October 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alesssandri

October 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

October 23, 2020

WORSHIP AT HAVEN
It’s Reformation Sunday. Wear red — to church or when you sit to watch at home. Together we celebrate the church we share and the faith that unites us in Christ.

November 1st is All Saints Day. Please contact the church office by phone or email to let us know of any of your loved ones who died since November 1, 2019. We want to include them in our “roll call” of God’s saints who blessed our lives and not have joined the Church Triumphant.

 

IRENE GIFFIN IS AT HAGERSTOWN HEALTHCARE CENTER (750 Dual Hwy, Hagerstown, MD 2174) Currently she in the mandatory quarantine required of everyone who is admitted to a nursing center, so I cannot visit. I’m sure she would appreciate any cards, notes or phone calls (240-500-5234) Please keep her in prayer.

UPDATE ON SEMINARIAN MIA HOOVER After her meeting with the DE-MD Synod Candidacy Committee last Tuesday, Mia is considering a change of direction and degree at the seminary in order to serve our Lord and the church in small and rural congregations. Good for us, we still get to have Mia with us through this semester!

As we all know, it is always a challenge to listen, wait and discern God’s will and timing. So, please keep Mia in your daily prayers. And let’s surround her with Haven’s support, encouragement, hospitality and love.

 

 

 

Our local AGO chapter is hosting a free “virtual concert” of organ music! The theme is “Music for Comfort and Strength”. We can all use some of that, especially in these times of worry and stress. The concert video will premiere on the chapter’s YouTube channel at 7 PM on Friday, October 30th, and will remain available for viewing anytime afterward. You can access the video through our Facebook page (search AGO-Cumberland Valley) or our website: http://www.agohq.org/chapters/cumberlandvalley

Steve Pastena

 

Washington County Interfaith Coalition
Interfaith Prayers for our times

October 20, 2020

Christian (Kierkegaard)

Let us not forget what Thou has done for us,

and when Thy helping hand hath wondrously been here.

then let us not seek it again as ungrateful beings who

only ate and were satisfied.

Hindu (Vedas)

May there be peace in the higher regions;

may there be peace in the firmament;

may there be peace on earth.  May the waters

flow peacefully; may the herbs and plants

grow peacefully; may all the divine powers

bring us unto peace.  The supreme Lord is

peace.  May we all be in peace, peace, and

only peace; and may that peace come unto

each of us. (Shanti—Shanti—Shanti)

(Peace—Peace—Peach)

May our presence together be as a prayer—a prayer that calms and comforts us, a prayer that invites gratitude, a prayer that quietens our longing and directs us to an understanding of all that is our life’s journey.

Source of strength and peace, may we be eased and comforted.  May we ease and comfort each other.  May we find your Presence with our full attendance and your gifts with a sharing heart.  Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Amen

Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition

FROM DE-MD SYNOD BISHOP WILLIAM GOHL’S WEEKLY E-MESSAGE (10/22/20)

Our Synod at Worship
Sunday, October 25 – Reformation Sunday
The last regular Synod Sunday Morning Service of Word and Prayer will premiere at 10 am on Facebook, our Digital Worship webpage, and YouTube (and available on-demand anytime thereafter).

Sunday, November 1 – All Saints’ Day

All Saints’ Service of Evening Prayer – Vespers will premiere at 4 pm on on Facebook, our Digital Worship webpage, and YouTube (and available on-demand anytime thereafter). This service will include the reading of the Synod Necrology – the pastors and deacons who have died since our last Synod Assembly, broadcast from Grace (Hockessin).

