of stricter measures were announced for the province in our ongoing attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19. I write to you to let you know that we are here for all of you as we walk through this difficult time together.

I also want to let you know that Trinity will remain closed to in-person worship services until further notice. All services will remain online. Advent services will be available in both English and in German.

I know this season is exhausting and terrifying. We are all struggling to cope as best we can. As Advent approaches, it can be hard to celebrate hope . . . love . . . joy . . . or peace when it often feels as if these things aren’t based in our lived experiences.

Be assured that our God is present with us, in our homes as we wait this out; in our family circumstances, however it is we are coping; and in us—as the people, as church.

In the meantime, we have celebrated Christ the King / Eternity Sunday. We have remembered and have lit candles in order to honor those, who passed on during the last Church hear, from December 2019 to November 2020. We held space with gratitude for their lives, knowing that love weaves our lives and our deaths together in ways we cannot fully comprehend.

Our prayer:

God, source of all life,
With gratitude for all the gifts you bestowed in the world through our loved ones, in the assurance that their presence among us continues through our lives and love,
In acknowledgement that it always feels too soon to let go,
And in faith that God, love eternal, welcomed them with open arms,
We ask:
May our memories be good companions.
May they bring laughter and joy when our hearts are heavy.
May they bring strength when the days are long.
May they be a reminder of the gifts of life – So precious and sometimes, so short.
On this day and all the days may we be held by you and may love sustain us through all times. In the name of Jesus Christ. Who conquered death and was raised to new life. Amen.

Christ the King Sunday also transitions us into Advent. We decorate our homes. We light candles. And then we wait. Expectant. We wait for the Sacred Mystery to come, that is Jesus Emmanuel, God-With-Us, Love embodied. In all the darkness that surrounds us, there is light.
O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here, until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, shall come to thee, o Israel!

O come, thou Day-Spring, come and cheer our spirits by thine Advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Pastor Erin and I are available for you by phone or by email. We’d love to hear from you!
Love and peace to you all.

Yours,
Pastor Ingrid and Pastor Erin

Pastoral Letter
Sunday, November 8, 2020

First, my apologies that you had to wait for a while to receive another letter. As some of you perhaps know, we had to lock down our office; Pastors Erin and I, Sorin and Heinz had to get tested and we were asked to stay in isolation. In the meantime, we were all tested negative, time of isolation is done and Sorin is back in the office. Of course, all of us worked from home, including Sorin, but in order to write 130 addresses, copy the letter and put the letter in the envelopes. . . an office was needed. Hence the hiatus.

What a stretch we have had in the last weeks and months. We have to remind ourselves on and on, that—although church-services have been cancelled—church cannot be cancelled, because our worship of God is not limited to a building or a location. God’s presence is everywhere. And as we continue to worship and to serve, we acknowledge that, following COVID-19 regulations, physical distancing is an act of caring for our neighbor. It is an act of love, especially in times of rising case numbers.

What a difficult time it was and is for our members, who have loved ones in the hospital or had to say farewell to loved ones. We remember Melida Kunz, who died on October 16th; we remember John Meyer (October 17th) and Fred Whiting, who passed away on Friday, November 6th. Please pray for the families and friends of Melida, John and Fred, especially for Ursula and Jean.

Please also pray Brian and Faye, Helene and Jack, Otto and Irena, Thea. Please lift up Ernie’s name. Perhaps this might be a prayer to meditate:

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw always says that we have to respect the virus but should not fear it. We have to learn to live with the virus. For this reason, our task force group COVID-19 and Church Council are working on plans to re-open the church again for a limited amount of people. We know how important the season of Advent and Christmas for many is, including for Pastor Erin and me of course, and we are hoping to be able to celebrate this important part of the church year with you, beginning on Christ the King Sunday, November 22, at 11 AM. More details to follow. If you have more questions, please call Sorin at the office (780-433-1604).

As the season of Advent is approaching, and we again are waiting for the light that will illuminate every darkness, may this prayer guide us:

God of our people and Lord of every nation, let your Word ring out from the mountains and your Spirit shine forth in the earth, so that all may hear your teaching and all may do your will; through Jesus Christ our peace. Amen.

May the grace of Christ, the love of God,
and the Spirit’s joy surround you
as you walk in the light of the Lord.

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Ingrid

Pastoral Letter
October 14th, 2020

Dear members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church,

Hopefully, you have had a blessed Thanksgiving, either with family or with friends or perhaps alone, staying safe and well.

Thanksgiving in Canada in 2020: our choice whom to welcome or whom to visit was limited by COVID-19, especially due to case numbers rising. That was hard on many. But we do this for the common good, for the well-being not only of those who are next to us but also of whose whom we don’t know. At the same time we are starving for good news, starving for being with people face to face—starving for hugs, as one person recently wrote: “when this is over I would love a warm tender hug and be held so long until I’m ready to let go.”

In these times could it be any more obvious that we—all of us, every single one of us—are wholly dependent on each other for our survival and well-being? That the future of Creation itself depends on human beings recognizing our fundamental interconnectedness, and acting in concert for the good of all? Perhaps that means giving thanks today. That the harvest of the fields of this world thrive only when everyone will get enough to eat? That the time for all selfishness and self-centeredness is over? We have to see that we’re a part of each other, and we have to take care of each other. Every one of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.”

