March 4, 2021
[Jesus] said to [the lawyer], “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Dear friends in Christ:
We are well into Lent now, and the winter storms are hopefully behind us. With temperatures reaching the 70s, it is hard to fathom those winter storms rolling in adding another crisis on top of the pandemic that we are all so weary of navigating. Many of you are working on repairs and some communities are still without power. Through all of this, you continued to care for each other. Congregations and individuals were able to answer the call to be Christ to their neighbors by opening up shelters, providing food and water, and checking on people living alone. The care also came from far away and from our partners at Lutheran Disaster Response. The experience was grueling but our neighbors were there for us and we were there for our neighbor.
Now we are faced with another opportunity to go above and beyond for each other. Our governor lifted the mask mandate and will allow businesses to operate at 100% capacity beginning next week. Governor Abbot stated that he was eliminating the state mandate but, "does not abandon safe practices that Texans have mastered over the past year. Instead, it is a reminder that each person has a role to play in their own personal safety and the safety of others.”
I want to echo the governors' words and encourage all of you to continue to be Christ to our neighbors is by following CDC guidelines regarding health and safety measures. the CDC still recommends mask-wearing and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated areas. I encourage congregations to continue to rise above the bare minimum and apply a high standard of health and safety measures to their activities. Many of your congregations have already put plans in place to re-gather in person based on gradual gating criteria, and the removal of state mandates should not impact those plans.
I also want to thank you for encouraging people to get vaccinated. I’m hearing of more people who have now had both their first and second shots. We’re closer than ever to being able to get back to many of the things we’ve been missing. Hang in there, and continue with your amazing work using the safety precautions. Your creative adaption along with the better treatments and vaccines will make this pandemic a memory as hard to fathom as 9” of snow in South Texas.
As always, thank you for your faithful leadership in these times. I continue to pray for you and am so grateful that we are in partnership for the sake of God’s work in our part of the world.
Bishop Sue Briner