January 15, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

January 15, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)


 January 15, 2021

This Sunday you can come to the church at 9:30 am for worship OR you can watch from your home. The worship service will be “live streamed” at 9:30 am (It will remain available for viewing later, too)
While we work on how to post music and responses during a live stream, here are the ways you at home can get what you need to participate in worship — bulletin, hymnal and blesses communion sets:

1) When the information  for linking to the live stream is sent out from the church office, two different bulletins will be attached. One is the complete bulletin with music and the other will be an abbreviated bulletin that will require you to have a hymnal. The abbreviated bulletin is only 4 pages so it will not use up as much of your ink and paper to print.

2) Starting around 2 p.m. on Fridays, you can pick up a bulletin, hymnal and communion sets for this coming Sunday on the parsonage back porch.  For extra precaution, use the hand sanitizer that will be there before opening cartons or boxes. Keep the hymnal for future use. The baggie of communion elements has enough for one person for the remaining three Sundays in January. Take on for each person watching at your home.

3) IF you do not have transportation to pick up needed supplies, please contact me — l.alessandri1035@gmail.com; 301-745-4216 — and I will ask one of our volunteers to drop off what you need.

Just to be clear, there IS worship in the sanctuary this Sunday, 9:30 am AND there will be live streaming of worship on Haven’s Facebook page at 9:30 am (which can also be viewed at a later time.)

Thank you for your ongoing patience, understanding and prayers as we continue to learn, adapt and navigate circumstances and technology so we can worship together.


Thank you, Pat (Pile) for sending this lovely baptism photo.

Juliette Sunflower Perez
(great granddaughter of
Pat & Karl Pile)




Sponsored by the Washington Co. Commission on Aging
“Living Well” Chronic Disease Self Management Program
begins January 20

Wednesdays’ January 20th – February 24th, 1 – 3:30 pm
From the safety of your home via Zoom

“Living Well” is a FREE 6-week, Chronic Disease Self Management, Program that provides adults who have long-lasting health problems such as arthritis, cancer, respiratory conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease with the tools they need to help them take charge of their health and live active and enjoyable lives. It is a lively, fun, & interactive research based workshop. A supportive environment will help participants learn and connect with others who are managing chronic health conditions. For more information or to register for an upcoming workshop, please call: 301-790-0275 ext.242.
A flyer about the program is attached to this E-Message

Several members shared this Father and Daughter Duo on Facebook   (Mat and Savanna Shaw )
“You Raise Me Up” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kG-vD-kkQ24

“I Hope You Dance” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkwzLBmTkls

“Picture This” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH_XyseUwks















Read  John 1: [35-42] 43-51

43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” 46Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 48Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Reflections (Reflection and Prayer prepared by Rev. David Kaplan)

Call stories – narratives where God reaches down or reaches out to individuals to invite them to follow and serve – abound in Scripture.  Today we have a sampling in our readings from both the Old Testament and the Gospel.  On Monday Pastor shared with us insights and inspiration from Samuel’s call (1 Samuel 3:1-20, Sunday’s first reading).  The Gospel text above (also part of Sunday’s Gospel) is about the Lord’s call to Philip and Nathaniel.  For Philip the call seemed simple and direct: Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow me,” and he did!  But was that brief encounter all there was to it?

With Nathaniel the call story is more complex.  Philip found his friend Nathaniel (they’re often paired together in disciple lists although in the other Gospels Nathaniel is known as Bartholomew) to share good news: We have found him whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.  Remembering that the law and the prophets (along with the psalms) were the recognized sections of Scripture in Jesus’ day, we understand Philip’s excited, but somewhat convoluted, greeting to mean, “We have found God’s promised Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.”  That profound understanding of Jesus’ identity at Philip’s early stage of discipleship certainly indicates that he had spent considerable time with Jesus to prepare him for the brief call encounter noted above.  Nathaniel, however, was skeptical.  As a student of Scripture himself, he realized that God’s promised Messiah was to come from Bethlehem, not Nazareth (John 7:41-42).  Sarcastically he replied, Can anything good come out of Nazareth?