Pre-Election Ecumenical Worship Service
On Sunday, November 1 at 6:45 pm, join me, Bishop Kevin Brown of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Peggy Johnson from the United Methodist Church, and Bishop Charles Amos of the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church for an ecumenical worship service, via Zoom, praying together for our country and our election.
Please go to  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86332666620?pwd=Z29kVnIxeVJsbWtOeWpCbXRPM3dTdz09#success  Passcode: 675249

Celebrating 50.40.10
In 2019 and 2020, we celebrate 50 years of Lutheran women being ordained in the United States, 40 years of women of color being ordained, and 10 years of LGBTQIA+ individuals being able to serve freely. As part of this anniversary year, we lament that women have been barred from serving and have been bullied, dismissed, and excluded. We also celebrate the gifts and service that women have brought to our church and our world as pastors. We are partnering with the Metro D.C. Synod to celebrate these historical moments during the month of November. Planned events include panels of Pastors, Deacons, and Bishops reflecting on the women who inspired them and their own experiences, as well as a celebration of Pastor Elizabeth Platz, the first Lutheran woman ordained in the United States. You can find more information about all of these events at https://demdsynod.org/50th/


Additionally, the ELCA is seeking stories from women who are pastors for inclusion in a PDF collection that will be available online. Stories must be submitted by November 1, and you can learn more and submit your stories online at (copy and paste the following in your address bar)  https://community.elca.org/emailviewonwebpage.aspx?erid=dee6b975-d807-48cb-82c5-83a0cf2db59f&trid=dee6b975-d807-48cb-82c5-83a0cf2db59f

With my love and prayers,

 

 

 

GRATITUDE AND GOD SIGHTINGS

Dear Pastor,

How very much we enjoy all that comes through emails from Haven!

We are unable to come to church, still being quarantined, and also unable to invite you to visit.  We definitely have pandemic fatigue!  However, we’re grateful to be physically OK, although both of us are a bit demented these days.  Some days we can’t remember what we did the day before.

Just a note to tell you we’re still alive and thinking of everyone at Haven.

Love,

Beth and Don

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

Read:  John 8: 31-36  (This is the gospel designated for Reformation Sunday.)
31Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

Reflection: (Today’s Reflection and Prayer were prepared by Pastor David Kaplan)

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

“Whaddya mean,” they replied, conveniently ignoring the Roman soldier six feet away who was monitoring their conversation, ”We’ve never been slaves to anyone.”  The holy land in the first century was hardly a “free” country.  In fact it wasn’t a country at all, just a collection of Roman provinces.  The sad truth was that with the exception of the Golden Age of David and Solomon, the people of God had enjoyed precious little national freedom down through the years.  The Egyptians, the Philistines, the Syrians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks and now the Romans had all in some form or another made slaves of them.  So how could Jesus’ listeners respond to his proclamation with such a ridiculous statement?  Weren’t they aware of their history of enslavement?  Didn’t they experience the Roman oppression which at that very moment was making life miserable for their families and neighbors?

Their reference to being descendants of Abraham indicates they understood Jesus’ proclamation on a spiritual level.  Yes, indeed, other nations have invaded, oppressed, enslaved, exiled, tortured and executed us down through the centuries, but no one can take away our spiritual heritage.  No matter what, we are the people chosen by God through our ancestor Abraham, and heirs to the Covenant promise that one day all nations will come before us to receive God’s blessing.

Only one flaw in their reasoning: sin.  Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  Jesus’ conclusion is clear enough: since all of them had committed sin, all of them were slaves.  And it’s just as clear for us: since all of us commit sin, we’re slaves too – even in this free country!  In one of the ELW confessional liturgies we pray, “We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves…”  Thankfully Jesus didn’t leave it there; he assured them and us  that as God’s Son, he had come to set people free from sin.  If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed!

At first glance forgiveness may seem to be what this Gospel reading is about, and we often interpret it that way.  Its setting is the Temple in Jerusalem where animals were regularly sacrificed to obtain forgiveness.  In the section prior to this text, Jesus spoke of going away and being lifted up.  It all seems to be foreshadowing Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross where he died to forgive our sins.  No doubt about it, his atonement for our sins is in the picture.  It’s not the whole story, though, or even its main theme.

