Message from Pastor Alessandri April 8, 2020


20 April 8 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)


April 8, 2020

The Peace of the Lord IS with you.

AT-HOME PRAYER VIGIL God’s blessings to those of you who will designate a time today to pray for those in need — those on Haven’s prayer list and those that arise in your mind and heart.  May your time of prayer enrich your Holy Week journey.

TOMORROW WE BEGIN THE TRIDIUM (“three days”) — the days of Holy Week that lead us from Lent to Easter. The Triduum usually begins with the evening Holy Communion liturgy on Maundy Thursday and concludes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday. It is considered a single unified observance of Christ’s redemptive passage from crucifixion to burial and Resurrection.

At Haven we have traditionally commemorated the Triduum with communion services on Maundy Thursday (including the stripping of the altar & sanctuary in the evening); Good Friday Tenebrae services (a reading of the passion story interspersed with hymns, prayers and extinguishing candles); and finally the joyous Easter Sunday worship with bombastic hymns and holy communion.

It feels very odd and somewhat disorienting not to have these services together. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday pull us into the events, emotions and meaning of those final days of Jesus, his passion and his death. During these days, we leave our eyes open to witness the betrayal, cruelty, mob mentality, and self-serving leadership that led to the suffering Jesus experienced for the sake and salvation of all humanity. When you’ve walked through the darkness of Good Friday, the light and good news of Easter seems even more amazing and meaningful.

Today I will attach one pastor’s suggestion for celebrating a Maundy Thursday meal in your home.
(Foot washing, optional) If you live alone, you could perhaps invite someone(s) to share a meal via skype or zoom or another computer-style way of being together. If not formally, perhaps you can talk with some folks about special meals, holy communion and other Maundy Thursday services you valued and remember. Think today, of how to mark tomorrow as a special day of Holy Week — a day apart within these challenging coronavirus times in which we recall Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, giving us the gift of holy communion and then being arrested.  Ah, Holy Jesus.

(If you have any special ideas for at-home Maundy Thursday or Good Friday commemorations, please send them to me at I will include them in tomorrow’s Haven message.)

MAUNDY THURSDAY AND GOOD FRIDAY WORSHIP AT 7 P.M. This Holy Week, we can still worship together with our other DE-MD Synod brothers and sisters on-line. The synod bulletins and videos will be available on the Digital Worship page of their website ( To access the bulletins and videos when they are posted, scroll down the synod’s homepage to “Digital Worship” and click on it).  You can also watch these services on the synod Facebook page (DelawareMaryland Synod) or the synod’s YouTube station ( then put “Delaware-Maryland Synod” in the search line

SIGHT AND SOUND THEATER BROADCAST OF “JESUS”. Some of you have mentioned going to the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA. Abigail Andrews passed this news that might enrich your Holy Week: “I just talked with one of my best friends from Messiah, and she told me that Sight and Sound Theater was going to broadcast a performance of Jesus on TV this weekend.  I did some research, and found out that the show will be on TBN, or Trinity Broadcasting Network (Antietam Broadband channel 97) this Saturday at 1:00 PM.  Apparently, it can also be watched from April 10th-12th on TBN’s website,  More information can be found on Sight and Sound’s website, and the website

INTERFAITH PRAYERS IN DIFFICULT TIMES Some of you may not know that Haven member, Valerie Wills is also a Co-coordinator of the Washington County Interfaith Coalition. Yesterday, she posted these prayers. With permission, I share them with you. Thank you, Valerie


Hindu 260

O Lord give me strength

that the whole world

look to me with eyes

Of a friend.  Let us ever

examine each other with the eyes of a friend


Islam 267O,

With certainty in my heart,

sincerity in my actions (and peace of mind,)

spaciousness in the means of my living,

And gratitude to You

I am alive.

Alive in body and spirit, with gratitude and certainty that we are loved and our beloveds know our love for them.  Careful, yet deeply trusting, we connect to our humanity and our community—although from a distance…and without the embraces we yearn to share.  We welcome each other into our hearts and bless them with prayer.  May we find peace in the certainty of the spark of life…with us in the past…and with us now in times of fear and anxiety.   Amen.

Reverend Valerie Wills

SIDEWALKS ON HAVEN ROAD The city of Hagerstown has begun putting in a sidewalk up Haven Road. To accomplish that, we were asked to allow them to close two of our entrances as they worked. The Property Team agreed, as long as entrances were open when we are able to gather again for worship. One entrance will remain open to allow on-going access to the building, yards and gardens. The sidewalk will provide some much-needed safety for those who walk from the neighborhood to Pennsylvania Avenue.

May the Lord bless you this sometimes sunny and sometimes rainy days of Spring, It is a Godsighting for me. The winter, the wilderness, the stay-at-home necessity will not last forever. Spring and Easter will not be stopped or thwarted. New and renewed life is ours, through God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit — Amen.

