Communion at Home – Concordia, San Antonio

Beloved Concordia,

These are difficult times. As COVID-19 continues to spread, we have been asked by our government officials to stay at home except to take care of essential needs. I am so thankful that, even when we are at home apart, we are able to stream our weekend services so that we can worship together online.

I have received several questions about whether we will be able to celebrate Communion while worshipping online. I know that in addition to physical needs like food, water, sleep, and exercise, we all have spiritual needs as well.  Receiving the body and blood of Jesus is one of those needs that is essential!

We have been working hard to develop a plan for us to celebrate Communion together, even while we’re apart. We have consulted with the Church Council and the President of the Texas District of our church body, and both are supportive of this plan. I am happy to announce that this weekend, March 28 and 29, and then again next weekend, April 4 and 5, during our normal service times, we will celebrate Communion. Here’s what you’ll need to be prepared:

  • Please have bread and wine or grape juice ready for whatever service you choose to stream. If you’d like to try to bake unleavened bread, I’ve included a recipe at the bottom of this note. This could be a great way to spend time together as a family!
  • At the usual time during the service, I will speak the traditional words we say before Communion, known as the Words of Institution.  However, this time, I will invite you to speak the words with me (the words will be on the screen). This will be a moment of unity for our beloved Concordia.
  • After I speak the Words of Institution, you can pass the bread to each other, saying to each person, “Take and eat; the body of Christ for you.” Then pass the wine or grape juice to each other, saying to each person, “Take and drink; the blood of Christ for you.”
  • If there is someone in your group who has not been confirmed or does not understand the significance of Communion, you can lay your hands on them and speak the opening words of the Benediction: “The Lord bless you and keep you.”

If you are living alone, staying home during this crisis can be lonely and even frightening. I am praying that our celebration of Communion will remind you that you are not alone! Christ is with you in this meal and our Concordia family is brought together in this meal!

Dear Concordia family, I miss you and I love you. I hope with all my heart that we will be able to be together in person soon. Until that time, though, I am so thankful that what unites us in Christ is greater than anything we face in this world.

I’ll see you online!

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

Unleavened Bread for Communion

  • Prep 10 m
  • Cook 10 m
  • Ready In 20 m

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mix flour, oil, and salt together in a bowl; add water and mix using a pastry cutter until dough is soft. Form dough into 6 balls and press into disks onto the prepared baking sheet using your hands.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until bread is cooked, 8 to 10 minutes.

Concordia and COVID-19

Dear Friends,

At Concordia, we take the health of our guests, members, students, faculty, and staff very seriously. We want this to be a safe and healthy place to worship and grow in faith. With the spread of COVID-19, popularly known as the coronavirus, dominating the headlines, I want to let you know what steps we are taking to keep everyone who comes onto our campus as safe as possible.

The best weapon against the spread of COVID-19 is prevention. We do our best to keep our campus clean and sanitized. Our janitorial staff wipes down highly trafficked surfaces in our church, school, and childcare on a regular basis. We also contract with a company that cleans surfaces quarterly across our campus with a specialized, long-lasting sterilization spray.

For individuals, the Centers for Disease Control recommends the following actions to guard against spreading this, or any, virus:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Of course, if you become sick, or if someone in your family becomes sick, please stay home, get the rest you or they need to recover, and consult your physician if you have any questions or concerns about the illness.

Texas Health and Human Services emphasizes that the immediate risk of contracting COVID-19 remains low. We are thankful that we have had no reported incidents of anyone infected by the virus on our campus. However, should the risk of contracting this virus rise, please know that we are already working on contingency plans so we can continue offering the ministries you have come to expect from Concordia, even if access to our campus becomes limited. 

Sunday services will continue to be streamed and you will be able to access them from wherever you are. Beginning this weekend, as we have when health concerns have arisen in the past, please fist bump or elbow tap folks as you greet them in worship. In the unlikely event that we are not able to physically gather on our campus for worship, you will still be able to join a service via our livestream. You will also be able to give online at Concordia.cc just by clicking on the “Give” tab at the top of our homepage. Our school administration is developing plans to offer online lessons and assignments should a large portion – or, perhaps, even all – of our student population need to stay home. You will receive detailed information on how to access and make use of such resources if the need arises.

As we plan, I want to remind you to pray. Because of COVID-19, families have lost loved ones, financial markets have reacted, and a fair amount of fear is in the air. But we trust in a Savior who is able to heal “every disease and sickness” (Matthew 4:23). Please join me in praying that the spread of COVID-19 will be stemmed and that people who have been affected will be healed and receive all the help they need. 

Thank you for being a part of this great family of faith!

God bless you,

Bill Tucker, Senior Pastor

What is God’s Will for My Life?

Happy New Year!  I hope that your 2019 will be great.  Of course, there will be some struggle points, but overall, I hope you will be healthy, happy and well.  Above all, I hope that you will grow in your relationship with Jesus.  To that end, and toward a happier and healthier 2019, I want to share a significant section of Scripture.

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:16-18 (NLT)

These three things are critical to our life and well-being … and our faith!

“Be joyful!”  We don’t always feel like being joyful, but we always have that choice.  Choose joy instead of wallowing in the saddest things and dwelling on the frightening things.  But how can we do that?  I think these verses point us toward two key issues:

“Never stop praying.”  Take all the painful, frightening, difficult, joy-stealing thinks in your world and lift them to God in prayer.  Through prayer, give them to the only One who has the power to solve the BIG problems in life.  Also, …

“Be thankful in all circumstances”because gratitude is powerful.  So powerful, that once we have turned the hard stuff over to God, gratitude makes us feel good about our life and circumstances because we remember the things for which we are grateful! It changes our whole perspective!

