February 4, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

February 4, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

My apologizes this was late due to illness.

 Mary Grabill (Admin.)

       Hagerstown, Maryland

     February 4, 2021



Fresh butternut squash pie-
my snow day project!
Pastor Dave Kaplan






Looks like Ethan Rhodes got some time away from school to go out and enjoy the snow!








I mailed out information about this Sunday’s Informational Meetings (Immediately after worship in the sanctuary and via ZOOM at 12 noon) and the Special Congregational Meeting on February 14th, 10:30, a simultaneous in-person and ZOOM event. Both meetings are about the Proposals for the Roof Project (roof, steeple and air conditioning) and a $100, 000 Loan.

I apologize for its lateness. We’ve been working on bulletins, February’s newsletter and the annual report at the same time and then the snow……. I’m hoping you will get it before Sunday but if you don’t, we’re attaching it to this E-Message. It has all the information you need to connect via ZOOM for both the February 7 Information Meeting at 12 noon AND the February 14 Special Congregational Meeting at which we will vote on the Roof Project and Loan proposals.

Please make every effort to participate. We need at least 50 members at the February 14th meeting to have the required quorum to conduct business. Please pray that we are able to make wise decisions that honor our Lord and the Lord’s church at Haven.

Last week I mentioned that one of Haven’s former seminary student, Greg Hartman, and his wife were expecting their third child. I shared a few memories I had of Greg’s time with us. Ed Distad e-mailed another memory I had forgotten. It would be a wonderful practice during Lent or any time.
            I remember him [ Greg] saying that when he wakes up in the morning, he starts his day by cupping his hands and splashing water on his face 3 times.

Following each splash he would say one of these. Father – Son – Holy Spirit

I occasionally do this myself. Coincidentally today was one of those days.

Ed, thank you for this memory and faith practice. What a wonderfully simple way to welcome the Lord into your day and heart.

HAVEN ANNUAL REPORTS AVAILABLE STARTING THIS WEEKEND  We will have copies available in the church narthex AND on the parsonage back porch (in the plastic crate with the hymnals) after 2 pm on Friday. You may be amazed to see all that DID happen even during a pandemic.




Read:  Mark 1: 29-39
29As soon as [Jesus and the disciples] left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. 31He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
32That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33And the whole city was gathered around the door. 34And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Reflection:    (Reflection and Prayer prepared by Pastor David Kaplan)

A Day in the Life of Jesus, a short drama in three acts.

Act 1, scene 1: Outside the synagogue.  Service has just ended, and people begin to emerge talking excitedly.  One worshiper recognizes a bystander who did not attend.

Worshiper: You’ll never guess what happened in worship today.  I tell you, Jacob, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before – none of us ever had!

Jacob: So tell me about it!  They walk off together and exit.  Jesus accompanied by Simon and Andrew, James and John come to center stage.

Simon: Master the way you taught and ordered that demon to come out of that poor man, and the demon obeyed…

Jesus: It wasn’t magic, Peter.

John: I know, but it sounded like, well, like your words came straight from God…

Simon: If you have a few minutes, can you stop by the house?  There’s another issue – Addie’s mom has been sick in bed for a week now and hasn’t gotten any better.  In fact, Addie sent me a note this morning that her mom seems to be getting weaker.  And she used to be full of energy and into things – she’d drive me up a wall, but I miss it now.

Jesus: Let’s go and see her.  All exit.

Scene 2: Small bedroom in Simon’s house.  A woman is lying lifeless on a cot.  Jesus, Simon and Addie enter.  The other three disciples are in the background at the entrance to the room.

Addie: I’m so worried about her, Rabbi – she’s been scarcely able to move for almost a week.  Leaning over to her mom and speaking in a raised voice, Mom, this is Simon’s friend and teacher, the rabbi Jesus from Nazareth.  Rabbi, this my mother Leah.  No response from Leah.

Jesus: Shalom, Leah.  Taking her hand, he gently lifts her arm.  Rise up, Leah!

Leah (rising on her own now and shaking her head):  Sorry, I must have dozed off for a few minutes, but I really feel refreshed now! Noticing Jesus, You must be that rabbi Simon’s been talking about, Jesus, is that right?  Then seeing the others in the doorway, I see we have company!  I can’t stay here in bed!  Addie, we’ve got work to do to feed these gentlemen.  Simon, get the fire going….

Simon: Yes, mom.  All exit.


Act 2: Later that night, at the entrance to Jesus’ house.  People sitting, standing, milling around, some moaning or crying softly, some screaming occasionally.  Disciples are in the background observing.  Jesus enters the crowd and greets each individual with a personal word of healing and a touch – holding the person’s hand or shoulder.

Jesus: Tell me about your illness.  Listens intently while the individual responds.  And what is your name?  Waits for response, then prays.

Jesus: Father, thank you for listening to the prayers of your children.  Your child __________ has been suffering with ____________.   Please make (her, him) well and strong and whole.  Amen.  Or in the case of demons,

Jesus: Be silent, and come out!

People respond to their healing in various ways.  Some embrace Jesus in thanks.  Some shout Hallelujah! Praise God –  I’m healed!  Some bow silently in prayer.  Still others walk or run off without any outward response.  After all in the crowd have left, disciples join Jesus in a circle, lifting up their hands in prayer.  They exit; Jesus goes into his house.


