June 26, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

June 26, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

June 26, 2020

Haven Lutheran Church, Hagerstown MD










I was working at my home desk when I heard a bird singing LOUDLY. I mean it was a very loud and determined song right outside my window. I looked out to see this tiny bird (sorry, I do not know all the types of little brownish birds). I waited and it sang its loud declaration again. I was awed.

Of course, I thought, “There’s a sermon in that.” One of the loudest birdsongs I have ever heard came from one of the smallest birds I had ever seen.

There are times when we think our voice doesn’t matter — our opinion, our vote, our choices. But this little bird told me that was one of the Adversary’s deceptions to keep people from standing up for or against something that is important to God. If we become persuaded that we aren’t smart or articulate enough…. If we accept the lie that one person can’t make a difference or our voice is not needed, than the Adversary and those forces that defy God’s way will have the control. This little bird told me that we children of God are not to listen to the lies that would demean, discard or silence us. We were born and baptized to sing mightily of the love and life-giving ways of Lord. One song from the tiniest bird can be significant. Songs of God’s grace, forgiveness and mercy sung by a flock of little birds could rattle windows or draw the curious seekers.

“Sing praised to the LORD, for the LORD has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.”
                          (Isaiah. 12: 5)


“The Church of Christ in every age, beset by change but Spirit-led, must claim and test its heritage, and keep on rising from the dead”                                                                (Fred Pratt Green, 1969).

Dear church,
Words matter. Words matter in our Scripture, in our hymns, in our governing documents, and beyond. Fifty years ago, on June 29, 1970, the Lutheran Church in America voted to change the word “man” to “person” in its bylaws and opened the door for the ordination of women. The American Lutheran Church achieved the same thing by resolution a few months later. The church was led by the Spirit to change. At the time it was scary for some. Fifty years later, it is now part of our heritage….
Fifty years after 1970, we also live in a world beset by change. I am grateful for the Spirit who continues to lead us and for the women God has called to minister to us.

I thank God for all of you who minister so faithfully.

In Christ,


Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”
Galatians 3:28.

From Bishop Bill Gohl’s weekly COVID e-Update

The Church is not closed
The Church is not closed and I see signs of it throughout our synod! Pastor Amsalu was able to secure ELCA recognition for the North Avenue Mission as an official Mission Exploration of our Synod; Zion (City Hall Plaza) prepared a second thousand lunches for the Franciscan Center of Baltimore; First English (Baltimore) and St. Mark’s (St. Paul Street) continue to field volunteer teams for Manna House; Delaware Lutheran State Office for Public Policy continues to rally support for the Clean Energy bill; the Daycare at Prince of Peace (Rosedale) has been offering childcare services for essential employees since the Covid crisis began; and the Frederick Conference is organizing a book study to capitalize on the momentum for racial justice!

MY NEW WORD I learned a new word today – “Lexophile.”  It describes a person who has a love for words, especially in word games, puzzles, …. and puns, such as “you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish”,  “To write with a broken pencil is pointless.”  Here are some original word plays submitted by lexophiles to a New York Times competition. I promise I’ll only share a few at a time
I changed my iPod’s name to Titanic.  It’s syncing now.
England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

Haunted French pancakes give me the crepes.
This girl today said she recognized me from the Vegetarians Club, but I’d swear I’ve never met herbivore.
I know a guy who’s addicted to drinking brake fluid, but he says he can stop any time.
A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.
I got some batteries that were given out free of charge.
A dentist and a manicurist married.  They fought tooth and nail.

Another new word — “logomaniac,” a person obsessed with words. I wonder if that runs in families? Do you think I should get tested?

Read 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18

6As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

17But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Reflections  Today’s Reflection and Prayer prepared by Pastor David Kaplan

Confused? The first section of this reading sounds like a faith-filled last message,
St. Paul proclaiming to his young disciple Timothy and to all who read this letter a
triumphant and hopeful farewell. In words that have been echoed at funerals
through the centuries he declares, “The time of my departure has come. I have
fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And no
doubt about what lies ahead: “From now on there is reserved for me the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give me on that day, and
not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” We might
assume that he wrote these words from a prison cell in Rome right before his
martyrdom – according to tradition he was beheaded (style of execution reserved
for Roman citizens) in the early 60s.

