Message from Pastor Alessandri May 7, 2020

May 7, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

May 7, 2020

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

HERE COMES THE SUN I will luxuriate in the sun when it shows itself so beautifully like today. I will do my best to remember its warmth, mood boost and steadfast presence even when I can’t see it on a rainy Friday.  Which takes me to a poem that is said to have been carved into the wall of a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany, where many Jews had hidden during the holocaust. Translated, it reads: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love even when I cannot feel it. I believe in God even when he is silent.” Know God IS with you… God IS with us in the sun and in the storm, in laughter and in quiet.

*We have been blessed with ten Haven members who have agreed to keep in touch with up to 12 other Haven folks. I am so grateful for their ministry.
*There are others in our congregation who have also stepped up on their own to check in on folks on the phone. I don’t know of anyone who wasn’t met with appreciation for their efforts.
*So now I ask YOU to join us in keeping the Haven community connected. Would you make one call a day to someone in the Haven directory just to say hello and see how they are doing? If the person isn’t sure who you are, it’s a great opportunity to introduce yourself and get to know more about them. (If you are sure they have been in church before our sheltering at home, you might try telling them where you usually sit in church and ask where they usually sit. :))  If you would find out that he or she hasn’t been receiving the weekday messages and invitations to worship, ask if you can give their e-mail address to the church so they can start receiving them. And, finally, IF you would find out that someone is in need, you can call me (301-745-4216) and we can work out a way to help.
Here is one small purpose to add to your day — honor God, reach out with love to our members and the community and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ —- and you can do it with a simple phone call.
Blessings on your efforts. Get ready for some Godsightings.

PENTECOST RED GERAMINUM ORDER DEADLINE IS THIS COMING MONDAY, MAY 11  Cost: $3.85 each. You can send an order to the church office via email at OR you could drop it off in the offering box on the back porch of the parsonage OR you can leave a message in the administrative assistance’s voice mail at 301-733-5056.
PLEASE include in your request:1) You name; 2) number of plants you want; 3) in whose memory or honor do you wish to dedicate them; 4) the total amount owed. Make checks payable to “Haven Lutheran Church” and put “Pentecost geraniums” on the memo line.

From today’s Update Message from Bishop Gohl:
In the midst of these uncertain times, many of us are experiencing feelings of loss and worrying about how to plan for each day and our future. It is a time for us to openly explore our fears and our hopes, knowing that during this season of Easter, we live trusting in the resurrection.

I invite you to join me and a few of our gifted partners in ministry in a conversation called Resurrection Living & Giving. These 90-minute virtual gatherings will offer insight and resources focused on pastoral guidance around grief, loss, and hope; legal guidance on the basics of estate planning including wills, medical directives, and Power of Attorney; and gift planning guidance to help you provide for family and the ministries and efforts you love.

This workshop will be held at three different times, but the information will be the same each time. Register for the one that works best for your schedule:

  • Thursday, May 7, 7-8:30 pm
  • Wednesday, May 13, 1-2:30 pm
  • Saturday, May 23, 10-11:30 am

The presenters joining me will be Mr. Danny Tregoning, Estate Planning Lawyer and Council President of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Frederick, Maryland; and Yvonne Jones Lembo, Regional Gift Planner with the ELCA Foundation. These free events are being sponsored by the Delaware-Maryland Synod Generosity Team.

You can learn more and register for the workshop online. If you have any questions, please contact our Associate for Generosity, Karen Kretschmann.

THE CHURCH IS NOT CLOSED, also from Bishop Gohl’s weekly update
The Church is not closed and I see signs of it throughout our synod! Holy Communion  (Fallston) has a 24/7 Blessing Box Food Pantry that they keep stocked by the generosity of the congregation and community; that has become a vital resource to neighbors in need. The people of St. Philip’s (Caroline Street), Augsburg (Garrison Boulevard), Jerusalem (Belair Road) and Whitestone Baptist (West Baltimore) have teamed up to provide a mid-week worship service via Facebook Live every Wednesday evening at 7 pm with really fine gospel music and preaching! The Saintly Stitchers at The Village at Rockville and The Village at Augsburg in Baltimore have been using bedsheets to make gowns for our health care workers at both villages (if there are other groups that would like to make gowns to help, The Saintly Stitchers will gladly share their pattern – reach out to us and we’ll get you connected). These are but a glimpse of how the Church is deployed for mission in these challenging times.                              Bishop Bill Gohl

