January 6, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

January 6, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

 January 6, 2021

WORSHIP AT HAVEN
Haven’s Re-Opening Team (Doug Wright, Dick Hess, Susan Strobl, Dave Resh & Pastor Alessandri) met via Zoom on Monday. The primary topic was whether to continue Sunday in-person worship with the high positivity rate of COVID in Washington County. After discussion, we decided to continue offering Sunday morning worship in the church with all our precautions in place this Sunday, January 10. Each Monday we will meet to re-evaluate in the event circumstances or the state/county mandates have changed.

We will continue to offer worship on-line as well. This week it will be taped in advance and posted on Sunday. However, we hope to move to live-streaming regularly. The chance to worship together at the same time is heartening. The challenges, as I see it are twofold.  First, how to provide those at home with the words and music for participating in worship. From my own experience last Sunday, I could not print out the whole bulletin and I could not figure out how to have a “split screen” so I could see the bulletin sent from the church office as I watched. Second, how to regularly provide blessed communion elements for those watching from home. I have a few ideas about both of these challenges and will be discussing it with our Worship Team. One other advantage to live streaming our worship is that it will greatly reduce the amount of time our music director, Steve Pastena, needs to spend editing the taped worship each week. With Frederick Co. schools moving toward a hybrid system (part in-person, part on-line) that may be important, though Steve has offered to continue editing if that is what best serves the worship life of our congregation.

Suggestions, thoughts and prayers are welcomed at l.alessandri1035@gmail.com

ANOTHER NEGATIVE COVID TEST
As recommended by Maryland state, I self-isolated and got tested for COVID several days after my return from Georgia. The line was long on Monday but I made it through in 90 minutes. They must have “fast tracked” my results because I got them in 24 hours. NEGATIVE. Ya-hoo. I will return to the church office today and lead Bible Study this morning. I will continue to be vigilant about washing my hands, wearing my mask, social distancing and using hand sanitizer. I hope you will, too.

ALL HAVEN MEMBERS WHO HAVE COVID CONTINUE TO RECOVER.
Most say they are doing well, perhaps a bit more tired but much better. I spoke with Irene Giffin who also made it through despite her COPD, a bout of pneumonia and a heart condition. Thank you, Lord! Irene is also the first person I personally know who has gotten the first shot of the vaccine. Let there be light!

2021 OFFERING ENVELOPES AVAILABLE
Thanks to the efforts of Haven’s Administrative Assistant, Mary Grabill, we have had offering envelopes ready since mid-December. But how to distribute them? We didn’t want to put them in the narthex for folks to pick up since that would mean people touching more packets of envelopes than their own. THIS SUNDAY, we will put them in the narthex with a hand-sanitized, gloved volunteer to hand them out.

For those not attending worship, I offer these suggestions for getting your envelopes 1) If you know someone attending worship, ask them to please pick up and drop off your envelopes. This has worked with poinsettias and our worship bags. OR 2) contact me (l.alessandri1035@gmail.com) or the church office (churchoffice@havenlc.org) to request I leave your envelopes on the back porch of the parsonage for you to pick up. We’ll work with you to get offering envelopes to you!

A reminder that our offering envelopes are designed so they can be mailed to the church. Put in your check, seal it, put a first-class postage stamp on it and mail. Of course, you can also save a stamp and drop it off in the offering box on the parsonage back porch.

May the Lord, who has blessed us so generously, bless our offerings to God’s Work at Haven Lutheran Church.

INTERFAITH PRAYERS FOR OUR TIMES
Washington County Interfaith Coalition

January 5, 2021

Middle Ages England (Hamlet)

Bow, stubborn knees!

Zaire

O God you have formed heaven and earth;

You have given me all the

goods

that the earth bears!

Here is your part, my God.

Take it!

Holiest of Sources, we are who we are: made as human reflections of great holiness: gem stones of beauty, variety and color…….

and we are human: somehow isolated, frail and despairing.

Spirit of Life, help us embrace it all.  Help us yield to the realities that govern our lives, and at the same time, offer back our own capacities of love, protection and acceptance.

We bow together in offering back to You and to our world, the holiness, peace, and hope with which You have gifted us. Amen.

Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition

Baptism Anniversary
Don Andrews  1/6

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read  Psalm 29

1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name;
worship the LORD in holy splendor.
3The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over mighty waters.
4The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl,
and strips the forest bare;
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
10The LORD sits enthroned over the flood;
the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11May the LORD give strength to his people!
May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Reflection

Pastor Brian Malison writes: “As a child, our family would make visits to relatives in the Midwest. I will not easily forget the thunderstorms; we didn’t have thunder like that in California. The peels would shake the whole house, and with it, my soul. I was thoroughly captivated.

When the psalmist speaks about the voice of God breaking cedar trees and flashing forth flames of fire, it reminds me of those Midwest thunderstorms.

Perhaps the psalmist is recounting such storms that passed through Judea. But perhaps the psalmist is speaking of the voice of God which continues to thunder forth, not tearing through forests, but which breaks into our carefully protected, sheltered selves, rattling our existential securities, and awakening us to the majesty of God. Such a voice may be heard, not in the clamor of a storm, but in the quiet of our minds.” (Luther Seminary’s God Pause January 5, 2021)

When God spoke a world was created out of chaos. God spoke again through prophets and Scripture writers. God spoke in-the-flesh clearly most when God’s Word became flesh in Jesus. We “know” all this but do we? Maybe that is why a few years ago the UCC (United Church of Christ) had the theme – “God is still speaking.” Do we believe that? Do we listen?

The Psalmist lifts up the power of God. We might read of raging waters, broken trees, flashes of flame and shaken wildernesses as destructive and punitive. But to the psalmist, it displays the power of God to bring order and peace to the raging waters of chaos…a power stronger than the mightiest of trees…a power greater than thunder, fire or quakes (or viruses.) And THIS God uses power not to destroy or oppress but to lead us toward peace and blessing.

I know many preach of God’s power as a threat, a warning to “shape up” or God will condemn or destroy you. We do not. BUT that does not make God’s voice and power any less potent or important. We can become very complacent about God and Scripture. We are busy or preoccupied. We have heard passages many times and think we got the point.  We forget that God is STILL speaking. I/We forget to listen anew, to listen with curious, eager and earnest ears for what God may be saying to us NOW.

I once was at a cabin with a friend. It was deep in the woods with no one else for miles. The silence and the night noises were strange for us both who were used to city noise. My friend heard something and called to me. I listened to her and asked her what she wanted me to do. After thinking a moment, she said, “Just listen with me.” We laughed about it the next morning. Today, this year I ask you to “just listen with me” for the voice and word of God. Listen like it’s as real and true as it is. What do you hear? What will we hear? What life-giving insights, directions or ideas will God speak to us?

Prayer: Almighty and loving God, open my ears, my eyes and my heart to your voice and word. “Speak, Lord, I love to listen to your voice. Speak, Lord, here I am.” Amen.

Music     Several variations of Psalm 29 in song

“Ascribe” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhqby3Kjxns
“Psalm 29 – We Cry Glory”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=682vA3UipIw
“Psalm 29 – The Voice of the Lord” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffJaTFAO5HY
“Psalm 29: The Lord Will Bless His People with Peace”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTA4jmLL7tA