June 2, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

June 2, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

June 2, 2020

Since I was to go on a retreat through the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary this summer, I now get emails from them. The one that arrived on Monday got my attention. The writer spoke of Julian of Norwich.
Before I share the writing from the Seminary, maybe a few words about Julian of Norwich. I have heard about Julian but didn’t know much about her. When I did a search about her I discovered a rather remarkable woman and mystic. This was one summary:
In the 14th century, a number of English men and women withdrew from the world. They lived alone as hermits or anchorites. Their hermitage or anchorhold, was a small room attached to a local church. Each room had two windows. One pierced the church wall. Through this window, the anchorite received communion. Through the second window, the anchorite received food brought to him or her by village people.
As a young woman, Julian, who was born about 1342, became an anchorite at the Church of St. Edmund and St. Julian in Norwich. Until her death in about 1420, at the age of 78, Julian stayed in her simple room. Like most anchorites, she probably prayed, fasted, did penance, studied, sewed clothing for the poor, and advised the village people.
But, like several other anchorites at that time, Julian also wrote a book, Revelations of Divine Love. In it, she described her 16 visions of Jesus. As she wrote this book about God’s great compassion for us, Julian developed a special vocabulary. She called the Creator our mother and our father. She called Jesus the Redeemer our brother.
At the time of Julian’s death, people from all over Europe traveled to her room, or cell, to ask her advice. Everyone recognized that she was close to God. The Church never formally declared her a saint, but through the ages, people have called her “Blessed.”

Now back to the letter in the e-mail that intrigued me. David Esterline, President and Professor of Cross-cultural Theological Education at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary wrote:

“Julian is likely best known for her lines “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” Taken on their own, these lines are hardly convincing. A not unreasonable response would be: How is that even possible? In the present uncertainty about just about everything, how can anyone affirm that “all shall be well”? A few notes about Julian might be helpful here. The first is that these lines were not spoken first by Julian, but by God to Julian—and Julian’s response was to argue with God: How is it possible to affirm that “all shall be well”? Haven’t you seen the suffering, the pain so many are in? The loneliness and fear? Don’t you recognize the general state of chaos in the world? How can all things possibly be well?

Julian lived 600 years ago in genuine social distancing—she was an anchoress living a solitary life in a cell. Pandemics came in waves during her lifetime; more than half of the population of Europe died from plague when she was a child. In short, suffering, fear, and death were rampant. Yet . . . Julian (by the way, the first woman to write a book in English) heard God’s response to her argument not with an explanation of how all things will be well, but with an invitation to trust. And so she came to pray:

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving.
You are our mother, brother, and Saviour.
In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvellous and plenteous grace.
You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well. Amen.

I pray God’s peace for each of you, especially in this time of “unpeace.”

Sometimes we may consider “sheltering at home” like a “prison cell” but actually it isn’t. It is a place we have chosen for the health and well being of our neighbor and ourselves.  I can’t imagine living as Julian of Norwich did but hers was a choice made of love, too.  Though the space was small, she was able to live a rich life of faith and charity. She was gifted with visions and an understanding of the Lord that brought her a peace that she freely shared with others and us.
What gifts has the Lord shared with us as we have slowed down and stood still?  As many of us struggle to “stay put,” wear masks and following “social distancing,” what might happen if we stopped struggling, sat with our Lord and just got curious?

Thank you Julian and Rev. Dr. Esterline, for your powerful and comforting words

And I, too, pray God’s peace for each of you,
Pastor Linda M Alessandri

HAVEN DRIVE-UP AND LAWN SERVICE WILL BE BACK THIS SUNDAY, JUNE 7TH.
Again, by the generosity of Scott Paddock, we will again have use of his expertise, his FM transmitter and sound board for an outdoor worship experience.

Closer to the weekend we will reprint the parking lot sketch and all the protocols we need to follow to comply with state and insurance guidelines. But we wanted to let you know about one important addition — WE WILL MAKE THE RESTROOMS AVAILABLE IN THE CHURCH during worship. We will have the restrooms thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. We will ask only one person be in a restroom at a time. We will have the main doors open so there is one less door handle to touch. We will have plenty of soap and hand sanitizers available. So if the lack of restrooms kept you away last weekend, you can feel free to come this weekend.
IF you could help set up or take down tents OR be a masked, vested, & gloved usher, please send us an e-mail or note (havenoffice@havenlc.org).

