Sunday, September 20, 2020 Worship Service and Bulletin

Bulletin 09202020 (taped)

DRIVE-UP Protocols (pdf)

September 18, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

September 18, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church

 September 18, 2020

Friday 5 pm Spoken Service with communion in the sanctuary.

Sunday 9:30 am Worship On-line at

Sunday, 9:30 am  Drive-up and Outdoor Worship at
(REMEMBER if weather looks uncertain & 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 worship cancellation information.

A SPECIAL TREAT THIS WEEKEND –Seminarian Katy Moran will preach and Pastor Alessandri will preside at each service this weekend.

From the Hagerstown Area Religious Council E-newsletter (9/9/20)





















The Church is not closed!
Our Baltimore Lutheran/Episcopal Campus Ministry at Towson, UMBC and Morgan voted to loan their van to the North Avenue Mission until January since they can’t use it for campus ministry volunteering. God’s work – our van! Ascension (Towson) has resumed hosting food trucks in the parking lot on Wednesday evenings, grab-and-go this year. With the continued economic devastation impacting many groups during this pandemic, they have added a new ministry with the food trucks as they bring hot food deliveries to a high-rise housing building for the elderly in Sandtown, in Baltimore City. This is supported by Ascension members with meals provided from food trucks on their lot – helping both those in need of food and those in need of paid work. Ascension is partnering with Intersection of Change, a group working to feed city residents! Haven (Hagerstown) provided the supplies for 72 elementary school children and 48 middle schoolers to begin a new year of learning online; to this are added prayers for the students, parents, teachers, and staff, that they have a safe, enriching, and smooth first semester!

With my love and prayers,






















A PAUSE IN GOD’S WORD   (from Pastor Dave Kaplan)

Read: Matthew 20:1-16
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 1“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. 3When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; 4and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. 5When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. 6And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ 7They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ 8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ 9When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. 10Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. 11And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, 12saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. 15Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Reflection (Today’s reflection and prayer were prepared by Pastor David Kaplan)

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard is the official title of this difficult Gospel parable for Sunday.  But the subtitle is more revealing: It’s Not Fair!  Indeed, that’s the usual reaction of those reading it for the first time.  And it’s still the reaction of many seasoned Christians who have heard the story all their lives.  It’s certainly not difficult to make a contemporary connection.  Folks today grumble about unequal pay for equal work.  Here the issue is equal pay for unequal work.  In either case, though, it sounds like some are getting favored treatment while others are being cheated.  By our usual economic standards that just isn’t fair.

So what prompted this parable in the first place?  It goes back to the story in the previous chapter (19:16-22) of the rich young man (ruler in Luke’s version), who was searching for eternal life.  Even though he had always obeyed the commandments, he felt something was lacking in his life.  Jesus challenged him to sell his possessions, of which he had an abundance, give the proceeds away and then come and follow.  It was just too much for the young man, and he walked sadly away.  Jesus then shared with his disciples how difficult it would be for those who put their trust in riches (or any other distraction) to enter God’s kingdom.  “What about us, Lord?” Peter asked.  “Look we’ve left everything and followed you.  What then will we have?”  The answer was reassuring: Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother…for my name’s sake will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.  But (always a “but”!) many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.  What in the world did he mean by that?

The parable which directly follows that strange verse gives a clue.  The workers, whom the landowner hired were paid in reverse order from the time of their hiring: Give them their pay beginning with the last and then going to the first. That may have been a simple result of who was closest to the pay booth, which presumably was near the entrance to the vineyard.  Those who were hired at dusk would be closer to the entrance than those hired at the break of day, who would have worked their way to the remote sections of the vineyard.  But the order also provided the opportunity for the first hires to observe the distribution of the wages.  Probably they were ecstatic at first, “Look, these latecomers were given the daily wage: what then will we have?”  Anticipating a greater reward for the longer hours they put in, they were shocked and chagrined to discover they only received what they were promised – exactly the same amount as those who worked just an hour.  No wonder they grumbled and complained against the owner; no wonder we might have done the same!

Their reaction leads us back to the question of fairness: what would have been a “fair” resolution to the pay distribution at the end of the day?  If those who only worked an hour in the evening were given a day’s wage, perhaps those who began working in the afternoon should have been given twice that amount, and those who began in the morning three times the daily wage.  No, because the owner went five times to the marketplace to hire workers, not three.  So to make it completely fair, there should be five pay brackets?   And within each bracket, should those who picked just 30 bunches of grapes receive the same amount as those who picked 50?  And shouldn’t workers get docked if they took a break?  Turns out fairness is not quite as simple or as pleasing as it sounds.  If the workers were to be paid absolutely fairly on the basis of the amount of work each completed, the story’s focus would have shifted from the owner’s generosity to each worker’s accomplishments (or lack thereof).

As it stands, however, the owner never agreed to pay fairly.  He agreed with the workers who were hired first to pay the “usual daily wage” (which he did).  He agreed with the second group hired and presumably the other three groups to pay “whatever is right” (which he also did).  And he answered the complaint of the first workers with two stinging questions: Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?  Or are you envious because I am generous?  That’s the quality that best describes the owner of the vineyard – not fairness, but generosity!  Generous in searching five times for idle workers to come into his vineyard to find fruitful labor.  Generous in paying them all in full for a day’s work.  And, yes, generous in graciously giving the last the same full day’s pay as the first.

In Hebrew Scriptures, the word for vineyard is sometimes used literally to designate an actual field where grapes are grown and harvested for wine (1 Kings 21 for instance).  More often, though, the word is used symbolically as a designation for Israel (Isaiah 5:1-7 is the classic passage).  In this case the owner is always Yahweh, the Lord.  Jesus carried over that Old Testament symbolism in his teaching.  In fact, for the next three Sundays (including this Sunday) vineyards appear in the Gospel reading.  So today’s parable is not simply a strange anecdote about how a local vineyard owner paid workers he recruited.  It’s about an unfair God, whose grace far surpasses human notions of what is right and proper.   We already encounter this unfair, gracious God in the first reading for Sunday, Jonah 3:10-4:11, where the prophet Jonah went a second time (remember the first time he ran away and ended up in the belly of a “great fish”, not necessarily a whale!) to Nineveh, “that great city”, the capital of the Assyrian Empire.  There he proclaimed his message, Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”  It was only fair because of all the evil the Assyrians had committed on surrounding nations including the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  But in this story, a strange thing happened: at Jonah’s one sentence prophecy of doom, the people of Nineveh from the king down to the lowliest slave all repented of their evil.  And then God repented of the evil he had planned to do against the city and did not destroy it!  “I knew it all along,” yelled a despondent Jonah, “I knew you were gracious and merciful…”  Not fair, but overwhelmingly generous!