Because, as Paul wrote so clearly in his letter to the Corinthians: “if one suffers, everybody suffers.” Or let me say it differently in the words of Martin Luther King: “I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made.”

Let us be grateful for being a part of this way our world is made. Let us be thankful for every relationship we have and we are able to care of. Let us be thankful for the nets of families, friends, and people around us.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Even as I waited for your goodness, so for your kindness I hope.
By your forgiveness, you relieve my pains,
and in my troubles you comfort me,
for I depend on your compassion.

Blessed are you, O God,
for you have done these things and you have put into the mouth
of your servant hymns of praise, and a prayer of supplication . . .
And I retain strength. Amen

Faithfully Yours,
Pastor Ingrid

Pastoral Letter
September 15, 2020

Dear members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church,

It is fall: the winds, the rain, and the smell that has been on the air tell me so. The asters blooming, the store displays burgeoning with mums also tell the undeniable story that summer has passed.

I still have tomatoes ripening on the vine, and they should continue to the first frost. How did the summer get away from us so quickly?

O yes, all through the days COVID-19 kept many of you immobile in your homes. It was and it is difficult to visit family or friends, and since the church building is still closed, social gatherings and getting in contact again could not happen.

But such restrictions do have their bright side, haven’t they? For example to learn once again, to savor the days and their blessings. To be thankful for the gift of a Blue Jay sighting, or a morning spent muddling about. The small joys to be had, no matter what the circumstance.

And now it is fall.

Sometimes these really are the best of days: a cool, crisp edge to the air, the turning of the leaves into beautiful colours, a special light so unlike summer’s. The Canada Geese call change, and fly south. The menu changes, too, with everything becoming apples, pumpkins, and soups.

There is always a sense of reflection in the autumn, for me. Is it that way for you? Looking back over the growing season as it now comes to its natural close brings a little sadness, too. I love fall, but it is a parting and a closing. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote a wonderful poem called: autumn.

But there is One who holds this falling infinitely softly in His Hands!
As always, peace be with you,
Pastor Ingrid

P.S. All are welcome to our cemetery out door service on Sunday, September 20, at 1 PM. This year there has been so many loses of health, jobs, schooling, graduation ceremonies, etc. in addition to the loss of the life of a loved one. All are welcome to join in on the music (to be sung by Jordan van Biert) and on prayers and reflections. Bring a lawn chair when able and your masks. Hot apple cider will be provided (while staying distant!). Address: Ellerslie Road SW 9515.

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Pastoral Letter
August 16, 2020

Dear members of Trinity, dear friends,

Recently I have read a story about an encounter between a bear and a human being that happened close to Banff, at Lake Minnewanka. A mother and her young son came within a few steps of a grizzly sow and her cubs on a trail close to Lake Minnewanka. The bear shooed her cubs up a tree and rose on her hind legs. The tourist tucked her son behind her and stood still. The two mothers regarded one another. The human one started to speak softly to the bear and the bear responded by humming softly. The two mothers backed up slowly, then went in opposite directions with their offspring. Nothing has happened, thankfully. Love conquers fear.

This is also the message of the Gospel on Sunday, August 16: Love conquers fear: “Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.’ Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, ‘Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us. ’He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. ‘The woman came and knelt before him. ‘Lord, help me!’ she said. But he replied, ‘It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.’ Yes it is, Lord,’ she said. ‘Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table. ‘Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed at that moment” (Matthew 15:21-28).

What loving parent can bear to see her child in any kind of pain? And this woman was desperate. She was desperate enough to break many of that culture’s rules concerning encounters between women and men. Furthermore, she did not speak, but shouted not only at a man, but also at someone special. But she not only shouted—she threw herself at his feet when he ignored her. But she not only did that—she argued with Jesus. She put herself in danger of severe consequences. Her desperation and her love to her daughter overcame her fear. First, Jesus makes no comment at all. He is mindful of his mission to the Jews, the first of God’s chosen people. But this woman is pushing the boundaries. She’s a Canaanite, not Jewish. He may have been impressed with her persistence, and he pushes just a bit. “It’s not fair to throw the children’s food to the dogs.”

How typical of that time. The Canaanites were considered less than respectable by the Jews and were named: “dogs” sometimes. But this Canaanite woman is not only desperate, she’s fearless. “Even the dogs get the crumbs on the floor.” Jesus now sees her as a woman of faith, and he certainly appreciated her love and humour. He expands his mission and breaks down a barrier to accept and include a non-Jew. With this action, Jesus’ mission and ministry is growing now, tearing down centuries of old boundaries, and opening up the already identified family of God to all God’s people.

Whom do we accept as our neighbor? Do we still harbor in our hearts signs of racism? Or prejudices? Within our communities, even within the church, there are still walls between people. There are people who do not feel accepted or welcomed. There are those on the fringes of society. There are those who struggle with the questions of how to read and understand the Bible.

Jesus broke down a barrier and crossed the border. This was a big step for him. He opened up the already identified family of God to all of God’s people. With this step taken he changed and became the savior for all the word. And the woman changed because she had been listened to and finally the daughter was healed. We may ask ourselves, which barriers we have to break down to tear down—as church, as individuals. Sometimes our first reaction to changes is anxiety and rudeness. We do not want our established norms and values to be changed. Especially in times like this where everything is changing. It seems to be fear that is shaping our daily lives. It seems to be anxiety that rules our decisions. When we feel fearful and insecure, we often set tight limits: “you are not of us because your otherness is a threat for me. You are not welcome here.”

