January 13, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

January 13, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

 January 13, 2021


“Tanner had a fun time reading about John the Baptist this morning and doing the activities. This is the picture from the day of her Baptism. She wanted me to share. Thanks for all you do!”  Stephanie Meredith







(What a great idea. I wish I had asked everyone in the congregation to send a picture from their baptism day to celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord. Well, it’s not too late! If you have a picture, please send it along. We cannot celebrate our baptism too much!  l.alessandri1035@gmail.com


Haven Food Bank Volunteers have been active during the Covid epidemic.  We have had 13 faithful volunteers at St. Marks Food Bank this year, although there were 5 months they were not needed.  We are now in need of new volunteers. A day at the Food Bank happens every other month and is only 2 hours of your time. All precautions are in place for your safety. We also need volunteers that can be called on as needed to substitute. Serving as a Food Bank Volunteer is a rewarding service opportunity. If you are interested, please call Pat Pile at 301-791-3470.


“When this pandemic first started, our hospital staff received so much support and kindness from our community. Now our COVID numbers are higher than ever in the community as well as in our hospital. The Spiritual Care department is looking to see if there any interest in possibly providing 1 meal a week for at least 2 departments (15 staff approximately) within the hospital.”

I sent an e-mail to get more information. Unfortunately, the food cannot be homemade from our many wonderful Haven cooks and bakers. The food has to be individually packages and delivered from a local restaurant or fast food place. They will work with us to figure out details.

Another WILD idea. Would anyone be interested in contacting some food places to find out what fifteen or so sandwiches or meals might cost? I believe I have some extra funds in our Neighbors in Need Fund to sponsor at least one round of meals for these hard working, frontline folks. Let me know what you discover at l.alessandri1035@gmail.com

Washington County Interfaith Coalition

January 12, 2021


I pray Thee, O gracious Lord,

Grant that this mendicant may

cling successfully to solitude,

Making solitude his paradise

Episcopal Christian (George Herbert 1593-1630)

DEAR God, you have given so much to me;

Give one thing more, a grateful heart.

Spirit of our true community, we are, in so many ways, also islands unto ourselves.

May we renew our lives in the solitude of wave-lapped shores…and amazing sunsets….and solitude.

Yet may we also find time to renew our hearts with all others.

Help us acknowledge that which we hold in common together, and at the same time, help us accept the ways in which we have distances of understanding.

May we dare to offer sacred moments of listening even when others’ thoughts and words are beyond us. May we heal each other simply by listening and being present.

Holy One, stir compassion, patience and open-heartedness within us.  Hear our prayer for acceptance of each other…and our own commitment to opening our loving human hearts to all. Amen

Reverend Valerie Wills,  Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition




Read:  Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

1O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
O LORD, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
13For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18I try to count them — they are more than the sand;
I come to the end — I am still with you.

Retired pastor, Don Knudson, writes:
“The psalmist writes: “O LORD, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up.” (Ps. 139:1-2) Is that a word of comfort or a threat?

 Today, when we go shopping, security cameras everywhere are watching us. Get stopped speeding? A police dashboard camera is watching. Do we sometimes feel that God is watching us like a security camera, too? In these days of ever-present surveillance, we need more than a “gotcha god,” don’t we? The psalmist describes an intimate God who knows us better than we know ourselves. A God who loves us so deeply, with whom we can struggle, argue, confess our darkest secrets, and be forgiven and be renewed.”

One summer during seminary, I was doing a required CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) unit at an Emory Hospital Senior Campus that even had its own hospital. One of the hospital units was dedicated to weaning persons off ventilators. It was a hard and scary process for patients who had already come through a traumatic health experience. What made it particularly difficult for this still inexperienced chaplain was that many still could not speak because of still being attached to a ventilator. What do I say, what do I do and what do I pray to help or encourage them without minimizing their struggles?

I always carried the Lutheran Pastoral Care book that had been given to us as a gift from one of the fraternal Lutheran organizations. It contains many helpful things including Scripture readings and prayers for a variety of pastoral care situations. I was not very familiar with it but on this particular day, as I watched a patient strain to use a walker, I asked the woman if she would like me to read a psalm. She shook her head yes. My pastoral care book opened to Psalm 139. When I came to verse 5 — “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me,” — I looked at the woman, unsteadily standing with the walker in front of her and a physical therapist standing behind her. It was this beautiful moment when God’s word and the circumstances were standing together.

Whenever I read Psalm 139, I don’t read it as God spying or keeping score. I DO think of God saying “gotcha” because I think of that woman at Emory’s Senior Hospital. I don’t imagine the Lord is looking to catch us doing something wrong. Instead I know the Lord is before, behind and beside us, to bolster and hold us up, encourage us and pour into us some of God’s own strength to persevere.

Prayer: (Psalm Prayer for Psalm 139)
Almighty God, creator of the universe, we are filled with wonder at all your works and overwhelmed by your infinite wisdom. We praise you for your majesty; yet even more we rejoice that you do not forget us, yet desire to know and care for us; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen


“Bourning Cry” #732
(Minnetonka Chamber Choir)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ca7EVzLzdTE

(hand bells) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3rRWeFEN2g

“Lord, Take My Hand and Lead Me” #767 (Psalm 139:10)
(congregational singing) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jY__1J3Y7zM
(organ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbEps2qLKuA

“Psalm 139 – Far Too Wonderful”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmsgYY-INf8&list=RDGmsgYY-INf8&start_radio=1  “Psalm 139 – You Know All Things” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcrgxY3NNn4