May 1, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

May 1, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

May 1, 2020

Christ is risen! Alleluia
(He is risen, indeed! Alleluia)

LET’S HAVE SOME FUN THIS MAY It’s May! How did that happen? Turn the calendar page and mark down the May birthdays, wedding anniversaries and baptismal anniversaries. Here’s a bit of FUN. Let’s see how many birthday phone calls, texts, cards and e-mails we can send each person. What a perfectly fun and unusual thing to do as we remain at home? Even if you don’t personally know the person, all you have to do is identify yourself as a member of Haven and that will provide a bridge. Why not make someone’s birthday or anniversary memorable for more than being during a pandemic?
I should have thought of this sooner. Forgive me March and April birthday and anniversary folks. Let’s see what joy we can generate this May.

Birthdays
*Tatiana Defriece 05/02
Tanaya Richards 05/07
Prue Yelinek 05/10
Jane Muse 05/11
Brian Pile 05/11
(Sue) Charlotte Nelson 05/12
Barbara Miller 05/13
Morgan Haupt 05/15
William Plavcan 05/16
Emily Butsch 05/17
Ohna Baker 05/20
Ed Yelinek 05/20
Millie Strange 05/21
Katie Muse 05/28
Lynda Byers 05/29
Scott Rhodes 05/29
*Address and phone number unknown at this time.

Wedding Anniversaries
Stephen & Georgetta Kauffman 05/01

Baptismal Anniversaries:
Tatiana Defriece 05/03
Jensen Richards 05/07
Jean Carbaugh 05/13
William Byers 05/14
Kathy Amos 05/18
Doug Wright 05/18
Margaret Manspeaker 05/21
Hannah Tice 05/21

WORSHIP AT HAVEN THIS WEEKEND We will be taping Sunday’s worship service today. Steve Pastena, Grant Wills, seminarian Katy Moran and I will have the privilege of leading worship. We will be imagining you all in your “usual” seats. A children’s message will be included. Hope you take what has come to be your “usual” seat for worship at home and enjoy worshipping together. Coffee,  pajamas, cat on your lap, dog at your feet, unruly hair, volume as high as you wish, loud singing and dancing are all optional and permissible. To God be the glory.

DID YOU ORDER YOUR RED GERANIUMS FOR PENTECOST YET?  Cost: $3.85 each  Deadline: May 11th  How? Send your order by E-mail (havenoffice@havenlc.org) or mail it to the church (1035 Haven Road Hag., MD 21742) or place it in the offering box on the back porch of the parsonage. Include your name, the number of geraniums you would like to order, in whose memory or honor you would like to dedicate them and the total cost owed. Make checks payable to Haven Lutheran Church with “geraniums” on the memo line.

SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CHURCHES ARE ALLOWED TO WORSHIP AS A COMMUNITY AGAIN? In his weekly update, our DE-MD Synod bishop, Bill Gohl, said his office was holding off on offering any advice until the governors of each state lay out their guidelines for the “re-opening” of their states. Speculating wouldn’t be productive until we know what parameters we will be working around in each of the stages of reopening.

When we first began the restrictions to slow down the spread of the coronavirus back in March, I/we dreamed of the day we could all be back in the church as we usually have been, asking Steve to pump up that organ to a full Easter blast of resurrection joy. Over six weeks later, we are coming to realize that such a day will have to wait. When we first are permitted to worship in our building, lawn or parking lot, we will still be practicing social distancing and need to figure out how things like distributing bulletins and disinfecting between services will occur.

That kind of reserved worship may seem a bit disappointing compared to our dream of being back together again. YET, I know something deeply true about Haven. When we are given a challenge — be it for a ministry project, helping a neighbor or a financial need — Haven is creative, generous and energized. When we finally get the guidelines for how we can gather again, I KNOW many of you will begin thinking of how to make it happen safely. You will be on the phone or computer, talking to your friends and families about what their churches are planning. We will gather the ideas that would work for us and add our own ingenuity. The Holy Spirit will be working overtime inspiring and leading us. It may not be what we first imagined in March, but it will be glorious all the same because it will be a resurrection time. We will be walking, worshipping, waving in the power of the resurrection, participating in God’s work to bring us to new life.

In the meantime, keep your ears and eyes open and pray. The amount of creativity we have seen in this pandemic is amazing and inspiring.  Be open to the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Stay curious. Look for hope. Laugh. Give thanks each and every day for the big and small blessings.