The Gospel from today has another message for us: In Jesus Christ there is hope for each one of us. Not one of us has sole claim on Jesus or God. We all receive the riches of God’s blessings as a pure gift. That is true whether we are young or old, rich or poor, black or white, English or another language speaking, born Canadian or immigrant, capitalist or socialist, LGBTQ . . . enough faith believes that God’s mercies are for you and all people.

I have another story for you that happened almost two centuries ago. Ben Hooper was born in Tennessee in the late 1800s to an unmarried mother. In that time and in that community, he belonged to the outcast of his society. Even at church it was not very comfortable. He and his mother would always go to church late and slip out early. One day a new preacher came to their church and he said the benediction so fast that they did not get out early enough and they were caught in the crowd. Just about the time he got to the door, Ben felt a big hand on his shoulder and heard the preacher asking him, “Who are you? Whose boy are you?” Ben felt the old weight come upon him. It was like a big, black cloud. Even the preacher was putting him down. But as the preacher looked down at Ben, studying his face, said, “I know who you are. I see the family resemblance. You are a child of God.” With that he slapped Ben on the back and told him that he had a great inheritance and that he should claim that inheritance.

Ben Hooper said that was the most significant single sentence ever spoken to him. It was a new start for him. He grew up to serve two terms from 1911 to 1915 as governor of Tennessee.

You are a child of God. Of course, there are still doors that need to be opened and borders crossed, in our lives and the life of church. But the good news is, that we all are children of God and that we are fed and nurtured not only by some crumbs from God’s table, but offered instead the abundance of Jesus’ own self. Amen

A prayer:

We pray for your creation, God, giving thanks for the abundance in our gardens and backyards, for the sun, that warms and the rain that nourishes.
We pray for the farming community: Bless them with the weather they need when they plan to harvest. Be with them as they struggle with the financial impact of the current situation; may they and their families get the help and support they need.
We pray for all those who are yearning for a place of refuge and hope, for a place to lay the head down and feel safe. Bless the efforts of those agencies who try to help them.
Make us more determined help and to build a society and world where everyone has a place to call home.
We pray for the sick and those in distress, that they may find healing for their pain. For our neighbors, we pray that we may live together in peace and share in our resources; In silence we pray and lift up to you (names) . . .
Life-giving God, heal our lives, that we may acknowledge your wonderful deeds
and offer you thanks from generation to generation through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray together:

The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.

Be with God’s blessings:

The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with his favour
And give you peace. Amen

Yours in Christ, Pastor Ingrid

PS: Please mark your calendar: If weather permits, we will be celebrating an outdoor service on Sunday, September 6, at 11 AM. You will receive more information at the beginning of September. If you have questions or would like to speak to a pastor, please call the office: 780-433-1604. Thank you!

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Pastoral Letter
July 27, 2020

Dear members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church,

If you haven’t heard yet, I have good news for you: our former intern and student pastor Erin Thomas has received a call from the members of Trinity Lutheran Church to be their Associate Pastor, starting August 1.

Erin has received 84% of agreement and has already signed the documents.

Even in COVID-19 times, the ministry at Trinity cannot be done by just one pastor. Especially in these times we have to continuously asking the question, how to be church in these times and after COVID-19. I am very sure that your pastoral staff and your council will work hard to serve and guide the people of Trinity and its neighbourhood for the sake of the love of God in Jesus Christ.

These are trying and difficult times. I am grateful for every word of encouragement that I find in the Bible. Last Sunday (July 26) one of the biblical lessons was from the Apostles’ Paul’s words letter to the Christian community in Rome. Paul wrote:

“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35 – 39)

Just imagine: They plot his murder many times. Paul moved from city to city, but almost everywhere awaited him prison and hardship. He was treated brutally, often harassed, and he had to cope with strong opposition, not only from his enemies but also from his friends. We don’t know for sure, but he probably was tortured and killed in Rome. He was possibly between 63 – 65 years old.

Through all of his life and in spite of what happened to him, Paul remained insistent: “nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love.” This is my message for you today, dear friends: Nothing at all can ever separate you from God’s love.”

I am quite sure that many could relate to experiences of exclusion, indifference, alienation, hate, humiliation, and separation. I even think that every human being has experienced these, each in their own way.

We at Trinity Lutheran Church we see and have seen many forms of human pain: violence, despair and hopelessness—we encounter homeless people, people suffering from mental disorders, racism, and drug abuse.

Paul says: Nothing at all can ever separate you from God’s love.

In our ministry, we have met people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, people forced to escape home, wherever home is or was; and of course every new beginning has its challenges.

But it is written: Nothing at all can ever separate you from God’s love.

Paul’s message is liberating and uncompromising: nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God, neither, as Paul wrote, “hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” . . . none. None of these and more.

If you would make your own list, what would it say? What would it be that you think could separate you? Anxiety and uncertainty in COVID 19 times? Disappointments? Illness? Politics? Anger? Frustration? Death?

