May 12, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

May 12, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

May 12, 2020

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

NIAVE OR STUPID? Some might call me one or the other when I am so open about my vacation and times away. (“People will use it an excuse not to come to church. pastor.”) Some might call me one or the other for informing you of the good financial numbers we had in April. (“People will think they can stop sending in offerings.”) You can call me what you want, but I believe in being honest and transparent with our church community. It’s a matter of trust. You knowing you can trust me to speak the truth AND I trusting your devotion to the Lord in worship and in your grateful offerings toward God’s work and church. I hope you feel the same. I will trust we will keep sending in our offerings and we will be faithful to worship in some way during these extraordinary times. God is at work in us during these time, planting seeds and calling forth growth and resilience. Our part is to be faithful disciples, loving and serving God and our neighbors and upholding God’s church to be God’s Hands in the world.

Birthday: Sue Nelson

DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO GOES TO A CHURCH THAT HAS HAD DRIVE-IN WORSHIP? We would like some folks to do some research on how to make it possible to transmit to people’s radios? What kind of equipment is needed? Do you have to get assigned a certain frequency?  If you know someone at a church that has done drive-in worship, would you please call and ask who you might speak to about our questions?  As we anticipate upcoming changes to the COVID-19 restrictions when it is safe, a drive in worship may be an initial option. It would be helpful to have the needed information for those considerations. Thank you for making that call!

PENTECOST GERANIUM ORDERS ARE BEING FINALIZED We are tallying the number of plants ordered and waiting for some checks. It will be a red Pentecost, indeed.

GRATITUDE AND GODSIGHTINGS
Hmm…. haven’t gotten any notes of gratitude or Godsightings lately. God IS with us. What good news story touched your heart? Where did you notice the goodness of God today? Send me a note via email (l.alessandri1035@gmail.com) or in snail mail. Gratitude sends away fear or anxiety. God IS with us.

Ever grateful for you,
Pastor Linda M Alessandri

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read: Acts 17: 22-
22Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’
29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.

Reflections:
I often think of the apostle Paul as rather brash and aggressive, with little time for tact. But here we see Paul being a very tactful evangelist among the Greeks in Athens. The Greeks took philosophy, their myriad of gods and many temples very seriously. We can imagine Paul walking in the cosmopolitan, influential, and affluent city of Athens. There are different temples and monuments to the various gods who had been held in esteem by different rulers or their wives and families. Each has its followers and worshippers. Individuals may be attentive to one god or many. Instead of ranting, Paul starts with an observation, “I see how extremely religious you are in every way.” He meets them where they are and leads them to another understanding of a single God, who is creator of all. He comments on a human desire and search for such a God.
When I read Paul’s words, I’m reminded of the phrase we often hear today, “Spiritual but not religious,” which I think means the speaker believes in a greater power or God but doesn’t embrace any particular church denomination or any specific set of beliefs. How would Paul approach those who are “spiritual but not religious”? How are we to respectfully approach such persons?

In Athens, folks enjoyed philosophical encounters and debates. It was often the entertainment in one of those great arenas. But today? There are still plenty of people who like to argue or “crush” the one with an opposing view. But when it comes to talking about faith, it is not a topic you usually dive right into with someone you hardly know unless they initiate.  Paul met the Athenians where they were. Today, I think that means we are first a good neighbor, a loving and caring person and one who get involved in helping the community and others. In this way, we built trust and bridges that allow respectful exchanges of ideas, beliefs and invitation. Loving relationships are those bridges. Then there noticing those opportunities to share our love of God and God’s love for him or her in ways it can be heard. What might be our way of saying, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way”?

Prayer: (ELW p. 75, “Spread of the Gospel”)
By your word, eternal God, your creation sprang forth, and we were given the breath of life. By your word, eternal God, death is overcome, Christ is raised from the tomb, and we are given new life in the power of your Spirit. May we boldly proclaim this good news in our words and our deed, rejoicing always in your powerful presence; through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Amen.

Music:

“Hallelujah! We Sing Your Praises” ELW #535 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQnrPcPqsKI
“Nobody” (Casting Crowns)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOooelyA9Ws
“The Gospel” (Ryan Stevenson) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTdFEZhjiko
“Old Church Choir” (Zach Williams) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOEviTLJOqo