February 16, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

February 16, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

       Hagerstown, Maryland
February 16, 2021



On Sunday, despite cold and predictions of sleet and freezing rain, we were able to have our Special Congregational Meeting. Fifty-seven members participated (27 in-person and 30 via ZOOM) – Way to go Haven!

After prayer, there was time for explanations and questions. The congregation unanimously approved both the loan and the roof project proposals.

Council President, Doug Wright, thanked members for their thoughtful participation. He reminded us that we are facing a challenge to pay off this loan WHILE maintaining our regular giving to the operations and ministries of Haven. He also reminded us that we need to re-build our building maintenance fund to prepare for future property needs on an aging facility — like replacing the heat pump for the Gathering Room that has gone kaput.

Without dismissing those very real challenged, I also reminded us that Haven is good at facing challenges. We are good at coming together to support God’s mission. We will each need to prayerfully consider our finances to see how we can contribute to the retirement of this loan, while maintaining our giving to the regular budget. AND, as I had just preached earlier, I believe God provides when we take on challenges in ministry and mission for the sake of spreading the gospel. Now, that doesn’t mean a lottery win. It means God has provided the resources and avenues for us to creatively, willingly, joyfully and wisely contribute individually and together.

We’re getting a new roof. The steeple will again shine. Our new air conditioning unit will be more energy efficient and have the newest air filtration system. We will continue to have a space to worship and learn and to invite, welcome and proclaim the good news of our Lord. To God be the glory. Let’s be brave and imaginative and energetic. God IS with us.

Your pastor and partner in ministry,
Linda M Alessandri

TRAVEL BAGS FOR YOUR LENTEN WALK  Wow! All 13 of the bags in the church and 16 of the 26 bags on the parsonage back porch were taken this weekend. How heartening to have so many folks eager to participate as we journey through Lent in this most unusual year.

IF you have not pick up one, there are still bags available on the parsonage back porch. There will be TWO DIFFERENT bags in TWO DIFFERENT boxes.

  • One is for those who are currently worshipping at home on Sundays;
    • the second kind is for those worshipping in church on Sunday but will need communion supplies for the livestream Ash Wednesday and Maundy Thursday services.

Take one bag for each household and ADD additional supplies if you have more than one person worshipping together. There are directions on the various boxes on the parsonage. If you are utterly confused, PLEASE send me an email (l.alessandri1035@havenlc.org) or give me a call (301-733-5056 or 301 745-4216).

7:00 pm   *Live stream via Haven’s Facebook

How do we have an Ash Wednesday worship service
without ashes? Come and see.
As you prepare to tune into worship, 1) Set out a candle (battery or actual) 2) blessed communion elements for each person worshipping 3) a small bar of soap, 4) a small bowl of water and 5) a small towel. (The soap and communion elements can be found in your Lenten Travel Bag, still available on the parsonage back porch or by calling Pastor Alessandri 301-745-4216)

Curious? Good!
Come join your brothers and sisters in Christ as we begin this Lenten season of reflection and renewal.

(*Haven Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Haven-Lutheran-Church-134647913268366 or you can get to the page by clicking the ‘F’ icon in the upper right corner (center of page if on a mobile device) of the Haven website www.havenlc.org The live service will remain on the page for viewing later too.  If you are not familiar with Facebook please scroll down past the ads, map and photos until you see Haven Lutheran Church with a small circle of the church photo in a post. It will say ‘Haven Lutheran Church is live’ . This will be the first post Haven will have that day. If you have issues, please email the church office or call and leave a message and I will try to get back with you so I can walk you through how to find it.

We’ll be back February 24th with HEAT !!!! ALL are welcome. We look at the readings for the following Sunday. No previous Bible knowledge needed. Wonderful fellowship even if we are masked and social distancing.



Washington County Interfaith Coalition
Interfaith Prayers for Our Times

February 16, 2021

Biblical  (Psalm 100)

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,

All ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing

Know ye that the Lord is God:

It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;

We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:

Be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;

And his truth endureth to all generations.


