December 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

December 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Deck the Halls for the Coming of Christ
Haven Lutheran Church
December 23, 2020

A Pause in God’s Word in Our Hope and Expectation

“Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her.” Luke 1: 38

Prayer: (p.55) God of all life, we give you thanks for the gift of faith that beckons us to live lives of vision, liberation, and courage. May we continue in the long line of those who, despite fear and confusion, said yet to you. Amen.




I was trying to research the distance Mary and Joseph would have travelled to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem during that time period. I got one description and estimate but went to fact check it. They didn’t match. I checked several others. They didn’t match.  Using the roads and pathways of their time, the mile estimate ranged from 70 to 110 miles. Some of the differences may be due to the route — avoiding Samaritan territory or not. The amount of time it took also ranged from 5 days to two weeks, adding the consideration for the safety of a very pregnant Mary. Well enough for trying to lay a modern understanding onto a trip over 2,000 years ago in the Holy Land.

I wonder what plans Joseph and Mary (and all the other Hebrews of the time) had to rearrange or cancel to comply with the Roman decree to return to your ancestral town to be counted for taxation? Cancellations and new arrangements — now, that we can understand this year. Mary would not be near her own family when she gave birth. Not being able to be with someone we love at a crucial time — that may be something else we can appreciate. Anxious about safety and distancing from danger — ah, there again it sounds familiar. When they arrived at Bethlehem, whatever plans they thought were in place for their housing was not available so they needed to make adjustments for new circumstances – this is sounding more and more familiar.

Yet in of all this messiness and anxiety, in all this out of control and what next?… God was with them. Not only in the infant inside of Mary, but in every day, every step, every weary bone, every worried look — God was with them. And God has been, is and will be with us, wherever we are, in whatever known or unknown we face. Even more so, if we remain open to God’s wonderful and peculiar ways. Hear Jesus born, angels singing to lowly shepherds, shepherds running to see what seems unbelievable, Joseph and Mary tired but marveling that they are a part of God’s plans of salvation. Finally, sense the peace, when the shepherds have gone, Jesus is fed, the animals settle down and finally Joseph and Mary can sleep, with starlight and angel songs filling their dreams. I pray that peace will also be familiar to you this Christmas.

Peaceful music suggestions:

“Breathe of Heaven”

“Of the Father’s Love Begotten” ELW 295

“What Her Heart Remembered” (Michael Card)

“Make Room” (Casting Crowns)

“When Love Was Born”

“Aaronic Benediction”

Washington County Interfaith Coalition

Interfaith Prayers for our times

December 22, 2020


African American (Alice Walker)

Love is not concerned with whom you pray or where you slept the night you ran away from home

Love is concerned that the beauty of your heart should kill no one.


Christian (Michael Leunig)

God help us to live slowly:

To move simply:

To look softly:

To allow emptiness:

To let the heart create for us. Amen

Holy One,

Be with us as winter chill wraps its arms around us.

Be with us in the moments our longing.

Be with us in this time that is like no other in our memory.

Let there be light, and turn our eyes into it.

Let there be hope in the deepest moments of our longing.

Let there be beloved contact that cherishes and nourishes our hearts.

Be with us in the season of our longing.


Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator


I am sending this version of O Come O Come Emanuel because I have become very interested in Hebrew since the beginning of our response as to covid-19 has changed the way we behave.

I do not know if anyone else remembers Pastor Alessandri encouraging us to think of others, check on our neighbors and stay safe that first Mach service on line but I sure do.  Not long after that, I had a call at our front door.  This man told me that he was my neighbor and he was checking on me.  He lives by the Weiss Market on dual highway and wanted to know if I needed anything. I had just checked (right before he called) and was down to one roll of toilet paper. So I gave him a list of toilet paper, paper towels and yogurt.  He came back a while later and we met mask to mask.  I found out that he is a member of the Jewish congregation on Baltimore Street and his Rabbi had given them the same advice at the end of their first online Shabbat!

I call him My Good Samaritan.  I explained the story to him and he loves the name.  Now I also have been blessed to call him My very close friend. I have learned many things that Jesus would have practiced in His worship life by sharing with Brian. And Brian has shared in Advent and worship with me.  I have been so blessed!

Carol Shull

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Our God Explorers Group grew this past week.  Grandsons Quill, Roark and my nephew James Paul learned about the shepherds and then became night shepherds walking through the neighborhood delivering good tidings of great joy to certain mail boxes.  They also had a great time creating a poster and telling the Christmas story.  My nieces Bayleigh and Kyleigh did a fantastic job coloring the nativity and telling the amazing story that goes with it.  It was so much fun.  Thank you Haven for the great Sunday School materials and lessons.  We have been blessed by it! Jamie and Jim Cannon

































Christmas Eve Worship Service

7:00 pm In-Person and Online Live

We will broadcast the service through Facebook Live on the

Haven Lutheran Church Facebook page.

You can also access Haven’s Facebook page at our website

( by clicking on the “f” icon in the upper right corner.


December 27, First Sunday of Christmas Worship Service

9:30 am Online Worship Only

*Service of Christmas Carols and Lessons will be provided by the DE-MD Synod.

You will be able to access the service through a link posted on our Haven Lutheran Church website  This link will also be sent to those enrolled in Haven’s Family and Friends e-mail list and subscribers to our website.

(*The DE-MD Synod put together this special service
to provide local worship leaders and musicians a break and rest.)



The in-person worship service on January 3rd will also be LIVESTREAMED.

You access worship by going to the Haven Facebook page and we will broadcast it using FB Live (  You can also access Haven’s Facebook page at our website (                                           by clicking on the “f” icon in the upper right corner.
















Pastor Alessandri will be away December 25 – 31. If you would like a pastor for prayer or for an emergency, please contact Pastor Hoda Zavandro (St. John Lutheran Church, Hagerstown) at 1-443-808-7754. He lives in Maugansville and is a caring and compassionate pastor.

MY TRAVEL TO ATLANTA  I am not one to disregard rules or the guidance of officials. I really struggled as to what to do about my usual Christmas trip to Atlanta — a trip I have made for over 30 years. Despite having purchased an airline ticket months ago, I decided airports and air travel had too many places where folks could be non-compliant to healthy COVID guidelines. I cancelled my tickets and decided to drive over two days.
On the road I have more controls, more ways to protect myself, especially driving at times when there will be less traffic and fewer people. I have my masks, wipes, sanitizers, disposable gloves and my own toilet paper and paper towels for restrooms. I have gotten a COVID test to confirm I am negative before I head out. I will not attend any large family gatherings or venture out when I am with my sister. When I come back to Hagerstown I will wait three days and get another COVID test before returning to the church office.
I feel uneasy “breaking the rules” — guidelines that I think are good, important and wise. But I WILL be following all the guidelines suggested for those traveling, with an extra amount of conscientiousness precautions because I am visiting a brother in-law with a compromised immune system, a 2-year-old great-nephew and a family I love AND I will be returning here to minister to and with YOU, whom I also love. If forgiveness is needed, I ask for it.
Please know I will be careful. We have not navigated all these months together for me to get careless now. Be safe. Know you are loved. Have an unusual but merry Christmas. And together, let’s pray for a new year that leads to healing, a successful vaccine and a return to worship and ministry together at Haven and in our community.

Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Linda M Alessandri

BECAUSE WE NEED TO LAUGH (Come on — a few ho, ho, ho’s?!)