January 11, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

January 11, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

 January 11, 2021

It’s Monday. It’s gray. And, God still calls us “Beloved.” Our Lord still comes to us in many and various ways. Look around during the day. You WILL see glimmers and declarations of God’s love and grace.

This Sunday we will begin regularly live streaming Sunday worship. That means you will be participating in the 9:30 am worship service in Haven’s sanctuary. (It will still be available to be viewed later if you don’t watch at 9:30 am.)

We will be working toward being able to show the liturgy and music on the screen, but we are not there yet. Until then, we will be providing several alternatives so you can have the responses and music during worship. 1) The regular bulletin and an abbreviated one with just spoken responses will be posted when we send out the link to worship, so you could print a copy. 2) We will arrange for hymnals to be delivered to those who are watching from home so you can have the hymns for singing. (OR you can pick up copies at the parsonage back porch.) 3) I will have copies of the Sunday bulletin (and communion elements) available on the parsonage back porch starting mid-afternoon on Fridays through Saturday.

Yesterday, we blessed communion sets to be used by those who will be watching on live stream from home. As mentioned in #3 above, they will be available to be picked up on the parsonage back porch starting mid-afternoon on Friday through Saturday. I will package them in baggies with three in each bag. That will be communion for one person for the remaining Sundays of January. Take one bag for each person worshipping at your home.
(NOTE: The newer communion sets are different from those we distributed for Christmas and the Epiphany. The new ones have the host on the top, under a clear seal. After you take the host, there is another foil seal that you remove for access to the grape juice. It’s a bit trickier until you get used to it.)

IF you have no way of getting communion sets from the parsonage porch, please send the church an email (havenoffice@havenlc.org) and we will seek volunteers to deliver them.

As it has been since the beginning of the pandemic, we will be learning and adapting as we go along. We appreciate your patience AND your suggestions. What a joy to come together in worship in the presence of the Lord.


Everyone Should Have an Elephant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PfGI02oTLM
















Holly Kuchera sent this picture of her mom, Sari Kilheffer.
We love you, Sari!

Read: 1 Samuel 3: 1-20
1Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” [11Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”
15Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” 17Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”
19As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.]


When many of us hear Samuel’s “call story,” our thoughts immediately jump to the hymn, “Here I Am, Lord,” also known as “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky.” That hymn was written by Dan Schutte in the late 1970s, when he was studying theology in Berkeley, California. (He would later be ordained a Jesuit priest.) One of his friends asked him to write a song for a diaconate ordination. He asked that the song have the images of the word of God, the light of Christ and the bread and wine.

The request was made on a Wednesday and the service was on Saturday. Sick with the flu, Schutte struggled to find the right tune and words. He turned to scriptures, looking at the many stories of God’s calling persons into varied missions and ministries. Schutte would say later that the hymn’s words were based on three Old Testament passages: Isaiah 6:8, 1 Samuel 3 and Jeremiah 1 4-8. Originally the chorus was “Here I Am, Lord. Here I Stand Lord.” But when he showed it to some fellow song writers, he came to embrace the idea that seemed true throughout most of scripture — when God called people like Moses and many of the prophets, they were often not sure they were up to the task. Many even questioned God’s choice of them.  So the chorus changed to, “Here I Am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?”

“Here I Am, Lord” was first published in 1981. American Lutheran congregations became familiar with the song in the hymnal supplement (aka “the blue book”) published in 1995. It has become a favorite among Catholics and protestants alike, including here at Haven.

Re-read today’s Bible selection. Notice the humor of Samuel repeatedly mistaking God’s voice for Eli’s. Notice Samuel’s respect and devotion to serving the elder Eli. Notice the bell going off in Eli’s head when he realizes Samuel is having an “epiphany” and an encounter with God. Carefully read Eli’s advice to answer voice and open himself to the experience. When Samuel does just that, the Lord calls him into service. Notice, that despite the sad news that his own sons are not worthy of carrying on in his role as priest and prophet, Eli says, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”

This passage is rich with the challenges of faithfully following our Lord, doing what the Lord asks us to do. In the history of Christianity, the idea of God issuing a “call” was often restricted to a call to priesthood or other religious orders. Martin Luther strongly challenged that notion. All baptized were called into serving the Lord, not just clergy but all people. Whether a shoemaker, parent, spouse, farmer or other occupations or roles, each follower of Christ was “called” to serve God’s mission. You, a baptized child of God, have been called. God says, “Whom shall I send?” And, either with excitement, reluctance or doubt, we often reply, “Is it I, Lord?… You don’t mean me, Lord?… What is it I can do for you, Lord?”

Like Samuel, we also may be slow to realize the nudge or persistent idea we hear is from God. It might be about a service opportunity, a change of life style, a challenge to an opinion or an inner nagging about the use of time or finances. We might be quick to dismiss such a notation as a whim, crazy idea or impossible. That’s when it’s time to find an Eli — a faithful, fellow believer or pastor – with whom you can share this niggling sense of call for further reflection and prayer.

I have venture in many directions in trying to “unveil” what this passage may have to say to you today. I pray one or more of those pathways is helpful. Don’t dismiss your experience of God in your life. God is as close as your breath. God wants and calls all of us to be a part of God’s redeeming of all creation. What might God’s call be to you right now in your life? “Be not afraid,” the angels tell us. “You are my beloved,” God says.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to open myself to the callings you have for me. Keep me attentive. Help me not to hide but trust that you provide what we need when you call us to tasks and ways of living. Teach me to trust you like Jesus and allow you to extend you love, healing and grace through us. Amen.

“Here I Am, Lord” ELW #574
(Nordic Lutheran Choir) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoXYjKFrQu0
(virtual choir) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSODPhE-0ng

“Will You Come and Follow Me” (The Summons) #798 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o469PRLdbHU
(Choir) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EOmW1_gJwY

“Speak Lord, I’m Listening”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87QoP21iM6A

“Word of God Speak” (Mercy Me) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqsnGE3_dsg