October 16, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

October 16, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

October 16, 2020

WORSHIP AT HAVEN
Together we worship, on-line or in-person on Sunday at 9:30 am. What does the Lord want you to hear this Sunday?  Come to worship with that question and listen.

Next Sunday, October 25, will be REFORMATION SUNDAY. Wear some read when you come to worship or as you watch it. COVID doesn’t have to rob us of all traditions.

 

The first Sunday of November is ALL SAINTS SUNDAY. During that service we read off the names of our loved ones who died since November 1 of last year. Please call (301-733-5056) or email the church office (office@havenlc.org) with the name of your family member or friend who died in this past year.

TRINITY LUTHERAN HALLOWEEN CONCERT OCTOBER 30 7 P.M.  “What in the world is a Halloween Concert?” you may be asking. Well this one features organist James Harp playing music to silent movie of “Phantom of the Opera” in the sanctuary.  Intrigued? Feel like doing something unusual? You may want to give this a try. Masks will be required and plenty of space in the sanctuary for social distancing.

JOY SEEKERS

In northern Minnesota several years ago, some women formed a “joy circle.” They settled into a routine of meeting every couple of weeks to share joys they’ve noticed. Their aim, amid our troubled world and chaotic lives, is to deliberately focus on the positive. The women don’t simply hope to stumble upon good news among the outrage, bitterness and tragedy surrounding us; they actively seek out joy and report it to the group.

Joy is a fruit of the spirit named in Galatians 5:22-23. As Christians, we don’t ignore or dismiss life’s struggles and sorrows, and neither do joy-circle participants. But God promises that life is stronger than death, and Jesus’ resurrection is proof. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we can make a spiritual discipline of seeking and sharing joy — and thanking God for it.        Heidi Mann  March 2020  (Visit joycircles.network online to learn more.)

 

BECAUSE WE HAVE TO LAUGH:

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Today’s reflections and prayer were prepared by Pastor David Kaplan

Read: Luke 1:1-4; 24:44-53
October 18 is the date in the Church Year that God’s people honor and give thanks for St. Luke, the author of the third Gospel and its sequel, the Book of Acts.  Since October 18 this year happens to fall on Sunday, it’s appropriate to use in worship alternate readings appointed for this minor festival.  While at Haven we’ll be using the primary readings for Sunday with the Gospel from Matthew 22, I decided to reflect on the alternate Gospel (the reading above) for St. Luke Day as the text for this devotion. 

[Luke writes:] 1Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.
24:44[Before he ascended, Jesus said to the disciples and their companions:] “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

Reflection

“Luke, the beloved physician” – that’s how Paul in Colossians 4:14 refers to this Gospel writer.  Tradition holds that Luke was born in Antioch, educated as a physician and converted to Christianity.  He became friends with Paul and accompanied Paul on parts of his mission journeys.  In fact, there’s a section in Acts during Paul’s second journey where the narrative abruptly shifts from “they” to “we”.  Luke was also with Paul in Rome toward the end of Paul’s life (2 Timothy 4:11).  If you saw the movie “Paul, Apostle of Christ” (one of the better biblical movies – well worth watching), perhaps you recall that it explores the relationship between Luke and Paul during the Apostle’s final days until he was martyred.  According to tradition that would be Luke’s fate as well – being executed for his faith in Jesus.  His symbol is the ox, often used in sacrificial worship.  How fitting to remember such a saint who worked for the healing of others, and gave himself for the Lord who came to bring life and healing to the whole world.

Luke’s Gospel, not surprisingly, reflects God’s mercy and compassion revealed in Jesus’ teaching and particularly in his healing.  We can imagine this beloved physician taking special interest in interviewing those who were touched by that healing power: “What did he say?  What did he do?  How did you feel?  Do you still believe in Jesus as God’s promised Messiah?  May I share your story in the Gospel I’m writing (I suppose he needed that permission because of the Hipaa laws of the day!)?  Perhaps the surprising thing about Luke’s healing stories is that they’re not limited to physical healing (Zacchaeus, for instance, healed of his need to cheat and defraud others, 19:1-10) and that the recipients are often those who are weak, lowly, despised or considered to be outside the pale of God’s love.  From the shepherds who were the first to receive the good news of an infant savior in a manger to the repentant thief who received the news during Jesus’ (and his own) dying moments on a cross, the Gospel is filled with such “undeserving” characters that we don’t hear about in the other Gospels.  So what is your favorite story unique to Luke?  Perhaps the infancy narrative (Christmas story), 1:5-2:52; or the raising of the son of the widow at Nain, 7:11-17: or the sinful woman forgiven, 7:36-50; or the great parables of the Good Samaritan, 10:25-37, or the Merciful Father, 15: 11-32; or the words Jesus spoke from the cross that only Luke records, 23:32-46; or the Easter encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, 24:13-35, where Jesus revealed himself to them as he does to us in word and meal.  All of them powerfully proclaim God’s mercy and compassion to those who seemingly were without hope.