With continuous hope and relying on our faithful Lord,
Pastor Linda M Alessandri    


Today is the Jewish holy day of Passover, the celebration of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. This year the Passover season begins on the Wednesday of the Christian Holy Week observance. These celebrations share more than calendar dates. I mention one here.

In three of the gospels, the “Last Supper” which we commemorate on Maundy Thursday of Holy Week) was said to be a Passover meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before his death. In John’s gospel, there is no explicit mention that the Last Supper was a Passover meal. Instead, John presents the official Jewish Passover feast as beginning in the evening a few hours after the death of Jesus. In the devotion from Luther Seminary’s “God Pause,” you will learn the reason John may have had for this difference.

On this first day of the Passover season, please pray for our Jewish brothers and sisters who will be celebrating the traditional family Seder Meal separated from one another in these Covid-19 times. May this Passover celebration of God’s faithfulness and gift of liberation fortify their faith and strengthen them to persevere through this wilderness time, until we are again freed to gather together for worship.

 Exodus 12:1–4, [5–10], 11–14 (NRSV)


12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2 This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4 If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it.

5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7 They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10 You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.

11 This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the Passover of the Lord. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations, you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.


John the Baptizer bore witness to Jesus with the words, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The mysterious title “Lamb of God” recalled the merciful deliverance of the exodus, in which every household was to sacrifice a “whole lamb … without blemish.” With some of the blood of the lamb they were to mark each house, so that the angel of death might pass over that household. And they were to eat the lamb dressed for a journey, ready to escape—traveling clothes on, boots laced up, staff in hand.

John’s words of witness also foretold Christ’s sacrificial death—according to the Gospel of John, Jesus was crucified at noon on the day of preparation for the Passover celebration, the exact time when the lamb was sacrificed. The symbolism is clear: Jesus’ death sets us free from the power of sin, death, and every force that defies God’s love.


Near the cross! O Lamb of God, bring its scenes before me; help me walk from day to day with its shadow o’er me. Amen.    (“Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” ELW #335)

Rolf Jacobson ’91 M.Div.

Professor of Old Testament and Rogness Chair of Scripture, Theology, and Ministry, Luther Seminary

“Lamb of God” ELW #336
(Twila Paris, composer)
(Choral Rendition) (Haven’s Choir has done this beautifully, too)
(Acapella rendition)

“Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” (Choral)

Message from Pastor Alessandri April 7, 2020

20April7 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

April 7, 2020

The Peace of the Lord IS with you!

AT-HOME PRAYER VIGIL  Have you set the time for your participation in Wednesday’s Prayer Vigil? Remember, you can pray inside or outside, with or without music, as you walk or a combination of those options. Read each name or circumstance and then pause to lift it to God, with or without words. You may be amazed at what prayer does cross your consciousness when you just leave a space. If you are currently on Haven’s e-mail list, you will receive an extended Prayer List sometime today for our At-Home Prayer Vigil on Wednesday. For others, I encourage you to make your own list, use the names listed in a Sunday bulletin and ask close family and friends for their prayer requests.  It is a deeply rich experience to pray for God’s children and creation.

Maundy Thursday – April 9 at 7 p.m.

Good Friday – April 10 at 7 p.m.

Easter Sunday  – April 12 at 10 a.m.

(Haven Easter Sunday Prelude 9:30 am)

The synod bulletins and videos will be available on the Digital Worship page of our website (  To access them when they are posted, scroll down the synod’s homepage to  “Digital Worship” and click on it).  You can also watch these services on the synod Facebook page (DelawareMaryland Synod) or the synod’s YouTube station ( then put “Delaware-Maryland Synod” in the search line.

APRIL BIRTHDAYS AND ANNIVERSARIES  What a great reason to give someone a call or drop them a line of congratulations and good wishes. And please don’t forget those whose birthday or anniversary was at the beginning of the month.


Donna Dickinson – 04/01, Phyllis Meyers – 04/04, Sari Kilheffer – 04/05, Joyce Meredith – 04/05, Tanner Meredith – 04/09, Clare Newcomer – 04/09, Jonathan Schupp – 04/09, Maura Haupt – 04/11, Stephanie Meredith – 04/11, Karla Pile – 04/11, Sharron Moser – 04/12, Jessica Snyder – 04/14, Sue Resh – 04/19, Don Evason – 04/23, Anna Bergschneider – 04/26, Ed Distad – 04/28,  William Byers – 04/29 – Tanner Creek – 04/30

Baptismal Anniversaries

Amy Mason – 04/01, Karl Pile – 04/01, Patricia Pile – 04/01, Joshua Webb – 04/01, Michael Manspeaker – 04/03, Rebecca Mason – 04/04, Lynda Byers – 04/06, Tanner Creek – 04/08, Inez Winebrenner – 04/12, Margaret Cunningham – 04/15, Korben Defriece – 04/15, Anthony Bracken – 04/21, JoyEllen Bergschneider – 04/25, Laura Manspeaker – 04/27

