August 5, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

August 5, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

August 5, 2020

Haven Lutheran Church

I’M BACK! Below is the view from the porch of the Sugar Mountain condo where I stayed last week with my sister. If the view wasn’t amazing enough, the many hummingbirds made it seem magical. And the temperatures…. oh, my. I actually had to put on a sweatshirt the first night because I was cold. (After our 90 plus temperatures, I didn’t know if I remembered how chilly felt.) I will be sharing more about my trip and, thanks to my sister, some pictures, too.

HOW BADLY DID THE PASTOR NEED A VACATION? I knew I needed a vacation. Didn’t realize just how much until I returned and discovered I had not sent Mary the “mini” messages and devotions I had prepared for the days I was gone. I had labored on them into the wee hours of the weekend mornings before I left. I was so happy (and, admittedly, a bit proud) that you would still have some encouraging words from me while I was gone. How could I forget to forward them to Mary so they would get to you?
Before my vacation, I would have been absolutely distraught and raging at myself. After vacation, I’m greatly disappointed but have to laugh at how my tiredness thwarted my eagerness to get everything “just right” before I left. Oh, being human can be so inconvenient sometimes.

THANK GOODNESS WE CAN LAUGH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington County Interfaith Coalition

Interfaith Prayers for Our Times

August 4, 2020

Hindu: Adoration unto thee who art before me and behind me:

adoration unto thee who art on all sides, God of all.

All powerful God of immeasurable might.

Thou art the consummation of all: thou art all.

 

Contemporary Buddhist (Thich Nhat Hanh)

Waking up in the morning, I smile.

Twenty-four new hours are before me.

I vow to live fully in each moment

And to look at all beings with

eyes of compassion.

Spirit of life, help us to be aware of our feelings of love and gratitude.  Let us be aware, as well, of moments of disappointment, anger and shame. Remind us, in true wisdom, how our feelings will probably guide our path, but that we people, not our emotions alone, must live the actions we choose.

Help us toward viewing the world with “eyes of compassion” and acts of hope.  May we find peace and promise in this moment, in each other and in all that is before us. We pray together as individuals… and as a community. Amen

Reverend Valerie Wills, Co-coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition

MISSED BIRTHDAYS AND ANNIVERSARIES that were in those messages I prepared but didn’t forward to Mary. (I promise…. I’ll get over it soon.)

 

 

 

July 29

 

 

 

July 31

 

Though years apart, Kristin and Sari were baptized on the same date. One in Hagerstown and one in Smithsburg. One would stay in this area and one would live in many places as her husband pastored different churches. Years later these two children of God would be members of same church community called Haven Lutheran Church and love each other. God is good.

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read  1 Kings 19:9-16

9At [Horeb, the mount of God,][Elijah] came to a cave, and spent the night there.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.”
11He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” 15Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. 16Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.

Reflection

Prof. Christopher Davis gives us some background to this text. “Prior this week’s reading, Elijah has been on a victory tour. Elijah has experienced the thrill of hearing people call his name and celebrating his heroic feats. It was at Elijah’s behest, at his call, at his command, that God rained down fire on Mt. Carmel, a fire so intense it burned wet wood. This act alone cleared up any and all questions as to whether or not God was really with him.”

“Yet when we focus the…spotlight on 1 Kings 19, we find Elijah dealing with a level of disappointment that’s threatening to push him into depression. He discovers that even after victory, there’s still a thing called reality. And the reality is this: one victory does not mean the end of challenges. Your calling does not cancel all your challenges. I don’t care how anointed you are. I don’t care how appointed you are. I don’t care how filled with the Holy Ghost you are. At the right time or the wrong time, with the wrong person, in the wrong situation, saying the wrong thing, acting the wrong way, you will discover that you still have some human moments.”

“Elijah gives us a vivid picture of public victory and private struggles. All the bounding assurance passes away; the heavens appear to be emptied; the earth is deserted; and the prophet is left languishing, declaring “I alone am left!” The once triumphant spokesman of the Lord has temporarily lost his exuberant faith and is sunk in dark despair.” (Workingpreacher.org)

If you were the reader on Sunday, what tone would you give to Elijah’s first telling of his plight? “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Is it fear that you hear in his words? Anger? Whining? Disappointment? All of the above?

Elijah is running away to hide, wondering where God is and why God is allowing him to be in such danger. While Elijah runs away, the Lord comes to him. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah lays out his situation to the divine inquiry. The Lord responds by offering Elijah a one-on-one meeting. “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” How extraordinary. Had anyone since Moses every been invited to draw that near to the Lord? Did Elijah considered the offer a privilege, admonishment or pure terror. Many believed that it would be fatal to actually see God in all God’s glory. With what tone would you read aloud God’s invitation? “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” What is it that God is offering Elijah? A personal experience of reassurance or a reminder that, despite the danger Elijah is experiencing, God is still more powerful?

Perhaps the answer is found in the Lord coming to Elijah not in the fire or wind of an earthquake but in the ordinary experience of quiet. Professor Davis makes this observation, “One of the hardest lessons we have to learn is that God is in the quiet, the gentle influences that are ever around us, working with us, for us, and on us, without any visible or audible indicators of activity. We must learn to listen for the God who is quiet and gentle.” Maybe our inability to hear God in the quiet is why we then struggle to hear God in the catastrophic. If we don’t recognize God in our health, will we be able to discern God in sickness? When we fail to discern God in our prosperity, will we recognize God with us in adversity? God in the peace is the same God who comes to us in the storm. I’m reminded of what a psalmist wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps. 46: 11) I have that very quote hanging on my office wall. God IS with us always.

After Elijah hears God in the silence, he stands at the entrance of his hiding place and hears God ask again, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah repeats the very explanation he gave before his encounter with God. Does he say it differently? Does he whisper it humbly with all the fear and worry that has shaken his faith? This time the Lord responds by giving Elijah, God’s called prophet, his next assignment. “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps. 46: 11) AND there’s work still to be done for the sake of God’s world.

Where do you find yourself in this story? Battling your own disappointment in God who hasn’t made COVID disappear? Wondering where God is? Finding it difficult to hear or see God in the now amid anxieties about the future? The Lord does not begrudge us our feelings. I certainly felt like I was running to the mountains of North Carolina to “get away” from the intensity and responsibilities of these last few months. No matter what part of Elijah’s feelings with which you might identify, hear what the Lord wants you to know without any need for doubt, “Be still, and know that I am God!” AND you are called my children, my prophets, my disciples to bring my love to others and my hurting world.

Prayer  (One of my favorite prayers. Found in the ELW Evening Prayer, p 317)

“O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”

Music

“You Are Mine” ELW #581 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgm9lkTNQmc

“Still” (Hillsong) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3wwWFsSlNQ

“Just Be Held” (Casting Crowns)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

“Breathe” (Jonny Diaz) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnjeMwxFuBA

“Yes, I Will” (Vertical Worship) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrTv39-lG4M