April 21, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

April 21, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

April 21, 2020

Christ is risen! Alleluia
(He is risen indeed! Alleluia)

Silver lining in this stay-at-home time — Reading through the back issues of professional periodicals that always seem to pile up. Every time I sign up for a heavily-discounted subscription to a journal or magazine that would be good for ministry, I say to myself, “You WILL read this one promptly. It’s good for you!” But then some of the articles seem way over my head and life just seems to happen. Enough confession. “What’s your point, Pastor?”

Going into these periodicals for me is like mining. I’m looking for gems that speak gospel truth, biblical insights or plain good stories. I came across one of these gems in the 2020 Easter issue of the Journal for Preachers. The story you will probably hear in a future sermon. What first captured my attention was this recurring refrain that Pastor Currie uses in his article “Church of the Resurrection.” “Resurrection is what happens when we thought the only option was lifelessness and despair…. Sometimes resurrection is what happens while we are just hoping to get by…”

Now here is the thrilling part:
“Easter, it seems, is not just a one-off inexplicable and explosive miracle that took place once and for all with the crucified and dead Jesus, but Easter has ripple effects in which the risen Christ continues to create mini-resurrections wherever the spirit takes him…. Jesus has a way of tumbling into our own lives in moments that both challenge us to our core and at the same time resurrect us and reveal to us once again who we truly are. The point of life and the point of our lives is not to get us into heaven, but to get heaven into us; not to achieve immortality for ourselves, but to find that even where we are dead and lifeless, Christ is at work resurrecting us.”

Easter isn’t over. The power of Christ’s resurrection continues. “Jesus has a way of tumbling into our own lives in moments that both challenge us to our core.” (What an apt description of now) and at the same time resurrect us and reveal to us once again who we truly are.” THERE is the promise, the rippling of Easter that will not end. “Now” is not the end of the story. We do not know how and when we will beat back this virus and back out of the current restrictions. We can still count on the power of Christ’s resurrection to bring us into a renewed life and a renewed understanding of who we are as children of God and as God’s church. We are already learning about ourselves, our relationship, and our church as we deal with being quarantined, isolated and physically separated from one another. When we can step away from our frustrations and grief, we are being reminded of how important our relationships, families, friends, and church community are to us. We are rediscovering the power of love, laughter, communication, little joys and hope. “Resurrection is what happens when we thought the only option was lifelessness and despair…. Sometimes resurrection is what happens while we are just hoping to get by…” In Christ, in the power of Easter resurrection, we can do more than survive…. we can rise!

GRATITUDE AND GODSIGHTINGS
“This afternoon I was looking at our cat, who was resting and looking out the window.  I thought how beautiful she is, and how precious.  Then I realized that God looks at us that way, too.   I’ve never had that experience–so rich, so lovely.                                                          Beth Johns

HAVEN VEGETABLE GARDEN WILL RISE!
We have this lovely, well-sunned patch of land we have been using for a vegetable garden for over ten years. This year, we had the soil tested and will be adding needed nutrients. (Thank you, Amy Mason!)  We will also be adding some fencing around the garden to help protect it from some of rather overzealous deer and other critters. Leaning on the advice of Cliff Britton and Dave Resh, we will have it tilled for planting in May.
Would you like a patch of the garden to plant?  You could plant just a few items or take a row or two. Each person cares for the weeding of their area. We try to help each other with watering. Any time we have more vegetables then we could use ourselves, we put out on the *Harvest for Hunger table.
If you would like to have a portion of Haven’s garden or you would just like to get your hands dirty and help maintain it, please contact the church office (havenoffice@havenlc.org), Pastor Alessandri (l.alessandri1035@gmail.com) or Amy Mason

* The Harvest for Hunger table is located in the church narthex in the summer and early fall. Folks are encouraged to bring extra vegetables, flowers, fruit or baked goods. Others may take what they’d like for a freewill offering toward Haven’s hunger ministries.

HAVEN’S CONGREGATIONAL COUNCIL TO MEET VIA ZOOM on Monday at 7 pm your Congregational Council will make history. We will be meeting via “Zoom” for our April meeting. Council members will be able to participate through a computer, Smartphone or a land line telephone. Our most recent constitutional changes provide for such meetings. Who knew we would need to do so this soon. So cheer us on as we make our way into this new technology. Pray that we are able to connect, prayer, discuss and discern all for the glory of God.

It looks like rain today. I miss the sun AND I know that gardens, yards, crops and water tables will benefit from the rain.  So maybe it’s a good day to set up a new jigsaw puzzle. (I would say it’s a good day to bake but then I would be eating it all myself, which would not be a good thing.) Maybe it’s a good day to catch up on some more of those back issue of magazines and find a few more gems. Find joy in this day even in the rain, my sisters and brothers in Christ. Notice a Godsighting (God’s presence or work in our midst). Live in the promise that sunny skies will return and Easter is NOT over.

God’s peace IS with you,
Pastor Linda M Alessandri

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read: Luke 24: 13-24  (The beginning of Sunday’s gospel reading)
13Now on that same day [when Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene,] two [disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 9He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.”

Reflection:  Here are two followers of Jesus heading home. They had been in Jerusalem with the other disciples. They are grieving the death of Jesus, the one they “had hoped was the one to redeem Israel.” The message from an angel to the women at the empty tomb was not enough. The other (male) disciples confirming the empty tomb was not enough — “they did not see him.” So they are heading home to grieve some more. They need to sort out how to live their lives when the one in whom they had put their hope is dead.  Into this walk of despair, Jesus shows up.
It is a mystery as to why people who know Jesus don’t always recognize the resurrected Jesus.  Mary Magdalene had the same experience at the tomb, when she thought he was the gardener until Jesus said her name. What is it about the resurrected Lord that seems at times to be unrecognizable?  We know a resurrected Jesus IS different. He will no longer face death. He seems to be able to defy earthly limits — appearing in locked rooms, showing up along a road or seaside, showing scars that no longer bleed.
But maybe at that tomb with Mary and on this road to Emmaus, it wasn’t the quality of Jesus’ appearance but the willingness or ability of Mary and these travelers to consider what may seem impossible —Jesus IS risen from the dead. We can’t blame them. Jesus was crucified and buried. It does seem impossible he would be resurrected to a new, deathless life.
What I do wonder is this, Are there times when Jesus is right before us, walking right by us, crossing our path and we don’t recognize him?

Prayer: Surprising Lord, open our eyes to you. Open our hearts to see you present in our lives. Open our eyes to see you in our neighbors far and wide, appealing or repelling, ordinary or surprising.
Walk with us, that our senses might be alert to your love, grace and redeeming power at work in and around us. Amen

Music:

Clare Newcomer shared this wonderful Easter morning music from St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Baltimore, where she once attended.  The organist/choirmaster is James Harp, who has had that position at St. Mark’s for 33 years. Enjoy!
https://www.facebook.com/826059115/posts/10158202333459116/?d=n

“One Thing Remains” Passion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAGNF8XEq18
“Thrive” Casting Crowns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQ71RWJhS_M