Message from Pastor Alessandri April 23, 2020

April 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

April 23, 2020
Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
(He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!)

 STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND GET READY TO SMILE Abigail Andrews received this link from her friend, Sarah. It was produced by someone associated with College Church at Wheaton College.  It is entitled “College Church Hallelujah Chorus.” I’ve watched it twice already.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag6CYY0cbFc

 

FROM OUR MAILBOX

Nancy Newkirk received this e-mail and shared it on her Facebook page:
For weeks I have heard people saying “ I just can’t wait for things to be back to normal.” I remember even saying that a few times myself. But as I’ve thought about our current situation I have realized how much I don’t want things to go back to the way they were. Here are a few thoughts…

  1. I pray that the next time a friend grabs me and pulls me in for a hug, I actually take the time to appreciate the gift of their embrace and the healing power of a simple human touch.
    2.I pray that when school resumes and you are dropping your kids off, you take the time to thank the staff for the amazing gift that they give to your family.
    3. I pray that the next time I’m sitting in a crowded restaurant I take the time to look around at the smiling faces, loud voices, and thank God for the gift of community.
    4. I pray that the next time I’m standing in church listening to the voices of praise and taking communion that I take a moment to thank God for the gift of congregation.
    5. I pray that the next time I see a person or situation that needs prayer, I hope I pray as passionately and fervently as I have these past few weeks.
    6. I pray that when I am at the grocery store that I take a moment to thank God that He provides us with the necessities of life and the amazing people who work so hard to keep us supplied.
    7. I pray that I never again take for granted the ability to hop in the car and visit a friend, go meet a friend for lunch or just coffee and chat, go to the mall or a movie, etc.

    So, truth is, I don’t want things to return to the way they once were. I pray that we take the lessons and challenges of the past few weeks and create a new normal. My goal is to pray more, love harder, and truly appreciate the daily abundance of blessings that were so easily overlooked just a mere few weeks ago. If someone tells you they love you, take it to heart!❤

Today will be sermon writing day. It’s been so long, I hope I remember how. When it’s time to finally write a sermon, after all my reading and study, I always come before my computer screen with fear and trepidation. I so want to be sure that I stay faithful to the Bible text and that I express something meaningful for you and pleasing to God. I also admit to a bit of excitement — What might the Holy Spirit do in and through me? If I’m too fearful, I make it very difficult for the Holy Spirit to get through. That’s true not only for sermon writing but for much of our decision making and mission as a people of God. “Be not afraid,” the Lord said hundreds of time in Scripture.  We need to hear it often, don’t we? During these uncertain times, maybe we need to hear it even more. It’s not that fear is an unreasonable response at times like these. It is when our fear overpowers our trust in God that we stumble and are blinded by despair or the unknown. So today I will be sure to pray:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”  (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

God’s peace IS with you,
Pastor Linda M Alessandri

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read: Luke 24: 13 – 31
13Now on that same day [when Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene,] two [disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

 

ReflectionPrepared by The Rev. David Kaplan
For Mary Magdalene it occurred outside the tomb when the Gardener called her by name.

For Thomas it was in the Upper Room when the Intruder displayed his wounds and invited him to touch.

For disciples in a fishing boat after a frustrating night, it happened when the Stranger on the shore directed them to cast nets on the other side, yielding a boatload of fish.

And for the two friends in this coming Sunday’s Gospel it was at the dinner to which they had invited the mysterious Sojourner.  Out of nowhere he had joined them that first Easter afternoon on their walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a village about seven miles away.  Along the road the friends shared their sadness about recent events in the Holy City: their Teacher, the one whom they dared to hope was God’s promised Messiah, had been crucified by the authorities.  Now it was three days later, and some women in their group claimed his tomb was empty and that angels had told them he was alive.  At that point the Visitor took over; as we heard yesterday, he shared with them new understandings of ancient Scriptures that revealed how the Messiah was to suffer, die and rise again.  Their hearts burned as he led this impromptu Bible study, but their eyes remained closed.

Now they were at their destination, and it appeared their fellow traveler was ready to take leave.  But the friends weren’t about to let that happen.  “Stay with us,” they implored, “for it’s almost evening.  Have dinner with us.”  It was simply a matter of biblical hospitality, dating all the way back to Abraham as he hosted three mysterious visitors under the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18).  But there was much more to it than ancient tradition; a bond had formed on the road between the friends and their traveling companion.  He would be their guest for dinner.  No, he would be their host.  For in the midst of the meal “he took bread and blessed and broke and gave…and their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.”

He took bread and blessed and broke and gave…words that describe our Lord’s action not just at this meal in Emmaus, but at that Passover meal a few days before on the night in which he was betrayed.  Words that are spoken every time we come together to remember and celebrate that meal, and the new covenant it ushered in, and the crucified and risen Lord Jesus who is truly present to open our eyes and hearts to recognize him and receive his mercy and peace and forgiveness and hope and joy.

How I miss hearing those words spoken by our Pastor as she lifts the bread and cup!  How I miss coming to the altar rail with all of you as together we are filled with Jesus’ presence.  How I miss experiencing in that meal the fellowship of the whole Church on earth as well as “the saints…seated at our Father’s board…”  Yes, I certainly understand the need for separation, and I certainly appreciate the service of the word that we celebrate online; but like those two travelers, my eyes need opening at times by a closer presence of our Lord that I can see and touch and taste.  I’m hungry – maybe you are as well.

So until that day when this sad part of our journey is over, and we can gather at the table once more, let’s continue to support each other by sharing our God-sightings and thanksgivings and reaching out to one another as we travel together (always six feet apart!) supporting each other by our words and our listening silence along the way.  Incidentally, after he left, those two at the table never stayed around for dessert.  But that’s tomorrow’s story.

Prayer (WOV 743):
Stay with us, till night has come; our praise to you this day be sung,
Bless our bread, open our eyes; Jesus, be our great surprise.
Stay with us, till day is done; no tears nor dark shall dim the sun.
Cheer the heart, your grace impart; Jesus, bring eternal life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eWvrBMI5dg

Music:  Pastor Kaplan’s Hymn suggestions:

“Day of Arising” ELW 374  (new ELCA commissioned hymn based on this text) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDEtURIC7oM

We will be singing this hymn this Sunday to the tune of “Morning Has Broken” since it was new to Haven.
Day of Arising

1          Day of arising,
Christ on the roadway,
unknown companion walks with his own.
When they invite him,
as fades the first day,
and bread is broken, Christ is made known.

2          When we are walking,
doubtful and dreading,
blinded by sadness, slowness of heart,
yet Christ walks with us,
ever awaiting
our invitation: Stay, do not part.

 

3          Lo, I am with you,
Jesus has spoken.
This is Christ’s promise, this is Christ’s sign:
when the church gathers,
when bread is broken,
there Christ is with us in bread and wine.

4          Christ, our companion,
hope for the journey,
bread of compassion, open our eyes.
Grant us your vision,
set all hearts burning
that all creation with you may rise.

Text: Susan Palo Cherwien, b. 1953 Text © 1996 Susan Palo Cherwien, admin. Augsburg Fortress.

“For the Bread Which You Have Broken” ELW 494 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP1b490hNLw