October 26, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

October 26, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

October 26, 2020

Twenty-five attended our in-person worship this Reformation Sunday. That’s significantly less than the 40 and 39 we had the first two weeks. I knew of at least half a dozen who told me they would be out of town. I wonder if the recent upsurge in COVID cases is partially responsible?

We also had a glitch in our posting of the on-line worship service and bulletin. Steve and Mary did their part but our computer server was down. (Try to get that looked at over a weekend!) Thank goodness Mary had the know-how to get it on our Facebook page and sent out access information to all those on our Haven Family and Friend Email List. If you have not given us your email address for such notices, please contact the office (havenoffice@havenlc.org) so you will receive update information.

ALL SAINTS SUNDAY IS NOVEMBER 1   If you have a family or friend who has died since November 1, 2019, please call (301-733-5056) or email (havenoffice@havenlc.org) with their name. As a part of our ALL SAINTS celebration we read aloud the names those who have been baptized and those who joined the Church Triumphant in the last year.



And don’t forget to set your clocks back next Saturday so you are on time for worship! (And you get an extra hour’s sleep!)



TONIGHT! The Interfaith Amigos followed by a local panel discussion that will include our own Rev. Valerie Wills, coordinator of the Washington County Interfaith Coalition. It’s an on-line event. See registration information below.





Read  Revelation 7:9-17

(“The book of Revelation is written to seven churches in western Asia Minor during a time of great oppression. Today’s reading is a response to the question asked in 6:17: “Who is able to stand?” The writer gives the faithful the assurance of God’s protection and a vision of victory.”  Sundays and Seasons  ELW Worship Resource)

9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Don’t be afraid of this scene from the book of Revelation. Don’t get captured in trying to figure out who the four living creatures or elders are. Just jump into this scene of great worship!  Jesus is the Lamb who will also be the shepherd. The multitude in God’s presence are filled with awe and joy. They are singing and praying and celebrating together  — they are people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” There is no division, anxiety, sadness, weariness or hatred. In the presence of Jesus, they are simply children of God rejoicing, praising, loving. What  scene of bliss and delight, with the Lord right there in their midst.

Who are these multitudes? ” These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” These are folks who remained faithful and faith-filled, believing in the love and power of God despite what was going on around them. It does not mean they were perfect saints but that saint-yet-sinner who tried their best, through times of doubts and trials, to trust in God’s goodness and to keep their eyes and lives in the ways of the Lord,

Some interpret the “great ordeal” (or tribulation) as the events at the end of the world. But I think that is a mis-reading of the original readers of Revelation. Revelation scholar, Barbara Rossing writes, “The “tribulation” (thlipsis) of Revelation’s audience was not state-sponsored persecution but rather the social, economic, and religious marginalization of those who refused to participate in Roman imperial system.” When the followers of Jesus were living out their faith, they found themselves at odds with the values and systems around them. Rome said power was having the might to force others to submit to your will. Christians worshiped a king, a Lamb, who shed blood so others (even those who hated him) could be saved and freed. It is love that has the true power, not hate, money, violence, or Roman imperialism. It was not the accumulation of things, wealth, or popularity that defined greatness but the humility, compassion and generosity of giving and serving others, especially those in need and those usually ignored. It IS a tribulation/ordeal to find yourself at odds with the worldly status quo and measures. Yet still we sing and praise and celebrate believing that it is the Lord who will be victorious. When the Lord makes all things new, there will be no more hunger and thirst, no more scorching, no more tears of pain and sorrow.

This is one time I wish I had the gift of being able to visualize a scene from its description. Re-read this passage and imagine a holy party, where everyone is accepted and utterly happy. No more war, homelessness,  cancer, worry or separation from love. This is the creation God wants us to know and to have. Read this passage and let it be a soothing balm to our COVID and election weary hearts. What a vision of that which is our, that which will be through our Lamb and Shepherd, Jesus.

Prayer:  Lord of All, we struggle to hold on to You as good, loving and faithful when we are in the midst of tribulations. Help us to keep this celebration of victory in the depths of our being, so that we can be fed and encouraged by its truth and joy when we face ordeals. When we come to worship, though we cannot sing or shout out right now, let us imagine we are around your throne rejoicing, experiencing a foretaste of the restored, redeemed creation that we will all know in your time. We hope and trust in you, now and forever. Amen.


“Blessing and Honor” ELW #854    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVRVjLYTHmE

1    Blessing and honor and glory and pow’r,

wisdom and riches and strength evermore,

offer to him who our battle has won,

whose are the kingdom, the crown, and the throne;

whose are the kingdom, the crown, and the throne!


2    Let all the heavens resound with his name;

let all the earth sing his glory and fame.

Ocean and mountain, stream, forest, and flow’r

echo his praises and tell of his pow’r;

echo his praises and tell of his pow’r.


3    Ever ascending the song and the joy,

ever descending the love from on high;

blessing and honor and glory and praise–

this is the theme of the hymns that we raise;

this is the theme of the hymns that we raise.


4    Give we the glory and praise to the Lamb!

Take we the robe and the harp and the psalm;

sing we the song of the Lamb who was slain,

dying in weakness and rising to reign;

dying in weakness and rising to reign!


Text: Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889, alt.

“Lamb of God” (Twila Paris) ELW #336  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oAFOQCTats

“Revelation Song”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsiDukXIeVY


“Is He Worthy” (Chris Tomlin)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZ1q6eDp0KM

Among the Revelation references in this song:
“Is anyone worthy?
Is anyone whole?
Is anyone able to break the seal and open the scroll?
The Lion of Judah who conquered the grave
He is David’s root and the Lamb who died to ransom the slave”