June 4, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

June 4, 2020

Good Morning, Church! Yesterday was a busy day for me. The Zoom meeting with Washington County Lutheran pastors lasted much longer than usual. We shared plans for returning to indoor worship and then had a very heartfelt discussion of national events. Sometimes it is not easy to laying the gospel and words of Jesus over current events and social problems to see how they intersect. It was a difficult discussion but I deeply treasured being able to have it without divisive and harmful rhetoric. We have quite a range of political opinions among our county’s Lutheran pastors. It is so helpful to me to be able to listen and to hear those views that are different then mine. It makes me think. It makes me pray. It reminds me to be respectful of diverse views. And in this instance, it gave me hope —- A group of people with a wide range of political views can talk, listen, love each other and together, try to understand where God and gospel is in all the current messiness of our common life.
After that I still needed to prepare yesterday’s message and devotion and do some research to assist a member facing some complex issues.  I was able to visit Sandy Myers yesterday at her home. We had a good conversation, laughed and prayed. I’ll return today with communion.
This was one of those tricky decisions in the current Covid-19 world. While I have been practicing the recommended guidelines, I have been in public places to pick up groceries and yard supplies.  Though trying to practice social distancing, I have seen a good number of people delivering flowers, at the vegetable garden and around church. If I wear a mask and sanitize my hands before entering, do I still risk bringing the virus into the Myers’ home? The answer is obviously, “yes.” When the family let me know that Sandy was now in hospice care, she wanted to see me, they were not sure if Sandy had weeks or months and they wanted me to come mask or not, I decided to step over the guidelines. I tell you all of this so that you know I did not do that cavalierly or without much thought and prayer.  I will continue to be very careful for all our sakes and I keep praying for continued protection and guidance for us all.

I finished the day working on today’s message and the bulletin for worship this coming Trinity Sunday. I hope you will worship with us, either online or at our Drive-up/Outdoor worship service this Sunday. God IS with us. Of this I have no doubt. So how can I keep from singing?
Pastor Linda M Alessandri

We missed this yesterday….

 

 

 

 

 

to Don and Darylene Blickenstaf

 

GRATITUDE AND GODSIGHTINGS
From Nancy Newkirk:
 I have been reading the latest Living Lutheran magazine, and I loved this statement written my Pastor Angela Khabeb. She writes,
“When we’re unable to meet God in our familiar worship spaces, we discover that our God is not limited by location. The Spirit is active beyond our buildings, pipe organs, and worship books. Our Savior is fond of breaking boundaries. During this pandemic, we have broadened the ways in which we worship. Our God cannot be contained.”
Have a blessed day!

From Bishop Bill Gohl’s weekly update:
COVID-19 Relief – Fundraising Update
Our goal was to raise $100,000 by June 30 in an initial effort. Since that time, we have met this first goal. Now, a second challenge has been made to continue our efforts! For every $1 gifted by individuals and churches, $2 will be added to each gift up to $50,000 from now until June 30, 2020. For example, a gift of $100 becomes $300, a gift of $250 becomes $750. This allows generosity to abound! If you have already made a gift towards this effort, we sincerely thank you. If not, we ask that you join us by making a gift towards our effort. We also ask that you would please consider sharing this appeal with your church council and your congregation and thank you for all of the Facebook shares that we have already seen shared!

This fund will stay in our synod and be used to support churches that are financially struggling and/or unable to pay their pastor and staff due to circumstances related to CODVID-10

On-line donations can safely be made at https://tithe.ly/give_new/www/#/tithely/give-one-time/644796  or go to the DE-MD Synod webpage at www.demdsynod.org scroll down and you will see a big box that says “Give online!” Please choose “Synod Ministry Fund – COVID-19” from the menu selections.

The Church is not closed
The Church is not closed and I see signs of it throughout our synod! The Interfaith COVID Task Force, including Maryland Presbyterian Church (Towson), Dreams and Visions (Baltimore), The Table Lutheran/Episcopal Campus Ministries (Baltimore), North Ave Mission (Baltimore), Divinity Lutheran Church (Towson), Light Street Presbyterian (Baltimore), The Center (Baltimore), and Hinenu (Baltimore) have partnered to provide fresh produce through their Farm to Stoop feeding ministry; Good Shepherd (Wilmington) is providing online devotions, including for children; Evangelical (Frederick) does a daily broadcast of The Word in Season read by members of the community; and St. Peter’s (Ocean City) just tithed their PPP Stimulus to our Synod’s Covid-19 Relief Efforts! Bless your generosity and creativity in sharing your time, talent and treasure!
Thank you, one and all, for your ongoing witness!

On the way together,

 

 

William (Bill) Gohl, Jr., Bishop
Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD – TRINITY SUNDAY

Read: Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 Reflection: (Today’s reflection and prayer prepared by Pastor David Kaplan.)

