November 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

November 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

November 23, 2020

WE DID IT, HAVEN! We were able to have our congregational meeting yesterday with both in-person and zoom participants! We even exceeded the needed quorum (50) with 60 members present in the nave or on-line.  The Re-Opening Team and Council thank you for your perseverance and patience as we tried to brave new technology so we could be together to conduct needed business. The 2021 Financial Plan for Ministry was passed unanimously. A copy is attached to this e-message in the event you missed it in previous e-mails and the November newsletter.

With the help of seminarian Katy Moran we also learned more about using Zoom for a meeting. We need to work on improving the sound for those on-line. We had the computer, with its microphone, in the back of the church which meant it was difficult for the computer’s microphone to pick up the sound from those speakers in the ring above the altar area. We will need to work on that. It’s frustrating not being able to hear clearly. We also learned we need to put some kind of padding under the computer so it doesn’t pick up unnecessary sounds that also make it hard to hear clearly. If there are other suggestions you have, please don’t hesitate to email them to me (l.alessandri1035@gmail.com) or the church office (havenoffice@havenlc.org)

Many thanks to Doug Wright for all the work he did to get our computer working in the nave. He was also the one who made sure we had a camera set-up so those on line could see the church and those gathered. Thanks to Scott Rhodes for working with Doug to have it up and ready for Sunday. We are grateful to seminarian Katy Moran for tending to the computer for the Zoom meeting and to Marge Cunningham who helped identify and note those who joined on-line.  We are very grateful to all of YOU, those who Zoomed and those who came in person. With the help of the Lord, we were able to step around COVID’s restraints, come together and pass a financial plan for God’s ministry at Haven in 2021.

 

SO HOW IS DICK HESS? At the beginning of our congregational meeting we announced that Dick Hess had been taken to Meritus Hospital. We prayed for his healing and for June and the rest of his family.
Having had a positive COVID test, when he woke with a temperature and a persistent cough, his doctor advised him to go to the emergency room. They tested for lung and heart problems, found no COVID-related issues and sent him home to follow up with his doctor. Continue prayers for Dick and June Hess. Both find fatigue and exhaustion to be the primary symptom they are experiencing.
As mentioned in our church announcements, also keep in prayer John Britton, Jr. recovering from a quadruple bypass surgery…. Pat Pile, making progress after her fall… and Nancy Newkirk, working through the tough therapy that follows knee replacement surgery.

THERE WILL BE NO WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY THIS WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25 to allow Pastor Alessandri time to prepare for the Thanksgiving Eve worship service and the taping of Sunday’s service earlier in the day. We will be back on December 2nd, 10 am, to venture into God’s Word together. All are welcome!

 

THANKSGIVING EVE WORSHIP, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 7 PM We will come together to offer the Lord our thanks. Yes, even with many of our Thanksgiving plans and traditions cancelled or altered, we have much for which we can be grateful.  One more thing may be having the chance to watch the Thanksgiving Eve service LIVE on Haven’s Facebook page. Tune in at 7 p.m. and see if we were successful.

(If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can still view the service by going to Haven’s website at havenlc.org. In the upper right-hand corner and you will see the Facebook “f” icon. Click on the “f” and it will take you to Haven’s Facebook site. Wish us luck & check it out!)

DEADLINE FOR ORDERING POINSETTIAS FOR CHRISTMAS EVE IS THIS SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 29TH. You can mail in orders or drop them off in the offering box on the back porch of the parsonage. Be sure to include your name, payment and for whom they are in honor or memory of. At this time, we are still planning to have a 7 pm worship service on Christmas Eve. We are hoping to be able to show it LIVE, too.

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD
Read:  Deuteronomy 8:7-18
7For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, 9a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper. 10You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.
11Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. 12When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, 13and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, 14then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions. He made water flow for you from flint rock, 16and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good. 17Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” 18But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

Reflection
This Deuteronomy reading is the first lesson assigned for Thanksgiving worship this year. I haven’t been including many of the Old Testament readings in worship but this one, this one wouldn’t let me pass it by.
I know this is a strange and strained year. Many of us will not be celebrating Thanksgiving with a table-full or crowd of friends and family. My sister and brother-in-law will not be coming to Hagerstown as planned for Thanksgiving — just too much unpredictable COVID out there when you stop at gas stations, rest stops or hotel.  It could be very tempting to have a big ole pity party for yet another loss due to COVID. And without meaning to minimize the sadness of such a loss, Deuteronomy pulls be back from the abyss of discontent and sorrow to REMEMBER.
After retelling all the wonderful things God has done for the Israelites, Moses warns: “Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God…. do not forget it was the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery… led you… made water flow… fed you. Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.’ But remember the Lord your God… who give you power to get wealth.”
REMEMBER. DON’T FORGET. When things are going well — we can forget it was God who provide the internal and earthly resources that has gotten us so far. When things are not going well or as we planned — we can forget, ignore or overlook God’s faithfulness and goodness that always has been, is and will be. It seems odd that these two opposite experiences —- a comfortable life or an upended life — can both lead us to a kind of spiritual amnesia in which we forget the Lord, the source of all that is good, worthy, and life-giving. In one case, we think WE have it all together and don’t need God’s help. In the other, we are so captive of fear, anger or anxiety that we treat God as either useless or a genie who is refusing to grant us our three wishes.

Several days after Thanksgiving Day we will begin the season of Advent — the weeks in which we are invited to intentionally prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord at Christmas, in our lives and at the end of earthly time. It’s one of my favorite. The deep blues, the growing number of lighted candles in the Advent wreath and some of those lovely Advent hymns.

I think this year Advent holds even greater significance than ever. Twenty-six days (November 29-Dec. 24) to practice REMEMBERING the blessings of God in the past and even now…. REMEMBERING that the light of Christ can be even brighter when it seems darkest…REMEMBERING to walk with Zachariah and Elizabeth and Mary and Joseph through their incredible stories of God’s power and grace as we move toward Bethlehem… REMEMBERING that God who created the earth, came to be with us in Jesus and remains present and active in the Spirit is more powerful, loving and sure than COVID. We need to hold on to the Lord and one another and the peace of God that passes all understanding during a crazy, unsettling time.

Look for a different format for these e-messages starting next week. It will become OUR Advent place for REMEMBERING and sharing the coming and presence of God in our lives in these days. Let those 26 days of Advent be a HAVEN of comfort, anticipation and hope… a healing balm for our spirits and families that will pour over those around us.

Prayer (Prayer of the Day for Thanksgiving Day)
Almighty God our Father, your generous goodness comes to us new every day. By the work of your Spirit lead us to acknowledge your goodness, give thanks for your benefits, and serve you in willing obedience, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

Music – Thanksgiving Celebration

“Let All Things Now Living” ELW #881  (Michael Card) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj7cW63gq-s

“Now Thank We All Our God” ELW #840 (congregational singing) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR6Kajdtt3M

“Thanksgiving Medley” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3dXCL34aEA

“All Good Gifts” (from Godspell) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zzATl9vYEc

“Grateful” (Elevation Worship) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr-zLrU1g-M