August 24, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

August 24, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church
August 24, 2020

WORSHIP AT HAVEN  Eleven attended Friday’s worship and 26 were at the Sunday Drive-up and Outdoor worship service. We tried having both bread (wafers) and wine this week. We need to make a few logistic adjustments but I think we were able to commune safely. It does require a few more folks to assist but well worth it, don’t you think?

Remember, those  of you who are watching worship on-line, I would gladly bring you communion if you have an outdoor space where we could share the sacrament. Even an open garage with a car pulled out would do. I will gladly bring my own lawn chair.

BECOMING A 21ST-CENTURY CHURCH: A Transformational Manual “Being a church in action, clearly and visibly making a difference in the life of a community is what the twenty-first-century church seeks.” What do you think? Is that true for you? for Haven?

Trinity Lutheran Church (Hagerstown) is going to read Becoming a 21st-Century Church together. They will also have the author, Rev. Dr. J. Fred Lehr come to speak and lead discussions on the ideas and suggestions contained in the book. Those six presentations will take place in Trinity’s large sanctuary where social distancing will easily be accommodated. These sessions, starting in September, will also be taped so they could be viewed at another time by individuals or groups. Trinity’s Senior Pastor David Eisenhuth has invited the members and friends of Haven Lutheran Church to attend or watch these “21st Century Church” presentations at no cost to us. I do not have the exact dates for the presentations. I will post them as soon as possible.

But here is a thought. While many of us have less on our calendars than usual, could as many Haven folks as possible read this brief book and/or “attend” these presentations in person or virtually? For those who don’t feel comfortable going to Trinity’s sanctuary, we could set a time to watch the presentation on line and schedule a discussion of the contents. Why? Councils and special study groups [Canoeing the Mountains] have been having discussions of “what to do” and “how to be church” in our times and what it means to be church. Isn’t it time more folks joined that conversation?

I know that many of us have been wondering what light, growth or new life the Lord may be leading us to during a pandemic. Might it be that the Holy Spirit is moving a substantial number of church members and friends to use this “down time” to explore the future and mission of churches? Right now, I just ask you to think and pray about this. Everyone could participate in the ways that fit your comfort.

In the meantime, I will check to see if Trinity has a supply of books or if we will need to order some from Amazon. ($12). No one book has the magic answers but it can give a format for discussion and discernment.

SIGHT AND SOUND’S “JONAH” was on TBN last weekend. I thank those who sent us a “heads up” so we could include the information in an e-message last week. I have never been to Sight and Sound so I was curious.

First, I had to take my pastor hat off. You can’t have a musical about a book in the Bible without “fleshing it out” and having more than you find in the actual Bible text. When I got off my high horse, I could understand why many people enjoy going to Sight and Sound. They have a huge set, some nice humor, very creative ways to change scenes and, of course, actual animals. I have to admit being fascinate by the huge whale that they were able to fly over the audience and Jonah seemingly flailing in the ocean before being swallowed.

In the play, Jonah finally comes around. But in the book of Jonah we are left to wonder if the prophet actually accepted God’s mercy and love of all people — even those Ninevites. In the play or the book, we are challenged, like Jonah, to realize God’s love is for all people, even those we might consider despicable or un-redeemable. A “whale” of a challenge, some might say. May God’s endless love and mercy win.

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spotted an albino Dalmatian. It was the least I could do.

Yesterday I saw an ad that said ‘radio for sale, $1, volume stuck on full.’
I thought, ‘I can’t turn that down’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read: Psalm 26: 1-8

Vindicate [Judge] me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
2Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and mind.
3For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in faithfulness to you.
4I do not sit with the worthless,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
5I hate the company of evildoers,
and will not sit with the wicked.
6I wash my hands in innocence,
and go around your altar, O LORD,
7singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,
and telling all your wondrous deeds.
8O LORD, I love the house in which you dwell,
and the place where your glory abides.

Reflection
I have to admit, on my first reading, all I could think was, “What a braggart. Aren’t you full of yourself.” With such a negative reaction, I need to scurry to my Bible commentaries to see what was going on here. What I found was quite different.

The psalm seems to follow a Hebrew tradition that describes a procedure that could be followed by people falsely accused or involved in a case where the evidence is not clear. “We find the prophet Jeremiah, accused and attacked by opponents of his prophetic activity, prayed like this for God’s providence to vindicate his mission and message… [Martin] Luther interpreted this psalm personally in the context of accusations against him of disloyalty to the church and perversion of doctrine.”

Put in that context, the psalmist is speaking out of “circumstances where life or vocation is accused or suspected by others.” The psalmist is feeling and/or facing rejection or persecution for following the ways of the Lord. “The prayer turns to God as the supremely authoritative judge of nations and individuals because he is the arbiter who knows not only the facts but what lies in heart and mind, what is felt and intended (vs 2).”

The speaker is not speaking out of pride or self-righteousness. The psalmist is asking the Lord to examine him — inside and out — in all these different areas (integrity, faithfulness, those he associates with, worship). The psalmist lays out his life, asks God to decide its authenticity and make that decision known to those who oppose or scorn him. Even if the world will not accept it, the psalmist desperately wants God’s affirmation, that will give him the strength and courage to continue in faithfulness and mission.
(quotes from James L.  Mays, Interpret: Psalms  Louisville, KY Westminster John Knox Press, 1994, p. 128, 130)

Prayer:  (ELW Psalm 26 Prayers)
Faithful God, you cleanse us in the waters of baptism to serve you with lives of integrity. Send us from the assembly of your people to give thanks for your wonderful deeds in all that we say and do; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Music
“Psalm 26: Declare me Innocent” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FFkVzNJOLY

“Your Love Defends Me” (Matt Maher) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0FFkVzNJOLY

“Lord, I Need You”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gS9e0nxHP-w

“You’re the God Who Stays” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHMVSdIjBcg