August 6, 2021 – Message from Pastor Alessandri

August 6, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

August 6, 2021

REQUIRE? REQUEST? SUGGEST?

Here we are again. We are watching the number of COVID cases resurge. Here is what is new. The Delta COVID variant is acting differently than the original — more contagious, causing more severe symptoms, and, while being vaccinated provides a great deal of protection, it does not necessarily prevent one from passing it on. In response to new information and these changing conditions, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges vaccinated persons to again wear masks when in a large group in an indoor space to provide further protection for one’s self and to reduce the chances of being an a-symptomatic spreader. As of this Friday morning, the state of Maryland, the Maryland State Department of Health and, the Washington County Health Department have not mandated the wearing of masks.

So what do we say about wearing masks in worship this Sunday? The RE-Opening Team of Haven, who thought its work was done, met again yesterday via ZOOM to discuss this very question. This team continues to be committed to listening to the recommendations of the national, international and Maryland scientific and medical communities engaged in the study and containment of COVID. As the virus mutates, information and recommendations must change as new information becomes available.

I will also tell you that the members of this team — Dick Hess, David Resh, Susan Strobl, Will Seilhamer, Doug Wright and myself — truly represents the range of opinions you would find in our church and community. We often have lively but respectful discussions. Is requiring the wearing of masks a violation of an individual’s rights or putting the emphasis on doing what is best for the common good? Will requiring or not requiring masks at this juncture cause people not to come to worship at Haven? Do you catch the dilemma? At the end of this E-Message you can read the comments of our DE-MD Synod Bishop, Bill Gohl. Our Synod is limited in the recommendations it can make because the synod includes all Maryland and Delaware and all their diverse counties who have differing COVID conditions and responses. So what will we be doing at Haven this week?

At this time, we will NOT be requiring vaccinated persons to wear masks when attending worship. However, we want you to know that vaccinated persons are WELCOME to wear masks if that is their preference in the current COVID upsurge. Our new air conditioning system does have an air filtration system that is helpful in the battle against COVID. I also want you to know that I will choose to wear a mask this Sunday because of my interaction with our homebound members and an upcoming visit to Atlanta (where I will be with a vaccinated brother-in-law with a compromised immune system and an unvaccinated 2 ½ great nephew.) In sum, PLEASE come to worship if you are feeling well. If you are vaccinated, decide if you prefer to wear a mask or not at this time. And let’s ALL continue good preventative practices like frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer.

There are several other things we can all do in this continuously evolving situation. Be prayerful. Be mindful and compassionate. Be patient and flexible as we continue to respond to any changes in the available information about COVID. Let’s work diligently to remain united in Christ. Let’s not follow the unfortunate national trend of letting our varying opinions divide un or make us judgmental of those who have a different opinion. Let us continue to let Christ-like love be the guide for our personal and community actions and decisions, as we seek to “honor God, to reach out with love to our members and the community and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.” And all of that is only possible through the grace and power of God “at work in us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.” (Eph. 3: 20-21)

Your pastor and partner in Christ,

Linda M Alessandri

BLESSINGS AND GOD SIGHTINGS

  • I saw a hummingbird checking out one of my red geraniums. I have never seen one in my yard before.
  • I have a new outdoor cat who has adopted me. I call him “Buddy” and my indoor cats have stopped hissing at him.
  • Haven’s “Garden of Eating” has been producing wonderful vegetables and flowers. My tomatoes are finally ripening in abundance. Look for some on the Harvest for Hunger table.
  • Were you one of the lucky people last Sunday who got some of Amy Mason’s parmesan zucchini squares or a jar of Cindy Rhodes’ jellies, veggies or salsa or Scott Rhodes delicious cherry tomatoes?
  • Wasn’t it nice of the rain sprinkles to stop so we could go outside to bless the new roof, steeple and air conditioner last Sunday?
  • There is a 2-1/2-year-old in Marietta, Georgia who has developed a deep appreciation of Old Bay chips, peanuts…. and even on his mashed potatoes. Makes our Maryland hearts proud!
  • What about you? What kind of blessings have you experienced? Where have you seen God’s presence, fingerprints or footsteps.

 

 Washington County Interfaith Coalition

INTERFAITH PRAYERS FOR TODAY

August 3, 2021

Emily Dickenson  American poet

Infinitude—Had’st Thou no face

That  I might look on Thee?

The silence condescended—

Creation stopped—for Me—

But awed beyond my errand—

I worshipped—did not “pray”—

Hazrat Inayat Khan

Beloved Lord, Almighty God!

Through the waves of the sun,

Thought the waves of the air,

Through the all-pervading Life

In space,

Purify and revivify me, and, I pray.

Heal my body, heart and soul.

Amen.

Our worship comes to us wherever it be triggered by encounter with the unexpected.  May we breathe deeply of the holy and be moved by its Presence in our living.

Source of all that is, surprise us with such moments we pray.  Awaken us to our own holy moments.  Be with us. Amen

Valerie Wills, Coordinator

 

 BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH

 August 4, 2021

 I, therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4.1-3

As anticipated, the Covid and Covid Delta Variant numbers are rising – and in some places, surging. The news seems fairly grim, though the response has been an increase in those seeking vaccination, for which I am grateful. The rising numbers of diagnoses and hospitalizations, though, has triggered some calls to our synod office inquiring about what the next phase of advice and counsel might look like.

I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called. First and foremost, I am reminded of the urgency to love God and love neighbor. Above all things, we need to love God above the need to have it our way, beyond the need to pretend that life is “normal” when it obviously not. Loving God and neighbor looks, at least to me, like being open to dial back some progress in our reopening and regathering protocols, out of an abundance of caution, for the sake of the more vulnerable among us.

Bearing with one another in love. Every context is different. The numbers across our synod’s territory range from nearly undetectable Covid rates to places of Covid surge. We need to support our pastoral, diaconal and lay leaders who are, out of love, caring for our communities. Bearing with one another is a direct and personal challenge to each of us not to take out our Covid frustrations on one another, or our community. We also need to respect that different congregations and ministries are in different places and contexts, and trust that leadership is making the best decisions with and for their communities – and not be critical of others.

Making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit. For the last 18 months, I have advised that we might “plan the work and work the plan.” I think this is a time to return to those plans that we’ve worked so hard to hammer out. As we watch the Covid numbers rise, many of our plans had triggers – 2%, 4%, 5%, 6% – at which we increase or decrease the restrictiveness of our facilities, gatherings, etc.; wisdom suggests that rather than try to revisit these protocols in the midst of our own fatigue and emotions, perhaps we should just do what we said we would do.

In the bond of peace. There is no congregation or leader that enjoys being in the midst of navigating the realities of Covid. Our peace and promise is Jesus, and I pray that when we do come through this season of pandemic, we will all have stories and testimony of how we recognized God’s love in Jesus Christ through one another’s words and deeds.

On the Way Together,

 

 

William (Bill) Gohl, Jr., Bishop
Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA