August 14, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

August 14, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

August 14, 2020

Haven Lutheran Church

A BELATED THANKS TO OUR COVID- DEFYING POTOMAC TOWERS TEAM Haven committed to providing lunch for Potomac Tower residents each fifth Thursday in a month. On July 30, Prue Yelinek, Kelly Bracken, Valerie Wills, Susan Strobl (with the support of their families) put together bagged lunches and delivered them to Potomac Towers. We thank you for helping us to keep our promise and provide a meal for our brothers and sisters at Potomac Towers. We are grateful for your hands doing God’s work on our behalf.






Friday, 8/14  5 p.m.
Spoken Service with communion in the sanctuary.

Sunday, 8/16 9:30 am Worship On-line at

Sunday, 8/16 9:30 am  Drive-up and Outdoor Worship at Haven
(REMEMBER if weather looks uncertain & and before you leave home, call the church after 8:30 am on Sunday  301-733-55056 Push the star button (*) as soon as the message begins to get to the voice mail box that will let you know if worship has been cancelled.)

Sent in by Nancy Newkirk










Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” –Matthew 14.30 (NRSV)

Beloved, all:
This last week found me out and about more than I have been in months, and mindful of Arwyn’s expectation for our family, when we come back from being anywhere in public, into the wash go the clothes and into the shower goes the person. Having been to the supermarket, a hospice visit, a wedding rehearsal, our synod online worship taping, a wedding, a meeting in Wilmington, and to a friend’s church to substitute for the musician – I have been a bit waterlogged this week. And, truth be told, I’ve been somewhat frightened by the experience of being out and about – often because others don’t always seem to hold the same space or take similar precautions to avoid Covid transmission as we are trying to observe in our own family; indeed, Lord, save me!

As I start to slowly reenter into the in-person life of our synod and world, I feel a bit like Peter walking on the water. I desperately want to walk on the water, but I easily become frightened and begin to sink. Still, I don’t buy into the notion that this is a lack of faith, so much as a healthy fear and a genuine trust in those who have made their vocation to protect our health and safety.

I never cease to be amazed at the prayerful work and thoughtful engagement our congregations and ministries are putting into being church in these Covid times. The adaptability of taking our ministries online, the curating of community that cannot be all together in person, recreating cultures of generosity, considering faith formation in new ways – all these are tremendous acts of faith, just as being willing for in-person gatherings to be so vastly different than we are used to in order to manage risks is an embodiment of our love of God and neighbor.

I am so grateful to be a leader among the leaders of Christ’s church gathered and scattered in Delaware and Maryland; where our Lord continues to reach out a hand to save, and invites us to reach out our hands to share God’s saving and redeeming love with others.

With my love and prayers,



Suggested Captions:

1.Here a chick, there a chick   Everywhere a chic chick.

2.Hey chick!  I thought of this first!


I give thanks for the bounty in Haven’s garden and the way the “garden buddies” help and encourage one another…for music that feeds my spirit… for God’s Holy Word that feeds my soul, challenges my thinking and keeps me alert and curious…for the busy hummingbird I was able to see in a member’s backyard… for the leadership at Haven Lutheran Church

Where have I seen God’s fingerprints this week? I have seen God working through the individuals, teams and Council members as we make our way through an unprecedented pandemic. I have had ZOOM meetings with the Re-Gathering Team, Worship Team, and Parish Education Team. I am continually amazed at their work, effort, creativity and faithfulness. I’ve watched as our School Supply Outreach team has worked through hiccups and bumps in the gathering of information from schools and the gathering of the needed supplies. They’ve handled it with grace and determination. I give God thanks for being with us, in us and working through us.
God’s peace be with you,
Pastor Linda M Alessandri













Read   Matthew 15:[10-20] 21-28

[10[Jesus] called the crowd to him and said to them, “Listen and understand:11it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” 12Then the disciples approached and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard what you said?” 13He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. 14Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.” 15But Peter said to him, “Explain this parable to us.” 16Then he said, “Are you also still without understanding? 17Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? 18But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. 19For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. 20These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”]
21Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Reflection (Reflection and Prayer prepared by Pastor Dave Kaplan)

It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.  I wish Jesus hadn’t made that statement or that Matthew would have conveniently omitted it in his telling of this Sunday’s Gospel story.  Then we could simply reflect on Jesus’ mercy to this foreigner and the gracious healing of her daughter.  But the statement is the 500-pound gorilla right in the center of the story which begs for reflection and explanation.  And through the centuries several have been given.