Wedding Anniversaries

Kevin & Kim Pile – 04/05, Ed & Prue Yelinek – 04/05, Kenneth & Saundra Myers – 04/26

A PERSONAL NOTE  My recent surgery scar and a nearby 50 year-old ruptured appendicitis scar have decided to act up. NO INFE CTION. Just one of those things. So I will be connected to a portable wound V.A.C. (Vacuum Assisted Closure) for a few weeks and a visiting home healthcare nurse will come three times a week to tend to it all. Of course, I ask you to pray for good and steady healing but there is no need to worry.  I am fully functioning and oh, so ready to celebrate the resurrection and its promise of new and renewed life.

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

A Pause with God’s Word

Readings for Tuesday of Holy Week: Is. 49: 1-7; Psalm 71: 1-14, I Cor. 1:18-31, John 12: 20-36

Read:           I Corinthians 1: 18-31
18The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Reflection:  A king who rides a donkey, leading a motley crew of commoners rather than riding a mighty stead before an impressive armed troops. The Son of God who serves rather than demands to be served. Might whose powerfulness lies in caring for the powerless. Love that will not force or seek to control the other but is given unconditionally even when rejected. Power used for the welfare of all rather than self. A ruler whose throne is a cross and his crown a wreath of thorns. The love of a Savior that is willing to lay down its life for the salvation of all, even those who despise, deny or dismiss him.

To our worldly standards, the good news of Jesus Christ does indeed seem “foolishness.” God revealed in the life and death of Jesus does not act like the “gods” of this world. Yet we say, “Amen! Thanks be to God.” We proclaim, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” We may not always understand the wisdom and ways of our Lord, still we trust in the One whose loves for us is selflessly, steadfast, life-giving and eternal.

 Prayer: We’ve arrived at one of those times, O God, when we feel unanchored and adrift, nothing feels “normal” or sure. Help us put our trust in you as we make our way to the “other side” of this pandemic. Guide us to put our energy into gratefulness, prayer and love rather than panic or despair — which may appear “foolishness” to some but is the way of true wisdom and life as revealed in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Both of these are sung by the acapella group, Glad. I can’t believe they are now over 30 years old.
“And Can It Be”
“Be Ye Glad”
“And This is Love ”

Message from Pastor Alessandri April 6, 2020


20April6 Message from Pastor Alessandri(pdf)

April 6, 2020

The Peace of the Lord IS with you!

You may remember my mentioning in a sermon that my father loved groaner puns. When my sister sent me the article below, I was cringing and my father was laughing with the angels.

I might be going crazy in quarantine! 

Actually I’ve just been talking about this with the microwave and toaster while drinking coffee and we all agreed that things are getting bad. I didn’t mention anything to the washing machine as she puts a different spin on everything. Certainly not to the fridge as he is acting cold and distant. In the end the iron straightened me out as she said everything will be fine, no situation is too pressing. The vacuum was very unsympathetic… told me to just suck it up, but the fan was more optimistic and hoped it would all soon blow over! The toilet looked a bit flushed when I asked its opinion and didn’t say anything but the door knob told me to get a grip. The front door said I was unhinged and so the curtains told me to … yes, you guessed it … pull myself together.

 But this my favorite posting of religious humor:






Thank you, Lord, for the gift of humor. It brings much joy in good times and moments of relief in difficult times.


Yesterday, there was a knock on my door. It was Pastor Kaplan and Melita. Melita was holding a potted palm and I was invited to join a palm procession around the parking lot. Six feet apart, we walked singing the refrain from “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” We hope to share Pastor Dave’s Facebook posting on our site, too. Thank you Melita and Pastor Dave for including me.

Procession with Palms (Facebook posting from Pastor Kaplan)

During a post-worship coffee fellowship phone call, Pat Manspeaker offered her thanks to the person who left the latest devotional booklet at her door. She was absolutely delighted.

Danny Kiblinger was grateful for a call from Bill Zinkand, son of Haven member Dorothy (“Dottie”) Zinkand. Dot is back living with Bill and his wife after her fall a while back. She has even been released from at-home occupational and speech therapies.

Words of gratitude for Sunday’s Palm Sunday Prelude have already come it. Thanks to Steve Pastena, Grant Wills, and Mary Grabill who joined me in this effort.

We are beginning our preparations for an EASTER SUNDAY PRELUDE to again precede the DE-MD Synod’s worship service. Get those A_________’s ready.