God IS with us! God IS with you!
Pastor Linda M Alessandri

P.S. Speaking of laughter, Pat Pile received the following and shares it with us.
Happiness starts with a smile
 When you think of riding the subway, laughter and joy aren’t the first words that spring to mind. It’s a cramped place full of grumpy people either coming home from a bad day at work or are just generally upset.
Many are glued to their cell phones or “wired up” and have no time for anyone else. Yet if you’re lucky enough, sometimes you can find happiness in a subway train. One such moment was captured when a Belgian advertising agency working for Coca-Cola hired an actor to randomly start laughing on the train. With the tagline – “Happiness starts with a smile”– their new ad aims to bring a bit of joy to everyone’s day.  Just watch, and try to keep a straight face.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/1veWbLpGa78

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD
Read: John 10: 1-10  (This year’s gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Easter)
[Jesus said:] 1“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Reflection:
Peter Woods writes under the title, “The Listening Hermit.” He labels himself a Pastoral Counselor, Life Coach and Newspaper columnist. I do not know any more about Peter Woods, his religious background or political leanings. As I was reading for this week’s sermon, I read this story he shared on-line several years ago:

“I was recently in conversation with a friend who began his Christ following in mid-life.  As a successful businessman, he chose to attend the flashiest and seemingly, most successful church in town.  All was well whilst he parked the Mercedes with the other upscale cars in the lot on Sunday.  This seemed to be just the right community of affirming and encouraging folk that would help him to follow Jesus.  Some months into this adventure, my friend went through an economic crisis which saw him lose everything, including the Merc.

“Now walking to church, and wearing the same clothes week after week, he began to stand out from the congregating crowd.  It wasn’t long before he was approached by two of the church elders, who asked to come and see him at home.  During that visit in his home, (now emptied by the Sherriff and the debt collectors), he was asked please to find another church community, as his circumstances “no longer witnessed to the abundant life” that members of that church were called to live!

“What a curse! To be unable to see abundance other than in material terms.”

From ancient times to now, there are readers of the Bible who believe that if you are faithful to God in just the right ways, God will bless you with material prosperity. There are churches and preachers that base their theology and mission on that belief. I am not here to judge them or declare them to be “bad” people or Christians.  Though, I will have to admit, I am appalled by the ejection of the man from a church because of the change in his economic status. But leave the judging to God, Linda, and get off any high horse you may be tempted to mount.

What I do feel compelled to do is lift up Jesus. There were more than a few times Jesus had his authority challenged by leaders because he ate and associated with those who were obviously not “good.” How did such authorities determine such folks were “sinners”? Because they were poor, sick or outcasts, NOT prosperous, healthy and socially well-positioned.  Jesus debunked the belief that blindness, illness and social rejection were signs of God’s displeasure and punishment. He often warned those with wealth and power to beware that their prosperity did not draw them away from God, putting their prestige, riches and pride before loving God and neighbor.

The “abundant life” Jesus speaks of in today’s gospel reading, is a gift God wants for all of God’s children. It is a gift of grace — unearned, unconditional, undeserved — for which the Good Shepherd lays down his life so all people may receive it.

The “abundant life” Jesus offers is not about getting material rewards, safety from any hardship or a better room in heaven. When we attach our worth and identity to material prosperity or social status,  we have invited the thief and bandit to rob, kill and destroy the peace, joy and purpose God wants us all to have. The abundant life is about dwelling in the unshakable and faithful love of God. The abundant life is not about the circumstances of our lives but living in the peace, promises and purpose God has for each and every one of us.

Throughout the Holy Scriptures we discover that God wants ALL people to have enough. Go back to the 23rd psalm. God wants all people to have enough to eat and clean water to drink… comfort and restoration in times of shadows… fellowship and guidance to stay on the pathways that keep us near the Good Shepherd. That IS the abundant life — to have enough and share with others and live in the certainty of God’s love and peace. When this is our understanding of “the good life,” we are freed from a slavery of external judgment and materialism and freed for living confidently, generously, and hopefully as God’s children, ready for service and the joy of being part of God’s work of redeeming all of creation, that all may have life, and have it abundantly.

Prayer:
Good Shepherd, thank you for being a gate to an abundant life that is open to all. You invite us into a life that is rich with your grace, presence and faithfulness —- “so what shall I fear?” But we fear a great deal, especially right now during this pandemic with all its unknowns. Help us hear you call us by name. Let us hear and follow your voice into the safety and assurance of your love for us. Give us peace in our very deeps, so that we may live in the resurrected and resurrecting abundant life of your Easter promise. Amen.

Music:
“We Won’t be Shaken” Building 429  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BJhOgb-unI
“How He Loves Us” David Crowder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxTOsQ3LDE4
“Oh, How He Loves You and Me” On Pointe (acapella) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNCtcITOP0w