So down through the years with parables like Jonah and the Workers in the Vineyard (the Merciful Father also fits in this genre) God gently rebukes all of us long-time Kingdom workers who occasionally feel unappreciated and ask out loud or under our breath, What then will we have?  Shouldn’t we at least receive a little bonus?  Nope.  What we receive is the gift held out for everyone and graciously extended to longtime disciples and newbies alike – daily forgiveness and life and hope and renewal and joy.  And one thing more that the workers didn’t receive, and Jonah and even Peter hadn’t yet received, the gift of the Lord who gave himself for us on a cross and continues to do so in his word and meal and through the work of his generous Spirit in our hearts.  No room here for grumbling – only rejoicing as first and last blend together in this new vineyard serving the Lord who daily calls us to our tasks.  And rejoicing together in the gifts he generously supplies and provides to welcome still others in his vineyard!

Besides, we wouldn’t want a God who is truly fair by our standards.  Remember those ten thousand talents from last week – we couldn’t begin to pay them back!

Prayer: Lord, we rejoice in the generosity you show us daily.  Help us also rejoice in the generosity you show others that together with glad and generous hearts we may share the work you give us in your Kingdom and invite others to discover your grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Pastor Kaplan’s recommendations

Lord of Glory, You Have Bought Us (ELW 707)

O God of Mercy, God of Light (ELW 714)

All Who Hunger, Gather Gladly (ELW 461)


“Generous God”

“Generous Giver”

Phillippians 1: 21a  “For to me, living is Christ”
“Let It Be Jesus”

Sunday, September 13, 2020 – Bulletin & Worship Service

Bulletin 09132020 (taped pdf)                       DRIVE-UP Protocols (pdf)


September 11, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

September 11, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church

 September 11, 2020
















It has been 19 years since that morning when we could not believe what we were seeing. We could not fathom how four planes had become terrorist weapons. Three hit targets— the NY Trade Towers and the Pentagon. The fourth was thwarted but crashing in the now quiet fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all those aboard. After the shock, I also remember the grieving our nation experienced as we heard the stories of those who died and realized, with great vividness, how precious and precarious life is.  I also remember the great sense of solidarity, the deep longing to be able to “do something,” to help those who were hurt and an urgency to say “I love you” to family and friends.

We now find ourselves in another reality we could not have imagined — a world-wide COVID-19 pandemic. This time we are again grieving those who have lost their lives and the loss of “life as we knew it.” As a follower of Jesus, I am also grieving that we could not again find the heart and spirit to unite together as a nation to meet this unprecedented and unpredictable challenge. I hear the Lord calling to us through the voices of those who died in 9/11 and those who have died from COVID-19. Those voice are crying out to us to cross over the divides and work together to love, care and uphold one another. What good can any “winner” this upcoming election do, if we are not willing to be unite across divides, to dig in together, make the sacrifices and seek the welfare of ALL? Maybe it is this day that hangs like a cloud, but I do not mean to sound maudlin. What I do wish to do is to sound the trumpets and remember something else this day — Jesus always stepped over divisive boundaries to love because our Lord cares about each and every person and all of creation.

Franciscan priest, Mychal Judge, was a chaplain for the New York City Fire Department. His church, St. Francis of Assisi, was right across the street from the fire station Engine 1, Ladder 24 on West 31st Street.  He had printed the words of this prayer on a card to hand out to anyone who needed them. He was killed on 9/11 at the World Trade Center when he was ministering to a fallen firefighter. This is the prayer he carried. I can think of no greater way to honor those who died and affirm our commitment — pandemic or not —- to bring Jesus into the world, than to make this our prayer, too.

Lord, take me where you want me to go.
Let me meet who you want me to meet.
Tell me what you want me to say,
And keep me out of your way.

God IS with you. God IS with us,
Pastor Linda M Alessandri


Friday5 pm Spoken Service with communion in the sanctuary.

Sunday 9:30 am Worship On-line at

Sunday, 9:30 am  Drive-up and Outdoor Worship at (REMEMBER if weather looks uncertain & 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 worship cancellation information.

September 13, 11 am
                   K-Grade 5 Kids – Get Ready
for a GREAT TIME adventuring in God’s Word


Interfaith Coalition celebrates the International Day of Peace -September 20
Sunday, September 20, 4 – 5:30 pm

Local farm, located outside of Hagerstown MD.  Location is sent upon registration.

Music from different faith traditions will be offered, including the Hendersons from the Christian tradition; Grant Gustafson playing lute and presenting interfaith thoughts from Martin Luther King, Jr., from the Baha’i tradition; Brian King playing harmonium and sharing Sanskrit chants, from the Bhakti tradition and The Oh My Starlings, bringing one or more of the following-banjo, ukulele, guitar and harmonium and sharing chants from the Sikh tradition.  Social distancing and safety protocols will be in place. Please bring folding chair. This event is free to the public, but love offerings are gratefully accepted. Registration is required as space is limited. Register at here.  For more information, call Paula Myers, 301-471-0590.

I WILL BE AWAY SUNDAY AFTERNOON (9/13) THROUGH THURSDAY (9/17) to meet up with my sister, Denise, and her brother-in-law, Paul in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. Since the Outer Banks of North Carolina is closer than Atlanta, Georgia, I will slip off to be with Denise when she celebrates her 68th birthday on Wednesday, Sept. 16th. Everyone plans on staying safe and healthy at the beach…. no wild parties or crowded bars. If you will remember, Paul have a bone marrow transplant several years ago, so we will be extra careful and still have fun. So……..
1) IF YOU WOULD NEED A PASTOR’S CARE WHILE I AM GONE, please call PASTOR DAVID EISENHUTH, senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Hagerstown. His phone number is 1-410-487-3960. He is kind, compassionate and can be quite funny. Don’t hesitate to call him if you need a pastor’s encouragement.
2) THERE WILL BE NO HAVEN E-MESSAGES on MONDAY, Sept. 14 or WEDNESAY, Sept. 16. See you again on Friday, September 18th.  But we can’t forget those baptism anniversaries.