AT-HOME PRAYER VIGIL  Please send in any additional prayer requests TODAY. We would like to complete the Wednesday Prayer Vigil prayer list for distribution on Tuesday. Make plans to set aside some time on Wednesday to pray through the list. You can pray as you sit quietly inside or outside, as you listen to inspirational music, as you walk or a combination of these. Simply say or read each name or request and lift it to God with or without your own words. In a time when everything feels adrift, anchor a time on your Wednesday calendar for your at-home vigil.

HOLY WEEK MUSIC FAVORITES  We only included the top five of your favorite Holy Week hymns during our Palm Sunday prelude. Our wonderful organist, Steve Pastena, will make recordings of the other Holy Week hymns during the week and post them on-line. For those who are curious, the additional hymns are:
The Old Rugged Cross
Go to Dark Gethsemane
Were You There
There Is a Green Hill Far Away
In the Cross of Christ
My Song Is Love Unknown
Amazing Grace


MAMA DUCK UPDATE Well, in the three days since I first told you about the mama duck who made a nest in my front yard bushes, she has flown off only once when I got the mail. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I would love to hear the cheeping of baby ducklings.

I remain available to you at 301-745-4216 or at my e-mail Please leave a message if I don’t pick-up the phone. I may have stepped out for a walk or, like many of you, I try to avoid calls from solicitors with phone numbers and names I don’t recognize. I WILL get back to you! I am NOT too busy to share some time with you. You remain close in my mind, heart and prayers.

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

A Pause with God’s Word

 (Readings for the Monday of Holy Week: Is. 42: 1-9; Psalm 36:5-1,Heb. 9: 11-15, John 12: 1-11)
Read: Isaiah 42: 1-9 

1Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

5Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
7to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8I am the Lord, that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.
9See, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.

(From a sermon by Pastor Mark Shaltanis, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Falls Church, VA, January 20, 2020)
When we read through the book of Isaiah, we discover that God, in his speeches to his people, often uses the label “servant,” and that he uses it in reference to many different people. Early in the book he calls Isaiah “my servant.” A little later he mentions “my servant Eliakim”—a man whom he would send to serve in the king’s court as a replacement for one who was unfaithful. He also mentions “my servant David”—referring of course to Israel’s great king.

The most frequent use of the label, however, is for God’s chosen nation, Israel, most often referred to as “Jacob” – since Jacob was the one first given the name Israel, and because he represents the nation’s unity before the nation was split into tribes and kingdoms.

Israel is first called God’s servant in chapter 41. There God addresses his people with the words: “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend.”

As God’s servant, Israel is used by God for his purposes. And this is not a demeaning thing. Rather, to be God’s servant is to be honored by him. Israel is chosen for this work. Through Israel, God will accomplish great things. That’s why our text today begins: “1Here is my servant, whom I uphold,  my chosen, in whom my soul delights”

[Though the prophet Isaiah wrote these words long before Jesus walked the earth, we look back upon these word and see Jesus.] Jesus is God’s Servant: chosen and gifted… Jesus is God’s foremost Servant. But we recall that he is not God’s only servant. In the new covenant, all those made righteous by Jesus are also now God’s servants. That means you and me. We, too, are God’s servants. And we, too, have been chosen and gifted.

As it was for Jesus, your baptism is a sign that you have been chosen by God. At your baptism, the Spirit was poured out upon you, and you were declared to be God’s son or daughter—one with whom God is well pleased.

You are chosen and gifted – as God’s children and God’s servants.

There will be suffering in your service. Sometimes you will be humbled. Sometimes you will be called to take the humble position…. It’s not easy being a servant.

We who hear God’s voice in the scriptures, and who hear it most clearly in His Son, hear his call to be servants. We learn to find joy in helping others. We open our hearts to all people. We endure suffering when it comes. And we trust God to bring forth his righteousness.

Prayer:           (ELW p. 30, adapted from the Prayer of the Day for the Monday in Holy Week)
O God, your Son chose the path that led to pain before joy and to the cross before glory. Plant his cross in our hearts, so that in its power and love we may we may endure these difficult times and still find ways to serve you and our neighbor, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


*ELW #712 “Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service”

Choral & Bell Choir
Instrumental version

“Make Me a Servant”

*ELW #659 “Will You Let Me Be Your Servant”

(ELW = Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal  or the “cranberry hymnal” used at worship)

Procession with Palms

Follow the link below to see Pastor Alessandri, Pastor Kaplan and Melita continue our Palm Sunday faith tradition.

Procession with Palms


Join us for our prerecorded Palm Worship Service Sunday at 9:30am

Sunday morning at 9:30 am please use the link below to join together in worship for Palm Sunday.

Prerecorded Palm Sunday Worship Service (9:30am)

Please use the bulletin below to follow along with the worship service. Bulletin 04052020 Palm Sunday (pdf)

REVISED – Bulletin for Palm Sunday April 5, 2020

Bulletin 04052020 Palm Sunday (click for pdf)

Message from Pastor Alessandri April 3, 2020

20April3 Message from Pastor Alessandri (click for pdf)

April 3, 2020

The Peace of the Lord IS With you.