Nothing in all . . .

Our union with God in Christ has given us a new identity, for we are a new creation.

However, please, don’t get me wrong here. Paul’s message should not be used like a blanket to cover hardships, anxiety, despair or mourning, in the sense of: “Why are you afraid. God loves you!” No, more in the sense of: “Even when you are feeling anxious, or alienated, separated and estranged, perhaps by others or even from your own self, you are loved.” Well, I know, that’s easy to forget. Or to believe. To embrace. And even more difficult to remember when dealing with different people who so do need God’s love to be shown to them and to feel God’s love through us in any circumstances.

May we be and become people who everywhere we live, share the love of God in Christ that can never, ever be taken away, and that will, one day, free this world into a Kingdom where God’s love in Christ is all, and in all, and all in all. Amen.

A prayer:

Merciful God,
you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you in all things and above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Hymn # Great is thy Faithfulness

1 Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee;
thou changest not, thy compassions,
they fail not; as thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Refrain: Great is thy faithfulness! Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
all I have needed thy hand hath provided–
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me! Refrain

2 Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness to thy great faithfulness,
mercy, and love. Refrain

3 Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside! Refrain

Yours in Christ
Pastor Ingrid

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Pastoral Letter
July 8, 2020

Hello all, dear members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church,

It has been a while since you have received a letter from me; instead you have received a letter from the chair of council, Sylvia Becker, and the chair of the call process, Peggy Boss. If you have questions with regard to the congregational letter, please don’t hesitate to call the office (780-433-1604).

It is always exciting to call a new pastor. Here is a short summary of what has happened until now and what is still to do:

In January, Church Council installed a call committee in order to search for an Associate Pastor for Trinity. After the feedback that has been received from members of the congregation and staff, and after treasurer Frank Thede has carefully considered our finances, the call committee voted unanimously to recommend student Pastor Erin Thomas as primary candidate. After a lengthy and thoughtful discussion at a council meeting, council also voted unanimously to present Erin Thomas as a primary candidate to the congregation. Unfortunately due to COVID 19 the congregation could not meet in person, so two phone conferences have been hosted beginning of July.

Now it is time to vote: If you haven’t sent your ballot yet, please do so as soon as possible. Your returned mail ballot needs to arrive at the office no later than July 17. Or:

Two drop-in voting times will be offered at Trinity (physically distanced and hygienic measures taken):

Saturday, July 18 from 12 to 3 PM
Sunday, July 19 from 11 AM to 2 PM

The last page of the letter that was sent to you covers frequently asked questions regarding finances, German language and much more. Some of the questions might be your questions as well, I hope the answers will be satisfactory for you. If not, please call. Thank you!

Here are some other news for you.

1. Church Council has set up “Task Force COVID 19.” This group (with Monica Bishop, Bobbi Belsek, Jeff Gusdal, Rosanne Thede, and me) is working hard to adapt the Alberta Health COVID 19 regulations and Synod of Alberta’s guidelines to suit the situation at Trinity. Until now we have set up regulations for funerals and weddings, we are working now on regulations for small gatherings.

We also have talked about re-opening our church building for in person worship services on Sundays again; we agreed on going along with the synod’s recommendation not to open until September at least. We will keep you posted and are asking for your prayers and patience.

2. You may have heard the City announced that they will be opening Recreation facilities in early July and with that has asked shelters to move out. The Province still wants “The Mustard Seed” to continue to offer shelter space to people without homes in these difficult times. Due to our long partnership, Mustard Seed turned to us again to ask for shelter. Council approved. Alberta Health regulations on COVID 19 are followed strictly. The government of Alberta is funding the shelter.

3. Please pray for the family and friends of Olga Lukat, whose memorial service we conducted at Trinity on June 30. Please also pray for the family and friends of Martha Fester. Martha died on June 17; Yesterday, on July 7, we commended her to God at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. May Olga and Martha rest in peace.

That’s all for today, the next letter will be more devotional again. Please stay well and safe. May the second verse from the hymn “What a friend we have in Jesus” guide and lead you: “Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged—take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a friend so faithful, who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord makes his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord look upon you with his favour and give you peace. Amen.

Yours Pastor,
Ingrid Doerschel

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Updated Funeral Guidelines

Health and Safety Protocols

We have implemented a number of measures to help protect the health and safety of our staff and guests. We ask for your understanding as we navigate these challenging times together.

     Our church is being continually cleaned and sanitized between events and appointments.
     Our staff are equipped with necessary safety equipment, including masks and gloves.
     Our guests are required to wear masks for the duration of their visit at Trinity and bring their own hand sanitizer, if possible.

Safe Distance Protocols

Our employees will not engage in physical contact such as handshakes and hugs with one another or members of the public. Whenever possible, they will observe a 6-foot distance. Our pastoral staff will also be wearing gloves, and in some cases masks.

Screening

Please do not attend any event at Trinity if the answer to the following questions is YES:

    1. Have you or any member of your immediate family been in contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19?
    2. Are you or any member of your immediate family in self-isolation?
    3. Has Public Health been involved?
    4. Do you have any of these symptoms:
       Fever
       New onset of cough
       Chills or shivers
       Shortness of breath

For all Funeral, Cremation, and Interment Services

Any person who is under quarantine is not permitted to attend services.