Humans’ best friend.  According to this understanding Jesus was simply talking affectionately to the woman about a house pet.  And it’s true, the diminutive form of the word for dog is used here, leading some to interpret the reference as a lap dog or puppy.  The problem is no other biblical reference mentions dogs in that affectionate sense, and we’re told of no biblical character who has a dog for a pet (no pet cats either!).  Dogs in the Bible are either predators ready to attack (Psalm 22:16) or scavengers that lick human sores (Luke 16:21) and lap up the blood of the wounded or dying (1 Kings 22:38).  The word is used figuratively as an insult to one’s enemies and to foreigners and pagans, which regrettably is still the most probable meaning in this difficult statement.

Test of faith.  Aware of the woman’s faith, Jesus wanted to push her to express it openly; or alternatively, unaware of the woman’s faith, Jesus wanted to discover if it was sufficient for him to grant her request.  In either case, he wanted to see how the woman would respond to what appeared to be an insult, but actually was simply a test.  From the other miracle stories in the Gospels, however, we understand that Jesus doesn’t put people through such a struggle in order to qualify for a positive answer to their deepest, heartfelt prayers.

Teaching disciples.  I discovered this explanation in a devotion I read a few weeks ago.  According to the writer Jesus wasn’t speaking merely to the woman; he was also intentionally mirroring the rejection of his disciples in order to teach them (and us as his followers today) that God’s mercy and healing are for all people.  That is the overall theme of the story and the other readings for Sunday, but it still doesn’t explain Jesus’ seemingly harsh remark to the woman.  There’s not a shred of evidence in the story itself to suggest it was intended primarily as instruction for disciples.  While the disciples complained about the woman, they did not refer to her by any derogatory names.  Nor did Jesus seem to pay any attention to their complaint; in fact, after they spoke it, they drop completely out of the story.  If it were even indirectly a teaching story for them, we would expect some concluding word from Jesus to them about what happened.  No such conversation appears.

Turning point in Jesus’ ministry.  This is the most difficult, but I believe the most fruitful approach.  Instead of beginning with the difficult statement, though, we should first look at Jesus’ preceding statement: I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  That too is a difficult statement – wasn’t Jesus sent to bring God’s saving love to the whole world?  Yes, of course, and he would do that that through his death on the cross, his rising to life from the tomb, his Spirit to enliven all followers, his word and meal to nourish us all with the new life he gives.  But this story precedes all that during the three years of his ministry on earth before the Passion.  That ministry indeed was directed mainly (but not exclusively, Matthew 8:5-13) to the people of Israel.  The cross was not yet in the picture.

Or was it?  Maybe that’s the burning question this story raised to Jesus himself.  He was after all in foreign territory “the district of Tyre and Sidon.”  Not just any foreign territory either – those coastal settlements were inhabited by the descendants of the Canaanites, the pagan peoples whom the Israelites had dispossessed in their conquest of the Holy Land so long ago under Moses’ successor Joshua.  Moreover, Sidon was the birthplace of Jezebel (1 Kings 16:29), who became the wife of Ahab the wicked king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the divided monarchy, and who tried to force God’s people there to worship the pagan fertility god Baal.  In other words, there was a lot of history in the background of this visit of Jesus to the region of Tyre and Sidon, and most of it was bad.  In his humanity Jesus might easily have picked up on that history as well as the attitude of devout Israelites toward this pagan and corrupt people.  In that case his use of the word “dogs” to refer to them was simply a reflection of the Jewish culture of that day.

But here’s where the story takes an interesting twist in the woman’s response.  Without directly protesting his use of insulting terminology – in fact on the surface, accepting it – she challenged his statement’s validity: Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs from their master’s table.”  Well played!  But it’s not simply a matter of turning a neat phrase (although in Mark’s version of the story that aspect is highlighted, Mark 7:29), it is a matter of faith.  In spite of the disciples’ rejection and Jesus’ own apparent refusal to grant her kneeling cry for help, she would not let go of the one whom she believed would ultimately say Yes to her prayer.  And in so doing, she may have become his teacher, to get a clearer perspective on his own mission and ministry.  The time was drawing nearer than perhaps he previously realized to walk that road of suffering so that all peoples would be welcome as God’s beloved sons and daughters, and no one would ever again be excluded by a slur.

In this time of racial tension in our culture the Gospel story reminds us of how easy it is to stereotype those who differ from us.  But the woman’s faith and Jesus’ concluding response, as well as the message from the psalm (see Wednesday’s devotion) and other readings encourage us to work through those stereotypes, break down the barriers that divide us, embrace (OK, from a distance now!) and welcome all others to help fulfill the promise of the first reading: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.  Now that’s a statement I wouldn’t mind hearing many more times!

Prayer (from Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple, 1 Kings 8:41-43): When a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel comes…and prays toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all the foreigner calls to you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel…. Amen.

Hymns:  Pastor Kaplan suggests:

All Are Welcome, ELW 641

Oh, Praise the Gracious Power, ELW 651

The Church of Christ, in Every Age, ELW 729