Dear Friends, 

This Sunday is our first Sunday School for the little children, preschool to mid-elementary. Class begins after the 10am service and will last about twenty minutes. I will teach regularly. Michelle Baker and Lori Board will join the rotation next month. I am excited to spend time with the children. Please help me out and let me know if they are coming.
COVID restrictions continue at the 10am service. Masks are required for all persons. Our goal is to protect the children in our pews. Some of the children are too young to maintain mask compliance and that is okay. Their attendance and mask compliance is a parent decision. Another goal with COVID restrictions at the 10am service is to provide safety for adults who are concerned about it.
The 8am service does not have COVID restrictions. However, the majority of worshippers at the 8am service have elected to wear masks. This is a good thing, but I don’t wish to create barriers to worship. Please do not be tempted into judgement or stigma for others who have opinions and wish to excercise their spirituality in different ways. You have choices from no restrictions to COVID protocols to an online option.
I wish to share a personal story. I drive an ambulance for Maumee Fire 2-3 days per month. On Friday, August 27, all Emergency Rooms in Toledo and Maumee were closed due to patient capacity. All ambulance traffic was diverted to Flower Hospital in Sylvania and St. Charles in Oregon. In Maumee we had a CPR save. This means we got his pulse back. I transported the patient to Flower Hospital because St. Luke’s was closed. Even with lights and sirens, it still took twenty minutes to reach Flower Hospital. Later in the evening Lucas County forced St. Vincent’s Emergency Room to reopen. It took half an hour for me to transport a seizure patient to St. Vincent’s. It was very disconcerting.  
Not all of the ambulance traffic on that day was COVID related. There were normal medical emergencies. There was also the German Festival with ambulance calls due to intoxication. My point is COVID is out of control in Lucas County. The hospitals are overwhelmed. Community transmission of COVID in Lucas County is HIGH. It is also HIGH in Wood County. I see it first hand. It feels higher now than a year ago before we had access to vaccines. Please be safe and prudent in your social interaction.

Please consider getting vaccinated if you haven’t already.  In my own life, I know I would not have survived an earlier diagnosis of Leukemia without medical advances. I was first diagnosed in 2004. I relapsed in 2008 and 2015. I assume I will relapse again. Each of the three times I received chemotherapy, I received a brand new drug that was so early in development, there was no data on longevity or success. The risk was apparent, but the risk of not trying was decidedly worse. I am grateful for the outcome.

Love of neighbor is commanded by Jesus. Love of self comes first, but should never take priority over love of neighbor. They teach on airplanes to place your oxygen mask on yourself before you help the person next to you. This is because you cannot help your neighbor if you are unconscious. But then you must help your neighbor.
COVID mitigation works the same way. Love of self comes first so you will be safe and healthy to love your neighbor. But love of self does not take priority. Civil liberty that ignores COVID mitigation techniques denies love of neighbor. Freedom in Christ does not mean free to do what you want. It means you are free to serve Christ because you are saved, rather than dead in sin.

Please stay safe and healthy.

 In Peace, Paul+