July 6, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

July 6, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

July 6, 2020

Haven Lutheran Church

 

 

PASTOR DAVE KAPLAN is continuing his recovery from hip surgery at Fahrney Keedy Home & Village (8507 Mapleville Rd, Boonsboro, MD 21713). Currently quarantined, they are still getting him up to walk and he hopes more physical therapy will start-up today. Cards, notes and prayers would cheer him on.

ANN LOCHBAUM is having surgery on her back today at Mercy Hospital. She will stay there for several weeks for physical therapy. Ann has been suffering with chronic back pain for many years. Please pray for the success of the surgery and steady progress in her recovery. Cards can be sent to Ann at Mercy Medical Center, 345 St Paul Pl, Baltimore, MD 21202.

TODAY IN THE LUTHERAN CHURCH CALENDAR Today the church remembers Jan (John) Hus, as a martyr of the faith. I had to scurry to the internet to find out about this man and why he would be included in a Lutheran church calendar.  This is what I discovered.

John Hus (Jan Hus) was born sometime around 1372 in the town of Husinec, Bohemia, in the area that is now the Czech Republic. He studied theology at the University of Prague; after his ordination as a priest (1402), he became preacher at the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague. Services at the Bethlehem Chapel were conducted in Czech, contrary to the common practice of conducting services in Latin. The Bible was read and sermons were preached in the common language. Hus was intrigued by the writings of the early English reformer John Wycliffe, though he did not agree with all Wycliffe’s teachings. Hus preached actively against the worst abuses of the Roman Church of the day. His primary teachings were:

– Hus called for a higher level of morality among the priesthood. Financial abuses, sexual immorality, and drunkenness were common among the priests of Europe.

– Hus called for preaching and Bible reading in the common language, and for all Christians to receive full communion. At the time, laypersons received only the bread during communion, and only priests were allowed to receive the wine.

– Hus opposed the sale of indulgences. These were documents of personal forgiveness from the Pope which were sold for sometimes exorbitant prices to raise funds for Crusades.

– Hus opposed the relatively new doctrine of Papal infallibility when Papal decrees contradicted the Bible. He asserted the primacy of the Scriptures over church leaders and councils.

Wow! The seeds of what would be known as the Protestant Reformation were already being sown in parts of Europe before Martin Luther. You can hear echoes of John Hus’s list of needed church reforms in Luther’s 95 Theses posted on October 31, 1517.

Hus lived at a time of tumultuous division in the Western Church known as the Great Schism. There were for a time two, and briefly even three competing Popes who each claimed complete authority over the Church. Hus’s criticisms and calls for reforms came in the midst of the Schism; high Church leaders generally regarded Hus as an irritating stumbling block to reconciling the divided Church and he was excommunicated. Led to believe he would have the opportunity to be heard, Hus journeyed to the Council of Constance (1414-1418) to defend his beliefs. (The Council of Constance was the Council which finally ended the Schism with the election of Pope Martin V.) Hus was immediately imprisoned. When finally tried, he was accused of the crime of being a Wycliffite. He was not allowed to defend himself or his beliefs. Because of his refusal to recant, Hus was declared a heretic, turned over to secular authorities and was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415.

It seems early in his monastic career, Martin Luther, rummaging through the stacks of a library, happened upon a volume of sermons by John Huss, the Bohemian who had been condemned as a heretic. “I was overwhelmed with astonishment,” Luther later wrote. “I could not understand for what cause they had burnt so great a man, who explained the Scriptures with so much gravity and skill.”

Huss was seen as a predecessor in the reform movement by Luther and many other Reformers, for Huss preached key Reformation themes (like hostility to indulgences) a century before Luther drew up his 95 Theses. But the Reformers also looked to Huss’s life, in particular, his steadfast commitment to Scripture and the faith in the face of a church’s brutal response to those who challenged its practices and power.

So there we have it, Jan (John) Hus a forerunner to the later “Protestant Reformation.” One of the options for the Prayer of the Day would be for “Renewers of the Church”:

Almighty God, we praise you for your servant John Hus, through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life. Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit, whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

RETURN OF HARVEST FOR HUNGER Each summer we set out a table for extra garden vegetables, flowers and homemade baked goods to benefit Hunger ministries. Everyone with a garden is invited to bring their extra vegetables or flowers from their gardens to church for our “Harvest for Hunger” table. Homemade baked goods are popular, too. For a freewill offering, folks can take home what they want. All proceeds will be divided between local and ELCA hunger projects.
This year, the Harvest for Hunger goods are being placed on a cart that can be wheeled out so that worshippers can check out the offerings before and after the Drive-up and Outdoor service. It’s another example of how we are finding new pathways to continue ministries even in these COVID times.

 

GRATITUDE AND GODSIGHTINGS

Mary saw these young deer outside the UCC Church of the Holy Trinity as she was leaving.
(Do you think they could tell their cousins near Haven to stay out of the vegetable garden?)

 

 

 

 

 

I found a lily with five blooms in my garden.
I had forgotten what kind of  plant it was
until it bloomed.

 

 

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read Isaiah 55:10-13

10For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

Reflections
This passage concludes “Second Isaiah” (chapters 40-55), the portion of the book of Isaiah that is thought to be addressed to the Hebrews in Babylonian exile. It is a poetic vision of their return to the Holy Land in a new exodus that is cheered on by singing mountains and by trees that clap their hands.
Professor J. Blake Couey explains that ”Isaiah 55:10–11 is an extended simile comparing God’s word to precipitation, emphasizing their respective results. By their nature, rain and snow cannot help irrigating the earth, making plant growth possible. Similarly, the divine word successfully achieves its intended purposes. But like any poetic simile, this one resists simple paraphrase. Its affective impact is as important as its intellectual content. Verse 10 unfolds an image of abundance that engages the senses. We can feel the cool dampness of the rain, see the greenness of the verdant landscape, and taste the bread in our mouths. That, the prophet/poet tells us, is what God’s word is like. Refreshing. Abundant. Life-giving.” (posted on www.workingpreacher.org)

“Isaiah 55:12 describes nature’s participation in the exiles’ return. Mountains and hills break out in harmony, while the forest claps the rhythm. The very landscape transforms itself. Pernicious weeds are replaced by tall, luxuriant trees. This new creation becomes an “everlasting sign” of the life-giving power of God’s word.”

What a jubilant song and vibrant images Isaiah offered exiles who face the journey back to a place they called “home” but circumstances that were unknown. Is this our song, too, in these unnerving times with COVID? We often feel like exiles separated from “life as we knew it.” During our “exile” we depend on the Word of God, both Scripture and Jesus, that reveals God’s promises of faithfulness, steadfast presence and new life. We may feel frightened, disconcerted or alone but we also know that our feelings are not as everlasting or powerful as God and God’s love for us.

We may not be able to imagine the “new normal” that is unfolding any more than the Hebrews could imagine Jerusalem from their place in Babylon. What we do know is that God can be trusted with our lives and our future. So we look for guidance on how to proceed — in our daily lives, vacation, re-opening the church building. We look for signs of the Lord working resurrection inside us and outside. And maybe, just maybe, on days when the breeze is just right, we might hear the hills and trees making music to cheer us on to a new day.

Prayer

Lord of rain and snow, mountains and trees, sing into our hearts and spirits your songs of hope and resurrection. Open us to your Word and your promises, that we might be steadied and look up to see the buds and sprouts of renewed and new life around us, that we, too might join the uplifting song of your creation. Amen

Music

“Hymn of Promise”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RHek8k5WoY

“Shout to the Lord” ELW #821 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DKYPW3VGrE

“Thy Word” (instrumental, Michael W. Smith) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AWYOlaDq1g

“Chorus of Faith” (Michael Card) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhCzeoVI1s4