Act 3: Early next morning at a deserted place.  Jesus is kneeling with hands uplifted in prayer.  After a period of silence, Jesus prays out loud.

Jesus: They don’t yet understand, Father.  Even after yesterday they are still seeking their own glory.  Help them begin to realize and to share your self-giving, sacrificial love for all people as I reflect that love in the ministry you have given me – all the way to that complete surrender that lies ahead.  Just then disciples enter out of breath.

John: Jesus, Master, we’ve been looking all over for you!

Andrew: Everyone is searching for you!  What are you doing here?

Jesus: Praying to the Father.

Peter: But this is more important!

Jesus: There’s nothing more important than beginning each day by listening to and talking with the Father.  It gives strength and guidance and support for whatever else the day brings.  Otherwise the day’s burdens can easily overwhelm you.  Now, settle down and sit around me.  We’ll pray together and then you can explain your urgency.  They sit in a circle as they had the previous evening. After a period of silence Jesus prays.

Jesus: Father, thank you for bringing us all together here as dawn is breaking.  We give you special thanks for your creative beauty that we see all around us – the trees and flowers, the birds singing, the splendor of the sunrise.  Help us always to begin the day with you, and pause to see your wonders and listen to your word.  Guide us this day by your good Spirit.  Amen.

Simon: OK, now can we go back to town?  People there are looking for you.  They want you to be their spiritual director and healer.  You could work together with Rabbi Rueben in the synagogue – he’d love to have a partner!  And we’d be close to home – we could live comfortably like that for years out of reach of the authorities, and you could build your Kingdom as you see fit.  We’d be here to help you run it; we’d all share the honor and glory together!

Jesus: Come together and listen to me all of you.  From a human standpoint what you’re suggesting, what the townspeople think they want on the basis of yesterday’s healings, sounds quite appealing.  I know many of those folks and love them all, I have high regard for Rabbi Reuben and understand that he could use long term help and support, and I well understand you would like to be near home and family as I would like to be nearer to my mother and siblings.  But that’s not why I came to earth – to settle into one comfortable style of living – even if it seems to be mostly spiritual.

I came to bring God’s good news to all people – even the Samaritans and those beyond the borders of the Holy Land.  It was good to hear cheers yesterday, but don’t take them too seriously; in many places we’ll be hearing jeers, threats and plotting against me.  And those demons I’ve cast out of people, they’re not going away.  It’s a long road we’re beginning, and I dare not yet tell you where it will one day lead – that will happen soon enough.  But I will tell you we’re not going back to Capernaum for a while.  So now let us go on to the neighboring towns that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.  Jesus exits slowly; disciples remain together for a moment stunned by his words.  Then one by one they follow him.


So why the drama?  For one thing this reading with its three distinct episodes lends itself well to a dramatic interpretation.  The problem is that except for the final verses there’s no conversation at all.  As I read the text slowly, however, that very lack of dialogue made me wonder what might the disciples and crowd who were involved in these events be thinking and feeling and saying to one another? The beginning of last Sunday’s sermon, in which Pastor posed a conversation between a worshiper in the synagogue and a bystander, helped prompt my curiosity; that’s why I included those opening remarks in act 1, scene1.  While my rendering of the missing conversations may not be entirely factual, I’ve tried to reflect Mark’s portrayal of misunderstanding from both disciples and crowd.

There’s one more factor – the fourth wall, a term used in drama for the imaginary barrier between the actors on stage and the audience.  In most dramatic presentations actors perform their roles as if the barrier were real, as if there were no audience looking on.  Occasionally, however, sometimes as part of the plot, sometimes as an ad lib, an actor “breaks” the fourth wall and speaks directly or indirectly to the audience while still remaining in character.  George Burns was a master at making such side remarks!

My understanding of Mark’s Gospel is that he’s not just writing for a particular audience (probably a persecuted first century congregation), but that he indirectly, but very intentionally, breaks the fourth wall to include his audience in the story.  I tried to do the same in this little drama.  I hope you saw yourself in the crowd excited by worship (even if there isn’t a dramatic healing); as Leah, needing to serve others because you’ve been blessed and lifted up by our Lord Jesus; as responding in various ways to his healings in your life; as a misunderstanding disciple (we all are at times), desiring to have Jesus stay with you in your own little comfort zone; as one who still follows, even if somewhat reluctantly, when he calls you out of that comfort zone on a rough road that leads to – well, you know where.  Don’t fret, you’re not alone, Jesus goes with you, we all go with you together.  In fact, we begin that road again in less than two weeks.  But we know what disciples in this drama could never comprehend at that time – the road and the whole drama has an ending that never ends!

Prayer: Father, help us always begin and end the day with you, and pause to see your wonders and listen to your word.  Guide us this day by your good Spirit.  Amen.



Suggested by Pastor Kaplan

O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come (ELW 610)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiFqe4deGGU

Rise, Shine, You People (ELW 665)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDS6oj_X4Hk

O Jesus, I Have Promised (ELW 810) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOWQ-xx0vsE

(different tune from hymnal)

Suggested for worship with Mark 1: 29-39

“O God of Light”  ELW #507   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF1U4hdp1Wo

“Christ Be Our Light” ELW #715  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g0c4YeABTs

Other Suggestions

“Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service” ELW #712
(Vocal and Bell Choir) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIPIyM2Qz4k
(Organ & Choir)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RLnv45sIks