March 4, 2022 Message from Pastor Alessandri

March 4, 2022

COVID RE-OPENING PROVISONS REVISITED
Haven’s Re-Opening Team will meet via Zoom Friday at 6 pm. The Council and members have asked the team to reconsider our mask policy and the resumption of a coffee fellowship after worship. We will let you know the recommendations in Sunday’s announcements at church and in next week’s bulletin.

With the recent CDC mask guidelines, the decline in Washington County’s COVID positivity rate and local school decision to make masks optional, it is likely Haven will also adopt a mask optional policy as well. Actually, masks have not been required but recommended at Haven for quite a few months. However, with the COVID surge in January we did say that masks were highly appreciated and we DID appreciate the extra precautions.

If recommended, a “masks optional” policy will allow those who wish to continue to wear masks to continue while others may choose not to wear a mask. We would still ask EVERYONE to continue to liberally use hand sanitizer and remain home to watch worship on-line when feeling ill or exhibiting COVID symptoms.

I want to thank the members of the Re-Opening Team: Doug Wright, Dick Hess, Susan Strobl, Dave Resh and the current Council President, Will Seilhamer, who have worked with me in these last two years of the pandemic. They have been diligent in gathering information and available for meetings as circumstances changes. With the range of viewpoints and a commitment to the welfare of Haven and the community, I believe this team has guided us well through the challenges of a public health crisis that unfolded in real time.

I know there have been times some members wanted us to move faster toward a normalcy. I thank you for your patience and your compassion for those who thought and think differently than you did. I hope we all will continue to respect each other’s choices and care for  one another.  In the event we would need to pivot back to more cautious, I hope we all would again rally in caring for our community.

Stay tune for the newest recommendations. New and renewed life are God’s continuous gift to us. Trust in our Lord. Look for our Lord’s unending commitment to resurrection in our midst.

Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Linda M. Alessandri

INVASION OF THE UKRAINE  Like COVID, the recent invasion of the Ukraine by Russia is shocking, confounding and deeply disturbing. One nation invading a neighboring nation to take over its territory and governance with little pretense except that it “wants to.”  We watch and hear about the terrible loss of life, property and safety among the Ukrainians. We see many of the Russian people condemning their leader’s commands. How we want to do something to bring an end to such madness and pain. I have had two opportunities come into my office this week.

One is the ELCA Disaster Response making ready to offer help and relief to Ukrainians fleeing their county and those who are choosing to remain. ELCA Disaster Response is one of the most respected organizations for offering relief in crises AND staying to help in the recovery. In addition, Nelsonville Lutheran Church in Wisconsin has stepped in to match any donations to the Ukraine relief up to $100,000. (Matching deadline March 15). All of this will be in this week’s bulletin, but if you are ready to donate to the ELCA Disaster Response to the Ukraine, you can bring it this Sunday through March 13th. Checks made payable to Haven Lutheran Church with “Ukraine Relief” on the memo line. Please put cash in an envelope with your name and “Ukraine Relief” written on it.

The second opportunity is a Prayer Vigil planned for this Sunday, March 6, 2:30 – 3:30 pm in the Hagerstown Public Square by the Hagerstown Area Religious Council (HARC) and Hagerstown synagogue, Congregation B’Nai Abraham  See the article below for more information.

And so we continue to pray that God’s will for creation and all its people come.
Gracious God, grant peace among nations. Cleanse from our own hearts the seeds of strife: greed and envy, harsh misunderstandings and ill will, fear and desire for revenge. Make us quick to welcome ventures in cooperation among the peoples of the world, so that there may be woven the fabric of a common good too strong to be torn by the evil hands of war. In the time of opportunity, make us be diligent; and in the time of peril, let not our courage fail; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen                      (Evangelical Lutheran Worship p. 78)

Interfaith Prayer Vigil

for the People of Ukraine

This Sunday, March 6, 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Public Square, Hagerstown

 

HARC and Congregation B’Nai Abraham are hosting an interfaith prayer vigil for Ukraine Faith community members and the public at large are invited to join in this event to pray for peace and safety in Ukraine and stand in solidarity with her people.

There will be prayers, music, personal stories and sharing.

I pass on DE-MD Bishop Gohl’s Ash Wednesday reflections.  I hope you find them meaningful and helpful. I did.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me… – Psalm 51.10

Ash Wednesday and these forty days of Lenten preparation often bring with them a lot of bad childhood baggage as well as a true invitation to wholeness and renewal. Contrary to the message many of us received as children, Lent is not about making us good after a year of bad behavior, not about adding or taking away some spiritual or dietary discipline in order to make us healthier or more worthy of salvation. The disciplines of this season are spiritual tools helping us to remove the distractions which draw us from the love of God.
In a world where I love you means never having to say you are sorry, we are called through self examination and repentance to turn away from sin and claim God’s promise of forgiveness.
In a world where buying is synonymous with godliness, where consumption is an act of patriotism, we are called to fasting and self denial.
In a world of sound bites and instant messaging where image is everything, we are called to look inward to meditation and prayer, to spend time in reflection and silence.
In a world where the present is what matters we are called to study ancient texts, to examine the ways our history is the foundation for the future and knowing the past allows us to reshape what is to come.
In a world where respirators and life support machines pretend to keep us alive for ever, Ash Wednesday, more than anything else, reminds us that there is no denial of death.
The first line of the prayer of the day echoes that thought. “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made.” Nothing. God’s love is for all creation—the beautiful parts, of course, but even its ugliness, striving for meaning. We are recipients of God’s unending and extravagant love in Jesus Christ.
Lent draws us into that love, where we lose ourselves to find our true selves. In love and forgiveness, in mercy and hope, we enter lent as a pilgrim people; a people on a journey. In Jesus, we know again a love that will not let us go, and a love that knows us well.
With my love and prayers,

 

 

 

2022 SYNOD ASSEMBLY

BOLD FAITH, BOLD WITNESS

The 35th annual Assembly of the Delaware-Maryland Synod, ELCA will be held Thursday, May 12 through Saturday, May 14, 2022 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD.

 

Haven Lutheran Church needs two delegates (one male, one female) to attend the Assembly with Pastor Alessandri. It is a great way to experience our wider Lutheran community, gather ideas from other congregations, be uplifted by the ministries throughout the synod and enjoy good worship!

Registration, housing and mileage are paid for by the congregation.

Please give it consideration. Contact a Council member or Pastor Alessandri with questions or interest.
(Note: While the Powell Convention Center is fully handicap accessible, there is a great deal of walking due to the size of the building.)