The word for sin in the New Testament, and in our Lutheran understanding of the Gospel, actually has two meanings.  The most common is the things we do or say or think that are contrary to God’s word or purpose for human life or our own lives.  That meaning also includes things we fail to do, or say or think that are commanded by God’s word and purpose.  In the Old Testament God provided a sacrificial system whereby the shedding of animal blood (most often bulls or goats) would “cover up” the sins of the people so that those sins would no longer incur God’s wrath or judgment and no longer instill guilt in the hearts of sinners.  In that sense the sacrifices were never to be understood in the way we often regard them, as a burdensome ritual, but rather as a means by which God revealed his forgiveness and saving love.

In the New Testament God provides the fuller, more complete, once-for-all-time sacrifice for forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s own Son, who came into the world for that very purpose.  His sacrifice, moreover, was not just for the people of Israel in the first century, but for all people of all time and all places.  More personally, it was for you and for me, as we experience again and again whenever the Pastor pronounces the Absolution after we confess our sins, or we hear the word read and proclaimed, or most especially when Jesus comes to us in Holy Communion with the assurance of his own body and blood given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.

This understanding of the Gospel reading (and probably one of the reasons why it was chosen) is especially appropriate for Reformation, which we celebrate on Sunday.  Enter one of the arch-villains of Reformation history, John Tetzel, who was selling indulgences, certificates authorized by the Church claiming to have the authority to forgive sins of loved ones who had previously died and were now suffering in purgatory.  The indulgences supposedly would shorten their time of punishment or cancel it altogether, so that they could arrive in heaven much sooner!  Tetzel’s work was one of the triggers that moved Luther to write the 95 theses, from which the Reformation sprang.   Jesus and Jesus alone, Luther insisted, has the authority to forgive sins.  If the Son forgives you, you will be forgiven indeed.

Absolutely true, and if you choose to leave it there, that’s fine.  The only difficulty is that Jesus didn’t say that.  He said, If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.  That gets to other New Testament meaning of sin.  This meaning is not about specific actions or lack of them, it’s about a power that has control over us, and from which we cannot escape on our own.  That was an especially painful lesson for Luther: the more he confessed his sins, the guiltier he felt and anxious about what he had forgotten to confess.  No amount of penance, pilgrimages to sacred places or fasting could free him from this bondage.  Again, we recognize that meaning of sin very clearly in the confessional prayer I mentioned above: “we are captive to sin, and cannot free ourselves.”  To be honest, sin is not the only such power.  We are also captive to fear, darkness, despair and ultimately death.  Recently we’ve discovered that we’re captive to a microscopic virus, which wasn’t even around a year ago!  Sadly, the more we try to assert our own freedom from it, the more it oppresses us.  St. Paul asked the crucial question, who will rescue me from this body of death?  Now we can hear this Gospel reading more clearly as Jesus speaks to us, not primarily as atoning sacrifice, but as gracious conquering liberator!  If the Son makes you free…  By his victory over the powers that would hold us captive, Jesus risen Lord does just that!  Sure we continue to stumble into sin and despair and darkness of spirit.  We may fall victim to COVID.  We all still must die.  But the one who sets us free is with us through all of them to assure us that he has the last word, in which he invites us to continue.  With him we have a place in God’s family forever!

That’s the good news and the truth Luther came to discover, to rejoice in, and to proclaim to all who would listen.  It’s the truth that still fills us with hope and joy even in 2020, that continually renews and reforms us, and to which we bear witness with our words and our lives.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for being the Truth who sets us free from sin and every other power that would enslave us.  By your good Spirit, and in the footsteps of Church leaders and reformers who went before us, help us continue in your word that we may share the freedom you give us to all who feel captive.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Music

Pastor Kaplan’s suggestions

Word of God, Come Down on Earth (ELW 510)
(choral) 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXyiOjv5g8s
(organ) 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKOFTG9_AIo

By Gracious Powers (ELW 626)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDtGkcry3GQ

Rise, Shine, You People (ELW 665)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDS6oj_X4Hk

Other

“The Voice of Truth” (Casting Crowns) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cKm_mYVPQE

“Who You Say I Am”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKw6uqtGFfo

“You Say” (Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaT8Jl2zpI

“The God Who Stays”  (Matthew West) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPwd_TQpsHY

 

 

 

 

 

October 23, 2020

WORSHIP AT HAVEN
It’s Reformation Sunday. Wear red — to church or when you sit to watch at home. Together we celebrate the church we share and the faith that unites us in Christ.