One of my favorite Luke stories is the healing of a woman bent over and unable to stand upright (13:10-17).  As someone who struggles a bit with osteoporosis, I can in some small degree identify with her.  The issue here, though, was not so much the disease itself, but the story’s setting: at a synagogue on the Sabbath day. Everybody knew the rules: no healing (unless it was a life or death matter) on the Sabbath.  But Jesus simply ignored the rules, compassionately laid his hands on the woman and announced to her: Woman, you are set free from your ailment. Whereupon she stood up and praised God.  The leader of the synagogue, however, couldn’t get beyond the rules: citing the third commandment, he declared, There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.  But Jesus’ reply was intriguing; instead of arguing, he asked a simple question: Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey… to give it water?  And ought not this woman… whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?  The simple healing of a bent over woman becomes an expression of Jesus’ power to overcome Satan, to set free a fallen humanity and to heal our tendency to put rules (even Ten Commandment rules) ahead of sharing God’s compassion with those in need.

The specific Gospel reading for St. Luke Day is the preface (1:1-4) and conclusion (24: 44-53, see above) to Luke’s Gospel.  In the preface Luke explains his purpose and method of writing. He wrote his Gospel (and Acts) so that you may know the truth.  The “you” is a friend or patron named Theophilus, which literally means “friend of God.”  Did Luke have a particular individual with that name in mind, or was he writing to everyone who is a “friend of God”?  No one knows for sure, but as we read through Luke’s Gospel, we find on almost every page stories and verses that touch our hearts as if they were written especially to us as one of God’s friends!  Luke wrote his Gospel carefully, consulting eyewitnesses still alive at the time of his writing, investigating what others were saying and writing. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark had probably already been written, and perhaps there was a collection of Jesus’ teachings to which scholars have given the label Q (for Quelle, German for source) that both Matthew and Luke quoted.  Unlike pagan history writers who glorified heroes and demonized villains (as in contemporary political rhetoric!), Luke portrayed the characters in his Gospel in both their strengths and weaknesses.  The disciples in Luke are flawed heroes.

The concluding section of the Gospel is Jesus’ encounter with the disciples (including the two who had rushed back from Emmaus after their eyes were opened) in the upper room on the first Easter evening.  Here Jesus opened their minds and hearts to understand what his whole ministry and particularly the last few days were all about: everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms (the three major headings of Scripture at that time) must be fulfilled… that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations.  There we have it at the very end just in case we missed it before! That’s what Luke in this writing is proclaiming to us: Jesus is the long promised Messiah.  All Scripture is centered about him.  He brings forgiveness and healing and life into the darkness and despair that surrounds us.  And Luke’s Gospel is a faithful witness of these things.  But not just Luke – Jesus commissioned all the disciples in that upper room for the work to which they were called: You are my witnesses!  Strengthened by the Good News this Gospel and the other three bring us, the words come ringing down to us: You are my witnesses.  We don’t have to write a Gospel to do that.  All we need to do is share by our words and actions how this Jesus is the center of our lives.

In the midst of the brokenness and division and anger and fear that currently surround us, Luke’s Gospel still is a powerful and Spirit inspired word from God to bring us healing and peace and calm.  In these frantic days before election I invite you to join me in reading some of its treasured stories of healing that I listed above.  In fact, you may even want to read the entire Gospel; you’ll certainly find it more uplifting than the evening news!

Prayer: (Prayer of the Day for St. Luke Evangelist, ELW, p. 58): Almighty God, you inspired your servant Luke to reveal in his gospel the love and healing power of your Son.  Give your Church the same love and power to heal, and to proclaim your salvation among the nations to the glory of your name, through Jesus Christ, your Son, our healer, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Music
Pastor Kaplan’s suggestions

O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come (ELW 610)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1O5vdLNE-Gw

Healer of Our Every Ill (ELW 612)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFYcjaquhtY

Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness (ELW 843) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVXbISMGaUg

Other

“You Are My Hiding Place”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUx2WcC9JKo

“You Raise Me Up” (Selah) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DorNUsi5LE

“My Redeemer Is Faithful and True” (Steven Curtis Chapman) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZc2iu9Dp8k