I don’t know who was more startled — the mama duck or me. It seems a mama duck has decided to make a nest in the bushes in the garden near my front door. I discovered her when I opened the front door one morning to get my newspaper. Out she scurried to fly over to the cemetery. I felt so badly. “It’s okay,” I yelled, “I won’t hurt you.” I thought she probably would be scared away for good. But low and behold, the next morning the same thing happened. Both of us did the same thing — she flew and I yelled.
The next day I did not go for the newspaper first thing in the morning. After checking the church mailbox, I walked to the front of the parsonage to get my newspaper. I walked right by the bushes where mama duck flew out. I got the paper and she didn’t fly out. I’ve got this figured out, I thought proudly. The next day I walked around the house to the front door for the newspaper and I pulled the mail out of the mailbox. The lid of the mailbox clanged shut. Off the duck flew and I’m saying, “No. No. No. I won’t hurt you.”  Yesterday, I walked around the front of the house and carefully lifted the mailbox lid and quietly closed it. No mama duck in flight. So have I figured it out or was mama duck not in the nest but off getting a carry out meal? Stay tune.
This slice of my Covid-19-at home life sent me thinking. Fear can make us as flighty and panicked as my mama duck. I imagine the Lord crying out, “It’s okay… Don’t leave me.” Fear is a thief. God is a life-giver. At our baptism, the Lord marked us with the cross of Christ and promised us God’s own eternal presence and love.
I will try my best to avoid frightening the mama duck in my bushes. Amid our very real worries and concerns in these times, I pray that we hear God’s call, “I got you… Don’t leave me.” Fear is a thief but the Lord gives.  “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ” (Philippians 4:7)

PALM SUNDAY AND HOLY WEEK FAVORITE HYMNS  We’ll take yours until 12 noon today (Friday) We won’t be able to do them all for this week’s recording, but maybe we can persuade Steve Pastena, our exceptional organist, to record the others for posting during Holy Week. Here are the replies we have heard so far:


“All Glory, Laud and Honor” – 4
“O Sacred Head Now Wounded” – 3
“Beneath the Cross of Jesus” – 3
“The Old Rugged Cross” – 2
“The Palms” – 1
“This Easter Celebration” -1
“Ah, Holy Jesus” – 1″Go to Dark Gethsemane” – 1
“Were You There” – 1
“There Is a Green Hill Far Away” – 1


Send your favorite to me at or to the church office at (No more than 2 please)

HOW ABOUT? Pastor Nancy Kraft (Ascension Lutheran, Towson) posted a way to celebrate Maundy Thursday at home or with others on-line. I will post that next week. What I wanted to share with you now was her sharing of what a friend of hers has renamed “social distancing.” She is calling it “love-distancing” for these reasons. It is out of love that we are physically staying away and apart. And though we are physically apart, we are still finding ways to express our love socially via phone, notes, e-mails and virtual meetings. Just a though I pass it along. Even if the phrase doesn’t catch on, the meaning is encouraging.

Breathe in the sun and signs of Spring as you look out of your windows, go for a walk or venture to the grocery story. It is a God sighting. There is more than crisis now and in the future. There is renewed life and an even deeper appreciation of family, friends, church, community, our neighbors throughout the nation and world and love. Breathe in that promise from the Lord who is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.

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

A Pause with God’s Word

Read: Matthew 21: 1-11

1When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Prepared by Pastor David Kaplan

Save us, O Lord.”  It wasn’t the spontaneous surprise celebration we sometimes imagine.  Yes, of course, the Gospels all depict an outburst of enthusiasm that far exceeds anything we might have anticipated – the crowd spreading garments and branches (only John identifies them as palm branches!) along the road as Jesus entered Jerusalem on that first Holy Week.

But there was advance preparation.  We catch that right away in the first part of the story that Pastor Alessandri discussed yesterday – the borrowing of the donkey.  She wondered how its owner would so quickly turn it over to the disciples who requested it.  I wonder that too; if a stranger came to “borrow” my car with the curious explanation “The Lord needs it”, I think my response would be, “Well he’s going to have to request it himself.”  Which is exactly what may have happened.  No passage to support this idea, but I can well imagine a previous encounter between Jesus and the owner, where the Lord told him, “Jake, next Passover I’d like to borrow your animal to enter the City.”  “Sure, Lord, just send one or two of your men to pick it up.”

