July 22, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

July 22, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

July 22, 2020

Haven Lutheran Church

NEW BABY STEP IN RE-OPENING THE CHURCH BUILDING After very good on-line and ZOOM meeting questions, suggestions and discussion, Haven’s Congregational Council approved an agreement of limited building usage to be offered to our CoDa (Codependents Anonymous) and Al-Anon (fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics) groups. Only if they agree to the guidelines of good and safe practices will they be permitted to again meet at Haven. (Most of the guidelines were actually suggested by the CoDa group itself when asking if they could return.)
We will also invite Haven’s Book Club and Bible studies to meet at Haven, too.

We will ask all groups to meet exclusively in the Gathering Room where social distancing is more easily arranged. Masks must be worn at all time. Chairs, tables, high touch areas (light switches, door handles, bathroom fixtures) must be disinfected before exiting the building, using disinfecting wipes or spray & towels.

The Re-opening Team and Council are trying to balance precaution, good COVID-preventative practices and the needs of the community. How to do that is not always easy or clear but we are doing our best, using the latest available information and safe practices. Keep our efforts in your prayer, that we are able to navigate well and avoid the transmission of any of the corona virus.

Washington County Interfaith Coalition
Interfaith Prayers For Our Times

July 21, 2020

Kenyon prayer (273)

From the cowardness that dare not face new truth

From the laziness that is contented with half truth

From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,

Good Lord, deliver me.

W.E.B. Du Bois

Lord of the springtime, Father of flower, field and fruit, smile on us in earnest days when the work is heavy and the toll wearisome;

Lift up our hearts, O God, to the things worthwhile:

Sunshine and night

The dripping rain

The song of the birds

Books and music

And the voice of our friends.

Lift up our hearts to these this night and grant us Thy peace. Amen

We pray together for courage, humility, and the sounds of nature which engage our hearts. As we continue this covid journey, touch us with bravery to face what is to be. Stir in us the spirit of compassion and self-acceptance.  Grant us ears to hear the world around us and the unheard footsteps that travel beside us.  Be with us, we pray as we seek to live this life we have been given. Amen.

(Rev) Valerie Wills, Co-coordinator Washington County Interfaith Coalition

HOW COULD SEEING ONE ANOTHER BE SO GOOD AND SO HARD?  When we gathered for worship in the sanctuary last Friday at 5 p.m., my heart leapt to see the fourteen persons gathered there, some whom I had not seen since March. We had masks on and were sitting apart, yet we were there ready to receive God’s Word and Meal together.

What was the hard part? Not being able to hug in greeting or go shake hands when we pass the peace. For those of us who live alone, that loss of touch is further magnified.

It is startling at how many important moments are a blend of emotions. Your child goes to school — you’re proud of them yet miss when they were “little.” We go off to college — Yahoo, freedom but a loss of home’s comfort and a new set of roommate or dorm challenges. You get that new job — you’re so happy and yet a bit anxious because there is a whole new set of people and company “ways” to learn. You’re going on vacation — so excited to go but crazy busy getting everything ready at home and work before you go. And now COVID. Going to the grocery store or a restaurant is a mixture of sweet freedom but anxiety as you notice people not wearing masks or you wonder if you should touch the salt or pepper shakers on the table without first wiping them off (IF you can find disinfecting wipes to buy.)

Sometimes our expectations can put a lot of pressure on ourselves, others and situations. Naturally, we want things to be just right or simple or easy. When it is not, we are understandably disappointed. So where do you go from there? The Thanksgiving turkey is a disaster. You have to have that time of disappointment, tears, grief or self-reproach. We need to feel what we feel or we can’t deal with how we feel. Eventually comes the choice —- “Everything is ruined!” or a sigh, a laugh, when someone says, “I like all the side dishes better than the turkey anyway.”

When it comes to church right now, it is not what we wish we could have. We can’t deny the grief of that. Not singing during inside worship? No hugging? No standing next to someone in the pew?  Not seeing someone’s expression behind their mask? It just doesn’t seem right. We feel COVID-robbed and it’s true. Eventually, once we let our hearts and spirit mourn the losses, we have that choice again. “It’s just not church unless it’s like it used to be” or…… What is the alternative? Playing Pollyanna or pretending everything is just peachy is just a false front.