However, what amazes me most about these three, short verses is the part that I underlined above. “…this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  Many of us spend a lot of time and emotional effort trying to figure out what God’s will is for our lives.  What if it isn’t that hard?  What if all the decisions about relationships, schools, jobs, where we live, and all the rest of life are not God’s priority for us.  After all, He can bless us in all those choices.

God’s priority IS us.  He sent Jesus to re-connect us to Himself.  He wants a relationship with us.  The real issue is our attitude and awareness. A relationship where there is trust (prayer) and appreciation (gratitude) is a healthy one. That is EXACTLY what God wants to have with us.  So, the way I think about it is, if I am praying and grateful, I will see God’s blessings in my life, and that will result in praise.  And when we are praising God, we are in the center of His will for us.

Bethel, Alaska – Friday, 6-22

Thursday, June 21, 2018

img_1656.jpegSummer Solstice!  The longest day of the year is here.  And when you are in Bethel, AK, that means sunrise is 5:13 AM and sunset is at 12:23 AM (tomorrow) and it simply will NOT get dark … ever!  It really is interesting (and disorienting).  Talking to the local folks, they get very tired of the constant light.  They work hard to “black out” their homes to get a break. And they bask in the more normal sunlight when they are “down states.”

IMG_9174.JPGIt reminds me of the struggle that many of us face when we have cloudy days stretched together and we long to have the sunlight return.  And, of course, there is Seasonal Affect Disorder which afflicts folks when there isn’t enough sunlight (which I am sure is a big deal here in Alaska when they have constant darkness.) and can cause deep depression.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Wow!  There is blue sky showing!  It is the first we’ve seen since we arrived in Bethel.  Thank you, Lord!

IMG_1639-1We accomplished a HUGE amount of work yesterday.  In fact, the director of the seminary (and the man who assigns and coordinates the work) stopped by our devotions a few minutes ago and admitted that he is struggling to figure out what to have us do for the rest of the time AND what he’ll have for the teams that follow us do during the rest of the summer.  However, I am confident that he will find more to do. The needs are everywhere.

IMG_3108.jpegIt was also interesting to be here for the longest day of the year.  In fact, several of us took pictures at midnight last night.  The outdoors we as light as the middle afternoon. There were people outside flying a kite and a boy was riding his bike!  This picture is through a solar screen.  I’ll get better pictures tonight.

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Well, it is off to work. Thank you for your prayers.  If you don’t mind, please join us in praying for the chance to have more interactions with the community in the days ahead.

IMG_1639-1.jpegHappy Friday … afternoon!

 

 

Bethel, Alaska – Wednesday 6-20

Wednesday, 6-20-2018

IMG_1568.jpegWe began on Monday with our travel to Anchorage, Alaska.  We started early and it was a LONG day!  However, we made it to Anchorage by 5 PM local time and we had hours and hours of daylight left!  In fact, since it really doesn’t get dark here during the summer, we had endless hours of daylight.  Unfortunately, our energy level didn’t measure up to the daylight hours.  We were all exhausted and in bed by 8:30 PM.

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On Tuesday morning, before we made the flight to Bethel where we would work for the week, we had a “fun day.”  The day began with a trip to a wildlife preserve.  It was truly amazing!  We saw Moose, Cariboo, Wolves, Muskox, Fox, a Brown Bear and a Black Bear, and a Baldheaded Eagle, among other things.  This was a wonderful way to start our time in Alaska.  But it was only the beginning.

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After we left the wildlife preserve, we made a short trip to Wittier, Alaska where we took a boat tour called “Glacier Quest.”  It, too, was phenomenal.  We saw incredible wildlife in Prince William Sound, but the most amazing parts were the blue glaciers.  They were absolutely beautiful and we had the privilege of watching one of the glaciers “calve” several times.

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This morning (Wednesday, 6-20) we, again, started VERY early and made the 1.25-hour flight to Bethel Alaska. Everything went smoothly and we began our work here in earnest.  We are staying on the campus of Alaska Bible Seminary.  It is a seminary of the Moravian Church that trains indigenous people for ministry.  There is so much work to be done, and we will do our best to complete as much as possible.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  Everyone is healthy and well.  This is a GREAT team of people and I’ll look forward to reporting to you again tomorrow about our progress.

God bless you!

Confirmation Day 2018

2018Confirmation.jpgWhat an amazing group of young people!  They truly disciples and followers of Jesus.  I cannot wait to see what God has in store for them in the day, months, years and decades ahead.  Each and every one is God’s masterpiece, created and re-created with a beautiful plan and future in mind!  They are going to change their world and make a difference for the Kingdom of God.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8–10

 Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), Eph 2:8–10.

Server: Jesus

This past weekend, during the message we were talking about the importance of serving. It is Jesus purpose in life, and it is ours, as well. One of the points we talked about was the fact that when we serve, we not only care for the person involved, but we are also serving Jesus. In Matthew 25, Jesus puts it this way, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:40IMG_1157

Later in the afternoon, one of our members sent me a message. He and his family had gone to church after the service. When they got the check for their meal, they realized just how real Jesus’ words are.

The simple acts of service we do every day reach all the way up to heaven just like heaven reached down to us through the ministry of God’s Son. When we love and serve people, it reaches all the way to Jesus. Remembering this can help us stay focused on our words, actions, and attitude when we might, otherwise, be tempted to be less-than-kind. Whenever we are called to serve someone, and we find it difficult, just remind yourself, “I’m serving Jesus!” If you see Jesus behind the person, you will look differently at that person. You will look at them with more respect and more love.

Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men … Colossians 3:23a