Nancy Newkirk sent this in
Ray Cannata, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, printed and taped hundreds of signs encouraging churchgoers to sit apart by referencing Bible scriptures with a funny twist.

“Jesus sat the 500 down in rows. But not this one,” reads one sign.

“Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, and if he were here today, he still wouldn’t be allowed to sit in this pew,” reads another.








Read  Matthew  18: 21-35

21Peter came and said to [Jesus], “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
23“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. 26So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 28But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ 34And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

Reflection  (Today’s Reflection and Prayer was prepared by The Rev. David Kaplan)

On this sad memorial day we remember those who died in the terrorist attacks 19 years ago, especially those in Flight 93 whose sacrifice saved countless other lives.

“I have a question.”

On the heels of last week’s Gospel (Matthew 18: 15-20) about life together in the community of faith, Simon Peter needed to discover the limits: “How often?  I get it, Lord, that forgiveness is one of those keys to the Kingdom for your followers, but how often must I forgive a brother or sister who has sinned against me?  As many as seven times?”  Strangely, Jesus didn’t seem impressed by Peter’s overwhelmingly gracious suggestion!  Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times (one textual variation that’s taken into the KJV reads seventy times seven, but neither 77 nor 490 are to be taken literally).  In other words, “You’re asking the wrong question.  In the Kingdom forgiveness is without limit.  And to make that point abundantly clear Jesus then told the story that’s usually called the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (found only in Matthew).

If you grew up in Sunday School, you’re probably familiar with the plot.  The slave of a wealthy king or landowner owed his master a huge sum of money, ten thousand talents (equivalent today to a few billion dollars).  The point is that it was enormous sum, impossible for any slave to repay.  So the king was about to cut his loss by selling the slave and his family at the local slave market.  “Wait, wait, don’t sell me,” he pleaded to his master, “Be patient – I’ll pay you back!”  Sure, the king probably thought, when pigs fly you’ll pay me back.  But the king was gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He forgave the slave the entire debt – released him free and clear – not a penny did he owe.

Grateful and happy of course, at least for a moment, until… until he ran into that rascal from the kitchen.  “He’s never paid me back that $20 I loaned him three months ago.  Well, I’ll get that settled right now – pay what you owe, or to debtor’s prison you go!”  “Wait, wait, don’t cell me,” the second slave pleaded with the first, “Be patient – I’ll pay you back.”  This debt was manageable even for a slave – he could clear it in a few months.  But the first slave was neither gracious nor merciful, and would not forgive his fellow slave at all; instead he had him jailed.

The story may have ended on that tragic note.  But the other slaves in the household noticed what happened and were greatly distressed.  They could not remain silent, but told the king all that had transpired, and he in turn summoned the servant he had forgiven:  You wicked slave!  I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?  And now the slave who had been forgiven was sentenced to be tortured.  If we miss the point of this parable, Jesus spells it out very clearly at the conclusion: So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.  Here’s the tragic follow-up to the question I mentioned in last week’s devotion, when would we ever loose sin that should be bound up (and in fact was bound up)?   The answer – when to ignore it would deny forgiveness and reconciliation to a brother or sister in need.

Most merciful God, we confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone.  So we often confess at the beginning of our worship.  In response, the Pastor proclaims to us the Good News:  In the mercy of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for his sake forgives us all our sins… I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins – all ten thousand talents worth! – in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  For such unspeakable grace our intention is that we will not sin again, or at least that we will not repeat the same sins that we were just forgiven.  If you forgive me, Lord, I promise I won’t do it again!  While God’s Spirit helps us work toward that goal, it’s usually a long process that the Church calls sanctification.  The sad truth is we continue to stumble along the way with the same old sins we committed yesterday, last week and even before the shutdown!  Thankfully God never says to us, “I’ll forgive you this time, but never do it again.”  God’s grace forgives us the 7th time, the 77th time and even the 490th time!  What God says, or rather asks us, is the decisive question of the parable, Should you not have mercy on your fellow slave, as I have mercy on you?

The response to – even stronger, the requirement of – being forgiven is to become a forgiver!  Just as Joseph in today’s first reading forgave his brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt, we reach out to those in our families and God’s family who have wronged us with words of mercy, healing and forgiveness. Without limit, without exception.  And as members of God’s family we keep watch and pray daily, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Especially do we pray for those who feel imprisoned in guilt for unforgiven sins.  The parable calls us not only to forgive when we have been wronged, but to encourage our brothers and sisters to do the same when they are the ones who have been hurt.  We may even be able to be reconcilers in helping to bring conflicted members together again.  God’s work – our compassion!

The parable is about life in the Church.  The terms “brother”, “sister”, “member of the church” (all three of those terms translate the Greek word for bother) are used consistently by Peter and Jesus throughout this conversation.  In other words, the story is not about forgiving those on the outside.  In itself it does not call us to forgive the terrorists who brought destruction to so many lives 19 years ago or to Osama Bin Laden who masterminded the plot.  And yet, as we consider the debt God forgives us and respond by forgiving others in God’s family, we may discover that while we still remember and grieve, the anger and bitterness we once harbored about the event have dissipated.  We will not bear grudges against people of Middle East descent or against the Islamic faith tradition, remembering that God’s mercy and compassion are for all peoples.

Prayer:  Lord, we remember the tragedy that devastated our nation 19 years ago.  We ask your blessing and healing on those who still bear personal scars of injury, illness and grief.  Assure them of your continuing presence, compassion and support until the former thins pass away, and you make all things new.  Meanwhile we rely on your gracious forgiveness day by day.  Teach us by your Holy Spirit to have mercy on others in your family as you have mercy on us.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hymns:  Forgive Our Sins As We Forgive (ELW 605)

God, When Human Bonds Are Broken (ELW 603)

Drawn to the Light (ELW 593)


“Forgiveness” (Matthew West)

“Love Moved First” (Casting Crown)

“The Heart of God”  (Hillsong)

September 9, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

September 9, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Newsletter September 2020 color Website (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church

 September 9, 2020

Susan Strobl ask for prayers for her son, Jeremy Strobl and his family. They had to evacuate their Oregon home last evening due to the Almeda Fire.
Please keep in prayer Jeremy, his family and all those facing dangers and loss due to the wildfires. Pray for their safety. Pray for those fighting the fires. Pray for those trying to provide care to those who have evacuated.

