Message from Pastor Alessandri April 9, 2020

April 9, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

April 9, 2020
Maundy Thursday

The Peace of the Lord IS with you!

It’s Maundy Thursday, also called “Holy Thursday” in some Christian traditions. Why “Maundy”? “Maundy” is a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means “command” or mandate.  It was on the Thursday of Christ’s final week before being crucified and resurrected that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and said this commandment to His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).  Also that evening, Jesus gave us the gift of his very presence in the wine and bread of communion and told us “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Set aside time tonight for an intentional meal to commemorate Jesus’ last supper with his disciples before his arrest. In the devotion below, Pastor Kaplan will give you some suggestions of things to discuss during that meal. It is a simple yet profound “love feast” in honor of the Lord of Love. If you live alone, perhaps you can set up an on-line meeting with a friend or family and share this mealtime. At 7 p.m., turn to the DE-MD Synod’s Maundy Thursday worship. You can access the worship bulletin and service at https://demdsynod.org/ (click on “Digital Worship” and it will take you to the Maundy Thursday materials). You can also watch on the DelawareMaryland Facebook page or Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iAaQ3NVJw4).   Make this Maundy Thursday a bit different from all these other days we have been confined in honor of our Lord.

EASTER FLOWERS  The Easter flowers many of you ordered WILL be delivered to the parsonage back porch on Thursday at 11 a.m. Pastor will see that they get to the homes of those who ordered them. Enjoy their beauty and imagine the Easter celebration we will have when we can once again gather in our church sanctuary.

EASTER FOOD BASKETS April 8 was to be the day we gave out Easter Food Baskets.  Boy, so much has happened since then!  The giving tree went up and in true Haven fashion tags were taken and, as usual, food items appeared under the tree.  Then we all learned about “ Social distancing”,  staying at home, etc.  We had a Plan B. If we could just get family names from Fountaindale,  we could buy the items we needed and deliver them to homes. When schools closed, however, nothing could happen. Now, what to do with the donated food under the giving tree? The Hunger Team decided to take the approximately 85 items to Salvation Army as they are both distributing food boxes and running daily feeding programs.
So, April 8 is still the day the congregation shares with community.  If you have food that you bought and cannot use yourself, bring it to church when we gather again.  The HUNGER team will decide whether it still goes to Salvation Army or St. Mark’s food bank.  There is no need to keep the tags and please do not go buy food for this food drive now. Wait. There will certainly be hunger needs that we can help in the near future when things are a little more “normal.” Haven’s Hunger Team

MAMA DUCK  I have not seen or heard a quack from the mama duck who made a nest in my front garden bushes. Is she gone or settled in? I’m hesitant to look more closely or put a hand in the bush. Are ducks practicing social distancing? I’ll keep my eyes open.

 

PEANUT BUTTER EASTER EGGS Marge Cunningham has prepared 53 chocolate-covered peanut Easter Eggs and sends this reminder: When we are all together again don’t forget to buy your homemade peanut butter eggs to benefit the youth at Haven.”  Cost: $1.25 each  (Oh, by the way, there are actually only 50 eggs. Pastor got her order in early for a trinity of eggs. Now be nice, after a Lent without sweets,  Marge’s peanut butter eggs are too good to resist.)

As I eat my Maundy Thursday supper, I will have Haven’s directory before me. I will read you names, imagine your lovely faces and give thanks for the communion we have through Christ. A communion that neither social distancing nor stay-at-home orders or COVID-19 can deny or destroy.

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


A PAUSE WITH GOD’S WORD

Read: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 and John 13:13-15
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you that the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is broken for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  1 Corinthians 11:23-26, second reading for Maundy Thursday.

“…You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that is what I am.  So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you…”  John 13:13-15, from the Gospel for Maundy Thursday.

Reflections     (Prepared by Pastor David Kaplan)

Why is this night different from all other nights?

