A Note from Pastor Bruce

Beloved People of God....


We’ve all heard it. We’ve probably all said it at one time or another. “Are we there yet?” Usually, we associate the phrase with long car trips, with children in the back seat and mom and/or dad shouting back, “We’ll get there when we get there!”


Like St. Paul shares, “I’ve put away childish behavior,” but I must admit that I’ve found myself recently asking over and over again, “Are we there yet?” I know, “We’ll get there when we get there,” but I’m hopeful, with vaccines going into more arms, that it will be

sooner than later.


It is difficult to believe that it has now been a year since we first heard the term, “Covid-19.” It’s been a year since we have been in the middle of this pandemic. I remember, quite vividly, the moment we had to make the move to worship on-line. I also remember the sermon I shared that Sunday, addressing our new reality. I shared:


It is shocking to think how much the world has changed in such a brief time. Each of us has had our lives and communities disrupted. We want to assure you; we are here in this with you. How are you doing? I must admit, it hit me the other night. My son Alex plays baseball for Jackson. They had what may well be their last practice, on Sunday, as a senior. They dressed in their uniforms and played ball! Afterward, we took pictures, and they didn’t want to leave that field. I couldn’t help but reflect that this group of seniors were born the year of 9/11 and graduating while experiencing a pandemic. No, losing their senior season is not a

matter of life or death, but it made me sad, sad for me, sad for them. Then, we had to make the decision to worship remotely, practicing social, or really, physical distancing. My wife had to let her dental staff go so they could receive unemployment. I know many of you are wrestling with similar realities. It’s hard. It’s sad. It’s maddening. No doubt, you’re experiencing a variety of emotions. The headline from the Repository on Thursday summed it up well: “It’s Scary!”


The theologian, Karl Barth once said, “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” Well, let’s do that. Did you know, the phrase, “do not fear,” or “do not be afraid”, was used regularly by Jesus, angels, and God to open doors of conversation by reducing anxiety present in the hearts of those gathered. In fact, the phrase, “I shall not fear,” and “Fear not!” or a variation of it appears 356 times throughout scripture, one for every day of the year! The anxiety that’s addressed pertains to earthly things, monetary worth, daily needs, and the concern for life.... Fear quite often beckons people away from constructive risk, necessary conversation, and imminent action. Fear often perpetuates destructive behaviors, limiting potential for individual or relational growth.... Be assured God is with us through Jesus Christ in the power and presence of the

Holy Spirit to help us face our fears with faith, knowing that even death does not have the last word. Do not be afraid, let us walk forward in faith.


No, we’re not there yet. But I say again, do not fear! Hope is more than on the horizon. The congregation council is putting together another task force to help discern the best way forward as a congregation so that soon, and very soon, we will be able to gather fully together to mourn the losses and celebrate the victory of our faith and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Until that time, we will continue to follow the proper protocols to best love our neighbor as ourselves.


Last year everything went on-line only throughout Lent, Holy Week and Easter. This year, we will continue to have hybrid worship celebrations. For those who desire to worship on-line we will have palms and communion elements available to pick up and take home outside the North entrance. You are invited to pick up at least 3 cup and wafer packages for each person in your household for the Holy Week services, including Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Easter. We will have palms for Palm Sunday with worship at 8, 9:30 and 11 a.m. Maundy Thursday we will have a special Service of Healing, sharing the anointing oil in a similar way in which we shared ashes on Ash Wednesday. On Good Friday we will observe the Tenebrae Service and on Holy Saturday, you are invited to tune into our on-line Stations of the Cross.


We will now have two opportunities to celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday. We will celebrate at the 8 a.m. traditional service, indoors in the sanctuary with over-flow seating available in the Holy Grounds Café. The 8 a.m. service will be simulcast on Facebook Live. And, to have as many as possible and be safe at the same time, we will have a combined 10 a.m. Easter Celebration in the Pavilion. Rain or shine, we will be outdoors. We ask, if you have a pop-up tent to bring it, if it looks like rain. We encourage you to bring a lawn chair. Pending on the temperature, we will have fires in the fireplace and fire pit and heating stations available. Please dress accordingly. You are welcome to bring your own bread and wine and/or grape juice for communion but we will also have communion elements available. I invite you to join us. Let us come together to celebrate the risen Lord! I know I can’t wait to get there!


See you Sunday,

Pastor Bruce

St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church

4600 Fulton Drive NW   Canton, OH 44718   330.492.4591

Service Times

Traditional Worship at 8:00 & 11:00 am
Contemporary Worship at 9:30 am

Live Streaming available for the 8:00 and 9:30 on our Facebook page 

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@2020 by St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church