Now exactly here is where I would have gone into a long explanation: “Well actually, Jesus is from Bethlehem because Joseph and Mary had to go there to register for taxes and that’s when he was born; but Herod wanted to kill him, so God’s angel told Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt, and after Herod died, they went back to Nazareth.”  Huh?  Thankfully, Philip was content for the moment to let his friend live with the misunderstanding about the site of Jesus’ birth without explanation or argument.  All he responded to Nathaniel’s sarcastic question was come and see.


Come and see – that most basic invitation that even precedes follow me.  Come and see – just as shepherds and wise men had done at Jesus’ birth.  Come and see – just as John the Baptist’s disciples had done when John directed them to Jesus (preceding story, John 1:39).  Come and see – just as Philip had done before he followed Jesus or visited his friend.  And now at Philip’s invitation Nathaniel was on his way to come and see!  When he got to Jesus, what he saw and heard was truly amazing.  Here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit! was Jesus’ surprising initial greeting to this skeptic who nonetheless had accepted Philip’s invitation.  Where did you get to know me?  he replied. I saw you under the fig tree (traditional spot to rest and study Scripture) before Philip called you.  Turns out Jesus already in Spirit had come to see Nathaniel before Nathaniel had the slightest clue that his life was about to be turned upside down.  And even with pieces still missing, that was enough to transform doubt into faith: Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!

But that’s not the end of the story.  Jesus promised Nathaniel that he would see greater things – angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.  What’s that all about?  It sounds like the Jacob’s ladder story (Genesis 28:10 -17), which contrary to the old camp song is not about our climbing it, but God’s good news that God was renewing in Jacob the covenant God had made with Abraham.  In Jacob now all the families of the earth would somehow be blessed.  And the angels?  Perhaps simply window dressing to praise and glorify God, but maybe agents of the good news – especially when the covenant promise reached fulfillment: to you is born this day…a Savior; come, see the place where he lay… At Christmas, at Easter, at Epiphany, wherever God’s presence is revealed angels bring the vital invitation Come and see!  And sometimes, as with Philip and later with Nathaniel himself those angels take human form.  For in the last verse of this story there’s a sudden shift that’s easy to miss in English unless you check the footnote in the NRSV.  Jesus had been talking with Nathaniel, but now suddenly the “you” in the phrase Very truly I tell you, you will see… is no longer singular – it’s plural!  It refers to all who come and see and then share the invitation; it refers to you and me.

For me the descending angel was Pr. Howard Hugus, LCA Campus Pastor at the University of Delaware in the late fifties and early sixties.  In my junior year studies had been going well, but I was struggling with where it all was leading.  I had always felt I would be teaching math in a high school or college setting, but for some reason that vocational choice was losing its appeal.  A few instructors in other fields were trying to persuade me to shift majors, but nothing really attracted me.  Then after a Lutheran student get together one evening Pastor Hugus asked me a disarming question, “Dave, have you ever thought about going to seminary?”  I laughed, thinking to myself, could anything good come from me going to seminary?  He continued, “I’ll be glad to take you to our seminary in Philadelphia, and you can see a little more for yourself.”  Come and see – well, it won’t hurt to do that – and who knows?

Come and see.  It’s at the heart of so many call stories, but it’s never a one-time invitation.  It’s attached to every worship, every Communion celebration, every daily devotion, every unexpected God sighting in our lives, every encounter with Jesus in the form of a neighbor in need.  And as often as we follow the invitation wherever it leads and open our eyes and ears to whatever epiphany is there to see, we’re never disappointed.  In fact, we may be so overwhelmed by God’s goodness and grace and beauty that we then want to go and tell.

Prayer: Lord, you keep calling us, inviting us to come and see the wonder of your goodness to us and your presence with us.  Thank you for the surprises that await as we accept that invitation, and by your good Spirit help us to share it with others.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pastor Kaplan’s suggestions:

Come and See (ACS 976) (From the new supplemental hymnal. Sorry, Pastor Kaplan, I could not find a rendition yet on YouTube.)

Dearest Jesus, at Your Word (ELW 520)

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (ELW 611)

Jesus Calls Us; o’er the Tumult (ELW 696) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVJ3G7L_yjU


“Follow Me” (Casting Crowns) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LraPDltKlvI

“I Will Follow” (Chris Tomlin)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ohvhmGSfxI

“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”
(bit country) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OWWqS1jnOw
(acapella quartet)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPBCwMf0TjQ
(youth chorus)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE40F-EOOjw