June 22, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

June 22, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

June 22, 2020

Haven Lutheran Church, Hagerstown MD

 

WE’RE NO BETTER THAN THE WEATHER FORECASTERS
Two Sundays ago (June 14) it was cloudy but the forecast showed no rain coming our way. We set up…. and it rained. Yesterday it was cloudy again, even some sprinkles. So we cancelled outdoor worship…. and it didn’t rain. We try our best, really we do.

DRIVE-UP AND OUTDOOR CANCELLATION PLAN HITS SNAGS. We hoped to have a message on our church voice message by 8:15 AM if we cancelled outdoor worship due to weather. That way, IF it is cloudy, you could call the before you leave your house (301-733-5056; hit “*” as soon as the voice message starts to get to the cancellation and worship voice mailbox). That was the plan. Yesterday, I had trouble getting into the voice mail system and it didn’t get posted until about 8:30 am. I tried sending out an email to Haven’s Family & Friend email list but it wouldn’t go out. I was able to post the cancellation on our digital sign. It was a frazzling morning. I felt very badly when some folks arrived for worship between 9 and 9:30 am.

OUR LESSON We will need to refine the plan for getting the word out when Sunday outdoor worship is cancelled. Stay tuned. We’ll post an update by the end of the week.

DADS DO NOT DESPAIR The chocolate chip cookies you were to get on Father’s Day are in the freezer for next Sunday.

KEEP IN PRAYER
Darylene Blickenstaff fell and broke her wrist. She had surgery to put in plates and screws to help it mend. The pain seems to be under control but navigating life with one hand is a challenge. Don is now the designated driver and cook. Keep Darylene in prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read  Jeremiah 28: 5-9
5The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; 6and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. 7But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.”

Reflection  (I thank Prof. Charles L. Aaron, Jr for his article on this passage as posted at www.working preacher.org)
A little background might be helpful. This scene is happening somewhere after 597 BCE, when the latest super-power, Babylon, initially attacked Jerusalem and 587 when Babylon overcomes and destroys Jerusalem. The people do not know what to think or to do. They are getting two different messages from men they believe to be prophets — spokesmen — for the LORD.

” Hananiah offers a word that sounds like hope. He advises resistance, trusting that Judah can shake off the attack of the Babylonians. The sense of defeat will last only two years.”

“Jeremiah tells the people to accept what has happened. He tells them to prepare for a long time of exile… He carried out the sign act of wearing a yoke to symbolize the relationship between Judah and Babylon. Jeremiah believed that God would act again, but not soon. He taught the people to make the best of a bad situation, but not to try to get out of it. That message does not get the blood pumping. That message sounds passive and even weak. It sounds like co-dependency.”

Now you can understand why the people would be confused. Is fighting or surrendering to the Babylonians the faithful and right things to do? Is it fighting or surrendering that expresses their belief in the power and faithfulness of the LORD? We now know that Jeremiah, not Hananiah, spoke the word that came from the Lord but in the midst of circumstances, it is often very difficult to discern the will of God and our willingness to follow it.

In the reading assigned to be read this Sunday, Jeremiah is warning the folks not to believe Hananiah because you like it better and it is the narrative you prefer. Jeremiah isn’t the first or last prophet to warn us to beware of those who tell us what we want to hear to win our favor or allegiance. In the reading, he says “time will tell” which prophecy was right. The problem comes in realizing that the people couldn’t just simply wait to see what would happen in two years. They needed to decide whose advice to follow. Do they practice acceptance, and wait for God to act later? Do they plan for resistance? They had to make a choice now.

“Even with our hindsight about this particular passage in the life of Judah, we do not always know which prophet speaks the truth today.” There are times when acceptance is the faithful response to circumstances. Some would say that is the healthy way to confront COVID. The wise thing is to listen to medical and scientific advice, accept the inconvenience of wearing masks, social distancing and avoiding crowds and sacrifice some comfort and mobility for the safety of the community and yourself. Yet there are other times the Christian response means NOT accepting the status quo and resisting or opposing that which is understood to be contrary to God’s will and gospel, like hunger, homelessness, poverty, racism, sexism, and hatred.

Here is yet another reason for followers of Jesus to be in community. We need to be able to have discussions with people who have a variety of perspectives AND who are seeking to be faithful to the gospel. It is no easy task to discern God’s will with the wisdom to ignore “the voice in our head that tells us what we want to hear.” It is also no easy task to discern God’s will with the wisdom to listen to God’s Word that tell us what we’d rather not hear. So we need one another as we seek to live faithfully, especially under challenging circumstances, and to know when acceptance or active resistance is the response to which God is calling us.

Prayer Lord, deepen our roots in you, your Word and your church so that we may make good choices that honor you and further your saving work. Send your Holy Spirit to give us courage and wisdom to know when we need to be still and when we need to act. We put our trust in you. Amen.

Music:

“My Faith Looks Up to Thee” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMKf1SJT-lA

“We Bow Down” (Twila Paris)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCrfxM5M66s

“The More I Seek You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NI_1YliutzA

“First” (Lauren Daigle)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbWQV3OiRqA

Unrelated to the reading but a sweet story and song “God’s Will” by Martina McBride https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCRrrP0EhPc