Funerals and guest gatherings will be subject to provincial mass gathering limits. All limits are subject to proper physical distancing of 2 metres or 6 feet being maintained. Open caskets and viewings are not permitted at this time.

     Alberta: No more than 100 people (indoors and outdoors, and no more than 50 people for the reception indoors or 100 people outdoors). Please note that we can only accommodate 70 to 80 people in our church, depending on the number and size of families who attend the event.
     Physical distancing is mandatory while on the premises of Trinity Lutheran Church.
     We ask that you avoid expressions of sympathy like handshaking, hugging, and other direct physical contact with your guests.
     We encourage families to include a message in their obituaries and notices that anybody who is unwell not attend, and to limit physical contact if they do.

Interment

Our cemetery remains open to families wishing to visit a loved one’s burial lot.

Employee Safety

Our priority is to protect the health and safety of our employees, while continuing to offer essential services at the church.

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In Community Despite COVID-19: Quick Guide

Worshipping online – Click on our worship tab to find daily meditations, Lenten devotions, Sunday and special services. For material in German, go to the German version of the Worship page.
Requesting prayer – Go to our Prayer Requests page.
Needing or offering help – Please contact us.
Meeting online – Click on Groups for weekly “Coffee Times”, drop-in times with our pastors and others.
Pastoral & congregational updates – Go to Letter to Trinity.
Supporting children – On our Supporting Children (& Parents) page you will find activities, videos, and links to resources for families with children during this time of pandemic.
Supporting youth – Our Youth page helps link youth to our youth leaders and to each others, and has information about current youth activities.
Supporting church operations – To support our ongoing ministry during the pandemic, please go to our Donate page.

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Pastoral Letter for Pentecost Sunday

May 31, 2020

Dear friends, brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today is Pentecost Sunday, and it is a pleasure to send you a picture of the church, decorated by Adam and Helga Roth some days ago:

The picture shows out sanctuary, decorated with fresh birch branches as it is custom at Trinity. They represent the freshness of spring, the beauty of creation and a new beginning for all. We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, as it is written in Acts 2:1 – 21.

“The early followers of Jesus gathered in Jerusalem along with fellow Jews from around the Mediterranean world. They are gathered together in one place when suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues and proclaimed the good news, and everyone hears the good news proclaimed in their own language.”

All the barriers of language were broken down. Strangers, foreigners, outsiders, a crowd of many different races and nationalities heard the disciples talking to them in their own language. God, through the Spirit, has chosen to meet them where they were: in the midst of a confusing life experiences. And God promised a new life for all, where there will be wisdom and yearning for justice and peace. Today, more than 2000 years after what had happened in Jerusalem, in a time of anxiety, confusion, loneliness and separation from loved ones due to Covid-19, God meets us in the messiness of our daily life and the questions we have about our future. What will be? Will we be safe? Will our families be safe?

Today we celebrate Pentecost, one of the three main Christian festival days. We have Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. On Christmas, we celebrate that God became a human being, one of us, in Jesus. Easter means that life is stronger than death in the new life of Jesus, who was raised from death. And Pentecost is the festival of liberation. Because Pentecost is about freedom. It is about the Holy Spirit setting people free. Not the kind of freedom that means no more responsibility, or freedom from having to make decisions about our way of life. Rather, God sends the Holy Spirit in order to strengthen and equip us to endure, and even to flourish, amid challenges and difficulties. Why? Because God is actually working through us for the common good, to care for the need of our neighbors, community, and world. We have a purpose: to care for those around us as God cares for us, to make wherever we may find ourselves a better place, to share God’s love in word and deed that others may know they are not alone and, indeed, respected and loved. We are here, that is, not simply for ourselves but for those around us.

In this time, it means for us to stay safe and, if possible, healthy. It also means to respect physical distancing. We might be separated, but we are one in the Spirit.

This is my prayer for us:
Come, Holy Spirit, come, Spirit of God,
come with your peace, your power, your light.
Come with forgiveness, courage and hope.
Come now to our suffering world, sick with a killing virus
and everywhere threatened with silent death,
but most cruelly among your poorest children.
Come to our first responders,
our doctors and nurses and hospital staff,
the men and women who preserve the civic order
and protect us from fire and bring us our food.
Come now to the hearts and minds of scientists seeking a vaccine
for the pandemic, and to all who support their work.
Come to those who are mourning the death of loved ones,
Come to those suffering from racisms, violence, and injustice.
Come to our political and religious leaders,
Fill their hearts with compassion and their minds with wisdom.
With your gift, the community of believers,
who came to be called church, was born.
Strengthen us to be working signs for all
humanity to be one, a community of mutual care,
Amen.
Our Father, who art in Heaven . . .

Blessing:
Be of good courage; hold fast to what which is good;
Strengthen the fainthearted and support the weak, love and serve God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless you now and forever. Amen.

Peace be with you, keep well,
Yours,
Pastor Ingrid

Trinity’s Church council has met (online) on Tuesday, May 26 and has released a statement, which explains what we are thinking about opening our church again:

The province’s guidelines now allow small in-person religious assemblies under strict health precautions that will significantly change our worship experience. The overall recommendation still is to continue with remote services. In a a letter from May 22, Bishop Larry writes, “Any congregation considering meeting in person for worship once more is encouraged to form a team to carefully consider the needs and vulnerabilities of their congregation, and the expectations of Public Health officials.”