“DID YOU KNOW?” – HAVEN’S SANCTUARY (Worship Space) Dick Hess recently passed on some items to go into Haven’s Archives, including a copy of the bulletin distributed for the September 28 dedication of Haven “new” sanctuary in 1980.  Many of us were not at Haven forty years ago. So I thought I’d begin to share with you some interesting information about our church sanctuary that I discovered.

The architect was Herman A. Hassinger who explained the reasoning behind the sanctuary’s design.
“ For the first three centuries of its life, the Church existed as a gathered family to worship and share the joy of Christ. Worship was usually held in homes or private places. This building is a deliberate design to return to the gathered together worship of the Apostolic Church.

The Church is people. The church building is only a manmade convenience that exists to serve the people in their act of corporate worship. The church building like many in the early church is arranged as a Greek cross (equal arms) with a central chancel area. There is a table altar as the center of worship. The congregation gathers around three side and the choir (also part of the congregation) is gathered on the fourth. In the center, the Pastor (also a member of the congregation), leads this family in common worship. The building reflects directly an increase in emphasis on the sharing of worship, joy and celebration. This is a healthy return to the earlier tradition. The congregation is deliberately se face to face. It meets as a family across the table in a single unifying space for the congregation, the Word, and the sacraments.”

Washington County Interfaith Coalition
Interfaith Prayers for our Times
September 8, 2020 Prayers

Muslim (Rabindranath Tagore)

Deliver me from my own shadows, my Lord,

from the wrecks and confusion of my days.


Indigenous (Native American: Sitting Bull)

What does it matter

How I pray,

So long as my prayers

Are answered?

Holy Bringer of Life, help us to know when our prayers have been answered: the prayers we speak and the prayers we make so silently that not even we ourselves can hear them voiced.  Help us know what is really wanted, what is really needed…and the difference between the two.

We would embrace that which is holy and not seek that which would wound another, or would destroy rather than create, or that which is our own will and is not Thine.

Grant us each acceptance of what is present and unfolding in our lives; ease the pain of that which is yet to be and that which exists in us to bring about desolation.

In the grace of love, let the gift of Your presence be with us, Bring us to connection to the Holy within our living we pray. Amen

Reverend Valerie Wills, Co-coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition



Happy Labor Day to you all!!

It has certainly been a bountiful gardening season at Haven. God has really blessed us all!!

Today, as Pastor Linda, Ethan, and myself were weeding we came across a colony of baby bunny rabbits. Two had scampered out of the colony as I scared them with the sound of my weed wacker. Pastor was able to capture one and we put it back with the rest of the nest. We thought the second was really hidden or gone. A few moments later, he appeared. Ethan was able to corral him and he was placed back into the nest. We were all wearing gardening gloves, so no human traces should be on the babies. We have the nest protected (marked) with a cylinder wire cage. We covered the nest up with the moss and grass. Please do not disturb our little “Haven Hoppers”. They are a true God Sighting and HUGE blessing.                                                                     Scott Rhodes


Pastor’s P.S. We just have to laugh at the irony of having a nest of rabbits — potentially next year’s garden munchers — within the garden. As the song says, “All God’s creatures got a place in the choir.”






















Read  Psalm 103: 1-13

1Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
2Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits —
3who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6The LORD works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13As a father has compassion for his children,
so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him. unearned.

(Today’s reflection, with some editing, was prepared by Paul O. Myhre as posted on

Psalm 103 inhales and exhales praise. It is a reflection on the contours of human capacities to know God and to exclaim that God has done and that God continues to do amazing things…. Psalm 103 can be read like a reflecting pool that shows the clouds overhead and distant stars so that we might reach down and touch them. They are not the actual objects, but reflections of them. As such we are able to grasp something of their essence and as such they can push inward reflection on what they may mean. The Psalmist recounts the various activities of God and invites people to reflection about them. This reflection brings forth praise like the heat beneath the geysers of Wyoming.

God heals diseases, redeems people from pits, crowns people with love and compassion, gives good things for human desires, renews one’s youth like the eagles, and works righteousness and aims toward justice for all of the oppressed. This image of God is one that comprises a theology of hope in the midst of hardships. It is a perception of God that provides courage to face the trials of the day be they war, disease, despair, loneliness, unjust systems of oppression, or anything that would cause human life to be diminished in some way.

Human experience is something that is ever changing as one life event slips into another and those into yet another. Each one carries with it a range of possibilities and dangers. A capacity to choose right and wrong or something that exists between the two is ever possible. The missteps are as present as the correct ones. Yet, for the Psalmist, the God who is to be praised is [not] an accountant keeping a tally of all the right and wrong steps. This God is an active loving presence that removes the impediments to full relationship with God and what might contribute to an abundant life.

The Psalmist in these verses provides a type of heat to the waters of personal experience and declares to those who would hear something about a God that is not only worthy of praise, but who can and does meet people in the contexts of life to provide solace, comfort, and strength. This recognition alone when coupled with personal experience draws forth from people something deep within and expels it outward into the sky as activities of praise.


Prayer  (ELW Psalm Prayer)

Compassionate Father, you forgive all our sins and put them far from us. As an eagle to her young, you nourish and renew us with your tender love. Sustain us each day of our mortal life, that we may seek your healing for all who are in need, and bring us at last with saints and angels to bless and praise you forever; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


“Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” ELW#365 (Choir of Westminster Abbey)

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” ELW #858

Acapella (Men’s chorale)
St. Andrew’s Cathedral (Sydney)

Taizé – Bless the Lord
(Taizé music highlights simple phrases, usually lines from the Psalms or other pieces of scripture, repeated or sung in canon. The repetition is designed to help meditation and prayer. One example you may be familiar with is “Jesus Remember Me” ELW616)

10,000 Reasons – Bless the Lord (Matt Redman)

“All Creatures of our God and King” (David Crowder Band)

“Grace Got You” (Mercy Me) A bit quirky but catchy

Worship Service

This weeks taped worship service was sponsored by the DE-MD Synod to give musicians and worship leaders a break from taping. Taped Worship in Haven’s sanctuary will return on September 10.