GRATITUDE AND GODSIGHTINGS
BRAVO STEVE! Good Morning and church service was lovely and brought to a very happy conclusion with an original Stephen with a “P” Pastena on piano!!
Do you have more?? Wow that was fantastic bravo!  Gods peace be with you all!  And thank you for all your dedication, inspiration and faithfulness to keeping us fed.
Love you all and hugs!  Amy Mason

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD
Read: Psalm 8  (The Psalm for this Trinity Sunday)
1O LORD, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
to silence the enemy and the avenger.
3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
4what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
5Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
and crowned them with glory and honor.
6You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
7all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9O LORD, our Sovereign,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Reflections: (I share some thoughts from Rev. Dr. Rolf Jacobson as posted on workingpreacher.com  with a few edits here and there…. we preachers can’t help ourselves:)
“The psalm paints the picture of a soul searcher standing alone at night, staring up at the vast expanse of the universe and overcome by a haunting question. It’s a personal, existential crisis latent in the psalms question: “What is one human being, that you should remember him? What is a single mortal, that you should care for her?”

The answer comes: Human beings are not insignificant, they are but “a little lower than God.” In fact, God has “crowned them with glory and honor.” Indeed, God has given human beings meaningful work in the economy of creation. They have been given “dominion over the work of your hands.”

The concept here is that God so values the human beings in the “orders of creation,” that God has called human beings to share in God’s creative work by taking responsibility to care for the rest of creation. What more meaningful way is there to communicate that someone matters than to tell them, “You matter because what you do in life matters.” Here, God has called human beings to participate in God’s work of ordering, shaping, stewarding, and caring for life on the planet earth.

The term “given them dominion” (a hiphil participle from the root mashal, meaning “to rule”) is a word borrowed from the semantic field of royalty. Kings are given dominion. And as the laws concerning the limits of royal power in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 indicate, dominion is entrusted to the king as a sacred responsibility to be stewarded wisely, not as a privilege to be exploited for personal gain.

Just as Israel’s king was not to exalt “himself above other members of the community” (Deuteronomy 17:20), human beings are not to exploit creation — destroying, denuding, and deforesting — but we are to be faithful stewards. Creation does not belong to us, but to God (see Psalm 24:1). We are to care for it as a sacred trust given to us by the Creator. The glory that God has imbued into creation (verse 1c) is a glory that God has also bestowed on God’s human servants: “you have . . . crowned them with glory and honor” (verse 5).

Notice that the psalmist’s questions, wonders, vocation, and stewardship begins and ends with these words, “9O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8 begins — and ends — with a word of praise addressed directly to God. When a psalm begins and ends with the same phrase (an inclusion), there is a dual function. First, it brings a sense of closure to the poem. Second, and more importantly, the phrase sounds just a little different when the audience hears it the second time. It sounds different the second time because the audience has heard the body of the poem in between. In the case of Psalm 8, which is replete with references to creation (the heavens, the moon and the stars, the field, the sea, etc.), the latter part of the phrase “how majestic is your name in all the earth” will sound especially different when it is read for the second time. It will also act as a reminder that all of creation is God’s and our role as its stewards is to please and praise the LORD

Prayer: (Psalm Prayer for Psalm 8)
God of majesty, amid the grandeur of your creation you sought us out, and by the coming of your Son you adorned us with glory and honor, giving us dominion over your works. Enable us so to care for the earth that all creation may radiate the splendor of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Music:

“Earth and All Stars” ELW #731 (One delightful arrangement!)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2hP2DrUElA

“How Majestic Is Your Name/Holy Holy” (“Worship on the Lawn” favorite)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63AUJJjj6v4

Remembering the article about Julian of Norwich: “It’s Well With My Soul” (acapella) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FexGqNDBK3g

“The Greatness of God” (Newsboys) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gf8qQLGZ3o8