On Tuesday, church council decided to continue with remote Sunday services. Council also decided to establish a small team that will develop recommendations and guidelines for Sunday services and other assemblies, such as funerals, at Trinity. They will be presented to church council for approval. If you are interested in participating in this team, please contact us. We are looking in particular for people from the health professions or with experience in logistics.

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COVID-19 Response: Small Team to Consider In-person Assemblies at Trinity, May 29

The province’s guidelines now allow small in-person religious assemblies under strict health precautions that will significantly change our worship experience. The overall recommendation still is to continue with remote services. In a letter from May 22, Bishop Larry writes, “Any congregation considering meeting in person for worship once more is encouraged to form a team to carefully consider the needs and vulnerabilities of their congregation, and the expectations of Public Health officials.” On Tuesday, May 26th,Church Council decided to continue with remote Sunday services. Council also decided to establish a small team that will develop recommendations and guidelines for Sunday services and other assemblies, such as funerals, at Trinity. They will be presented to Church Council for approval. If you are interested in participating in this team, please contact us. We are looking in particular for people from the health professions or with experience in logistics.

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Worship Continues Online for Now

As part of its relaunch strategy, the government of Alberta has posted new guidelines for places of worship. While small services are possible again under strict protocols, congregations are encouraged to continue holding services remotely. On May 11, we received a letter from Bishop Larry, in which he also strongly recommends continuing with remote worship for now. We will follow both of these recommendations. Church Council will discuss our path forward at their next meeting on May 26. In the meantime, we encourage you to read Bishop Larry’s excellent letter.

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Pastoral Letter

May 6, 2020

Hello all, dear members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church,

It has been a long time since we saw each other. I am praying that you are doing well. I miss seeing you; I miss our worship services and the gatherings after the services or during the week. However, we know what is necessary to do right now and I am grateful for all the kind and thoughtful people who do stay at home, though it’s not easy. But we know that Jesus meets us in the midst of our lives. Jesus meets us where we are spending the most time right now, Jesus is with us always. And once a year—in the season of Easter—we are promised that Jesus is our good shepherd. We get the Gospel from John about sheep and shepherd (John 10:1 – 10) and we have Psalm 23, the Good Shepherd, which is just beautiful and certainly the best loved and most well-liked psalm in the Bible.

Psalm 23: The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the ]valley o f the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Some of you might be still acquainted with the text of this psalm; some of you even might know the words by heart. The imagery is that of a flock of sheep, and all that constitutes the “good life” for a sheep: green grass, abundant water, and a good shepherd, who leads and guides in this life and through this life. It is a place of abundance and beauty. It is a place of vibrant and nourishing green pastures. It is a place of deep, still waters.

This psalm describes a journey. A journey from the beginning to the end of life, but the end is no end, because we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. The House of the Lord lacks for nothing.

We know that life is a journey through restful green pastures and beside quite water and a journey through the deepest darkest shadows of despair and death. Our journey involves enduring some rough spots along the way, climbing some hills, and passing through and out of dark valleys, as well as resting in green pastures and beside still waters. And that is the attraction of our psalm: it does not only speak about vibrant green pastures and still waters, but also about guidance facing darkness and despair. And there is the promise also: I am with you, we are promised, you are not alone. When you’re walking through some unfamiliar valley and the shadows linger, when your finances are tight, when you feel lonesome, when you have cancer and have to decide whether it will be chemotherapy or some other way, when you feel uncertain of the future, remember this:

Your Shepherd is leading you through this valley for reasons that probably won’t be apparent. But rest assured, he is taking you to the high country, where the sun is warm and the grass is lush. I think that every valley is pathway to something better. Or as Paul put it, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good . . .” (Romans 8:28). The valley isn’t good, but the Shepherd is. He knows the way.

This is my prayer for you:
Thank you, that you know me and call me by name.
Thank you that you would search and search just for one missing sheep out of a hundred—even it were me—and not rest until it was back in the fold.
We shall not want, Lord, for we are yours, and you have given us what we need.
Thank you for green pastures. Thank you for quiet waters. Thank you for refreshing my soul. Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear. You, Lord, are my shepherd. You have called me by name. And you have searched, until you have found me. Enfold me in your love. Amen.

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord makes his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord look upon you with his favour and give you peace.
Amen.

Yours.
Pastor Ingrid Doerschel

If you need somebody to talk to or a prayer said, please contact me via our website or call the church office, 780-433-1604.

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Easter 2020: A Letter to Members and Friends of Trinity

April 23, 2020

Dear members of our congregation, dear friends,

In response to the daily news about the coronavirus, our prayers to God are for those who are ill with this virus and for those who care for them, especially in countries that have been most affected. We pray for health and frontline workers as they face their daily tasks. We pray for those who have died in the shootings this weekend, that their souls might find love and peace and your presence. We pray that God might sustain and uphold all those who are grieving, their families and friends. We ask God to enfold us all in God’s love and protection. Amen.

We can pray like this because we know that our faith gives us more than enough reason for courage: we worship God who created life and conquered death.

