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Letters from Pastor, Newsletter, & Calendar

A Dilemma:  Do I Get Vaccinated Or Not? 

The Covid Pandemic has beset us with much more than sickness and death.  It has tested our resolve as a nation to combat it, threatened our personal safety, brought grief into the lives of thousands of our citizens, confounded politicians to make policies that protect the public safety and at the same time not destroy people’s lives economically, demanded herculean efforts on the part of health care workers, first responders, and educators of our children,  dramatically assaulted the means and ways we do church ministry and deliver Word  and Sacrament to God’s people, and even squeezed the family unit in many cases to the breaking point.

Now, you might think that after all the turmoil our country and the other people of the world have been through this past year in dealing with the pandemic that there would be an eager and general acceptance of the newly developed vaccine.  I mean, who in their right mind would question or even refuse this often touted miracle cure? After all, if there was one thing that has seemed to unite us it has been the hope of a successful treatment or cure for the virus.  However, now it seems that we find ourselves in a dilemma over the use of the highly lauded vaccine.           

How can this be you ask?  Well, it is not as reprehensible as some make it out to be. As I see it, there are three main areas of legitimate concern about the vaccine that many people have.  The first revolves around its effectiveness.  As far as vaccines go, this particular one was produced in record time.  What in the past would have taken years and even decades to produce has in the case of this new Corona Virus vaccine been accomplished in months.  The speed of its production has definitely been due in part to the good cooperation of various pharmaceutical companies, the high priority and monetary backing it received from President Trump’s administration, as well as the FDA’s loosening of some of its production regulations and approval processes.  This in turn has lead many to question whether all the necessary testing was done to ensure the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.  Recent reports of people who have already received the vaccine getting sick or, in a few cases, even dying have only served to heighten these concerns. 

Arguably, what has played the most significant role in the speedy roll out of the vaccine and also given rise to apprehensions concerning its use has been the new technology utilized, not only in the development of the vaccine but also in the manner by which the vaccine works inside the body.  The first two vaccines which have gained approval and are already being administered; those of Moderna and Pfiizer/BioNTech, have made use of this new technology. Instead of injecting a weakened strain of the virus into the host, to stimulate the body’s own immune system to fight against the virus as previous vaccines have done, the new technology uses artificially produced DNA, known as M RNA to, in essence, change the vaccinated person’s own DNA to combat the infection.  The problem with this new technology is that no one knows with absolute certainty what long term effects this will have in a person’s body or the changes in one’s DNA that might be caused which could be quite detrimental to the person’s health or even life.

The third issue that especially concerns many of us Christians and others who believe that God is the Creator of all life and that life begins at conception, is the fact that some of these Covid vaccines have utilized the fetal tissue or DNA from aborted children in either their development, production or testing.  Although it is illegal to use recently aborted fetuses for this purpose, the vaccine companies are allowed to use cells kept alive and replicated from cells of fetuses aborted decades before the laws were passed. 

 This obviously poses a moral dilemma for anyone who would like to take advantage of the vaccine’s potential to combat Covid and yet is bothered in conscience that by doing so he/she would be personally profiting from the murder and destruction of another innocent life; i.e. through abortion.  Now I suppose a Christian could rationalize that by using that which was regrettably produced in an evil manner for the good of protecting the lives of other people, then that would be loving the neighbor as the LORD desires us to do.  But how far can one legitimately extend such logic? If I’m not mistaken that is basically the same argument the pro-abortion folks use to justify a “woman’s right to choose.”  “Yes,” they admit, “the abortion is not what anyone really wants to do but if it serves to help, maybe even save, a woman’s mental and emotional health, then it is accomplishing a good thing.”  Does the good cancel out the evil?   Does the end justify the means? God help us all if this is true!

Now, I’m sure there are some of you reading this who have no doubt already received the vaccine and at the time were totally unaware of any of this information.  All you knew was you were offered a promising protection from this dreaded virus and you gladly took it.  God bless you.  No one is condemning you.  It could also be true that you were aware of the vaccine’s dependence upon fetal tissue but strongly felt out of concern for your own health and that of others you would still receive the vaccination.  In matters such as this where God has not spoken or given us clear guidance in His Word, Christians are certainly free to come to different conclusions and courses of action.  In fact, printed elsewhere in this newsletter is a letter from Dr. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, in which he addresses this very issue.  Among other things he states, “Since neither Scripture nor the Synod has explicitly addressed this issue, it remains a matter of Christian freedom where you must choose according to your individual conscience.”  He later adds: “In this contentious issue, we must respect the consciences of fellow believers who share our same commitment to Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, as well as our life together as a Synod.  As St. Paul urges us regarding matters of conscience, ‘let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor’ (1 Cor. 10:24), and ‘let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother’ (Ro. 14:13).”