Haven staff will be off Monday, September 7th in observation of Labor Day. The message from Pastor Alessandri will resume on Wednesday, September 9th

Have a Happy Labor Day weekend!

September 4, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

 September 4, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church

September 4, 2020

Friday 5 pm Spoken Service with communion in the sanctuary.

Sunday 9:30 am Worship On-line at       This week’s taped worship has been prepared by the DE-MD Synod to allow musicians and worship leaders a break from taping worship. The link to this taped service will be sent out as usual and posted at our usual sites. (No bulletin) We’ll be back with our taped worship from Haven’s sanctuary on September 13.

Sunday, 9:30 am  Drive-up and Outdoor Worship at Haven – Our worship will include a blessing of Bibles and God Squad Explorers backpacks to be distributed to our elementary school children.
(REMEMBER if weather looks uncertain & 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 worship cancellation information.


A God Sighting— The Hibiscus Says Good Morning and Good Night—or is that God?

 This spring Jim bought a Hibiscus flower and planted it for me right outside our window where I sit each morning with my tea, which happens to be the same window I sit in the evening to relax.

This flower has brought me so much joy, peace and prompting of me spontaneously declaring that I feel like God is speaking to me right through this flower. In the morning its bright beautiful face looks right at me and says “it’s going to be a beautiful day, are you ready, are you ready to see my beauty?  Will you be a smile for someone today as big as you see in this flower”?

And then in the evening, the flower looks totally different.  It quietly retreats within itself and I hear God saying, “Jamie, its okay, sit and be quiet, there is nothing more to do today, meet Me inside yourself.”

If you have not yet experienced the transformation of this beautiful flower, see the photos below that I took the same day.  Do you hear what I hear? Do you hear a different message?






Here is a music video that I think beautifully reveals how much beauty there is in this wonderful world God has created for us.  I think it is so important to keep looking for the beauty and to know that God is truly all around us.               Jamie Cannon

A friend shared this prayer used at a virtual Kiwanis meeting today and Jim shared it with us.

Our Father, we thank thee for the joys of this day –for the recent rains that refresh the earth.
Help us to be more appreciative of the wonders of the universe.
As we approach Labor Day, may we remember those who worked hard and toiled
to make our country a prominent and outstanding place to live.
Bless our Club and all its members, and keep us in your care.  Amen.


“First tag of the season for me.” Pastor Dave Kaplan

(I’ve even seen Pastor Kaplan tag a monarch butterfly but I still find it amazing. And to think, that when the Maryland monarchs migrate to Mexico, their place of origin can be confirmed by this little tag.)







9.3 harvest. 1 watermelon (Thank you Pastor Linda for sharing), 6 green peppers. Ethan also picked some green beans (hope you don’t mind Pastor Dave). God has been good to the Haven Garden Buddies this year!!! Very blessed!!    Scott Rhodes 











The Church is not closed!
Good Shepherd (Wilmington) has collected for the LCS food pantry at St. Stephen’s and broadened our support to pantries at the LCS headquarters, Congregation Beth Emeth and the Claymont Community Center for the last six months! Jerusalem (Belair Road) is distributing (literally) tons of food to the community, in partnership with the Maryland Food Bank, every Wednesday and Friday! Elias (Emmitsburg) in partnership with the Emmitsburg Council of Churches is planning its Second Annual Unity Celebration scheduled for Sunday, October 4 at 2 p.m. in the Emmitsburg Town Park! St. Philip’s (Caroline Street) partnered with their community to give away 35,000 pounds of food, 15,000 masks and100,000 ounces of hand sanitizer in seven days! Calvary (Mt. Airy) is enjoying a “How to Return to In-Person Parking Lot Worship” instructional video prepared by Pastor Eric Deibler – it will make you smile! Reformation (Milford) has an early childhood education center, KIDS, Inc., that has made arrangements to host children in their safe and supervised facility for online learning through their local schools as a ministry to parents who are unable to be home for virtual schools this fall!

With my love and prayers,





























Read  Matthew 18: 15-20
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Reflection  (Today’s reflection and prayer has been prepared by Pastor David Kaplan)
In the dark days of Nazi Germany prior to World War II, public worship was coopted by the state, and the message preached from pulpits was simply a “theological” version of official propaganda.  In response, confessing Christians formed an underground Church whose congregations met secretly just as early Christians often huddled in catacombs to avoid persecution from the Empire.  Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pastor, theologian, soon-to-be-martyr and one of the leaders of the underground Church authored a small, but inspired book called Life Together, which has guided God’s people in difficult situations ever since.  When I went to seminary, it was required entrance reading.

As the title implies, Life Together is a tutorial about Christian fellowship, how brothers and sisters in Christ interact in a faith centered community, how the Church lives when we meet together, and how we are strengthened to reach out to those on the outside.  The model is Jesus’ loving, self-giving saving work on the cross, and how first century Christians in the Book of Acts lived out that love.  Ironically part of our interaction needs to be solitude where we seek in silence and prayer God’s guidance for our own lives.

Life Together might also be a title for today’s Gospel reading and in fact for much of Matthew 18.  Here Jesus gives guidance to disciples of every age about how we are to interact as members of the Church (along with Matthew 16:18 which was part of the Gospel two weeks ago, it’s the only place in the Gospels where Jesus mentions the Church).  The word for Church literally means “called out” and so we are: called out of the world by the Spirit at our baptism, strengthened and nurtured by word and meal to be filled with and reflect Jesus’ life in us, and sent back into the world by the same Spirit to bear witness to it.  Specifically the reading features four specific aspects of that life (more about forgiveness in next week’s Gospel, a continuation of this reading).