In her last Easter sermon Student Pastor Erin Thomas said:

“We are used to Easter morning being welcomed with sunrise services, loud brass instruments, drums, clapping, shouting, waving, and lots of light, light, light! But resurrection begins in the dark . . . But we are afraid of the dark . . . And here we are. We are in the tomb of Covid-19. The stone is rolled across the door. The air is close, the light is gone. The flurry of life in the outside world is cut off. We are alone with God. And in this darkness, the Spirit of God can now move once again over the surface of the deep—of the chaos of all that is or has ever been.”

From the Gospel of John, chapter 20: “Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. They saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the disciples went away again to their own homes. But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb“

I think it took Mary Magdalene and the other disciples some time understand that gift of darkness they had received in those dark hours in Jerusalem. But during those difficult days and hours in Jerusalem they learned more about loss, bitterness and grief than they had imagined possible. Some of us experience a kind of darkness that contains fear, anxiety, loss of financial security, loneliness, deep sadness, and the fear of sickness and death. I know about these feelings too.

And then I again listen to the story of Jesus’ resurrection and new life, again hear about the pain that was first—that seems to me to be like the pain of giving birth to something new, to a new life, born out of the darkness of a womb into bright light. Darkness generates a deepened love and appreciation for life again, for relationships and friendships, for sunlight and the beauty of the small things, darkness created gratefulness for the love of God in Jesus Christ. “I have seen the Lord,” Mary Magdalene says, “I have seen the Lord and he is risen.”

And then I become aware of a new feeling: Gratitude: to be grateful for the little things and for the bigger picture and the promise that life will flower again from pain and even death.

Let me please share a message I found when I walked my dog Shesh in the Mill Creek Ravine:

Look at the picture: there is darkness and there is light and light shines into the darkness. There is a heart and a promise: We are in this together. Thanks be to God!

Hymn # 379, 1: Now the Green Blade Rises, from the buried grain, wheat that in dark earth many days has lain; Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that arising green.

Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!
Pastor Ingrid

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2020 Easter Pastoral Letter, April 9, 2020

It is Easter, dear friends and members of Trinity.

However, everything is different this year. And it still might be strange for some of you not to be able to worship at church. But know, Jesus meets us in the midst of our lives. Jesus meets us where are spending the most time right now, with our families perhaps, with our partners or alone. He is with us.

I (Pastor Ingrid) am writing this message today, April 9. It was the day 75 years ago that the German protestant theologian, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was murdered by the Nazis. Bonhoeffer was known for his strong resistance to Nazi dictatorship, arrested in April 1943 and killed in 1945. From prison he wrote letters to his loved ones and friend and in one letter he wrote, “I am restless, I am lonely and sick, yearning for freedom, feeling like a bird in a cage. But you, my loved ones and my friends, you are close to my heart and even if we are separated, you are present in my life, always.”

In this time of Covid-19, in uncertainty and fear, we require relationship with one another and with God. And this is promised to us. On Easter Sunday we will be reassured again that life will flower from suffering and even death, that life is stronger than death.

As it is written in the Gospel of John 20: “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. “

We pray: Almighty God,
by the resurrection of Jesus Christ you broke the power of death and opened the way to eternal life. As the empty tomb stands witness to his triumph over death, make your church to be a bold testimony to his enduring victory in life, that all we do may proclaim to the world, “He is risen, indeed!” Through Christ, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.

Hymn # 365: Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross Alleluia! suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

2 Hymns of praise then let us sing Alleluia! Unto Christ our heav’nly King, Alleluia! who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia! Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

3 But the pains which he endured, Alleluia! Our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s King, Alleluia! Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

4 Sing we to our God above Alleluia! Praise eternal as his love; Alleluia!
praise him, all ye heav’nly host, Alleluia! Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia!

A Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you!

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A Letter from Trinity’s pastors and Church Council:
How to Be a Faithful Community in These Times

March 20, 2020

Dear members and friends of Trinity Lutheran Church,

In this time of disruption, uncertainty and fear –
Peace be with you from him who is and was and will come again, Jesus Christ.

God has not abandoned us. Recently, Trinity adopted a new mission: “In community with one another, we are called to be the embodiment of God’s love in this world.” This is even truer during a pandemic.

Right now, one of the most important ways of embodying God’s love is by slowing the spread of the virus. We are particularly mindful of seniors and the immuno-compromised, who are at heightened risk. Alberta Health has directed Albertans to cancel meetings of over 50 people, and on March 17, ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson and Synod Bishops sent a letter encouraging congregations to “suspend public worship services and other gatherings effective immediately.” Trinity Council voted on March 17 to follow these directives and suspend public worship the next several weeks.

But this does not mean that the church is closed—we will do church differently. The church office remains open. Pr. Ingrid is back (part time for now). Our pastoral team, church council, and volunteers are creating new ways to fulfill our mission in this in-between time.

Worshiping together
o We will bring you a meaningful Sunday morning worship experience remotely while we cannot meet as a congregation. For specifics, watch the weekly e-news or check our website later in the week.
o Some of our lay people are recording Lenten services on YouTube for you to participate in. They are posted on this web page.
o Student Pastor Erin is posting a daily video devotion on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/trinitylutheranedmonton/ These videos have closed captioning for the hearing impaired. It should be possible for those without a Facebook account to be able to view these videos. (Click Not Now if you are asked to sign in.)
o In addition to online Sunday worship services and daily video devotions, Pastor Ingrid will send per mail weekly devotions and prayers in German and in English to those who don’t have internet access.

