July 20, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

July 20, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

July 20, 2020

Haven Lutheran Church

WORSHIP AT HAVEN Looking at the unusually hot and humid forecast for Sunday, July 19th, we decided to cancel our 9:30 am Drive-up and Outdoor worship. When I was outside on Friday at 8:30 am and it was already in the 80’s, I became concerned about the welfare of those who would be putting up tents and setting up equipment before Sunday’s service and of those who might sit on the lawn or in cars. So I strongly encouraged us to cancel outside worship. We had anticipated that storms would be a reason we might need to cancel outdoor worship, but we hadn’t thought of such severe heat and humidity. In previous years, we would have move worship inside when the weather made outdoor worship not possible, but COVID means we can’t be so flexible.

Not knowing what kind of weather we will be having for the rest of the summer, let me remind you that we now have three summer worship options each weekend.

1) On Fridays at 5 p.m. we have a spoken worship service with holy communion in the air conditioned church sanctuary (masks required and social distancing honored)

2) On-line worship that can be accessed on our website — www.havenlc.org — at any time after 9:30 am on Sunday

3) Weather-permitting, a Drive-up and Outdoor worship service with holy communion on Sunday at 9:30 am
IF we need to cancel outdoor worship due extreme heat and humidity in the forecast, we will send out an e-mail AND we will put it on the church’s voice mail system† on FRIDAY so you have time to opt for Friday 5 pm service indoors. IF we need to cancel due to rain, we will put that notification on the church’s voice mail system† on Sunday by 8:30 am. I am sorry if that sounds too complicated. We are trying our best to offer as many options as possible AND be flexible to safeguard the wellbeing of worship leaders and participants.

To access notice Call 301-733-5056. As soon as the message greeting begins, push the star button (*). That will take you to the voice mail message about cancelations.

Of the many lessons we may be learning from COVID is the need to adapt when a new or unexpected curve comes our way. Stick with us as we navigate being Haven Lutheran Church, God’s children even now… especially now!

ANOTHER WALK INTO GOSPEL GARDENS  In the thirteenth chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel, Jesus offers a series of parables. The first two use farming images — the Sower whose seeds fall on all different types of soil with a variety of results and then, a farmer who plants good wheat seeds and finds weeds growing in the field as well. They both startled the first ones who heard them. The Sower seemed too generous or wasteful with the precious seed. The weeds were allowed to grow with the wheat for fear that his well-meaning labors would do more harm than good if they tried to separate them while rooted in the ground. Jesus invites us to wander in his parables like we might in a garden or farm field and wonder what wisdom, blessings and beauty are being offered to us.

Last Friday, I shared a reflection Charlotte Loveless wrote after she went wandering in a place where gardens and God intersected.  I was blessed to receive the reflection below from (Rev.) Valerie Wills and she, too, sees holiness in the things of the world like gardens. I pray you find it rich with hope and encouragement as I did.

Haiku

cockscombs:
up to fourteen…fifteen

stalks, even

Shiki

 

 

 

 

Momentary:

When we lived in Takoma Park, I took it on myself to plant my first garden.  I had no idea what I was doing–the sun and weather must have been just right.  I bought seeds, turned over two plots of soil–one for veggies and one for flowers.  I had no hope…just a bit of youth and a “how hard can it be?” and “nothing ventured, nothing lost” attitude.

The tomatoes were the best I’ve ever (EVER!) tasted and the flowers were nice…except the cockscomb (which I had had no hope for and had actually kind of forgotten by the end of summer when they matured) …the cockscomb were magnificent!  The gardening books say they are red, but in actuality they are a deep magenta and magnificent…and breath-taking.

The notation about Shiki references his years of debilitating tuberculosis, that he could see the flowers only from a distance because walking to the garden had been too difficult. And, perhaps the “fourteen…fifteen” phrase was due to his inability to know how many were actually in bloom.  I am supposing that to him…like to me…they were symbols of strength and great beauty…for me, also: survival.  I remember standing in awe by the flower ‘garden’ on my way to harvest vegetables…a time of joy and a sense of “the future is ahead of me” because Grant had returned safely from Vietnam and we had bought a four-room house and life was flourishing.

I have never since tried to grow them…perhaps in next year’s garden.  Or perhaps my moments of peace and joy will remain hallowed in my memory of a turbulent, terrifying ordeal come to an end.  This too shall pass.  The memory of Cockscomb speaks.  It says:  Beauty is present…and we will have eyes to see it….an instant of promise in this time of difficult days.