November 1st is All Saints Day. Please contact the church office by phone or email to let us know of any of your loved ones who died since November 1, 2019. We want to include them in our “roll call” of God’s saints who blessed our lives and not have joined the Church Triumphant.

 

IRENE GIFFIN IS AT HAGERSTOWN HEALTHCARE CENTER (750 Dual Hwy, Hagerstown, MD 2174) Currently she in the mandatory quarantine required of everyone who is admitted to a nursing center, so I cannot visit. I’m sure she would appreciate any cards, notes or phone calls (240-500-5234) Please keep her in prayer.

UPDATE ON SEMINARIAN MIA HOOVER After her meeting with the DE-MD Synod Candidacy Committee last Tuesday, Mia is considering a change of direction and degree at the seminary in order to serve our Lord and the church in small and rural congregations. Good for us, we still get to have Mia with us through this semester!

As we all know, it is always a challenge to listen, wait and discern God’s will and timing. So, please keep Mia in your daily prayers. And let’s surround her with Haven’s support, encouragement, hospitality and love.

 

Our local AGO chapter is hosting a free “virtual concert” of organ music! The theme is “Music for Comfort and Strength”. We can all use some of that, especially in these times of worry and stress. The concert video will premiere on the chapter’s YouTube channel at 7 PM on Friday, October 30th, and will remain available for viewing anytime afterward. You can access the video through our Facebook page (search AGO-Cumberland Valley) or our website: http://www.agohq.org/chapters/cumberlandvalley.

Steve Pastena

 

Washington County Interfaith Coalition
Interfaith Prayers for our times

October 20, 2020

Christian (Kierkegaard)

Let us not forget what Thou has done for us,

and when Thy helping hand hath wondrously been here.

then let us not seek it again as ungrateful beings who

only ate and were satisfied.

Hindu (Vedas)

May there be peace in the higher regions;

may there be peace in the firmament;

may there be peace on earth.  May the waters

flow peacefully; may the herbs and plants

grow peacefully; may all the divine powers

bring us unto peace.  The supreme Lord is

peace.  May we all be in peace, peace, and

only peace; and may that peace come unto

each of us. (Shanti—Shanti—Shanti)

(Peace—Peace—Peach)

 

May our presence together be as a prayer—a prayer that calms and comforts us, a prayer that invites gratitude, a prayer that quietens our longing and directs us to an understanding of all that is our life’s journey.

Source of strength and peace, may we be eased and comforted.  May we ease and comfort each other.  May we find your Presence with our full attendance and your gifts with a sharing heart.  Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Amen

 

Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition

 

 

FROM DE-MD SYNOD BISHOP WILLIAM GOHL’S WEEKLY E-MESSAGE (10/22/20)

Our Synod at Worship
Sunday, October 25 – Reformation Sunday
The last regular Synod Sunday Morning Service of Word and Prayer will premiere at 10 am on Facebook, our Digital Worship webpage, and YouTube (and available on-demand anytime thereafter).

Sunday, November 1 – All Saints’ Day

All Saints’ Service of Evening Prayer – Vespers will premiere at 4 pm on on Facebook, our Digital Worship webpage, and YouTube (and available on-demand anytime thereafter). This service will include the reading of the Synod Necrology – the pastors and deacons who have died since our last Synod Assembly, broadcast from Grace (Hockessin).