Caring for one another
o Our pastoral team is available to talk to you: Please contact them.
o Some of us will be hit hard by the pandemic. People who are alone or sick, people who lose income, people who are afraid. We are building a support team for making grocery runs, talking to people on the phone, praying for others, and so on. Please contact the church office if you have time to help.
o We are also establishing a grocery fund for those whose budgets are tightened at the moment. Consider adding a donation for that fund to your offerings.

Children
o Pastor Eileen will share a link for a “Godly Play” story video with suggested questions and activities each week. She will also send out activities, puzzles or information for families and children, linked through the weekly email. (To sign up for our e-news, please contact the church office.)
o Talking to your children about Covid-19: This article has some good tips for talking to kids of all ages. Additionally, the health updates from Dr. Deena Hinshaw can be helpful for older kids, either the portions of the video where she is speaking, or reading the transcripts together. For kids who do better with concrete information, this is a good source.
o Please find more resources at the end of this message.

Supporting the community
o The food bank depot at Trinity will continue, with extra precautions.
o “Anonymous” and support groups are small and sometimes life-saving, and will continue with strict adherence to Alberta Health guidelines.
o The overnight winter shelter will continue with strict adherence to Alberta Health guidelines. (Update March 25: The shelter has moved to the Kinsmens Sports Centre.)
o The community dinners, which are often larger than 50 people, many of them vulnerable to disease, have been suspended until we are advised that people can again start meeting in larger groups.
o If you wish to support our community dinner friends, please donate to the Food Bank or support a homeless ministry such as The Neighbour Centre.
o Our building cleaning regimen has been adjusted to focus on strict sanitation against the virus.
o Please take the Alberta Health prevention measures seriously and follow them: Stay at home and away from others if you’re feeling ill, wash hands frequently, practice physical distancing, etc.

Supporting church operations
Please consider, as you are able, how you can continue to give and support the ministry of Trinity during this time:
o If you are not yet on PAR (pre-authorized monthly donations), this would be a good time to sign up. Amounts can be adjusted any time. Please contact the office for more info.
o Mail your offering, or drop it into the church’s secure mailbox. Consider sending post-dated cheques, if possible.
o Donate online through Canada Helps: www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/20069 .(we pay a service charge for the credit card processing)
o If you bank electronically, you can send an Interac donation to donation@trinity-lutheran.ab.ca, (for the moment, autodeposit is still not working so please specify a password and send us a separate email with the password for your donation).

Keep in touch
The church office remains open, emails and phone messages will be checked and responded to. Please keep in touch! Our website is also a good way to check for updates; we will make an extra effort to keep it current. To subscribe to the weekly email, go to the Contact tab and send a message to our Office Manager.

Dear friends, there have been difficult and challenging times in the past. And people of faith have often been astonishing in how they rose to these challenges. The stories of our ancestors inspire us, telling us how they took seriously the call to love God and their neighbors as themselves. May God grant us generous gifts of courage, faith and compassion.

We conclude with a prayer, today especially for all who are ill and those who are most fully engaged in the public health efforts that are underway across the country and around the world:

“Holy God, when we aren’t sure, help us be calm;
when information comes from all sides, correct and not, help us to discern;
when fear makes it hard to breathe, and anxiety seems to be the order of the day, slow us down, help us to reach out with our hearts, when we can’t touch with our hands;
help us to be socially connected, when we have to be socially distant;
help us to love as perfectly as we can, knowing that “perfect love casts out all fear.”
For the doctors, we pray, for the nurses, we pray, for the technicians and the janitors and the aides and the caregivers, we pray, for the researchers and epidemiologists and investigators we pray. For those who are sick, and those who are grieving, we pray. For all who are affected, all around the world, we pray. For safety, for health, for wholeness, we pray.
May we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked and house those without homes; may we walk with those who feel they are alone, and may we do all that we can to heal the sick—in spite of the epidemic, in spite of the fear.

We also pray for the family of Merle P. Merle died peacefully on Sunday, March 15. We pray for her daughter Roseann and her son Teddy and family. Comfort them with your love and guide them through a time of grieving and adapting to a new life. We all live in the assurance that whether we live or whether we die, we are placed in your hands.
Help us, O God, that we might help each other and stand together.
In the name of God, our creator.
In the name Jesus Christ, our healer,
in the life of the Holy Spirit that is in all and with all,
we pray. Amen.” 
(by the Right Reverend Richard Bott, slightly changed by Pastor Ingrid)
(There will be a private service for immediate family of Merle P. and a larger celebration of life at a later date.)

Faithfully Yours,
Pr. Ingrid, Student Pastor Erin, Pastor Eileen, and Trinity Church Council

Resources for this week
How to wash your hands “in the right spirit.” (Thank you to Frank T. for sending.)

Breath Prayers (from Pastor Eileen): This might be a great time to teach and learn breath prayers. I know that my child has had lots of questions and some increased anxiety—breath prayers are a great way to help quiet some of that anxiety and connect with God. Here is a link that might be helpful if this is something you would like to explore.