November 18, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

November 18, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

November 18, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington County Interfaith Coalition

Interfaith Prayers for Today’s Times

November 17, 2020

Sufi prayer

My praise dispraises

Thee, Almighty God,

For to praise is being

And to be is sin.

 

Christian (St. Teresa of Avila)

Christ has no body now on earth but yours

Yours are the only hands with which he can do work

Yours are the only feet with which he can go about the world,

Yours are the only eyes through which his compassion can

Shine forth through a troubled world.

Christ has no body on earth now but yours.

 

We all act against the best within us at times; we sin.  But we are also the carriers of holiness.

Spirit of all life, help us to allow forgiveness of ourselves and each other. Open us to the holiness of ways which may seem different from our understandings.

With Your guidance, may we notice and embrace the moments of our love of for others…and theirs for us. May we embrace holy love each time it happens within us…each time it courts our attention.  Amen

 

Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition

HARC COMMUNITY THANKSGIVING SERVICE is available on-line at
https://vimeo.com/479032634/6a934216d5
  Sponsored by the Hagerstown Area Religious Council, several different Hagerstown religious leaders participated in its making.

GRATITUDE AND GODSIGHTINGS

 

 

Our office administrator, Mary Grabill, share this sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz, entitled “Health Care Prayer”

 

 

 

 

 

 

During vacation we drove to Hatteras National Seashore to visit Bodie Lighthouse National Park and Pea Island. We were in search of migrating flocks of birds.
The current Bodie Island Light Station, the third of its kind, completed construction in 1872. Designed to replace the second Bodie Island Lighthouse that was destroyed during the Civil War in 1861. The lighthouse was closed to visitors but there was a nice wooden walkway to marshes where you would have thought we’d see lots of birds. But no birds — just good views.
However, there WAS wildlife.  The sign warned visitors to stay on the wooden walkway since there were venomous snakes. Well, that almost sent be back to the car. Especially since I had an unexpected encounter with a snake the day before in another wooded nature reserve. Something have scurried behind me. I asked Ann what it had been. She asked if I really wanted to know. Yes. It was a snake. From then on Ann had to walk in front. We have a pact — I’ll take care of the spiders for her and she will take care of any snakes for me. Still I walked down the Bodie Island walkway. Walkway safe. Off walkway snakes. I had no trouble following directions in this case.

After going out to the marshes, we walked back and there was this large, long black snake coming out from under the walkway, heading toward the marsh. It had stripes of some color but I didn’t stop for details. I was pretty proud of myself. I didn’t even scream. While Ann watched it with amazement, I walked ahead at an Olympic pace.
I guess there are times we meet our fears and discover we won’t die. I immediately began to name things for which I was grateful. Brain science says there is no room in the brain for fear and gratitude at the same time. By the time I got back to the warning sign my heart had stopped racing. Then I laughed as I notice the water fountain. Water was not available in these COVID times, but look at the lower fountain for pets. I thought that was rather thoughtful.
Not even a snake could rob me of the joy of a beautiful day. God IS good!  Pastor Alessandri

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read  Ezekiel 34: 11-16, 20-24


11Thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. 14I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God. 16I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
20Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, 22I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
23I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.

Reflection
In this portion of Ezekiel, the prophet is speaking to the Hebrew people who were in Babylonian exile. The Temple and Jerusalem were rubble. The people of God were struggling to understand why this had happened and if the LORD had given up on the covenant made long ago with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In previous verses, the Lord told about the failure of the previous rulers and leaders (shepherds):

“34:2Mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them — to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep. 4You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them.” 

God declares that the power and resources of leaders is meant to be used to help all people, especially the weak, sick, injured, strayed and lost. Yet all is not doomed. God remains faithful to God’s people. Ezekiel proclaims God’s promise of restoration. However, the one the people should look to as their shepherd and king to save or restore will be no earthly royal but God’s own self. The Lord will gather all the scattered and exiles and provide for them. But this divine shepherd will not wield power as a bully or tyrant. Our Shepherd says, “ 16I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak.” Which sounds a great deal like Jesus and his teachings.

Ezekiel says that the Lord will also send “my servant David” to be their shepherd (23-24). Which is why, in the coming Advent season, we will often hear or sing about a descendent of the house of David coming into our world —- Emmanuel — “God-is-with-us” — as a baby yet our savior. It is no accident that Jesus would enter into the world in the “left-over” space of a barn, as part of a simple peasant couple, who would first be visited by outcast shepherds.  From his earthly beginnings, Jesus was keeping God’s word to the lost, strayed, injured and weak – all of us.

Prayer:
We are feeling a bit like exiles ourselves, Lord. We are separated from the comfort and predictability of our pre-COVID lives. We find ourselves in a world and circumstances that seem foreign and oppressive. Hear our cries of fatigue, depression, anxiety and fear. Help us to hold on to your promises and faithfulness and let you hold on to us, that we not fall into despair and we have eyes and hearts still ready to see your eternal light and love in the world and people around us. Amen.

 

Music

“Above All” (Michael W. Smith) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7EPZV56PuA

“Savior, like a Shepherd Lead Us” ELW #789
(choral) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UL-Od8Uwus
(acapella)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRmRQR_VuYU

“Streams of Living Justice” ELW #710  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEP_ioFv8Bk