Breakdown in communication.  It can be a serious hurt or a minor irritation, but it occurs in all human relationships including the community of God’s people.  So how do we react when we’re on the receiving end of a harpoon we didn’t see coming?  From a human perspective our tendency is usually fight or flight.  If it’s a simple matter of misunderstanding or miscommunication, we often simply ignore it or “get over it” in a day or two without any words being spoken.  More serious breakdowns may develop into quarrels, long term anger and continuing grudges.  We won’t speak to the person(s) who offended us; it’s their responsibility to apologize to us!

What a different outlook this Gospel provides.  It’s not the offender whom Jesus calls to make the first move, but the one who is offended: If another member of the Church (literally your brother – or sister – the word for Church is not actually used here) sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.  Point out the fault – but not in an accusing or judgmental way, and not with abusive language.  “I-statements” are often a helpful starter.  We begin not with a summary of how the other one offended us, but rather with our own feelings and some type of explanation for them.  Rather than “You made me so mad…” try “I became angry yesterday when you yelled at my child because I don’t feel it’s appropriate for someone outside our family to discipline our children.  In the future would you please speak first to me?”  Also please note that conversation is to be a private one – not before or after worship when there are others nearby (well maybe 6 feet away) who may overhear.  That private, honest but not insulting conversation opens a door for the other person to apologize without becoming defensive.

If the offender rejects our approach, the process continues involving people in the congregation.  How that process might be modified today for particular congregations is usually determined by the congregation’s constitution; these verses are often referenced there under the heading Church Discipline.  Those of you who have copies of Haven’s constitution (I don’t) may want to check it out, particularly if all attempts at reconciliation fail.  If that frustrating outcome occurs, Jesus pronounces what seems like a harsh judgment: If the member refuses to listen even to the Church (here the word for Church actually is used), let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  In other words, have nothing more to do with the person?  No, that’s only how the religious authorities regarded Gentiles and tax collectors.  For Jesus – and now for his Church – they were folks to be evangelized, to be told about Jesus and his love, so that they would want to become members of the faith community.   Those offenders who persistently walk away are like that.  They need to hear and remember again the Gospel so they can welcome Jesus’ love once more in their hearts.  And our responsibility as faithful disciples is not to ignore those who have repeatedly offended us, but to keep sharing that Good News with them by our words and deeds.

Binding and loosing.  This appeared two weeks ago in the Gospel about Peter’s confession of faith: Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  The two accounts are identical except the statement in 16:19 is singular, addressed simply to Peter, while in this reading it’s plural, addressed to all the disciples and hence to the whole Church.  What wonderful authority Jesus has given to his community!  I mentioned in my devotion then that there was continuing discussion on exactly what the two key terms referred to.  I prefer the understanding that binding refers to the sin that would separate us from our Lord and from each other.  When that is bound up through reconciliation and mutual forgiveness, it no longer has the power to threaten or destroy.  And by Christ’s authority that’s the good news we have the privilege of announcing at every worship.  So when would we ever pronounce the opposite – that sin was still loose to do harm?  Stay tuned for next week’s Gospel reading!

Praying together.  This is truly the most difficult of these life together sayings: If two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  Really?  What about COVID?  Lots of prayers, but people are still dying.  And yet, whether it arrives in two months or four or six, we appear to be closer to having a vaccine now than we expected six months ago.  Yes, but that’s just a matter of human ingenuity and medical research – or is it?  Maybe it’s prayer attached to human effort.  Maybe God uses those two who pray to help become the answer to our own prayer.  Sound confusing?  We say it all the time at Haven; it’s on the logo of the ELCA: God’s work – our hands!  We think of God using individuals to answer prayer.  What I believe Jesus is declaring here is that he uses communities as well, both the Church and secular communities who may not even be aware that their hands are the answer to prayer!

Christ in our midst. Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them (literally, in their midst).  Life together in Jesus’ community is more than a remembrance of his directions here and elsewhere in the Gospel.  It’s the amazing assurance that as risen Lord he is still in our midst.  In his word that we hear.  In his meal that we celebrate.  And here, in our presence with each other – not just in worship, but in our planning meetings, Church Council sessions, pastoral visits, backpack distributions, online tapings, congregational meetings and casual conversations.  It’s all part of his great assuring promise at the beginning and end (remember inclusio?) of this Gospel: they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us…and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  Life together with each other in the Church is always life together with Jesus.

Prayer (LBW prayer for Psalm 133, preface psalm of Life Together): Lord God, you have poured into our hearts the precious oil of your Spirit of love.  Make us of one heart and of one will, so that we may be true members of the body of Jesus Christ, united as he has commanded us; and to you be the glory now and forever.  Amen.


Pastor Kaplan suggests:

Where True Charity and Love Abide (ELW 653)

Blest Be the Tie That Binds (ELW 656)
(congregational singing)

(acapella quartet)

Will You Let Me Be Your Servant (ELW 659)


August 2, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

Haven Lutheran Church 


September 2, 2020

BECOMING A 21ST-CENTURY CHURCH: A Transformational Manual
The first presentation by author, the Rev. Dr. Fred Lehr, will be this evening at 6 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church, Hagerstown. Masks required. Plenty of room for social distancing. The other presentations will be on Sept. 16, 23, 30, Oct7, 14.
You can also access the presentation live on Facebook on the Trinity Lutheran Facebook station entitled, Trinity Loving Community.
Copies of the book have arrived at Haven. Available for $12. They will also be available at tonight’s presentation from the author for $10. You can also download a copy on your Kindle.
The book is short and an engaging read. I invite you to please get a copy and join us in thinking about Haven and its future as God’s church. Let me know if you’d be interested in participating in an in-person or on-line discussion.


WORSHIP TO MOVE INDOORS IN OCTOBER Though the weather could still be beautiful outside in October, we thought it time to begin shifting Sunday worship indoors as the colder months approach. We will continue to follow healthy practices — masks will be required, unrelated persons will sit six feet apart, the congregation will not sing (humming is good) and the passing of the peace will be an in-seat experience. Despite the restrictive measures, we will be together to be fed by God’s Word, Meal and community. There will be music and holy communion. God will be with us as promised.  We WILL continue to offer on-line worship as well.

I will begin to share some of the details today and continue in upcoming notes.

