January 20, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

January 20, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

 

 January 20, 2021

LET US PRAY
We ask you, this day, for peace in our nation. Please protect the new president and vice president as they are sworn into office.
We ask you to give our president wisdom, courage and grace. Strengthen him to speak and act with honesty and integrity in all situations.
Help him to use his authority to faithfully serve all people of this nation that the common good and justice be served.

Bring strong, wise, and spiritually mature people to surround him. Speak truth to him through the voices of those he trusts and give him the wisdom to reject the voices that would lead him away from what is good and right in your eyes.
In these times of great unease and uncertainty, open all our hearts to the love you pour into us for the sake of all creation. Amen.

Washington County Interfaith Coalition
Interfaith prayers for today’s times

January 19, 2021

Jewish (Psalms):

Keep me as

the apple of thy eye,

hide me

Under the shadow of thy wings.

20th century poet Carl Sandburg

Bless Thee, O Lord, for the living are of the sky over me this morning.

Bless Thee, O Lord, for the companionship of night mist far above the skyscraper peaks I saw when I awoke once during the night.

Bless Thee, O Lord, for the miracle of light to my eyes and the mystery of it ever changing.

Bless Thee, O Lord, for the laws Thou hast ordained holding fast these tall oblongs of stone and steel, holding fast the planet Earth in its course and farther beyond the cycle of the sun.

 

Spirit of Love and hope: changing light is upon us.

May we hold close that which is our nourishment and seek out that which would nourish each other.

May we recognize that whatever may happen, You are here with eyes that see us and wings of protection over us.

May we be the apple of each other’s eye and the breath of acceptance.

Holiness, open our eyes to the changing light…. whatever it may bring: good or ill.

Your presence does not change. Abide here in the name of Peace, Love and Acceptance. Amen.

Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition

IS IT SAFE TO COME TO WORSHIP AT HAVEN LUTHERAN CHURCH? I know that this is on the minds of so many members and friends of Haven. Ultimately, the decision must be left to each person to do what he or she feels is best and safest for their health and welfare.
At the suggestion of several persons, I would like to reiterate the precautions we ARE taking each Sunday to make worship as safe as possible.
1) Before we began to worship in the church nave, we had it thoroughly, professionally cleaned by AmeriClean Cleaning Specialists. including the upholstery on pews, chairs & kneelers.
2) The sanctuary is vacant all week, door left open to encourage air circulation. Entrance doors to the narthex are open to encourage air circulation immediately prior to the service. We know according to the CDC and National Institutes of Health, that COVID’s survival on surfaces is 24 hours on cardboard and porous surfaces, 3 days on stainless steel & plastic and 4 days on wood, and with each day the number of virus particles surviving decreases. 
3) Everyone who comes to worship must wear a mask (over mouth and nose, please).
4) Bulletins have only been handled with sanitized hands and are distributed by the ushers.
5) We ask everyone who enters the building to sanitize their hands at stations provided. We also have pump bottles of hand sanitizer every 6ft in each pew. 
6) To maintain social distancing, we have roped off every other pew and placed blue tape on the pews to indicate a 6 foot distance from another person in the pew who is not from your household.
7)We ask folks to remain in their pews and wave or bow to one another to pass the peace safely. No offering plates are passed but are sitting at all entrances to receive offerings.
8) During communion, pastor (who has sanitized her hands)  does not touch the hands of others when distributing hosts and each person selects their own glass of wine or grape juice (The glasses are spaced on the trays so you can take one without touching another)
9) We ask participants to temporarily lift their masks to consume communion elements and we ask persons to respect social distancing when the person before them is not in their household.
10) People who wish to avoid interacting with others, may discretely leave worship before pews are dismissed. Those who do stay for conversation, can do so in the church, with pews  or six feet between them or in the narthex (Folks seems to have a harder time remembering the social distancing in the lobby, though you could certainly do so by reminding another that you would like to keep social distance.)
11)Restrooms are cleaned weekly. We ask anyone who uses them to use a paper towel when touching any handles on doors, toilets, urinals and water faucets.

