Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Governor of Minnesota has recently announced plans that allow us to resume public worship in our churches. We give all praise, honor and glory to our Lord who has graciously answered our prayers by allowing us to come together for public worship again.

We must remember that the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away. Health experts are warning we haven’t reached the peak of the pandemic yet. Therefore out of love for one another we want to do our best to ensure the safety of all our brothers and sisters in Christ as we gather in his house for worship. Therefore in keeping with recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health we have developed the following safety plan. Please keep in mind these changes are not permanent. We will continue to monitor the situation and further recommendations from our leaders and we will adjust plans accordingly. We continue to pray for the day when this pandemic will no longer be a threat we will be able to come together for worship with no restrictions.

  1. If you are not feeling well please stay home.
  2. If you are concerned for your health and do not feel comfortable returning to public worship yet feel free to stay home. We will continue to offer our worship services on Facebook Live, our church website and on HCVN as usual.
  3. We are allowed to fill our church to 25% of capacity. That would be approximately 60 people at a time. Remember we offer services at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday (we switch to Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. beginning on June 8) and Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m. Additional services could be added if needed.
  4. Temperature checks will be made at the door for all people entering church. This should only take a few seconds per person. Those with a fever would be asked to go home.
  5. Wearing face masks while in church is recommended.
  6. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the church.
  7. Someone will be assigned to open the door for everyone as they arrive at church and leave church.
  8. Church bulletins and any other handouts will be placed on a table where individuals may pick them up rather than having ushers hand them out.
  9. As usual, the entire worship service will be on screen in front of the church during worship. Hymnals will not be needed unless you choose to use one.
  10. If the CWS or LAPPY books are needed during worship the rack will be placed in back of the church and people will pick up their own copy as they enter the sanctuary and return them when they leave.
  11. Collection plates will be placed at the church welcome center in the narthex for people to leave their offerings. No offering will be taken during the worship service.
  12. We will practice safe social distancing throughout the church. In the sanctuary some pews will be blocked off so people sit at least six feet apart.
  13. For the Lord’s Supper groups of no more than 4-5 will be served at one time. Pastor and the elder assisting will wear gloves during the distribution.
  14. After worship people will be ushered out starting in back and working toward the front.
  15. Pastor will still greet people before and after worship but will not shake anyone’s hand.
  16. We will not serve food or beverages in the narthex after worship.
  17. Pews and other high traffic areas in church will be wiped down after worship as needed.

Let us all continue to work together out of love for our Lord and for each other by looking out for the safety of each other as we come together for worship.

34 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so also you are to love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

God’s blessings to all of you.

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Worship Service – May 24, 2020

The Gospel of John – Lesson 21 – John 8:12-30

12 When Jesus spoke to them again, he said, “I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You testify about yourself. Your testimony is not valid.” 14 “Even if I testify about myself,” Jesus replied, “my testimony is valid, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I came from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh. I am not judging anyone. 16 But even if I were to judge, my judgment would be true, because I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me. 17 Even in your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is valid. 18 I am one who testifies about myself, and the Father who sent me testifies about me.” 19 Then they asked him, “Where is your Father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the offering box. But no one arrested him, because his time had not arrived yet. 21 So he told them again, “I am going away. You will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews asked, “He won’t kill himself, will he, because he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 “You are from below,” he told them. “I am from above. You are of this world. I am not of this world. 24 That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am the one, you will die in your sins.” 25 “Who are you?” they asked. Jesus replied, “What I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge concerning you. But the one who sent me is true. And what I heard from him, these are the things I am telling the world.” 27 They did not understand that he was talking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one, and that I do nothing on my own. But I speak exactly as the Father taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what pleases him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