Well, I’m on to sermon writing today. This is when I review all my notes and the sermons I’ve read. As I stare at the empty page on my computer screen, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me to find the words to share that are faithful to God’s Word and meaningful for us in our time and circumstances. So send a prayer my way asking that the Spirit provides inspiration AND that I listen!
I did not report to you how my doctor’s appointment went last week. The doctor was very pleased with the progress this second time around. In measurements, we are over halfway there. Still NO infection — hurray! I thank you for your prayers and ask that you continue. I am more than ready to let go of my “little buddy” as I call the V.A.C. machine. Healing never goes as quickly as we like. Between my “little buddy” and the necessary restrictions of the pandemic, I am getting a double dose lesson on patience.
God’s peace IS with you!
Pastor Linda M Alessandri


Read: 1 Peter 2: 2-10
2Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and 5like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For it stands in scripture:
“See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very head of the corner,”
“A stone that makes them stumble,
and a rock that makes them fall.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

Reflections  Prepared by Pastor David Kaplan
Fly the ocean in a silver plane,
See the jungle when it’s wet with rain,
Just remember till you’re home again,
You belong to me.

You belong to me – More than a hit song from the early fifties by Jo Stafford, it’s the wonderful assurance God gives his people in this magnificent reading from 1 Peter.  And it’s not the only place in Scripture where God gives such an assurance.  Actually the reading is a collage of Old Testament references and New Testament images that reinforce the theme.

You belong to me – the redeeming God declared to his people at the foot of Mt. Sinai even before giving them the Commandments.  God had led them out of slavery in Egypt, through the sea whose waters parted for their passage, and across a barren wilderness.  At Sinai God would establish a formal covenant relationship with them.  But in the preceding chapter (Exodus19) God already proclaimed: you shall be my treasured possession out of all peoples…you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.  Those verses are reflected in today’s reading, originally written to a congregation undergoing persecution for their faith: you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people… You belong to me!

You belong to me – the forgiving God declared through the prophet Hosea to the rebellious Israelites of the northern kingdom about to be exiled from their homeland.  In the final dark period of that nation’s murky history God commanded the prophet to marry an unfaithful prostitute who would bear two sons to be named (in translation): Not Pitied and Not My People.  That strange occurrence was a symbolic act: God’s unfaithful people had broken the covenant beyond repair, and God would no longer have compassion on them or regard them as God’s possession.  They were simply receiving what they deserved for their sin and rebellion – now they would be on their own.  But not so fast – the Good Shepherd never abandons his lost sheep – in the very next chapter Hosea wrote of a time to come when I will have pity on Not Pitied, and I will say to Not My People, “You are my people”; and he shall say, “You are my God.”  Those verses are reflected and reinterpreted in today’s reading, written not only to a persecuted congregation but to a congregation of Gentiles, traditionally considered beyond the pale of God’s care and compassion: Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  You belong to me.

You belong to me because of the Cornerstone.  Perhaps you recall a verse (22) from Psalm 118, the appointed Psalm for Easter Sunday, The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  The New Testament refers to this verse in several places, including this passage, and understands it as a prophetic reference to Jesus, and particularly to his passion (rejected by the builders) and resurrection (now the chief cornerstone).  He is the living stone who joins his people to himself in the waters of baptism, who tenderly feeds his children on his word and meal so that they may grow into salvation!

What an assurance for this first century congregation, exiled and frightened by the surrounding pagan culture, unsure of the future and probably unable to meet together freely as it had in the past!  What an assurance for a twenty first century congregation, exiled and frightened by a microscopic virus, unsure of the future and unable to meet together freely as we have in the past!  “Just remember till you’re home again, you belong to me, Haven Congregation,” the chief Cornerstone, the great good Shepherd, the risen Lord Jesus proclaims to us on this fifth Sunday of Easter.  And with that assurance we’re made bold to proclaim to other struggling exiles the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Prayer:    Lord Jesus, in the uncertainty of these days we so easily become confused and frightened and lose our bearings.  Cover us with the patchwork quilt of these assuring Scriptures. Thank you for being the cornerstone to which we can cling and find assurance that we are still your beloved children.  Hasten the day, Lord, when the present calamity will pass and we can rejoice together again in your love.  In the meantime bless and help us to be a blessing to all who are afflicted by it.  Amen.

“Rise, Shine, You People!” – ELW 665 (St. Olaf Choral Ensembles)
“Your Are Mine” ELW 581 (This version sent in by Nancy Newkirk)

From Nancy Newkirk
“Be Thou My Vision”