March 11, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

March 11, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

March 11, 2021

THIS WEEKEND

Don’t Miss Church!
Set your clock ahead one hour on Saturday night.

RAISE THE ROOF AND PRAISE THE LORD We met with all the contractors involved in our roof project on Tuesday. They are estimating that they will begin the week after Easter! They realized we would appreciate our grounds looking nice for Easter Sunday, so they would wait to begin. I thought that was wonderfully considerate!

On the contribution side of this project, we have now received $2,070 that will be matched dollar for dollar.  That is in addition to the $6,550 that has already been donated and a pledge of $10,000 over the next five years. And there is still $2,930 of matching funds available for your contribution.

I keep reminding those involved with the roof project that we would like to know the date when the steeple will be removed and when it will be returned. We may not have much notice, but we will send it out via our Haven Family and Friends e-mail and, if time permits, in Haven’s E-Message and Sunday bulletin. Wouldn’t it be nice to set up our lawn chairs and watch together? A kind of Raise and Praise party. Stay tuned.

 

MARYLAND GOVERNOR’S MARCH 9th COVID-19 UPDATE:

  • Health metrics continue to decline:
    • Case Rate 12.9%
    • Positivity Rate 3.9%
    • No counties in “Red Zone”
    • 8M tests given and 1.6M vaccines
    • 98.6% have been deployed and 95% vaccines given
  • Mass vaccination site in Hagerstown will open March 25that Wolf Bros Furniture at the Prime Outlets.
  • Demand continues to outweigh supply and MD’s allotment will remain the same for two more weeks until we start seeing manufacturing increases in April/May
  • Effective Friday March 12 at 5pm many restrictions will be lifted:
    • *Capacity limits on outdoor and indoor dining will be removed, Masking, physical distancing protocols remain in place
    • *Capacity limits removed on retail services, recreational centers, churches, etc. Masking, physical distancing protocols remain in place
    • Capacity limits for larger outdoor venues, outdoor sporting venues, and convention venues raised to 50% – Masking, physical distancing protocols remain in place
    • Adult day care centers will open
    • Out of state travel and required quarantines will be lifted
    • Employers should continue supporting telework when possible as indoor work is still a place for exposure
    • Outside activity is safer and encouraged
  • Statewide mask order remains in full effect in all public indoor spaces, and in outdoor spaces when you can’t maintain safe distances
  • We should remain vigilant and not be complacent in being safe as we remove restrictions. Do not let your guard down and keep up safety practices so we can continue to lift more restrictions
  • Sec. Kelly. Schulz comments:
    • MD Unemployment rates down because we followed best practices
    • It’s important for businesses to not only be safe, but to make people coming in feel safe – so continue safety practices
  • Dr Robert Redfield – Sr. Advisor for Public Health
    • New steps Governor is taking are sensible steps when continuing safety practices
    • Vaccines are key to this pandemic’s end. We should all embrace vaccinations with confidence
    • We should safely reopen responsibly as soon as we are able to do so safely in order to limit negative impacts on public health, mental health, etc.

You can read more details in his new Executive Order https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Gatherings-20th-AMENDED-3.9.21.pdf

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR HAVEN LUTHERAN WORSHIP? In general, we stay the course and continue to be vigilant for the love of our neighbor.
As far as worship, a change in capacity percentages is not particularly relevant for us. It’s the size of our sanctuary and maintaining social distancing that dictate the number we could safely accommodate. We currently average about 25 persons right now. We could easily accommodate twenty or more, depending on whether those attending are couples or families that could sit together. So if you have your vaccine and are feeling a bit more confident, YES, there is room for you in the church here. It would be nice to see more faces. Maybe Easter Sunday?
We will continue to ask participants to wear masks and to sing and respond softly for now. We will still not be able to have a coffee fellowship at this time. But, oh, we are getting closer to the time when we will be able to sing boldly, pass the peace and share goodies in the parlor. Thanks be to God.

LOOKING FOR SOME EASTER BUNNY CO-CONSPIRATORS   If our parents agree to bring their kids, could we have an Easter Egg Hunt here on Easter at 11 am? We would be outside, delight in watching kids and talking with one another. Just asking!

Washington County Interfaith Coalition
INTERFAITH PRAYERS FOR OUR TIMES

March 9, 2020

Carl Sandburg (American poet)

Bless Thee, O Lord for the miracle of light to my eyes

and the mystery of it ever changing

Bless Thee,  0 Lord, for the laws Thou hast ordained

holding fast these tall oblongs of stone and steel,

holding fast the planet Earth in its course

and farther—

beyond the cycle of the Sun.

