Message from Pastor Alessandri

20March26 message from Pastor Alessandri  (click for pdf)

March 26, 2020
The Peace of the Lord be with you!
Though Mary and I are still working from home, the new computers are installed in the church office. The computer in my office totally crashed (caput — in untechie language) several weeks ago. I found myself making many trips between the office and the parsonage each day as I needed to access something that could only be done on a computer. I confess that sometimes there was some unholy mutterings. You never know how much you have come to depend on something until you don’t have it.
You never know how much you have come to depend on something until you don’t have it. We are all re-learning that in a big way right now, aren’t we? Whether it’s being able to jump in the car to go out anywhere or getting together with friends or going to work or gathering for worship, we are being reminded of what is precious and important to us. May we not forget when we are again back to a “normal.”
WORSHIP UPDATE This Saturday Steve Pastena, Pastor Dave Kaplan, Grant Wills, Scott Rhodes and I will lock ourselves in the church, practice proper social distancing and tape a worship service for Sunday. This is totally new for all of us. So, in advance, we ask your patience and forgiveness as we venture into the uknown. To quell any nervousness, I am concentrating on the chance to “be with you” and any others who may click on our Facebook or webpage. Most importantly, I am praying that God be honored and glorified as we worship.
WORSHIP UPDATE II The state of Maryland has extened the closing of schools until April 24th. Though it has not been explicitly stated, this is likely an indication that the recommendation to limit gatherings to 10 or less will stay in place for the health and safety of the community. The idea of not being able to worship together for Holy Week and Easter is painful. It puts the exclamation point on the seriousness of this virus. It also challenges our commitment to care not just for ourselves but the wider community. I have not spoken yet with our Worship Team or Council to set an official, tentative date for resuming in-person worship. I will let you know as soon as we can.
In the meantime, I have asked Mary to contact our florist to see if palms can be delivered to church on Friday, April 3. IF that’s possible, we will prepare them to be distributed and place them outside the doors of the church for you to be able to pick up palms. Stay tune. We are waiting to hear if the Easter flowers we ordered will still be delivered. If so, we will put them outside the church for pick up and deliver to those who do not wish to venture out.
Palm Sunday and Easter Worship? We are talking about what Haven and/or our conferenece of Lutheran churchers can do. I have even had the wild thought of pulling out our “worship on the lawn” sound system and inviting folks to stay in their cars for worship and to receive communion. Still thinking that and other ideas through. Again, stay tune.
One on-line Holy Week and Easter worship opportunity will be available through our DE-MD Synod. Bishop Gohl wrote in his weekly e-mail:
We already know that Bishop Leila Ortiz from the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod I are collaborating with our staff colleagues and will provide online worship for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter together. These promise to be special opportunities for us to be together across our synods – and are offered to enhance, not replace, any online gatherings with your local faith community. More about these services next week.
You never know how much you have come to depend on something until you don’t have it. Even though we are phsically seperated, we are still united, together and one in Christ. That is something we still have. The eternal love, presence and care of God. That is something we still and will forever have. We make sacrifices now for one another and offer them to God as a blessing of thanks and praise. We WILL get through this. As we make our way, we have prayer, kindness and faith to offer as the Body of Christ, that extends beyond any restrictions or isolation.
God IS with you. God IS with us.
Pastor Linda M Alessandri
P.S. If you didn’t see this posting on facebook yesterday, we share it here. Thank you Scott and Ethan for one of today’s smiles.

A Pause with God’s Word
Read: John 11: 1-14
1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Reflection: In the gospel of John, miracles are called “signs.” They are displays of all that God wants for us and all of creation. They point to the power and intent of God redeeming love. The miracles show that God’s deepest, loving desire is to bring healing, calm storms, feed hungers and bring life when all hope seems gone.
When we read the beginning portion of this Sunday’s gospel, we can be rather upset with Jesus. Why let his friend, Lazarus, die and cause his sisters to grieve? Just to make a point? That seems rather cruel of a loving Lord. These might be the same wonders we have had as someone we love suffers. That might be the same questions we have now, “Why doesn’t God just come and clear the world of the coronavirus?”
This has been one of those questions pastors dread. If God is all-powerful and all good, why do bad things happen? We dread it, because we only have God’s Word and our imperfect understanding to lean on. This is what I know.
*God does not inflict suffering or death as punishment. Whatever disease had caused Lazarus to die was not caused by God as judgment. Jesus made that clear in last week’s gospel when he was asked if a blindman was blind because of his sin or the sin of his parents. Jesus clearly says, “Neither!” To inflict suffering is contrary to the nature of God who created a world out of love and out of love has been trying to call it back to goodness ever since humans turned away.
*God is not a Master Game Player, creation is not God cosmic game for God’s amusement and we are not simply pawns without freedom. God remains active and present in God’s creation and though us. God cares deeply about us and creation. Yet the “rules” and reasons for God’s direct intervention in this unfolding world of ours are beyond our understanding. That is one of the mysteries of the divine that we live in but cannot grasp. That is one of the mysteries where we depend on faith — that the God who created the universe and us is good and loving all the time, no matter the circumstances, even when we don’t understand. That is the meaning of that wonderful call and response: “God is good,” “all the time.” All the time,” God is good.”
As Jesus was heading toward Jerusalem and possible death, the Lord wanted us to know that death was not more powerful than God. We may want to tell God when and where to exert that power and God will lovingly receive our requests. Yet testing God is fruitless. If we in heart say to God, “If you are so powerful than do this or I won’t believe you anymore,” we venture into the dark, away from the Light, down a pathway that will not serve us or bring us relief. While God desires us to know God and draw close, there are things about the Lord which are beyond our human understanding. In faith, we trust God’s goodness even when we cannot understand. That is the Rock on which we stand, on which we can live and go forward in hope and in the assurance of God’s eternal love and care.
Prayer: Lord, we become anxious when we can’t explain or control the way things are. You gave us the gift of thinking and reason and yet, in times like this, we face the uncomfortable truth that we are not God and we cannot know or control everything. Quell our anxieties. Fill us with the certainty that YOU are a God we can trust and on you, our Rock, we can cling, stand and still see your goodness around us. Amen
Act: Sing! Any song of joy or praise will do. I offer one from our hymnal, “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less.” Here are several links to sung versions. Sing along, in voice or silently in heart, and know you are loved! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVE-xXFDOwg (contemporary) OR https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFktMLdeFac (traditional choral)