The Re-Opening Team cannot be sure how many people will be ready to resume in-person worship. Allowing for safe social distancing, we estimate the sanctuary can accommodate 32 unrelated individual and more when there are couples and families who can sit closer.  Our average worship attendance before COVID was between 70 and 80. Thus, we are preparing to initially offer worship services at 9:30 am and an 11 am each Sunday. One will be held in the church sanctuary and the other in the Gathering Room. The following week, the locations of the services will switch so everyone gets the opportunity to worship in our lovely sanctuary every other week, no matter which service you choose. Why two locations?  There would not be time between services to safely “sanitize” the sanctuary for two services. Why switch the locations of the two services? Because we know how much our folks love our sanctuary and we thought everyone should have an equal chance to enjoy it, no matter which time they attend.

I’m going to stop there today. It’s alot to think about already. If we have learned anything in these last few months, it is that we will need to stay alert and flexible  as we make any plans. Keep Haven in your prayers, that we remain safe, faithful and wise. God IS with us.

WHAT ABOUT SUNDAY SCHOOL?  Nursery during worship and traditional Sunday School are not advisable at this time. Yet, our Parish Education Team has been excitedly making plans to keep our children connect to church and learning about our Lord.

We’re inviting our children to be GOD SQUAD EXPLORERS. We will provide each with a Bible and a backpack with materials for their Bible adventures. Each week the children will get mail from the church. In it they will find a plan for exploring an adventure story in the Old Testament, which will include a variety of possible activities. We’re doing our best to make it different from the schooling they do during the week and provide some different kind of learning fun.
This Sunday, September 6, we will be blessing their Bibles and backpacks before I deliver them to their homes. On Sunday, September 13th, we will be having a ZOOM God Squad Explorer Party to kick-off the adventure.  Please keep our children, the Parish Ed team and these efforts in your prayers. May our children and their families continue discover the love and wonder of God as they dig into God’s Word.

(We haven’t forgotten our confirmation, teen and adults!)


Washington County Interfaith Coalition
Interfaith Prayers for our Times

September 2, 2020


Look to this day,

For it is life,

The very life of life.

In its brief course lie all the realities and verities of existence,

The bliss of growth

The splendor of action,

The glory of power—


For yesterday is but a dream,

And tomorrow is only a vision,

But today, well lived,

Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.


African American

Why should I feel discouraged?

Why should the shadows fall?

Why should my heart feel lonely and long for heaven and home?

When Jesus is my portion

A constant friend is he.

His eye is on the sparrow

And I know he watches me

I sing because I’m happy

I sing because I’m free.

His eye is on the sparrow

And I know he watches me.

O, You whom we do not see, help us look to this day, to this life, to this moment.  Our yesterdays and our tomorrows find us in territory already embraced or yet to be determined.  May we welcome our portion in life today, in the people around us, and in the day before us. Our lives are blessed by the many gifts of choice and possibility. Lead us, today, on the paths of acceptance and compassion, for we are all blessed by holy Presence.  In gratitude, we pray. Amen.

Reverend Valerie Wills, Co-coordinator Washington County Interfaith Coalition

BECAUSE WE HAVE TO LAUGH —Masters of the Nap, Part II


Read  Romans 13: 8-14
8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Throughout the New Testament you will find a sense of urgency. Part of that was attached to a belief that the return of Jesus Christ to bring about the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God here on earth was imminent. Originally, most first followers of Jesus thought they would see Jesus come again in their lifetime.  Yet the urgency expressed in the gospel and here in Paul’s writing points to something more. It wasn’t “Quick, look busy doing the right thing” in case Jesus shows up for the final judgment day tomorrow. Appearing to love God and neighbor was never what following Jesus is all about.

Re-read Romans 13: 11-14. “The night is far gone, the day is near.” When Jesus came to teach, show and live God’s ways and kingdom, the world was forever changed  When all that Jesus taught, showed, and did becomes a part of who we are, we are being changed, too. There’s the life we might live if Jesus wasn’t at the center of us and the life we choose to live because the love of God and Jesus is at the very core of who we are and who we are becoming. That’s life in darkness verses life in the light.

Most of us will periodically struggle to resist the pull of the “night” where we do whatever we want, whenever we want because we want to, no matter what God or anyone thinks. “Let us live honorably in the day,” Paul says. Live life like it matters to God and has great purpose and meaning because it does! Those who follow Jesus are part of a new day and new way of life that is intended to bring life, wholeness, healing and love to God’s creation. With that kind of impact, you don’t wait until tomorrow. You start now. We put on the light, we put on Jesus now — each day, each hour — because we know what the love of God can do and accomplish.

Since rise of COVID in March, I feel like I have been sleep walking. There’s this surreal sense of fogginess in which we can’t see forward and looking back doesn’t help. Like the psalmist, we cry out “how long, Lord.” Today, when I read “…It is now the moment for you to wake from sleep,” I felt a bit of a jolt. Despite anxiousness, adaptations, cancelled events and being “on hold,” I am not meant to simply sleepwalk through these times until “it’s over.”  Paul says “let us live honorably as in the day” and THIS IS the day. How can I honor God and love my neighbor this day — COVID or not. There’s the urgency we share with those first followers of Jesus. We aren’t simply caught in seemingly repetitious days captive of a COVID. Each day is a new day to honor God and love my neighbor in whatever ways, through whatever opportunities unfold. We still have purpose, we still have God’s light and love to take into our days, relationships, times and world.  I find that hopeful, reassuring and energizing. What light and love can I show today? It may be a phone call, a note, flowers or vegetables from a garden, a genuine “Good morning” at the store,  or letting an idea for ministry percolate in your heart. Come awake. Push aside the fog. Now is the time to be light and love.

Prayer:   Let your light and love pour over and into us, Lord. Let it awaken in us the desire, joy and energy to spread and share it today. Give us eyes to notice when we are recipients of those gifts from others.  Help us rise in hope for opportunities to be your light and love and rest in the wonder of your blessings. Amen.


“Awake, O Sleeper” (Marty Haugen)

“Awake, O Sleeper, Rise from Death”  ELW 452 words, with a different tune

Some lively contemporary Christian music to get you dancing, smiling and encouraged.