Pre-Election Ecumenical Worship Service
On Sunday, November 1 at 6:45 pm, join me, Bishop Kevin Brown of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Peggy Johnson from the United Methodist Church, and Bishop Charles Amos of the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church for an ecumenical worship service, via Zoom, praying together for our country and our election.
Please go to  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86332666620?pwd=Z29kVnIxeVJsbWtOeWpCbXRPM3dTdz09#success  Passcode: 675249

Celebrating 50.40.10
In 2019 and 2020, we celebrate 50 years of Lutheran women being ordained in the United States, 40 years of women of color being ordained, and 10 years of LGBTQIA+ individuals being able to serve freely. As part of this anniversary year, we lament that women have been barred from serving and have been bullied, dismissed, and excluded. We also celebrate the gifts and service that women have brought to our church and our world as pastors. We are partnering with the Metro D.C. Synod to celebrate these historical moments during the month of November. Planned events include panels of Pastors, Deacons, and Bishops reflecting on the women who inspired them and their own experiences, as well as a celebration of Pastor Elizabeth Platz, the first Lutheran woman ordained in the United States. You can find more information about all of these events at https://demdsynod.org/50th/

Additionally, the ELCA is seeking stories from women who are pastors for inclusion in a PDF collection that will be available online. Stories must be submitted by November 1, and you can learn more and submit your stories online at (copy and paste the following in your address bar)  https://community.elca.org/emailviewonwebpage.aspx?erid=dee6b975-d807-48cb-82c5-83a0cf2db59f&trid=dee6b975-d807-48cb-82c5-83a0cf2db59f

With my love and prayers,

 

GRATITUDE AND GOD SIGHTINGS

Dear Pastor,

How very much we enjoy all that comes through emails from Haven!

We are unable to come to church, still being quarantined, and also unable to invite you to visit.  We definitely have pandemic fatigue!  However, we’re grateful to be physically OK, although both of us are a bit demented these days.  Some days we can’t remember what we did the day before.

Just a note to tell you we’re still alive and thinking of everyone at Haven.

Love,

Beth and Don

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD

 

Read:  John 8: 31-36  (This is the gospel designated for Reformation Sunday.)
31Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”
34Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

Reflection: (Today’s Reflection and Prayer were prepared by Pastor David Kaplan)

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

“Whaddya mean,” they replied, conveniently ignoring the Roman soldier six feet away who was monitoring their conversation, ”We’ve never been slaves to anyone.”  The holy land in the first century was hardly a “free” country.  In fact it wasn’t a country at all, just a collection of Roman provinces.  The sad truth was that with the exception of the Golden Age of David and Solomon, the people of God had enjoyed precious little national freedom down through the years.  The Egyptians, the Philistines, the Syrians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks and now the Romans had all in some form or another made slaves of them.  So how could Jesus’ listeners respond to his proclamation with such a ridiculous statement?  Weren’t they aware of their history of enslavement?  Didn’t they experience the Roman oppression which at that very moment was making life miserable for their families and neighbors?

Their reference to being descendants of Abraham indicates they understood Jesus’ proclamation on a spiritual level.  Yes, indeed, other nations have invaded, oppressed, enslaved, exiled, tortured and executed us down through the centuries, but no one can take away our spiritual heritage.  No matter what, we are the people chosen by God through our ancestor Abraham, and heirs to the Covenant promise that one day all nations will come before us to receive God’s blessing.

Only one flaw in their reasoning: sin.  Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.  Jesus’ conclusion is clear enough: since all of them had committed sin, all of them were slaves.  And it’s just as clear for us: since all of us commit sin, we’re slaves too – even in this free country!  In one of the ELW confessional liturgies we pray, “We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves…”  Thankfully Jesus didn’t leave it there; he assured them and us  that as God’s Son, he had come to set people free from sin.  If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed!

At first glance forgiveness may seem to be what this Gospel reading is about, and we often interpret it that way.  Its setting is the Temple in Jerusalem where animals were regularly sacrificed to obtain forgiveness.  In the section prior to this text, Jesus spoke of going away and being lifted up.  It all seems to be foreshadowing Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross where he died to forgive our sins.  No doubt about it, his atonement for our sins is in the picture.  It’s not the whole story, though, or even its main theme.

