August 2, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

Haven Lutheran Church 

 

September 2, 2020

BECOMING A 21ST-CENTURY CHURCH: A Transformational Manual
The first presentation by author, the Rev. Dr. Fred Lehr, will be this evening at 6 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, Hagerstown. Masks required. Plenty of room for social distancing. The other presentations will be on Sept. 16, 23, 30, Oct7, 14.
You can also access the presentation live on Facebook on the Trinity Lutheran Facebook station entitled, Trinity Loving Community.
Copies of the book have arrived at Haven. Available for $12. They will also be available at tonight’s presentation from the author for $10. You can also download a copy on your Kindle.
The book is short and an engaging read. I invite you to please get a copy and join us in thinking about Haven and its future as God’s church. Let me know if you’d be interested in participating in an in-person or on-line discussion.

 

WORSHIP TO MOVE INDOORS IN OCTOBER Though the weather could still be beautiful outside in October, we thought it time to begin shifting Sunday worship indoors as the colder months approach. We will continue to follow healthy practices — masks will be required, unrelated persons will sit six feet apart, the congregation will not sing (humming is good) and the passing of the peace will be an in-seat experience. Despite the restrictive measures, we will be together to be fed by God’s Word, Meal and community. There will be music and holy communion. God will be with us as promised.  We WILL continue to offer on-line worship as well.

I will begin to share some of the details today and continue in upcoming notes.

The Re-Opening Team cannot be sure how many people will be ready to resume in-person worship. Allowing for safe social distancing, we estimate the sanctuary can accommodate 32 unrelated individual and more when there are couples and families who can sit closer.  Our average worship attendance before COVID was between 70 and 80. Thus, we are preparing to initially offer worship services at 9:30 am and an 11 am each Sunday. One will be held in the church sanctuary and the other in the Gathering Room. The following week, the locations of the services will switch so everyone gets the opportunity to worship in our lovely sanctuary every other week, no matter which service you choose. Why two locations?  There would not be time between services to safely “sanitize” the sanctuary for two services. Why switch the locations of the two services? Because we know how much our folks love our sanctuary and we thought everyone should have an equal chance to enjoy it, no matter which time they attend.

I’m going to stop there today. It’s alot to think about already. If we have learned anything in these last few months, it is that we will need to stay alert and flexible  as we make any plans. Keep Haven in your prayers, that we remain safe, faithful and wise. God IS with us.

WHAT ABOUT SUNDAY SCHOOL?  Nursery during worship and traditional Sunday School are not advisable at this time. Yet, our Parish Education Team has been excitedly making plans to keep our children connect to church and learning about our Lord.

We’re inviting our children to be GOD SQUAD EXPLORERS. We will provide each with a Bible and a backpack with materials for their Bible adventures. Each week the children will get mail from the church. In it they will find a plan for exploring an adventure story in the Old Testament, which will include a variety of possible activities. We’re doing our best to make it different from the schooling they do during the week and provide some different kind of learning fun.
This Sunday, September 6, we will be blessing their Bibles and backpacks before I deliver them to their homes. On Sunday, September 13th, we will be having a ZOOM God Squad Explorer Party to kick-off the adventure.  Please keep our children, the Parish Ed team and these efforts in your prayers. May our children and their families continue discover the love and wonder of God as they dig into God’s Word.

(We haven’t forgotten our confirmation, teen and adults!)

 

Washington County Interfaith Coalition
Interfaith Prayers for our Times

September 2, 2020

Sanskrit

Look to this day,

For it is life,

The very life of life.

In its brief course lie all the realities and verities of existence,

The bliss of growth

The splendor of action,

The glory of power—

 

For yesterday is but a dream,

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today, well lived,

Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

 

African American

Why should I feel discouraged?

Why should the shadows fall?

Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?

When Jesus is my portion

A constant friend is he.

His eye is on the sparrow

And I know he watches me

I sing because I’m happy

I sing because I’m free.

His eye is on the sparrow

And I know he watches me.