Julian of Norwich

Be a gardener.

Dig a ditch, soil and sweat,

and turn the world upside down….

and seek the deepness….

and water the plants in time

 

Continue this labor and make sweet floods to run

and noble and abundant fruits to spring.

Take this food and drink and carry it to God as your true worship.

 

Holy One:

May that which enlightens this world to our minds and hearts open us to all that is.

Let us marvel at the work done in Your world, the presence of small rays of hope, and the blessings we are to each other.

May your holiness surround and enfold us…

And help us bring it to fruit in the lives we live together–in the lives we each touch.

Bring light to us all as we live in faith,…

and as we share life with each other. Amen

Reverend Valerie Wills,  Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read   Ephesians 2: 4-10

4But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

John 3:14-21

Jesus said:] 14“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. 21But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”

Reflections
In my preparations for teaching and preaching on this Sunday’s readings, I came across an article by Andrew Prior, an minister in the Uniting Church  of Australia. It was reflecting on the readings assigned for this Sunday’s worship, including the two printed above. It stopped me in my preparations and sent me wandering and wondering. This is part of what he wrote:
“I still remember the shock that “God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world.” I was not quite able to see the implication of my response to this verse some forty years ago, which was that I had somehow internalized the idea that God does condemn the world. Informing and coloring everything else was an underlying instinct that God does not really like us; that God barely tolerates us. It was as though this subliminal text ran between the lines on every page of my bible: You don’t deserve this. God does not like you.”

I was so startled by Pastor Prior’s words, that I shared my shock and sadness with the Wednesday morning Bible Study group. What must it be like to think, to believe that God doesn’t love you but maybe tolerates you? It’s one thing not to know or believe in God. But it is an entirely different experience to believe you really aren’t worthy of God’s love or care because God doesn’t like you.

That led me to wonder — How many others in our churches carry that as a truth in their lives? How many others outside the church can’t imagine a God who likes them or considers them worthy of love and care? Oh, how the world need us to show God’s love so that their hearts, curiosity or hurts could be captured by that love and be draw to the source.

I then moved to the other side of these questions. What would it be like to live fully, completely, wonderfully in the assurance that God loves us unconditionally, perfectly and forever? I do believe God loves me, even when I don’t love myself or go terribly astray —- but not fully, completely and wonderfully. I keep a space apart in there for myself — a space for my Adam/Eve control-grabbing, a space for my pulling away or turning a deaf ear, a space where I hide, trying to play it safe so I don’t have to be uncomfortable. I know I am blessed by the love of God, each and every day in countless ways. That shores me up and anchors me in everyday, in good and in difficult circumstances. But what would it be like to let the love of God totally fill me? Fill you?

Is that something we see happen in Jesus? He lived so fully, completely and wonderfully in the love of God, that he fearlessly listened, followed, trusted and obeyed God. Is that why the power of God to heal, calm storms, dismiss demons, know the hidden stories of others was able to work through Jesus, because he lived so fully, completely and wonderfully in the love of God, he was then open for the power of God to work in and through him?

I’ve provided more questions than comments today. I hope you will ponder them with me throughout the day and week. Do you believe God loves you and proclaims you worthy of love? If so, what does it mean to you and how you live? If not, let’s take a walk soon and talk — because you are deeply, forever loved by God. As some internet notes say — If God had a pocket and wallet, God would have your picture in it, ready to proudly show others, “This is one of my sons/daughters. He/she is a special one!”

Prayer: My Lord and God, I can’t fathom how you can love us all so completely. I want that truth to fill and takeover my heart, open my mind and direct my every word and deed so that everyone I meet is touched by your healing, empowering, selfless love. I lift before you those who do not know you and those who think you only tolerate them. Draw them to you and use me and your church to do so. Amen.

Music:

Suggested

“God Loved the World” ELW #323
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJr6b1RMigA
(Choral) God Loved the World So That He Gave (Choral) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIzq_Su-N3s

“For by Grace You Haven Been Saved” ELW #598 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXjDpL3Mkbc

“That Priceless Grace” ELW #591 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_yX1jfBYeU

“Christ, the Life of All the Living” ELW #339  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93by8YgogyU

“Grace is Not Earned”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdKnown0PH8

Other

“God Loves You” (Jaci Velasquez)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzUqlTKdqlk

“Nobody Loves Me Like You” (Chris Tomlin) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG_IXFEO8yE

“Oh, How He Loves You and Me” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNCtcITOP0w

“Bless the Lord” (10,000 Reasons) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXDGE_lRI0E&list=RDQMQY-hOw45aFY&start_radio=1