It’s the question that the youngest child asks at the Seder, the Jewish Passover meal.  The correct answer is that on other nights, we eat both leavened and unleavened bread, but tonight we only eat unleavened bread or matzah.  Several rabbis have recently commented that the question will take on an entirely different meaning this year, where Seders, if celebrated at all, will need to be done online.  In a modified form, it might be a helpful question for us to ask as well, since Maundy Thursday has its roots in the Passover Jesus celebrated with his disciples in the Upper Room:

Why is this Maundy Thursday different from all other Maundy Thursdays?

On all other Maundy Thursdays we eat a light meal in the Parlor at Haven Church, enjoy each other’s company, listen to the appointed Scriptures for the day (including those above), discuss our experiences at Holy Communion, occasionally reenact the foot washing, and celebrate the Lord’s Supper while still at table.  It’s a beautiful, warm, uplifting hour of worship and fellowship.  Afterward we cross the hall to the Sanctuary for the stripping of the Altar while Psalm 22, traditionally associated with Jesus’ suffering and Passion, is slowly read.  It’s a somber conclusion to the evening which prepares us for Good Friday worship.  On this Maundy Thursday, however, we will practice needed distancing and eat in our own homes by ourselves or with our family, watching TV or playing with our phones.  No Scripture, no fellowship with others outside of our house, no Communion discussion, and most painfully, no celebration of the Lord’s Supper, which is at the very heart of this evening’s usual worship.

Sounds pretty dismal, doesn’t it, especially when we remember all those other Maundy Thursdays!  But maybe we could go beyond this gloomy contrast and ask a second question.  Given the coronavirus restrictions, which are necessary to limit its spread, and which make it impossible for us to meet together tonight as a community of God’s people,

How could this Maundy Thursday be like other Maundy Thursdays?

Without trying to duplicate the experience at Haven, in our evening meal we could perhaps take a few cues from it.  First turn off TVs and phones as you would in church.   Instead of meat and potatoes, pizza or fast food, we could have a light supper – bread, cheeses, soup, raw veggies.  Along with the bread we might have wine or grape juice to drink.  No, we’re not serving Communion in our homes, that’s a congregational meal for the whole community of faith that we long to celebrate as soon as we can meet together again.  But the bread and wine remind us of the Passover, how God delivered his people from slavery in Egypt and how Jesus transformed the Passover meal for his followers to be a means to convey his own real presence and peace and forgiveness and hope.  Somewhere during supper we could read the appointed Scriptures for Maundy Thursday:

Exodus 12: 1-4, 11-14 (preparations for the first Passover), Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 (thanksgiving for God’s deliverance); 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (copied above – St. Paul’s understanding of how Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper “on the night he was betrayed”); John 13:1-17, 31-35 (excerpt above – Jesus and disciples in the Upper Room, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, gives them a new commandment to love one another as he loves them).

Then for family discussion or personal reflection think about what you miss most about Holy Communion.  Share that with others, or lift it to God in prayer with the urgent request that we’ll soon be safely able to celebrate together this precious gift at Haven.   Also you might discuss what do Jesus’ words about foot washing and the love commandment mean in this dark time.  Perhaps close your evening with reading slowly Psalm 22 to prepare for Good Friday.

Yes we’ll all miss the Lord’s Supper on this special night.  But his presence and peace and assurance will bless us as we meditate on it, share the familiar story that binds us together even when we’re physically apart, and open ourselves to be instruments of his loving service in a world that desperately needs it.  God’s blessings and peace on this holy night!

Prayer: Eternal God, in the sharing of a meal your Son established a new covenant for all people, and in the washing of feet he showed us the dignity of service. Grant that by the power of your Holy Spirit these signs of our life in faith may speak again to our hearts, feed our spirits, refresh our bodies and  strengthen us for serving at such a time as this through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (adapted from the Prayer of the Day for Maundy Thursday)

Music: “We Remember. We Celebrate. We Believe.” Marty Haugen (composer of Holden Evening Prayer) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vziyIo20Im0

“I Am the Bread of Life” (ELW #485) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of8OrIIprwU

“Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us With Your Love” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSuTmW1t8zs