The preparation, though, extends way beyond that imagined conversation.  Its roots lie deep in the Old Testament.  The whole event of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey to the acclamation of the people is a reflection and fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, quoted in the Gospel passage, Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion!  Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem!  Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt the foal of a donkey.  Why a donkey instead of a horse, the processional animal we would usually associate with a king?  Check out the next verse: He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem.  This king was not a conquering super hero!  He came in humility and peace to set aside the ways of the kings of the earth.  In that sense this Gospel is also a parody of the Roman triumphal parades, where the victorious general would be seated on a horse or in a chariot with conquered slaves bound at his feet.  Our king comes in humility to become obedient to death, even the death of a cross, in order to set us free!

So the people cry, so we cry, Hosanna…Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  That verse also comes directly from the Old Testament, Psalm 118:25-26.  We’ll be hearing more of that psalm next week, it’s the psalm appointed for Easter.  But these particular verses are for triumphal entries, as God’s people of old would sing them as they entered the Temple.  They became a standard greeting through the centuries as pilgrims arrived at the Holy City during festival time.  But now they received a new fulfillment as Jesus entered the City.  At their center is the word Hosanna which is both prayer and praise.  You don’t see the word in the psalm verse (the ELW hymnal version has it), but it’s there.   It appears in translation Save us!   At the root of this exclamation is the Hebrew verb for save or deliver.  In English it doesn’t sound much like it, but it’s exactly the same verb that is at the root of the name Jesus (recall the angel’s greeting to Joseph at the beginning of this Gospel: Mary will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins – 1:21).   “Save us, O Lord.”  That’s what this beautiful Palm Sunday story is about (the fickleness of the crowd is a side issue).   At the beginning of Holy Week, even this dark Holy Week when we can’t sing Hosanna together, Jesus comes humbly to save and deliver his people.  Jesus comes to enter our hearts and answer our deepest prayer.

  1. In case you’re wondering why in Matthew’s version of the story the disciples bring two animals, and Jesus seems to ride on both of them (verse 7), it’s a misunderstanding of Zechariah 9:9. The last two lines of that verse, quoted above, also seem to speak of two animals, a donkey and its colt.  But those lines are an example of a device in Hebrew poetry called parallelism, where the poet (or prophet) for emphasis says the same thing in two different ways.  Examples abound in the Psalms and Proverbs, like Psalm 31 (this Sunday’s psalm): verse 10a, For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing.  Clearly these two lines express just one thought, not two separate thoughts.  So in the Zechariah verse, not two animals are intended, but just one.  The other Gospel writers understand that, but Matthew interprets the verse literally (one of the dangers of biblical literalism!) and ends up with both a donkey and a colt.

Prayer:   Lord, the people who greeted your entrance into Jerusalem yelled, Hosanna – Save us, O Lord.” Like us, they knew they could not save themselves — not from sin, oppression, hardship or death. We need you, Lord. We need you to walk and battle with us whenever we face our personal and worldly struggles, like COVID-19 with all its repercussions.  We need you to calm our fears and give us heart to care for our neighbors. We thank you for the promise of your eternal love and presence that makes it possible for us to praise you even in the storms. Amen.

“Ride on in Majesty”

“Hosanna” by Hillsong


Message from Pastor Alessandri April 2, 2020

20April 2 Message from Pastor Alessandri (click for pdf)

April 2, 2020

The Peace of the Lord IS with You!

Well, I “ZOOMed” well yesterday with the Washington County Conference clergy. I only got disconnected once when my computer said my wi-fi was not available — which was a lie. But who can tell a computer that? It was good to see faces and hear voices. I will be signing Haven up for a ZOOM account this week. If the Council or any other Haven group would like to “meet,” we will have an account to allow that to happen. I don’t know about you, but I seem to be learning alot lately about possibly useful technology that is available but I knew little to nothing about. I guess that is one good thing to have happened out of our Covid-19 times — We are learning new ways to stay connected AND realizing how important our connection and our community are to us.

WORSHIP UPDATE  Steve Pastena and I are planning on pre-recording a Palm Sunday Prelude to post for this Sunday. It will have prayer, hymns on the organ and a closing prayers. We’re calling it a “prelude” because we hope you will  listen to the Haven recording at 9:30 am and then tune into the DE-MD Synod Palm Sunday worship service at 10 am. Since both will be pre-recorded, you could choose to do it any time. But there is something about the idea of knowing others are sitting “with” us in their homes at the same time that is reassuring. (And no one can see if you are in your PJ’s, you have bed head, you’re drinking coffee or holding the cat.)