In your decision making on this issue and on any of the manifold others you are faced with in this world, which often has little regard for truth and God’s Word, I would like you to consider a few other things.  First of all, it is essential that we carefully and sincerely examine ourselves as to where we are placing our trust.  As we confess concerning the First Commandment, “we are to fear, love and trust in God above all things” (Luther’s Small Catechism).  In the annotated section of the latest CPH version of Luther’s Small Catechism in answer to the question: “What does it mean to fear, love, and trust in God above all things?” it replies in part:  “It means that we look to God first and foremost for our well-being, rather than to … human achievements such as intellect, technology, or medical advances” (2018, p. 61).  The Psalmist prays to the LORD saying, “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:25-26).

Secondly, it is to our great advantage to always remember that in all things and in all dangers to life and limb, Christ Jesus is our ultimate and true Savior not vaccines, not science, not any amount of money and not any worldly power. Even in the best hoped for results, all the vaccine can do for us is keep us free of Covid 19 and postpone our death.  It will not make us invincible.  Jesus, however, through His death and resurrection has already secured our eternal salvation.  In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

The peace and hope of our crucified and risen Savior be with you all and guide you in every dilemma and decision of life!

Pastor Schreibeis

Lent / Easter At Trinity

In the Book of Joel, the prophet paints a vivid picture of the coming judgment of God, the Day of the Lord. The imagery is bold and terrifying: hordes of locusts swarming over the land and decimating everything.  Joel’s prophecy has teeth even today as wars rage, natural disasters threaten and destroy, and our culture seems to be unraveling.  But right in the middle of this frightening portent, we find a tender invitation from the Lord: “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster” (Joel 2:13). God’s invitation and promise finds its fullness in Jesus Christ, who personifies and accomplishes all that God declares. 

During this season of Lent, we will consider the theme “Return to the Lord” and examine how the call to return played out in practical ways for the people who walked alongside Christ as He demonstrated and carried out God’s grace and mercy on our behalf.  By taking God’s wrath upon Himself, He set the stage for God to “turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him” (Joel 2:14). 

Each Wednesday evening Lenten service and every service during Holy Week will center our attention upon a particular event in the Passion of Christ, with a special focus on the people involved in the event. Studying the events and people helps us to connect to our own sinful nature and make us truly aware of how we have turned away from the Lord.  It will also enable us to rejoice in God’s call for us to return to Him with all our heart.  Come and join us as we return to our Savior and Lord!

Our Worship Schedule Will Be As Follows:

Ash Wednesday   (Our return begins in the dust and ashes of sincere repentance.) “A Call to Return”    February 17  7:00 pm
Lent Midweek II  (Peter, James, and John in the Garden of Gethsemane.) Return to Prayer”   February 24 7:00 pm
Lent Midweek III  (Judas appears in the in the Garden of Gethsemane and betrays Jesus into the "hands of lawless men".)  Return from Betrayal”  March 3 7:00 pm
Lent Midweek IV  (Jesus before Caiaphas and the Council.) Return from False Witness”      March 10 7:00 pm
 Lent Midweek V  (Peter denies Jesus in the courtyard.)  “Return from Denial”   March 17   7:00 pm 
 Lent Midweek VI  (Pontius Pilate wrestles with the question, “What is truth?”)  Return to the Kingdom of God”   March 24   7:00 pm 
 Maundy Thursday  (Jesus’ invitation back to fellowship with Him.)  "Return to the Table"   April 1   7:00 pm 
 Good Friday  (Jesus is on the One who is the way, and the truth, and the light, even as He hangs on the cross.) Return to Truth”    April 2      7:00 pm 
 Easter Sunrise  (The Lord has endured our punishment to ensure our salvation.)  Return to the Church”   April 4      7:00 am 
 The Resurrection Of Our Lord  (Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!  We rejoice that our Lord’s call to return was issued so that we might have life in abundance through the one who lived, died, and rose again to secure our salvation.)   Return and See”   April 4      10:30 am 

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