Mechthild of Magdeburg

Lord, you are my lover

My longing,

My flowing stream,

My sun,

And I am your reflection.

Holiness, the magnitude and inclusivity of You to whom we pray whispers each moment of the blessed Unity of life. So much is far beyond our understanding yet You set forth fruit trees, radiant sunshine and waters of rivers and streams. May we bless the many names by which you are called and accept these gifts of our living with humility and gratitude. Amen

Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition





Read:  Genesis 9: 8-7  (First Lesson for the First Sunday of Lent)

8God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”


“Many people imagine Lent as merely a time of somber self-sacrifice, but the [readings and] gospel acclamation for Lent reminds us to return to God, who is gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Repentance is not a frightening appearance before an angry God, but a homecoming to one who longs to save us in the midst of our trials and fears.” (From sundaysandseasons.com. Copyright © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.)

“Repentance as a homecoming.” Lent is a homecoming. We’re various versions of the prodigal son (Luke 11: 11-32) who has ignored, insulted, rejected, or scorned the father, thinking we know better about what is right, what is good living and what is important. When we are bankrupt emotionally, socially, economically or spiritually, we turn to go to the father to beg forgiveness and a home. We anticipate that angry God but find instead we find a Lord who has been waiting all along for us to return, who has never stopped loving us and rejoices to share life with us once again. What makes it possible for that prodigal son or daughter to turn back toward home? Desperation, perhaps. But really, the answer is the prodigal knew deep, deep inside, from all the time he had known his father, that his father’s love was great and unrelenting. Whether accepted back as servant or son, he would be treated with great mercy and compassion.

The Old Testament lessons during Lent describe that kind of loving, faithful relationship God has had for God’s people all along. That relationship is expressed in many ways. We will hear during Lent how is  expressed in covenants. A covenant is an agreement between two parties in which each is bound to honor the “terms” for an intended outcome. God made covenants with our ancestors and us. What is remarkable about many of these covenants, like the one made with Noah and “all flesh that is upon the earth,” is that God is making a promise that will be kept regardless of how we act. It’s a divine covenant that God will fulfill period, simply because God has given God’s word out of love and will stay faithful to that promise no matter what. God promises never to wipe out humanity with natural disasters ever again, regardless of how we may act.

The love and faithful God to divine covenants is one of the reasons we prodigals come home to the Lord, again and again, in Lent and outside of Lent. The God of these covenants has shown integrity, faithfulness and immense love throughout human history.  Eventually that commitment to saving creation and all creatures will be revealed in the life of Jesus. Thus, we learn in the covenants and Jesus, that God can be trusted with our neglectful, wretched and unfaithful selves. We can dare to rise, repent and turn back to God who is our home, because Jesus has shown us that we will be welcomed as beloved children. It is a divine promise and covenant that we can count up and build our lives on.

Prayer: God of rainbows, God, keeper of promises, we thank you for your boundless, unconditional, unearned love that is a constant in our every changing lives and world. Give us the desire and strength to turn toward you and drawer nearer to all we were created to be, trusting your Word and your faithfulness. Amen.


Ash Wednesday/Lent

 “Restore in Us O, God” ELW#328 (organ/sing-a-long) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJVDmjAEJzE

“Wash, O God, Our Sons and Daughters” ELW #445 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fPDFa8-Hjc

“Be Thou My Vision”  #793
(acapella) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx3CcsfU814

 “Come Back to Me” (Weston Priory) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woErZBtwgJ0

“Forty Days — A Theme Song for Lent”   (Richard Bruxvoort Colligan) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX2GnR7Wvd8 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AX2GnR7Wvd8

“Beautiful Things” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1spkhp41ig4

 “Promises” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muEqwtYjdB0

“You’re My Covenant-Lord” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcxHVCm2FpE

“God Is Always Good” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muEqwtYjdB0

“Peace” (We the Kingdom) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW6xcmqfiY4