FAVORITE PALM SUNDAY OR HOLY WEEK HYMNS We sent out a request yesterday for folks to tell us their favorite Palm Sunday or Holy Week Hymns We’ll take your replies until 12 noon on Friday. Here are the replies we have heard so far:

“All Glory, Laud and Honor” – 4

“O Sacred Head Now Wounded” – 2
“The Palms” – 1
“Ah, Holy Jesus” – 1

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus” – 1

“The Old Rugged Cross” – 1

Send your favorite to me at or to the church office at (No more than 2 please)

HOLY WEEK WORSHIP  Here’s the latest news from our synod about Holy Week worship:

“We had planned to offer joint Holy Week Services with the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod. The timing of the Maryland Governor’s Executive Orders made that impossible to logistically pull off. However, with real gratitude to Deacon Julie Stecker, Pastor Tamika Jancewicz, Pastor Jason Chesnut, Mr. Uriah Moore, Ms. Una Brown and Ms. Christina Fahey, we were able to film all of the Holy Week services on Monday before the 8 p.m. deadline! With the hospitality of Epiphany (Baltimore) and the use of their many worship spaces – indoors and outside – Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Services, with really great music, will be offered during Holy Week. The Sunday services will go live on FacebookYouTube and the synod website at 10 a.m., and the weekday services at 7 p.m. We will share this information on our Facebook page too.”

SIGN-UP FOR THE SYNOD E-NEWSLETTER  I would strongly encourage you to sign up for the DE-MD Synod newsletter. Each week the bishop is putting out a newsletter with updates on Covid-19 for the church. It has good information that he has received from Delaware and Maryland government liaisons and from the ELCA Advocacy Office*. Bishop Gohl always has an encouraging word or prayer. You can sign up  at   Once at the website, scroll down the page to where it says, “Subscribe to the E-Letter.” It will ask for your name and e-mail.

* As we all know, information and interpretation of government orders can change quickly. If something changes from what was posted in the newsletter, the change will be placed on the DE-MD Synod Facebook page.

Stay safe. Stay well.

God IS with you. God IS with us.

Pastor Linda M Alessandri


A Pause with God’s Word

Read:  Matthew 21: 1-11

1When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. 3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” 4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,
5“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
6The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Reflection:  I always wish we could eavesdrop on the conversation between the disciples and the owner of the donkey they were “hijacking.” In Luke’s gospel, the owner asks, “Why are you untying the cold?” The disciples repeat what Jesus told them to say, “The Lord needs it.” (Luke 19: 30-34) But was it really that easy? Not many of us would relinquish our property to someone simply because they said, “The Lord needs it.” Maybe, if we knew the person and believed them trustworthy. Maybe.

I know this is not the main point of this story, but it is a detail that captured me today. As I wandered into that wonder, I arrived at two thoughts. First, there are so many nameless persons who had a role in the ministry and mission of Jesus. The part he or she plays may not seem essential or particularly important yet it is somehow needed or necessary. Lending a donkey may seem a small thing but here we are thousands of years later still recalling Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem upon a donkey. Not a horse, like a “proper” king would demand, but a humble donkey.
Think of all the countless “nameless saints” that have helped in countless little and big ways to carry on God’s saving mission in the world. Indeed, YOU are likely one of them. (Oh, yes, you!)

My second thought led me toward another truth. When the Lord asks us to do something, the Lord provides what is necessary. It may not be what we might think is necessary or on the timeline we want, yet when it is God’s will and call, the Lord will provide what is needed. Understand me, I’m not talking about God raining cash or donkeys. God usually provides through us, people who have been opened by the love of God and are open to the movement of the Holy Spirit. It’s how the hungry are fed, teens go on mission trips, and children we don’t know have gifts on Christmas. It’s why I can say, “It’s Offering Time” in worship and you respond “Praise God!” To be a part of God providing for the healing, feeding, and saving of the world is a wonderfully, meaningful thing.

Prayer:  Lord, you continue to surprise us. You choose to use the humble and everyday to do your work. You open hearts, hands, minds and pocketbooks to provide what is needed for the next step in the mission you lay out for us. We thank you for your trust in us. We ask you keep our eyes opened to your ways, that we may continue to serve you as we serve our neighbor in the name of your gospel of love and grace. Amen


Nancy Newkirk shared this song yesterday. It starts with only one yet… “Down to the River”

“Will You Come and Follow Me” (The Summons) ELW #798


Dear Haven Family and Friends,
This Palm Sunday we hope to have a service of prayer and hymn sing at 9:30 am as a kind of prelude before the 10 am DE-MD Synod Sunday worship.

If all goes well, I will start our time together with a prayer and Scripture reading. Steve will play hymns to which we can sing. And I will conclude with prayer. Our plan is to finish in time for you to log in for the DE-MD Synod Sunday worship.

We would like you to tell us what are your favorite Palm Sunday and Holy Week hymns. Steve will include the most popular in his recording and we will get the hymns sent to you so you can sing along.

Plenty of details to be attended to on our part, but first YOUR part.

Please send you favorite Palm Sunday or Holy Week hymns to me or to the office at

(Try to stick to no more than 2)  We will accept all suggestions up to 12 noon on Friday, April 3.

God IS with us. Let us lift our praises!

