August 31, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

August 31, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church
August 31, 2020

GRATITUDE AND GODSIGHTINGS
Dear all,
We realized, thanks to cards from two Haven friends, that today is our wedding anniversary!

Thanks to Pastor for performing the marriage in 2011, to Tatiana for taking photos of us, and to Alan for the lovely dinner afterward.  Also to Wilda for champagne (which she happened to have in her refrigerator) after the wedding and before the dinner.

We are so grateful to each of you!
Love, Beth and Don
(Saturday, August 29)

Please add to your daily prayers
the students, parents, teachers and staff
who begin a new and challenging school year today.

 

LEAST DESIRABLE — COVID TEST OR COLONOSCOPY?  Well, guess what? If you want the latter you have to have the first. Found that out when I was scheduled for a routine colonoscopy today. Along with the list of the delightful directions for preparing for the procedure (that was a sarcastic remark, if you didn’t catch it), I also received a doctor’s order for a COVID test that I was to have last Friday.

I have heard a variety of reviews of the nasal COVID test — from awful to painful to no big deal.
So when I drove up to the Maugansville testing center promptly at its 8 am opening, I did not know what to expect. I filled out a form, followed the cone-lined lane to the back of the building and pulled into a large white tent. I turned in my forms and was asked a few questions. Everyone was professional. They did not rush but they sure had this down pat. I was asked to pull my mask beneath my nose and lean my head back. The technician told me she was inserting the long Q-tip looking thing into my right nostril. And before I could brace myself, she then said she was swabbing my left nostril. “That’s it. You can go.” I was amazed and quite pleased. I had only felt a very brief discomfort and it was over. Kinda like a child who is ready to start crying when getting a shot, only to find out it’s done already. Did I have an extremely skilled technican or does this Italian nose of mine have such long, unobstructed nasal passages that there was nothing for the swab to make contact with? I can’t answer that. But maybe my story will help relieve some anxiety if you need to go for a COVID test.

Geez — colonoscopies and nasal swabbing — an odd thing for the pastor to talk about. I hope I didn’t make you squeamish. That was certainly not my intent. By nature I tend to prepare for the worst and very often get pleasantly surprised. That’s the way I approached this COVID test.  I began to wonder if that’s how I’ve been approaching COVID and the ongoing adaptions we have and will need to make. I wonder how many parents and students have similar feelings about starting a new school year —- steeling themselves for the worst but hoping for the best. It’s not an approach that is good or bad. It’s just how some of us tend to deal with adversity or unknowns.

We know there is a great deal of anxiety and unease about COVID, the upcoming presidential election and our nation’s ability to peacefully stand and work together. I share those uneasy feelings. Yet, unlike my usual approach, I am not anticipating the worse. I am praying the Lord and we who follow the Lord will work to bring about the best. I find I am making that prayer fairly frequently each day. It will mean we will have to speak up and step out for love of neighbor. It will mean we may need to find ways to engage respectfully yet confidently with those who oppose what we believe “love of God and love of neighbor” means. It will also mean we will need the Lord to help us love those we disagree with or fear if ever the growing divisions can be healed. Let us pray and hope. Let us be God’s prayer and be God’s hope.

1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast/rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast/rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Romans 5: 1-5

P.S. In case you are wondering, my COVID test came back negative. Another testimony for wearing masks, washing hands, using lots of hand sanitizer and practicing social distancing!

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read    Psalm 119:33-40
33Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes,
and I will observe it to the end.
34Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
35Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
36Turn my heart to your decrees,
and not to selfish gain.
37Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
give me life in your ways.
38Confirm to your servant your promise,
which is for those who fear you.
39Turn away the disgrace that I dread,
for your ordinances are good.
40See, I have longed for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life.

Reflection

I remember my first year as a seventh and eighth grade teacher in a parochial school. I don’t remember the transgression but it must have been widespread in my class because I gave one of those teacher lectures. I told them about a horse who spent the entire day standing by a fence, wishing it could run and play in the field that was across the busy street on the other side of the fence. The horse had acres and acres of beautiful fields to run in and munch on and enjoy with the other horses. But instead, the horse would walk to the fence each day, sigh and feel miserable.

“What do you think of that horse?” I asked the class. “Stupid.” or “Dumb” they replied. Well, let me tell you, that horse is most of us. We get a set of school rules or the 10 commandments and we spend A LOT of our time finding fault with them. Even though they will keep us safe, help us do well and still have lots of fun, we stand at the fence, using our time to pick at them, give reasons why they should be different and why we don’t like them. Then we spend more time at the fence figuring out possible exception or ways to “get around” them because they just “aren’t fair” or as we think they should be. In the meantime, we miss out on enjoying all that we have and all the life God wants us to know. We spend all our time trying to get out or around the fence of rules rather than figuring out how to make the best of all life has to offer within the rules and having fun.

I have no idea from where that image came. I’m sure it didn’t mean as much to those seventh and eighth graders as it did to me. Yet it came back to me when I read today’s psalm. The writer “gets it”! The psalmist sees that God’s commandments and directions are good and life-giving, even if they may be a challenge. Instead of banging his head against God’s statutes, commandments and ordinances, the psalmist celebrates them. The prayer is for the ability, strength, and wisdom to learn God’s ways and to follow. Why? Because God’s goodness, God’s commands, and God’s love for us can be trusted beyond our own reasoning. This is a song of delight and freedom within the boundaries of God’s ways and its ours to sing, too.

Psalm Prayer  (ELW prayer for psalm 119)

Holy God, you are just in all your ways and your commandments are the greatest of treasures. Teach us to love you with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 

Music
“Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Way” ELW 772
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X–TqAFCDQ4&list=RDX–TqAFCDQ4&start_radio=1

“Lead Me, Guide Me” ELW 768  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh4LdNAjYzI

“O Master. Let Me Walk with You” ELW #818 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUkaK6ceJmY

“Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus” ELW #802 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v24_el_c2aY

“Show Me Your Ways” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGp3VCKkjaU

“Way Maker” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJCV_2H9xD0