As I age, I identify more closely with these words and the assurance they offer. I
confess that I can’t speak them as triumphantly as Paul – I’ve pulled out of the
fight too many times, often stumbled in the race, sometimes wondered whether I
was losing the faith altogether. And yet somehow by God’s grace, our Lord’s
continual forgiveness and the renewing strength of the Holy Spirit, I still cling to
and dare to utter them in the sure hope that the crown is waiting for me too, and
not only for me but for all who still long for the Lord’s appearing. And we don’t
have to be martyrs to receive it. Nor do we have to be old for these words to
touch our lives. Young disciples just beginning the fight, just off the starting line
in the race, just recently plunged into faith struggles can take refuge in their
promise that the Lord who makes us his own in Baptism continues to nourish and
bless and strengthen us so that we’re never alone. And those of us close to the
finish line can hand off our baton, encouraging and mentoring those who receive
it to stand firm even in the midst of pandemics, societal upheavals and
environmental devastation, assuring them from our own experience how faithful
our Lord is through every struggle, and pointing them to the crown that awaits.

It’s the second part of the reading that raises questions. There Paul talks of being
“rescued from the lion’s mouth” (probably a symbolic reference to the Empire)
and also seems to anticipate further missionary work. That impression is
confirmed in the verses (9-16) between the two sections of the reading, which
contain specific requests: “Get Mark and bring him with you…bring the cloak…also
the books, and above all the parchments.” Those are hardly requests of someone
on the verge of being “poured out as a libation” whose departure time had come.
They rather imply new plans, ideas and mission outreach. Yet even in this second
section, Paul envisions the final outcome of all his labors and trials: The Lord will
rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom. In the
heat of conflict don’t forget the end of the race.

So how do we fit these two sections together? Some New Testament scholars
believe that the first section was actually not written right before Paul’s
martyrdom in Rome, but during an earlier imprisonment (perhaps in Ephesus) in
which he anticipated execution, but at the last moment, his life was spared.
Others believe that the two sections refer to two different imprisonments with
the second chronologically preceding the first. We can only speculate about the
historical background.

But I believe there’s another way of approaching the issue from a more spiritual
perspective, which brings together the two emphases of finishing our lives and
continuing to serve. Consider another passage from Paul which we’ll hear as part
of the second reading on September 20: For to me living is Christ and dying is
gain… I am hard pressed between the two: my desire is to depart and be with
Christ, for that is far better; but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you…
Ironically from Paul’s perspective, from the perspective of the Gospel, from our
own faith perspective, life and death issues, as they apply to ourselves, really
aren’t life and death issues. Ultimately it doesn’t matter; either way is OK. Dying
is to be with Christ, living is to work for others. But even here there’s an overlap.
We may witness to and glorify God in our death, as Peter was instructed by the
risen Lord in Sunday’s Gospel (John 21:19). And in the struggle of daily life, when
the strife is fierce, the warfare long, steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
and hearts are brave again and arms are strong. Alleluia! (ELW 422, stanza 4)

Lord, living or dying we are in your hands. Sustain us in the struggle, run
the race with us, hold us tight when our faith is weak. May we serve as you
intend, and amid the cares that claim us, hold in mind eternity. Amen.
(Last sentence, ELW 579, stanza 5)

Pastor Kaplan’s suggestions:
For All the Saints, ELW 422  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OaBgaMcOvM

Lord, You Give the Great Commission, ELW 579 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZU1jpAu79Y


“I Will Stand as a Witness of Christ” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4BNv-Ca3wA
(Written for a Foreign Missionary Retreat)

For the little birds in us:1:10 / 5:42

“Sing a New Song” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoFFHOr4Qtg

“10,000 Reasons” (Bless the Lord) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXDGE_lRI0E