PASTOR ALESSANDRI’S VACATION ADVENTURE (July 26, after worship thru Tuesday, August 4) I will be driving to meet my sister in the mountains of North Carolina, in an area that has been blessed with the same lower COVID numbers as our own Washington County. We will read, play Yahtzee, enjoy the view, and hike. Among the family Denise will return to in Atlanta is a grandson she loves to babysit and I return to you, whom I love, —— so we will be VERY careful and conscientious about staying safe and healthy.
AND GUESS WHO WILL BE LEADING WORSHIP AND PREACHING WHILE I’M AWAY?
Our seminarian, Katy Moran, has agreed to come up to Hagerstown for the weekend! She will stay in the parsonage and tape worship for Sunday, August 2, lead worship and preach at 5 pm on Friday, July 31st and lead and preach at the outdoor worship service on August 2nd. I was so glad Katy didn’t think I was totally crazy to ask and said “yes.”
As soon as I confirm who will provide pastoral care in my absence, I will publish the information later this week in an e-message and in the weekend’s bulletins.

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RACIAL JUSTICE SERIES: LISTEN AND LEARN ABOUT RACISM
I had been approached about holding a study and discussion on racism. Then, this opportunity came to us from our DE-MD Synod. (See the paragraph below.) I invite you to join me in attending this on-line education series being offered by the DE-MD Racial Justice Team. It is an opportunity for many of get a fresh perspective on a topic, issue, injustice that we think we understand because it has been an active part of our national conversation for our lifetime. I know there is still much for me to learn. Join me. When I return from vacation, I will send out an invitation for our own discussion of what we are noticing, learning or challenging.

Our Synod’s Racial Justice Team invites you to participate in an educational series about racism that will provide historical context, facilitate your personal journey, and help you find your voice in this national conversation. Recognizing that systemic racism is a sin which has been perpetuated by the institutional silence of our predominantly white denomination, these sessions are being led by predominantly white leaders in our synod to facilitate greater accountability for addressing the sin of racism within our congregations and the ELCA.  It will be held on Zoom on four consecutive Monday evenings from July 27th to August 17th. For more details and to register go to  https://demdsynod.org/listen-and-learn-about-racism/.  You are also encouraged to view additional resources on the Racial Justice Ministry’s newly updated website https://demdsynod.org/connectedness/racial-justice-ministry-team/

NANCY NEWKIRK was in Meritus Hospital last week with a nose bleed that would not stop. (Nancy takes blood thinning medication) She had to return on Saturday when it reoccurred and was admitted. Nancy hopes to go home today.

PASTOR DAVID KAPLAN, CHARLOTTE LOVELESS and DARYLENE BLICKENSTAFF continue recovery and physical therapy after surgeries to mend broken bones.

ANN LOCHBAUM I haven’t been able to make contact with Ann at Mercy Hospital. I’ve a call into her son Mark and hope to get an update.

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read  1Kings 3: 5-12
5At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”
10It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.”

Reflection
Solomon asks for “an understanding mind.” In Hebrew the word we translate as the adjective “understanding” means “the ability to tell the difference between things.” Just beginning his reign as king in unsettling and challenging circumstances, Solomon asks for the wisdom to tell the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and lies. It seems a rather humble request. Many in his position might ask the Lord for large, unbeatable armies to quell dissenter or some kind of “super powers” to disarm enemies with a glance. Yet it is a discerning mind that Solomon requests and it pleases God.

When facing a challenge or difficult decision, what do I ask of the Lord? Do I ask for wisdom or do I tell the Lord what I think would be wise? Ouch! When fear or anxiety are tugging, it is not our human inclination to pray for “an understanding mind.” We want to jump to a quick and agreeable conclusion or fix.

In these COVID times that have somehow got politicized…. in the volatile public discourse of opinions that seem to demonize anyone who thinks differently… amid the information being dumped minute by minute on social media, in news media with particular ideological slants, and by public officials and our neighbor next door which contradict one another — we are flooded with material that can overwhelm, anger, frustrate and confuse us.

What a good time to follow Solomon’s lead. We can add to our prayers an earnest request for “an understanding mind” to help us discern good and evil, right and wrong, truth and lies, so that we can walk with faithfulness and an upright heart toward our Lord and love our neighbor as Jesus loves us. Oh, come Holy Spirit.

Prayer
Lord, we seek your wisdom. We ask for your guidance as we sort through so much information and as we continually face so many decisions to adjust and adapt to the current and unfolding challenges. Help us to stay close to you and seek your wisdom often. We need your light to keep us on pathways that honor your commands to love you, our neighbor and this world you created. Send your Holy Spirit to enlighten, lead and embolden us to follow in your ways. Amen.

Music

ELW suggestions for wisdom “Beloved, God’s Chosen” ELW 648 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ia9pH0wJml0

“God of Grace and God of Glory” ELW 705 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyQKHAkgMe8

“Open Your Ears, O Faithful People” ELW #519 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7Bp1lJLcZU

“Be Thou My Vision” ELW 793 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgLHar8VWJI