Good Evening Immanuel Family,

Grace, mercy, and peace, be unto you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN

As circumstances are changing by the day and hour, Immanuel’s ministry is staying proactive to serve you, our church and school families.  Just this morning, we had an online chapel service for our school.  Our teachers are teaching via online classrooms, videos and take-home packets.  Hopefully you tuned in to Pastor Robert’s evening devotion tonight at 6:30.

Speaking of our YouTube Channel, please subscribe so that you always have immediate access to our latest live videos.  One of the features of this broadcast, is that there is a chat feature in which you can ask questions.  If you have any questions, please type it in the chat, and I will try to answer your question at the end of my address.

Let me begin by saying, Immanuel has made a huge paradigm shift.  We now see ourselves as primarily as an Online Church and School.  Because of the constraints put on our community, we must explore our fellowship and learning environments virtually online. This new paradigm is causing us to rethink how we can best serve you in meaningful ways.

But let me highlight that word “primarily” an online ministry.  Immanuel is still here to serve our families through counseling, prayer, and compassion outreach.  If you have a need, let us know, and we will do our best to connect with you.

So what does a Virtual Preschool look like?  Our Preschool Teachers are teaching every day through a variety of means, and I encourage all our preschool families to take full advantage of our resources.  Our teachers are providing incredibly creative and faith-filled activities for our children.  This not only keeps your young child engaged in learning – it offers them a daily routine with their teacher, that really brings a lot of comfort.  It helps them to cope with this new normal.

If you have questions or ideas, contact your preschool teacher directly through Band or email.

I also want to bring you up to date on the great work that Mrs. Salgado is doing.  She is staying in daily contact with Riverside County Health to see if we might be allowed to provide limited childcare for families in need.  We do not yet have confirmation of this, but we might be able to provide some childcare on our premises.  As soon as we have an answer from Riverside County Health, we will notify you.  If we are able to open limited childcare, this would include Kids Kare for our elementary students.

Now for our Online Elementary Instruction.  Our teachers are working diligently to create a “normal” day for our students.  Tomorrow morning at 8:30, we will do virtual pledges of allegiance to the cross and flag, along with our opening school day prayer, just like we do every day before school.  After that, teachers are providing instruction, learning, and school work for your student.  

Let me stress this fact: these assignments are not voluntary.  Your student is in school and is expected to complete the work assigned by their teacher. At the end of the quarter, and at the end of the school year, your student will receive grades and a report card.  We are absolutely committed in making sure that your student continues to excel academically, so they are more-than-ready for school next Fall.  

If you have questions or need some extra help, please contact your teacher directly.  They are putting in full work days to help you.

So what does an online Church look like?  Or to put it another way, what does it mean to have “virtual fellowship”?  Jesus promised us, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Mt 18:20)  Now normally we think about gathering for worship in our sanctuary or in our homes for small groups, but I believe this promise of Christ holds true even when we share time together online.  Live online worship or devotions is a way for us to be together, so I encourage you to participate in as many live church events as possible.

Throughout Lent, Pastor Robert, DCE Jean, and I will be coming to you each night at 6:30pm with a brief 10-minute devotion and prayer.  Stop as a family and sit around your phone, computer or TV for this brief time of sacred study.  

This Sunday, we will also be gathering virtually online for worship.  Because the CDC has limited gatherings to no more than 10, we are not inviting worshipers to physically be present on campus.  Instead, join us for 1 service at 9:30am.  That’s one combined worship service that begins live Sunday at 9:30am.  You will receive a bulletin in advance and engage in music, liturgy, readings, and teaching.  

Again, we encourage you to join us live to experience real fellowship with one another.  But of course, if you can’t make it then, the video is always able for you to be viewed afterward.

We are also planning a way for us to celebrate Holy Communion together.  This would mean coming to church during certain hours and receiving Christ’s Body and Blood as an individual family.  We’re working out the details, but we will celebrate Holy Communion sometime next week.

We’ve had a number of people ask us about tithes and offerings.  Our Board of Directors met last night in a virtual conference room.  I can tell you that our leadership is absolutely committed to make sure that Immanuel’s vibrant ministry continues unimpeded, and also that we are able to pay our staff who depend on us for their livelihood.  

Please continue to tithe and give offerings, and if you are able, give generously!  You can do so by sending a check or give online through our website.  Beyond your general giving, we are also setting up a Compassion Fund that will go directly to our Immanuel families who are in need.

Before I take any questions, let’s close with a Word from our Lord from Matthew 6:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Jesus calms are fears by saying, “Do not be anxious; Do not be afraid.”  If you are struggling in this time of uncertainty, then do me a favor, and tomorrow, go outside your home and do these two things:  

First, look at the birds of the air.  See how they frolic and fly.  See how God provides them with daily food, even though they have no supermarkets and own no food pantries.  

After looking at the birds, consider the flowers in your yard.  That word “consider” means to meditate upon.  Reflect on their beauty.  Smell their fragrance.  If God would create and care for such simple splendor, will He not also care for you, His dear child?

God loves you.  He’s redeemed you in Christ our Lord. And His Holy Spirit lives in you through baptism to strengthen your faith.  So do not be anxious, and do not be afraid.  Faith in Jesus overcomes fear, every time.

This concludes my address.  If there are questions, I will try to answer them online now…