“Together” (God and Country feat. Kirk Franklin & Tori Kelly) (May, 2020)

“Hurry Up and Wait” (Mercy Me) (May 2020, fun video, during COVID)

“Smile” (Sidewalk Prophets) (fun video… from Jan. 2020, pre-COVID)  (fun video… from Jan. 2020, pre-COVID)

“Impossible” (Sidewalk Prophets) (Jan. 2017)


August 31, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

August 31, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church
August 31, 2020

Dear all,
We realized, thanks to cards from two Haven friends, that today is our wedding anniversary!

Thanks to Pastor for performing the marriage in 2011, to Tatiana for taking photos of us, and to Alan for the lovely dinner afterward.  Also to Wilda for champagne (which she happened to have in her refrigerator) after the wedding and before the dinner.

We are so grateful to each of you!
Love, Beth and Don
(Saturday, August 29)

Please add to your daily prayers
the students, parents, teachers and staff
who begin a new and challenging school year today.


LEAST DESIRABLE — COVID TEST OR COLONOSCOPY?  Well, guess what? If you want the latter you have to have the first. Found that out when I was scheduled for a routine colonoscopy today. Along with the list of the delightful directions for preparing for the procedure (that was a sarcastic remark, if you didn’t catch it), I also received a doctor’s order for a COVID test that I was to have last Friday.

I have heard a variety of reviews of the nasal COVID test — from awful to painful to no big deal.
So when I drove up to the Maugansville testing center promptly at its 8 am opening, I did not know what to expect. I filled out a form, followed the cone-lined lane to the back of the building and pulled into a large white tent. I turned in my forms and was asked a few questions. Everyone was professional. They did not rush but they sure had this down pat. I was asked to pull my mask beneath my nose and lean my head back. The technician told me she was inserting the long Q-tip looking thing into my right nostril. And before I could brace myself, she then said she was swabbing my left nostril. “That’s it. You can go.” I was amazed and quite pleased. I had only felt a very brief discomfort and it was over. Kinda like a child who is ready to start crying when getting a shot, only to find out it’s done already. Did I have an extremely skilled technican or does this Italian nose of mine have such long, unobstructed nasal passages that there was nothing for the swab to make contact with? I can’t answer that. But maybe my story will help relieve some anxiety if you need to go for a COVID test.

Geez — colonoscopies and nasal swabbing — an odd thing for the pastor to talk about. I hope I didn’t make you squeamish. That was certainly not my intent. By nature I tend to prepare for the worst and very often get pleasantly surprised. That’s the way I approached this COVID test.  I began to wonder if that’s how I’ve been approaching COVID and the ongoing adaptions we have and will need to make. I wonder how many parents and students have similar feelings about starting a new school year —- steeling themselves for the worst but hoping for the best. It’s not an approach that is good or bad. It’s just how some of us tend to deal with adversity or unknowns.

We know there is a great deal of anxiety and unease about COVID, the upcoming presidential election and our nation’s ability to peacefully stand and work together. I share those uneasy feelings. Yet, unlike my usual approach, I am not anticipating the worse. I am praying the Lord and we who follow the Lord will work to bring about the best. I find I am making that prayer fairly frequently each day. It will mean we will have to speak up and step out for love of neighbor. It will mean we may need to find ways to engage respectfully yet confidently with those who oppose what we believe “love of God and love of neighbor” means. It will also mean we will need the Lord to help us love those we disagree with or fear if ever the growing divisions can be healed. Let us pray and hope. Let us be God’s prayer and be God’s hope.

1Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast/rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast/rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Romans 5: 1-5

P.S. In case you are wondering, my COVID test came back negative. Another testimony for wearing masks, washing hands, using lots of hand sanitizer and practicing social distancing!









Read    Psalm 119:33-40
33Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes,
and I will observe it to the end.
34Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
and observe it with my whole heart.
35Lead me in the path of your commandments,
for I delight in it.
36Turn my heart to your decrees,
and not to selfish gain.
37Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
give me life in your ways.
38Confirm to your servant your promise,
which is for those who fear you.
39Turn away the disgrace that I dread,
for your ordinances are good.
40See, I have longed for your precepts;
in your righteousness give me life.


I remember my first year as a seventh and eighth grade teacher in a parochial school. I don’t remember the transgression but it must have been widespread in my class because I gave one of those teacher lectures. I told them about a horse who spent the entire day standing by a fence, wishing it could run and play in the field that was across the busy street on the other side of the fence. The horse had acres and acres of beautiful fields to run in and munch on and enjoy with the other horses. But instead, the horse would walk to the fence each day, sigh and feel miserable.

“What do you think of that horse?” I asked the class. “Stupid.” or “Dumb” they replied. Well, let me tell you, that horse is most of us. We get a set of school rules or the 10 commandments and we spend A LOT of our time finding fault with them. Even though they will keep us safe, help us do well and still have lots of fun, we stand at the fence, using our time to pick at them, give reasons why they should be different and why we don’t like them. Then we spend more time at the fence figuring out possible exception or ways to “get around” them because they just “aren’t fair” or as we think they should be. In the meantime, we miss out on enjoying all that we have and all the life God wants us to know. We spend all our time trying to get out or around the fence of rules rather than figuring out how to make the best of all life has to offer within the rules and having fun.

I have no idea from where that image came. I’m sure it didn’t mean as much to those seventh and eighth graders as it did to me. Yet it came back to me when I read today’s psalm. The writer “gets it”! The psalmist sees that God’s commandments and directions are good and life-giving, even if they may be a challenge. Instead of banging his head against God’s statutes, commandments and ordinances, the psalmist celebrates them. The prayer is for the ability, strength, and wisdom to learn God’s ways and to follow. Why? Because God’s goodness, God’s commands, and God’s love for us can be trusted beyond our own reasoning. This is a song of delight and freedom within the boundaries of God’s ways and its ours to sing, too.

Psalm Prayer  (ELW prayer for psalm 119)

Holy God, you are just in all your ways and your commandments are the greatest of treasures. Teach us to love you with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.


“Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Way” ELW 772–TqAFCDQ4&list=RDX–TqAFCDQ4&start_radio=1

“Lead Me, Guide Me” ELW 768

“O Master. Let Me Walk with You” ELW #818

“Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus” ELW #802

“Show Me Your Ways”

“Way Maker”












August 30, 2020 Bulletin and Worship Video

Bulletin 08302020 (taped – pdf)

DRIVE-UP Protocols (pdf)