The word for sin in the New Testament, and in our Lutheran understanding of the Gospel, actually has two meanings.  The most common is the things we do or say or think that are contrary to God’s word or purpose for human life or our own lives.  That meaning also includes things we fail to do, or say or think that are commanded by God’s word and purpose.  In the Old Testament God provided a sacrificial system whereby the shedding of animal blood (most often bulls or goats) would “cover up” the sins of the people so that those sins would no longer incur God’s wrath or judgment and no longer instill guilt in the hearts of sinners.  In that sense the sacrifices were never to be understood in the way we often regard them, as a burdensome ritual, but rather as a means by which God revealed his forgiveness and saving love.

In the New Testament God provides the fuller, more complete, once-for-all-time sacrifice for forgiveness of sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s own Son, who came into the world for that very purpose.  His sacrifice, moreover, was not just for the people of Israel in the first century, but for all people of all time and all places.  More personally, it was for you and for me, as we experience again and again whenever the Pastor pronounces the Absolution after we confess our sins, or we hear the word read and proclaimed, or most especially when Jesus comes to us in Holy Communion with the assurance of his own body and blood given and shed for us for the forgiveness of sins.

This understanding of the Gospel reading (and probably one of the reasons why it was chosen) is especially appropriate for Reformation, which we celebrate on Sunday.  Enter one of the arch-villains of Reformation history, John Tetzel, who was selling indulgences, certificates authorized by the Church claiming to have the authority to forgive sins of loved ones who had previously died and were now suffering in purgatory.  The indulgences supposedly would shorten their time of punishment or cancel it altogether, so that they could arrive in heaven much sooner!  Tetzel’s work was one of the triggers that moved Luther to write the 95 theses, from which the Reformation sprang.   Jesus and Jesus alone, Luther insisted, has the authority to forgive sins.  If the Son forgives you, you will be forgiven indeed.

Absolutely true, and if you choose to leave it there, that’s fine.  The only difficulty is that Jesus didn’t say that.  He said, If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.  That gets to other New Testament meaning of sin.  This meaning is not about specific actions or lack of them, it’s about a power that has control over us, and from which we cannot escape on our own.  That was an especially painful lesson for Luther: the more he confessed his sins, the guiltier he felt and anxious about what he had forgotten to confess.  No amount of penance, pilgrimages to sacred places or fasting could free him from this bondage.  Again, we recognize that meaning of sin very clearly in the confessional prayer I mentioned above: “we are captive to sin, and cannot free ourselves.”  To be honest, sin is not the only such power.  We are also captive to fear, darkness, despair and ultimately death.  Recently we’ve discovered that we’re captive to a microscopic virus, which wasn’t even around a year ago!  Sadly, the more we try to assert our own freedom from it, the more it oppresses us.  St. Paul asked the crucial question, who will rescue me from this body of death?  Now we can hear this Gospel reading more clearly as Jesus speaks to us, not primarily as atoning sacrifice, but as gracious conquering liberator!  If the Son makes you free…  By his victory over the powers that would hold us captive, Jesus risen Lord does just that!  Sure we continue to stumble into sin and despair and darkness of spirit.  We may fall victim to COVID.  We all still must die.  But the one who sets us free is with us through all of them to assure us that he has the last word, in which he invites us to continue.  With him we have a place in God’s family forever!

That’s the good news and the truth Luther came to discover, to rejoice in, and to proclaim to all who would listen.  It’s the truth that still fills us with hope and joy even in 2020, that continually renews and reforms us, and to which we bear witness with our words and our lives.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for being the Truth who sets us free from sin and every other power that would enslave us.  By your good Spirit, and in the footsteps of Church leaders and reformers who went before us, help us continue in your word that we may share the freedom you give us to all who feel captive.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Music

Pastor Kaplan’s suggestions

Word of God, Come Down on Earth (ELW 510)
(choral) 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXyiOjv5g8s
(organ) 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKOFTG9_AIo

By Gracious Powers (ELW 626)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDtGkcry3GQ

Rise, Shine, You People (ELW 665)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDS6oj_X4Hk

Other

“The Voice of Truth” (Casting Crowns) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cKm_mYVPQE

“Who You Say I Am”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKw6uqtGFfo

“You Say” (Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaT8Jl2zpI

“The God Who Stays”  (Matthew West) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPwd_TQpsHY