O, You whom we do not see, help us look to this day, to this life, to this moment.  Our yesterdays and our tomorrows find us in territory already embraced or yet to be determined.  May we welcome our portion in life today, in the people around us, and in the day before us. Our lives are blessed by the many gifts of choice and possibility. Lead us, today, on the paths of acceptance and compassion, for we are all blessed by holy Presence.  In gratitude, we pray. Amen.

Reverend Valerie Wills, Co-coordinator Washington County Interfaith Coalition

BECAUSE WE HAVE TO LAUGH —Masters of the Nap, Part II

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD
Read  Romans 13: 8-14
8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Reflection
Throughout the New Testament you will find a sense of urgency. Part of that was attached to a belief that the return of Jesus Christ to bring about the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God here on earth was imminent. Originally, most first followers of Jesus thought they would see Jesus come again in their lifetime.  Yet the urgency expressed in the gospel and here in Paul’s writing points to something more. It wasn’t “Quick, look busy doing the right thing” in case Jesus shows up for the final judgment day tomorrow. Appearing to love God and neighbor was never what following Jesus is all about.

Re-read Romans 13: 11-14. “The night is far gone, the day is near.” When Jesus came to teach, show and live God’s ways and kingdom, the world was forever changed  When all that Jesus taught, showed, and did becomes a part of who we are, we are being changed, too. There’s the life we might live if Jesus wasn’t at the center of us and the life we choose to live because the love of God and Jesus is at the very core of who we are and who we are becoming. That’s life in darkness verses life in the light.

Most of us will periodically struggle to resist the pull of the “night” where we do whatever we want, whenever we want because we want to, no matter what God or anyone thinks. “Let us live honorably in the day,” Paul says. Live life like it matters to God and has great purpose and meaning because it does! Those who follow Jesus are part of a new day and new way of life that is intended to bring life, wholeness, healing and love to God’s creation. With that kind of impact, you don’t wait until tomorrow. You start now. We put on the light, we put on Jesus now — each day, each hour — because we know what the love of God can do and accomplish.

Since rise of COVID in March, I feel like I have been sleep walking. There’s this surreal sense of fogginess in which we can’t see forward and looking back doesn’t help. Like the psalmist, we cry out “how long, Lord.” Today, when I read “…It is now the moment for you to wake from sleep,” I felt a bit of a jolt. Despite anxiousness, adaptations, cancelled events and being “on hold,” I am not meant to simply sleepwalk through these times until “it’s over.”  Paul says “let us live honorably as in the day” and THIS IS the day. How can I honor God and love my neighbor this day — COVID or not. There’s the urgency we share with those first followers of Jesus. We aren’t simply caught in seemingly repetitious days captive of a COVID. Each day is a new day to honor God and love my neighbor in whatever ways, through whatever opportunities unfold. We still have purpose, we still have God’s light and love to take into our days, relationships, times and world.  I find that hopeful, reassuring and energizing. What light and love can I show today? It may be a phone call, a note, flowers or vegetables from a garden, a genuine “Good morning” at the store,  or letting an idea for ministry percolate in your heart. Come awake. Push aside the fog. Now is the time to be light and love.

Prayer:   Let your light and love pour over and into us, Lord. Let it awaken in us the desire, joy and energy to spread and share it today. Give us eyes to notice when we are recipients of those gifts from others.  Help us rise in hope for opportunities to be your light and love and rest in the wonder of your blessings. Amen.

Music:

“Awake, O Sleeper” (Marty Haugen) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on0kFsuzFDs

“Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death”  ELW 452 words, with a different tune
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on0kFsuzFDs

Some lively contemporary Christian music to get you dancing, smiling and encouraged.

“Together” (God and Country feat. Kirk Franklin & Tori Kelly) (May, 2020) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR1Hk0FVi_k

“Hurry Up and Wait” (Mercy Me) (May 2020, fun video, during COVID)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxbfyt8Rraw

“Smile” (Sidewalk Prophets) (fun video… from Jan. 2020, pre-COVID) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjurY5mR2hs  (fun video… from Jan. 2020, pre-COVID)

“Impossible” (Sidewalk Prophets) (Jan. 2017) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUL3dJkNTKI