Pastor Linda M Alessandri

Message from Pastor Alessandri April 1, 2020

20April1 Message from Pastor Alessandri

April 1, 202

The Peace of the Lord be with you!   (No Foolin’)

I’m up early, anxiously awaiting my ZOOM meeting with the Washington County Conference pastors. Leading a meeting of peers PLUS new technology — now there’s a formula for a bit of nervousness. So, I pray and I remind myself, “It is not about me. It is about God’s church, God’s ministry and God’s people. Get over yourself.”  Repeat. On the other hand, I will be very glad to “be with” my colleagues and check in on how they and the churches they serve are doing. I also look forward to seeing if ZOOM might work for Council and, maybe, fellowship-type meetings.

WORSHIP UPDATE Mary, Steve and I will be consulting on how to bring you some kind of local worship this Palm Sunday. Our florist has told us we will not receive our palms. It seems florists and those who supply them are not considered “essential.” Keep our small businesses and their employees in prayer.

AT-HOME PRAYER VIGIL Pastor Kaplan offered this great suggestion.
During the Wednesday of Holy Week we have been holding a 12 hour Prayer Vigil in the church. Persons sign-up to come for one hour for prayer. Among the prayer options we provide, are a pile of prayer requests that we gathered from you in the weeks before. During one’s hour, you read one request at a time and offer a prayer to the Lord.
Pastor Kaplan suggested we ask you to begin to send in any special prayer requests that you might have — particular persons, situations or circumstances for which you would like us to pray. We can add these to our Sunday prayer list and put out a Prayer Vigil list of prayer requests for anyone to use at home on Wednesday, April 8th for his or her own vigil of prayer. Though we may be physically apart, we will be united in praying to the same Lord those in special need.

Please send your Holy Week Prayer Requests to either me, or the church office, We will continue to collect them through April 6th.

Notes of Gratitude, God sightings and Shared Music

I have been blessed by seeing God in new and different ways and hearing His voice more clearly during these past 2 weeks. The pace of life has slowed down for all, and sunrise walks and evening meditations have now become more “routine”.  Also, I have 4 sisters who I was missing but now we use a Marco Polo app on our phones and record message to one another, and one sister is now “in charge” of a daily Bible reading for us.  We are redefining our daily lives and we are connecting more with each other and offering God’s light and encouragement to one another much more than we used to do.
I share this music video as one that Jim and I both love so much.  Rend Collective wrote this uplifting song after one of their band members suffered a big loss.  It is testimony of joy always winning out over sadness when God is in the middle of it.
                     Jamie Cannon.
Rend Collective – Joy Of The Lord (Live At The Orchard) –

Stephen,  thank you for sharing!!!          Clare Newcomer
(Stephen Pastena playing a favorite Bach piece)

Carol Shull sent me the “Global Choir’s” rendition of  “A Mighty Fortress”   When I “googled” The Virtual Choir, it reported that it “is a global phenomenon, creating a user-generated choir that brings together singers from around the world and their love of music in a new way through the use of technology. Singers record and upload their videos from locations all over the world. Each one of the videos is then synchronized and combined into one single performance to create the Virtual Choir. Wait until you hear it — You will be amazed! And what a wonderful reminder of how we are all in this together, wherever we may be living.

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

A Pause With God

Read: Philippians 2: 5-11
Paul uses an early Christian hymn to help us comprehend Jesus’ obedient selflessness on the cross and how God has made Christ lord over all reality. The perspective of the cross becomes the way we rightly understand God, Christ, our own lives, and fellowship within the community of Christ.

5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.


Reflection:  In the church year, during the season of Lent, we are on our way to Jerusalem with Jesus. Scripture says Jesus turns his face toward Jerusalem, moving toward those who would have him dead. Still, he walks there in obedience to the mission and ministry to which he has been called, even when it will likely lead to an early grave.

It is said that St. Paul used an early Christian hymn in this passage from his letter to the Philippians. It seems to capture that walk Jesus is making toward Jerusalem. You can almost hear the words of the hymn as we watch Jesus knowingly and humbly, with great strength and commitment, going to face the earthly powers of sin and death.  He trusts that this walk to Jerusalem and all that will befall him will not be in vain. He walks in obedience AND love to show us God’s great, saving love for us all.

Many of us are feeling humbled by circumstances we can’t control and struggle to accept the necessary restrictions on our usual lifestyle. Walk with Jesus. He knows what it is like to keep walking the road even when you are not sure of what is ahead and whether you want to go there. He put his trust in God and put one foot in front of the other. Let him teach you and I how to walk in humbleness and faith, remembering that, in the end, death and sin did NOT win.

Prayer: Lord, help us to lean on you as we put one foot before the other travelling through the unknowns and anxiety of our Covid-19 times. You know it is not easy for us. Give us strength as we place our trust in you, who is the resurrection and the life. Amen

See the wonderful suggested listed above.
Here is some children singing “He Is Lord”