With the opening words of this reading, John makes it clear that this conversation with the Pharisees happened sometime after the previous section of Scripture. Jesus began by saying “I am the Light of the World.” One of the characteristics of the Gospel of John is a series of statements Jesus made called the “I AM” statements. We’ve already encountered some of these statements in our studies of the Gospel of John. In John 4:26 Jesus said to the Samaritan woman “I who speak to you am he.” In John 6:35 he said “I am the bread of life.” Later in John 10:11 he said “I am the good shepherd.” In John 14:6 he said “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

This subject isn’t merely good Bible trivia. The words “I am” call to mind what God said to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3). Moses asked the Lord what name he should use if the Israelites asked who sent him to them. God replied “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14) Jesus was using this same wording when he spoke about himself. His meaning was clear. Jesus is proclaiming he is the same God who called Moses to lead the Israelites to the Promised Land. Even Jesus’ enemies understood what Jesus was saying. Later in John 8 we will see how Jesus used another “I am” statement. In response the Jews picked up stones to kill him. In their minds he spoke blasphemy since he used a title that God had used for himself.

Jesus called himself the “Light of the World.” The meaning is quite simple. From the moment we enter this world until the moment we depart in death, sin is our constant companion. Sin penetrates ever part of our being with a thick oppressive darkness we could never escape from. This darkness hides our eyes from our lost condition. It keeps us from seeing that we are under God’s judgment and there is nothing we could do to escape our guilt.

You can see this darkness in those Jesus spoke to. The Pharisees told Jesus his testimony wasn’t valid, because Jesus testified about himself. Jewish law stated you could not establish a case with only one witness. (See Deuteronomy 17:6) They refused to consider the clear testimony the Holy Scriptures gave about Jesus as he fulfilled every prophecy about the promised Messiah. They refused to consider his miracles. Jesus did things only God could do. They refused to consider his powerful teaching which clearly explained the Holy Scriptures. They kept asking Jesus who he was, but they would not listen to his answer. They wouldn’t accept the clear testimony he gave them that he is the true Son of God and the Savior of the world. They walked in darkness just as the sinful world walks in darkness concerning Jesus today. It is the same darkness we were born into this world with. Without the gift of the Holy Spirit we could not believe in Jesus.

Jesus, the Light of the World changed all that for us. He said “Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus light shined on some of those in his audience. The closing verse of our reading said “As he was saying these things, many believed in him.” Our Lord graciously did the same thing with us. The light of salvation he brings penetrated to the core of our sin darkened souls and filled us with the good news that he alone is our Savior. That Gospel light lets us see that Jesus won the forgiveness of our sins. All who trust in him have eternal life. Jesus isn’t the only one who testifies to this. His heavenly Father testified about his Son from the beginning. The Holy Spirit testifies to us through Word and Sacrament. All Scripture clearly points us to Jesus Christ as the light that cuts through the darkness of sin and makes us heirs of eternal life.

Discussion Questions

1 – The Pharisees stated that Jesus’ testimony wasn’t valid because he testified about himself. How did Jesus show the validity of his testimony?

His testimony would have been valid on its own because Jesus is the Son of God. But his testimony was also supported by his heavenly Father and by the Holy Scriptures.

2 – The Pharisees believed in God, yet how could Jesus say they didn’t know the Father?

The Pharisees refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and the promised Messiah. Jesus said in John 14:10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I am telling you I am not speaking on my own, but the Father who remains in me is doing his works.” Those who reject Jesus also reject God the Father who sent him.

3 – When the Pharisees asked Jesus “Who are you,” why did Jesus answer them as he did?

Jesus had clearly testified about himself from the beginning of his ministry. They kept asking him because they didn’t believe in him. He also made it clear that everything he said and did was in full agreement with the will of God the Father. Only the Son of God could make such a statement.

4 – What truths did Jesus explain about his relationship with his heavenly Father?

The Father and the Son, (along with the Holy Spirit) are perfectly untied in all things. They are three persons in one divine being. The Son is never alone. The Father always remains with him. Everything Jesus does pleases his heavenly Father because Jesus’ will is in perfect agreement with the will of God the Father.  


If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to
revgtobison@gmail.com.