Probably the most frequently used word during the past several months, yep you guessed it, is pandemic.  No this is not a devotion about COVID-19; it’s about that three letter prefix to pandemic, pan.  Pan has nothing to do with pots or panic as someone suggested on social media; it’s a really a Greek word that appears frequently in the New Testament which means all, without exception.  Pandemic literally means all people: everyone is susceptible to the disease.  So what does pan have to do with this brief Gospel for Trinity?  It actually appears four times in these five verses:

All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me….How comforting these words of our risen Lord have been for God’s people down through the centuries, persecuted by rulers who claimed authority for themselves, and who arrested, imprisoned and put to death those who refused to acknowledge their very limited authority.  How comforting these words may have been this past week to protesters seeking justice from a system that so often has denied basic rights and even life itself to those whose skin happens to have a darker pigment.  How comforting they were for me when it seemed like the very fabric of our society was unraveling.  All authority, no exception, is in the hands of our Lord; and his gracious, all-encompassing authority will be evident when he returns to make all things new.  In fact, his authority is already at work in us, doing that very thing.

Make disciples of all nations…This text is often labeled the Great Commission, and with good reason.  Right before his Ascension Jesus gave these marching orders to his disciples.  We heard Luke’s version of that Commission two weeks ago: You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  Different words, same thought.  Or more exactly: we make disciples by bearing witness through our words and deeds to Jesus’ saving love.  And we don’t have to be preachers or theologians to do that – we simply share how his love has touched our lives.  It may be as simple as a phone call to a friend at Haven who has been isolated these past few months.  It may involve a decision to express support somehow for those who peacefully march for justice.  The point is that we’re commissioned to witness and make disciples not just among our friends and family, or the people we get along with, but even with folks we might otherwise consider outsiders or those whom we don’t particularly like.  To the ends of the earth, all nations, no exception!

Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything (literally, all things) that I have commanded you…Now we understand why this Gospel reading was selected for Trinity Sunday; it contains the reference to the Trinity with which we’re most familiar, that we use frequently in our liturgy, and especially when an adult or child is baptized.  We baptize a new Christian in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit because that’s how Jesus taught us to do it!  The Father who saw that everything created was very good, the creating Word who became flesh in Jesus, the Spirit brooding over the waters who came to us through water and the word joined this name of God to our names as we began our new life as a child of God.  And we make the sign of the Cross when we say God’s name because the cross is the fullest expression of God’s sacrificial love for us.  But as The Carpenters often remind us at wedding receptions, we’ve only just begun!  Newly baptized Christians need nurture and growth; in fact all Christians need to be taught and to share Jesus’ teaching with others.  We strive to do that in our Sunday School and Bible studies at Haven – teaching/ learning opportunities for children and adults.  Best news is you’re invited to join us this fall (we truly hope!) in one or more of our classes as participant or teacher!  We can’t do it all at once, it takes time, but we don’t intentionally exclude anything just because it sounds difficult or not immediately relevant to our life situations.  All about our wonderful triune God and God’s relationship to the world and all peoples – all that our Lord has commanded us – no exception!

I am with you always (literally, all the days), to the end of the age.  We’ve heard something like this in Matthew’s Gospel – it’s called inclusio – you begin and end in the same way, sort of like bookends.  Remember the fourth Sunday in Advent, the Sunday before Christmas (that was way back in 2019, same Church year though), when we still worshipped together without masks (yes, we really used to do that!) the Gospel was Matthew 1:18-25, in which the angel reassured Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and he need not hesitate to take her as his wife.  Matthew then adds the comment, All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Isaiah 7:14): “Look the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.”  And here it is again, in the very last verse of this Gospel, just before Jesus ascended physically from his followers: I am with you all the days.  With you, with me in the good days and bad days, the days of fear and the days and the days of hope, the days of calm and the days of protest, the days of health and the days of pandemic (inclusio!), birthday and death day!  With us all the days – no exception!

And with all these assurances I begin my 81st year with renewed joy and hope.

Prayer: Holy and triune God, we give you thanks for embracing us all in the love you reveal most fully in Jesus.  Filled with his love in his word, and soon again in his holy Supper we pray, help us guided by your Spirit to make disciples of all you send along our path – no exception.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Music

Pastor Kaplan’s Hymn suggestions:

Come, Join the Dance of the Trinity, ELW 412  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GstpXOo0MCk

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, ELW 413
(traditional organ and choir) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RK0iaF05KJI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdbxSpJn1yQ

Holy God, We Praise Your Name, ELW 414 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC4pQJs6gmc

 

“Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth” ELW 735 (lyrics inspired by writings of Julian of Norwich)

(soloist)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8AQhKS6oPM
(choral) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSLT81ArJLg

A bit rockier
“Father, Jesus, Spirit” (Casting Crowns) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtLtgA4BwCk