What about choosing to find God in what is? Yes, right here in our times, limitations and unknowns. This is no easy thing. It doesn’t cure all ills or soothe all feelings and it doesn’t deny them either.  Training ourselves to see where God is in the moment, in our experiences, in the circumstances will give us a breath of fresh hope and joy. In a good mystery, there is a pleasure in noticing and gathering clues AND in noticing clues you missed when you reach the conclusion. I think there is a similar delight in noticing and gathering clues of God’s goodness, efforts and presence. I don’t think God is hiding from us. I think we don’t always realize how or where to look. Or perhaps God is present in a way, circumstance or person where we never imagine God would be.

Claim your feelings AND go on a hunt for God’s footprints, handiwork and surprises. No hunting permit or equipment required. The hunting season is perpetual. There’s more than enough for each and every one of us to spot the glimmer and glory of God in our midst. Happy hunting!

Pastor Linda M Alessandri

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read  Psalm 119:129-136

129Your decrees are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131With open mouth I pant,
because I long for your commandments.
132Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your custom toward those who love your name.
133Keep my steps steady according to your promise,
and never let iniquity have dominion over me.
134Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136My eyes shed streams of tears
because your law is not kept.

Reflections
The common view of the “Ten Commandments” is a list of rules, “do’s and don’ts”, set by God. Most people will think they are rather a good moral code. Yet the human rebel in us doesn’t like anyone telling us what to do or telling us when we are wrong. That’s the story of Adam and Eve back then and in each of us still. (Just consider the whole controversy about wearing face masks.)  We want to make the rules. We want to determine what is good and bad, right or wrong. We think we know best. And as the saying goes, “you see where that’s gotten us.”

But Professor W. Dennis Tucker offers a different perspective. The Torah (Hebrew for “the teachings”) is the name given to the first five books of the Hebrew Scripture which form the basis of all Jewish law and practice.  to the Torah — including the Ten Commandment (“Ten Words” in Hebrew.) Here is what Professor Tucker writes: “Regrettably, some have diminished the notion of torah so that it means little more than a “set of rules” to be obeyed; for some, torah is simply something we “do.” Such an obligatory sense of torah undercuts its transformative capacity on us—or perhaps better yet, God’s capacity to transform us through it. James Mays reminds us that “in the psalm’s understanding of God’s way, torah is the means by which the LORD deals with human beings and they with the LORD.”2 As the Israelites leaned into God’s torah, they did not lean into a set of “laws” to be followed, but instead they leaned into a God who sought to shape his people through his word. [We need] to adopt a more vibrant understanding of torah. Following torah, following the ways of God, can never be construed as legalism. To the contrary, following this God always leads to life, a transformed life.” (workingpreachr.org)

Following God’s ways is “leaning into God.” What beautiful image. Leaning into God, not trying to get around “rules,” but sitting shoulder to shoulder, looking in the direction God points, letting God gently turn me toward another path, learning from the master who knows so much better and more than I. It also makes me think of the great tour guides I had last year in Israel and Switzerland. By following them, looking and listening to all they showed and taught, I got to see new things, and many things I might have missed, I got new understandings and deeper appreciations.

The psalmist calls God’s ways and word wonderful. It is not about keeping score, getting by, sneaking around or killing fun. Leaning into God’s word and way is following God lead into a freed life of purpose and meaning and love. Give us eyes to see your ways as light and your word as wonderful.

Prayer(ELW Prayer for Psalm 118)
Holy God, you are just in all your ways and your commandments are the greatest of treasures. Teach us to love you with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Music

“Word of God Speak” (Mercy Me) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8cJQMU9Q-U

“Look Up” (Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8cJQMU9Q-U

“I Remember” (Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9TE8D5Vs8k

Sent by Carol Shull  It is just glorious! 17,572 singers from 129 countries Words below. Followed by beautiful instrumental music.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InULYfJHKI0