I offer this list as reassurance that we are being careful and following guidelines for the safety of those who choose to worship in the church nave. We will continue to do so.

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORK

Read  Romans 12: 1-2
1”I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Reflection:
I was intrigued by the devotion prepared by Rev. Richard Rohr on Tuesday which I will share below.  Freedom and liberty are deep in our American spirit. We who follow Jesus have a different sense of what those words mean. Our Lord modeled a life that was not self-centered or self-serving. Jesus was freed from the traps of trying to prove his worth by pursing fame, wealth, accumulation of things or other false idols. Jesus stayed aligned with God, lived into God’s unconditional love and was freed to love God and neighbor with his live. When we say we want to follow Jesus, we are asking God to shape and transform us so that we too are freed to serve God and our neighbor with power and joy. That is the “transformation” Father Rohr speaks of in this reflection. I pray you find some interesting places to wander in Rohr’s devotion and a renewed trust in a life of following Jesus.

“Authentic Freedom”
Richard Rohr
Tuesday, January 19

 

In his newest book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, Pope Francis points out that we need both personal liberation and liberation from unjust and harmful systems. Unfortunately, many people have been taught that salvation is merely an individual escape plan for the next world, which has not produced many liberated people or healthy systems. He writes:

In every personal “Covid,” so to speak, in every “stoppage,” what is revealed is what needs to change: our lack of internal freedom, the idols we have been serving, the ideologies we have tried to live by, the relationships we have neglected. [1]

We all think we are freely and consciously making our own choices when, in my experience, most people live most of their lives unconsciously! Before transformation*, we are basically sleepwalking, going through the motions on the surface of life, which is why… Jesus…tells us to “wake up.” When our ego or small self is in charge, we are not free; we are being ordered about by our preferences, our likes and dislikes. Is it really liberating to believe the world revolves around us or conversely, that we must hold it all together?

As we engage in contemplative prayer and allow God to transform us through great love and [in] great suffering, we are reminded of our inherent connectedness. We are liberated from thinking of ourselves as somehow separate from everyone and everything else, including God.

After an authentic God encounter, everything else is relativized. There is only one Absolute and it is God, not us or our culture. Both are de-centered. Through prayer we find God both deep within us and all around us. We know our True Self is part of God and lives in God. We are no longer limited by our culturally conditioned reactions but have access to a greater Source of love and ultimate freedom.

Pope Francis recognizes this freedom in the healthcare professionals who have risked their lives and worked so hard for so many months:

[Healthcare workers] are the saints next door, who have awoken something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching. They are the antibodies to the virus of indifference. They remind us that our lives are a gift and we grow by giving of ourselves: not preserving ourselves but losing ourselves in service. [2]

There is no authentic freedom if we do not also consider the rights and well-being of others. As Pope Francis reflects:

Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate. . .. [3]

The transformed person finds freedom in the service of Life and Love.  Your life is not about you. You are about life!

[1] Pope Francis, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future (Simon & Schuster: 2020), 36. 

[2] Pope Francis, 13.

[3] Pope Francis, 27.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Scripture as Liberation (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2002)

Prayer:
Loving God, you fill all things with a fullness and hope that we can never comprehend. Thank you for leading us into a time where more of reality is being unveiled for us all to see. We pray that you will take away our natural temptation for cynicism, denial, fear and despair. Help us have the courage to awaken to greater truth, greater humility, and greater care for one another. May we place our hope in what matters and what lasts, trusting in your eternal presence and love. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our suffering world. Knowing, good God, you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God. Amen.                       (R. Rohr)

Music

“Change My Heart, O God” #801  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlSmG-_eJTU

“Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus” #802
(congregational singing, with words)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMsXV_3vujg
(instrumental & choral)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v24_el_c2aY

“Changed” (College Choir) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZixDVizRrRI

“You’re the Change In Me” (Casting Crowns) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8TCZiy5A2A

“One Thing Remains” (Passion) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAGNF8XEq18

“Power of Your Love” (contemporary oldie) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga6Qtxzd6vk

“Wonderful Change” (gospel choir & Jennifer Hudson while still an American Idol contestant)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmHxFBNVMrw