May 14, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

May 14, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

May 14, 2020

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

PHASE ONE OF MARYLAND STRONG: ROADMAP TO RECOVERY We have all been waiting for a step out and forward from this pandemic. Yesterday, Governor Hogan introduced the first phase of a plan toward recovery. It came with strong warnings that the coronavirus is still with us and we still need to use precautions to prevent its spread. With regard to houses of worship:

“Churches and houses of worship may begin to safely hold religious services, at up to 50 percent capacity, with outdoor services strongly encouraged. Religious leaders are strongly urged to do everything possible to keep their congregants safe, and particularly to protect the elderly and vulnerable within their congregations.

I will attach the guidelines that accompany this phase and the DE-MD Synod recommendations.

Keeping our congregation and any guests “safe” is paramount. There is a great deal to consider. At this phase, when we worship Inside the sanctuary, for example, we need to consider how to maintain social distancing while seated and when coming and leaving. There is a good deal of logistics to consider with just that one aspect.
For that reason, the Congregational Council will appoint an ad hoc committee to propose the steps of a plan for returning to in-person worship and opening the church building. That group will immerse themselves in the recommendations of the scientific community, the state and our synod and national church to gather the best wisdom for reopening Haven. We will be moving as quickly as it is wise and possible.

So, no we will not be worshipping in the building at 1035 Haven Road this Sunday. We are researching the equipment needed for possibly having a “drive-in” worship experience.  As the state of Maryland suggested, outdoor worship may be the best first step. But we have no definite plan or schedule at this time. The Haven leadership WILL be working together to formulate a gradual and safe plan. Please keep that process in your prayers. We will persevere. God will prevail. Gathering our lessons from this experience, we can be stronger, more resilient and more creative than ever to “honor God, to reach out with love to our members and the community and to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Do I hear an “Amen”?

Today is Bill Byer’s
Baptismal Anniversary

 

 

 

Washington County Interfaith Coalition

Interfaith Prayers for a Difficult time
May 13, 2020

Missionary (Albert Schweitzer)

O heavenly Father,

Protect and bless all things

that have breath: guard

them from all evil and let

them sleep in place.

Native American: Ute

Earth teach me stillness as the grasses are stilled with light

Earth teach me suffering as the stones suffer with memory.

Earth teach me humility as the blossoms are humble with beginning

Earth teach me caring as the mother who secures her young

Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone

Earth teach me limitation as the ant which crawls on the ground.

Earth, teach me freedom as the eagle soars in the sky.

Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall.

Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth teach me to remember kindness as dry fields weep with rain.

 

May we stretch our souls out into today’s living—giving ourselves moments of holy pause.  What we create today will be with us tomorrow.  May we create it with humility, stillness, joy, and hope.  Be with us in the gift of grace that the moments we share in our living may offer hope and possibility into the world.  Amen

Valerie Wills, Coordinator

GRATITUDE AND GODSIGHTINGS.

I was very blessed to receive many acts of love & caring for Mother’s Day from both of my children & their families.  A lovely card came in the mail on Saturday from my son & his family. He called me Sunday morning & we had a long & pleasant chat, with my little grandchildren getting on the line at times. My daughter-in-law texted me several times throughout the day with memories she had of my mom, who had just passed away in June. It meant a lot to me that she remembered these things & shared them with me.

The Saturday before they had come for a visit, bringing many lovely flowers for me to plant in my garden. Seven -year-Jack & 5 year-old Katie planted some of them for me before they left.

On Mother’s Day evening my daughter had us over. She & my son-in-law & both of my grown grandchildren were there. We social distanced around their fire pit and did a lot of talking & sharing of recent experiences since we had last been together. Then we had yummy “cupcakes” from Dairy Queen to celebrate Mother’s Day & my grandson’s 21st birthday, which was the next day. They also had a lovely card & gift for me.

I think all of these signs of love from my family were especially meaningful & appreciated this year. I realize how truly blessed I am.

Elaine Michael

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

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read:  1 Peter 3: 13-22
13Who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? 14But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, 15but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. 17For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. 18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Reflection: (Reflection and Prayer prepared by Pastor David Kaplan)
Suffer for doing what is right?  Well, yes, these early Christians to whom Peter was writing were undergoing real suffering for their faith; references to their struggle occur in every chapter (1:6-7, 2:18-25, 4:12-19, 5:9-10 in addition to this reading from chapter 3).  Some were suffering from the taunts of pagan neighbors whose immoral lifestyle they no longer followed (4:3-4); some who were slaves suffered from harsh masters (2:18-19); some were suffering persecution from governmental authorities (2:13-17).  Most were also suffering spiritually because they didn’t understand why they should undergo all these trials now that they believed in Jesus (4:12-13).  Why didn’t he deliver them?  In fact, that may well have been the occasion for this letter in the first place: to give assurance and guidance and support in the midst of their suffering.

Suffer for doing what is right?  Well, yes, Christians in many parts of the world still suffer for their faith; parts of Africa and the Middle East controlled by extremists, China, North Korea and Afghanistan all have policies that range from trying to suppress the Church to arresting and even executing those who profess faith in Christ.  In the early years of my ministry when Germany was divided I would tell confirmation students that young people in East Germany were forbidden to attend such classes; and if they were discovered receiving Christian instruction, they would not be permitted to attend a University.  What a shock for my students to discover they had Lutheran brothers and sisters in Christ willing to risk their future to learn the Catechism.  And in case you were wondering, this is most certainly true!

Suffer for doing what is right – here and now in our land in which we celebrate the freedom to worship (or not to worship) God in any way we choose?  Not certainly in the way these Christians to whom Peter was writing were suffering.  Nor in the way their counterparts in many nations are suffering today.  Not yet anyway.  But trying to live our faith in the present pandemic has been painful for us all.  And there are enough dark clouds on the horizon to realize we have no guarantees.  I share the fears and concerns to which Pastor alluded yesterday in her daily message, especially the harsh divisions which are tearing apart our nation, our communities, and even many families.  People with whom we disagree become enemies to be demonized, rather than remaining friends to be regarded with patience and open minds.  Christian extremism which claims a biblical certainty on every issue (which the Bible never claims for itself) has become a magnet for people dissatisfied with or angry at their own community of faith.  In such an atmosphere it’s not difficult to imagine a time when those who seek to follow Jesus as loving disciples will find themselves discouraged, wounded and perhaps even persecuted for their faith.  And it’s exactly at this point where this reading begins to speak a powerful word to us as it did to those early Christians to whom it was originally addressed, bringing us the assurance, guidance and support that we desperately need.  When you suffer for doing what is right, it declares:

*Look to Jesus as Savior and Lord – Remember the very center of the Gospel, Jesus is no stranger to suffering, he suffered for us, “the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring us to God.”  Joined to him in the waters of baptism we share in his death and resurrection.  Don’t become overwhelmed with present pain and suffering: he has broken the chains of hell and the grave and now is “at the right hand of God with angels, authorities and powers made subject to him.”

*Look to Jesus as example – Not only has Jesus suffered for us, he suffers with us (we’ll experience this more fully when we can receive him once more in Communion).  In so doing, he shows us how to suffer, as the letter leads us in 2:21-23, “leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps…When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly…”

*Be ready to make your defense – The word translated defense is apologia from which we get our word apology, but not an “I’m sorry” kind of apology.  In the Church an apology is an explanation of why we believe what we believe, a witness to the hope that is in us.  Or more personally why you believe, why I believe especially in times of suffering, as today’s psalm also invites us, “I will tell you what God has done for me.”  But we do so lovingly and gently, for there will always be those who want to know – some from curiosity, some to accuse or ridicule, and some because they sense something or someone tugging at their heart.

So this is my apology, my explanation of the hope in me in a world, in a culture that seems increasingly hopeless:  As I walk in the darkness of loneliness and fear, uncertain what the next day, even what the next step will bring, where the realities of weakness, suffering and death have stripped away all my illusions and props of self-sufficiency, I will not despair.  I look to the flickering light of the candle that no darkness can overcome, the crucifix on my wall that brings me close to Jesus’ own suffering for me and in me, to the butterflies that adorn my house as a glimpse of a new and lasting reality beyond anything I can imagine, God’s great resurrection surprise for a suffering world.  And I believe that God uses even this present dark time to bring me closer to him, to give me opportunities to serve others and to center my heart on the rock that no storm can shake.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you suffered and died for us to give us life in all its fullness.  In any suffering we face give us your comfort and hope, and help us always to be able to share that hope with any who ask.  Amen.

Music:
“My Life Flows On in Endless Song”  ELW 763
virtual choir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpSiGSVJpno
soloist , Audrey Assad   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Li2hddmy63U

“O Christ the Same”  WOV 778  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alkuDYf2vxM
“Eternal Father, Strong to Save”
ELW 756: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsVWKKXS_PU