June 15, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

June 15, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)
June 15, 2020

Haven Lutheran Church, Hagerstown MD

IT DOESN’T ALWAYS GO SMOOTHLY BUT WITH SOME PATIENCE AND GOOD HUMOR WE MAKE IT! That’s one of my learnings from Sunday morning. That and a confirmation that Haven is a good-hearted, adaptive and loving community.
FIRST STORY We decided to go with outdoor worship under cloudy skies and cool temperatures. All the weather maps showed any rain clouds would pass us by or just be “rain-less” clouds. We set up. Cars pulled in and nine people set up chairs.
We were into the sermon and I began to hear raindrops on the canopy above me. I was watching the those sitting in chairs in the open, hoping it was going to be one of those very brief rains. They were being so stoic, trying not to interrupt me. After two more paragraphs, I had to stop and ask folks to join us under the canopies to get out of the rain. Instead most got umbrellas or had umbrellas offered from one of the parked cars.

Then to our surprise, we were joined by two ducks. The female was very brave, walking among those seated on the lawn. She particularly like Elaine Michael (a duck whisperer?) who offered her hand and sweet words. I asked if we could count them in our attendance. Later, someone told me we couldn’t because they “ducked out” early. (yes, you may groan.) I wonder if they thought there would be communion bread?

SECOND STORY We asked all who were willing to wait while we got organized to follow in a caravan passed Anna Bergschneider house as a way to congratulate her on her high school graduation. Thank you, Jackie Webb, who helped make and distribute posters for folks to hold up as we went by. I had a bouquet of balloons and a gift bag with almost 20 cards from congregation members. Jackie had also gotten a cake. She took the cake, balloons and gift bag, got into the back seat of Sharron Moser’s car, to jump at the Bergschneider house to give everything to Anna from her Haven family.

Now comes the misadventure and pastor’s confession. I took the lead in the caravan, having plotted a route that would take us down Outer Drive on the side of Anna’s house. As I watched this parade of 12-15 cars behind me, I was thanking the Lord for this wonderful group of Haven folks who were taking the time to help Anna knows she was appreciated and loved.

I realized as I did the final turn onto Outer Drive, that I did not have the exact address. I was counting on Anna and her sister being outside her house (as planned with her family) and recognizing her Dad’s very distinctive vintage car being in their drive way. Neither were there. So around the blocks we go again. This time I had the church directory out, looking for the house number. But I had already gone by it again! (Are you getting how embarrassing this is?) Luckily, either Jackie knew the right house or Anna came out, because Sharron’s car (about three cars behind mine) stopped and Jackie jumped out with the cake, balloons and bag of cards. The drive-up party could now begin! I did a U-turn and came back to the end of the beeping & waving line.

I felt so terrible and embarrassed that I had led so poorly. (NOT a good thing to say about a pastor.) THEN I got a grip —- “This was not about me” — this is about Anna and her church family. Despite my mistake, Anna was on her lawn (with her sister Joy,) beaming as each car went by, beeping, waving and most stopping to give her the signs that had been made with words of celebration and encouragement. It was such a wonderful moment —- Love for a child of God proved so much more powerful than COVID restrictions and my goofs.

On behalf of Anna and her family, THANK YOU to all who sent or brought cards for Anna. THANK YOU to all who stayed to be part of our parade by Anna’s house (and those who stayed behind to move sound equipment after worship.) THANK YOU to Jackie Webb, who continues to be a great youth connector and leader. THANK YOU for your continued forgiveness and smiles when I mess up. Yesterday’s sermon ended with God saying, “I’ll always be your Daddy! Now go do [ministry]” and we did. THANK YOU FOR BEING GOD’S WITNESSES.

I’ll write you again on Wednesday. Send me any gratitudes, Godsightings, pictures and cartoons.

God’s peace be with you,
Pastor Linda M. Alessandri





Good Morning.
I am looking for someone that crochets. I have a pink baby blanket started and I am no longer able to crochet. I would like for someone to have it and be able to finish it. I am giving it away. Thank you for your help.  Pat Pile



Read: Psalm 69:7-10 [11-15] 16-18  (Assigned Psalm for this coming Sunday)

It is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that shame has covered my face.
8I have become a stranger to my kindred,
an alien to my mother’s children.
9It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.
10When I humbled my soul with fasting,
they insulted me for doing so.
11When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
12I am the subject of gossip for those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me.
13But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me.
With your faithful help 14rescue me
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
15Do not let the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the Pit close its mouth over me.
16Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17Do not hide your face from your servant,
for I am in distress — make haste to answer me.
18Draw near to me, redeem me,
set me free because of my enemies.

This is why I love the psalms. They are just so raw and honest. In this case, the psalmist doesn’t hold back about the persecution, rejection and ridicule he is suffering because of his faith and faith practices. (vs. 7-12) Between the lines you can hear: “Why?” “Do you see what’s happening to me, LORD?” “Why are you letting this happen to your faithful servant?” Certainly we can empathize. We’ve had our own times of crying out to the Lord: “How long?” “Why?” or “Don’t you care?

After expressing such deep pain, most would expect the psalmist to turn away from God or chose an easier path and would not blame him. But there is where the psalms always take us by surprise. Instead of rejecting God, the lamenting psalmist turns toward the Lord. “In YOUR time, O God… rescue, deliver, answer, draw near, redeem and free me.” Why do that when it seems following God has gotten you into this mess? Twice the psalmist speaks of the LORD’s steadfast love and abundant mercy.  There’s a history revealed in those words. It may be the history of God’s faithfulness in the psalmist’s own life. It is certainly the history of God’s faithfulness seen in holy scriptures — faithfulness to Abraham and Sarah and the Israelites and their descendants. Between the lines of the prayer contained in vs. 13-18, you can hear: “I do not like what is going on…I am overwhelmed by what is happening…Yet you are the One who has proved to be merciful, caring and faithful and so I cling to You, Lord. I stick with you. I will rely on you. I will hope deliverance will come sooner rather than later, but in any case I attach my life to yours and trust.”

Prayer: (Psalm prayer for Psalm 69)
God of hope, in Christ’s passover from death to life you restore the fallen and rebuild the broken walls. Turn to us in your great compassion, and answer us with your unfailing help, for you are the strength of your people; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” ELW #733
(Choral anthem) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMACCtitfRw
(Chris rice, solo) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k1WhFtVp0o

“You Are My Hiding Place”(Selah)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8K8MDiy56g

“Alive and Breathing” (Matt Mahers) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYUJjsgd96k

“He’s Our Rescuer” (Rend Collective)