January 28, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

January 28, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

 January 28, 2021

NEEDED FOR LENT – THOSE LITTLE, WRAPPED SOAPS  Many of us had the habit of taking home unopened courtesy items when we stayed in a hotel or motel. Many of us still have a bag or drawer filled with such items that we just didn’t use after all. IF you have any of the little soaps, unopened and still wrapped, could you bring them to church or drop them off at the parsonage back porch by February 7th? I would like to use them as part of our Lenten program.  Thank you!

DO YOU REMEMBER OUR SEMINARY STUDENT GREG HARTMAN? I remember his stellar Palm Sunday sermon. It was told from the viewpoint of the donkey who carried Jesus into Jerusalem and asked us to consider how we too might be called into to serving the Lord. You might remember that we had a baby diaper & wipes shower for him when we found out he and his wife, Naomi, (pastor at Evangelical Lutheran, Frederick) were having their second child.
Well, now, Greg is pastor of several Lutheran churches that have come together in the South Mountain Cooperative Ministry. Today, in the Bishop’s weekly e-newsletter, I learned that Greg and Naomi are expecting their third child! Nice to hear some good news, isn’t it?

Sunday, February 14, 10:30 am
In church nave AND on ZOOM

 More information and the proposals will be in this week’s bulletin and the February’s newsletter being posted this week. Haven needs to rally together — something we are very good at doing! PLEASE make plans to attend this February 14 meeting. There will be opportunities on February 7 (after church and on a 12:oo noon ZOOM meeting) to ask questions and have discussion so you can come to the special congregational meeting confident of your vote.


Washington County Interfaith Coalition
January 26, 2021

Celtic Blessing

May the Father take you

In his fragrant clasp of love,

when you go across the flooding stream

and the black river of death

The Upanishads

From delusion

Lead me to truth.

From darkness

Lead me to Light.

From death

Lead me to Immortality.

Spirit of Life, the flooding streams and the dark rivers are with us always, yet we can choose to return to each other with light, hope and the dawning of new possibilities.

May we journey these gifted days in the hope and promise of an unfolding of Love.

Help us as we choose to plan today’s moments and to anticipate what each next day brings.

Holiness, stay by our side…and in our hearts we pray.  Amen

Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator
Hagerstown Area Interfaith Coalition





STRAWBERRIES IN FEBRUARY? I noticed in the paper that the Boonsboro High and Middle Schools are sponsoring a strawberry fundraiser: a full flat, 8 quarts for $25 and half flats, four quarts for $15. I contacted the school advisers with some questions and they responded: “The strawberries will come in from Florida the week of February 22. We will have an exact delivery date one week prior to delivery. The strawberries are vine ripened, and over the past five years of us selling them as a fundraiser, they have been delicious!”

Why am I telling you this? I thought fresh, ripened strawberries in the gray of winter, amid the COVID blahs sounded good. You pay when you pick them up but you need to have orders in by February 8. To place an order or ask your own questions, contact Quinn Cashell at cashequi@wcps.k12.md.us or Elizabeth Comstock at comsteli@wcps.k12.md.us . I will be going to pick up a flat so I can pick up other orders, too.




Read   Mark 1: 21-28

21[Jesus and his disciples] went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught.22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

Reflection  (From Karoline Lewis, “Exorcism for our Day” January 25, 2015 posted at https://www.workingpreacher.org/dear-working-preacher/exorcisms-for-our-day)

It’s frequently helpful to place the four evangelists side by side for comparison… You want to know who Jesus is and not wait until the end of the story? Then take a look at his first public act in each of the Gospels and then ask, “according to that, just who is Jesus anyway?” Matthew? The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus — the teacher extraordinaire. Luke? A well-received homily in his hometown until people realize to whom he was actually referring when he talked about the poor and the oppressed. John? A sign of abundance. Yes, water into — 6 jars, 20-30 gallons, filled to the brim, of the best wine, when you least expect it.

And Mark? An exorcism. What does that reveal about Jesus?

That he was the first Father *Karras?  (The priest in the book k& movie entitled The Exorcist.) That Jesus is best remembered as Jesus, the Exorcist, and not Jesus, the Teacher, the Shepherd, the Savior, the King?

We would do well to remember how this Gospel starts — in the wilderness with the heavens ripping apart.

Who is Jesus? A boundary breaker, which an exorcism confirms exponentially.

And Jesus reveals a boundary breaking God. We will see this all over Mark. Each and every boundary we try to put in place, we think is in place, even that which we perceive as impenetrable, God bursts through. Political, social, religious, ethnic, racial, sexual, gendered, cosmic, even if we are honest, the final boundary we persist in thinking is beyond God’s ability to shatter — death.

As a result, Jesus the Exorcist seems the only logical first ministry act for Jesus in Mark — not a sermon, not a miracle, not even a healing. But stepping into the realm of opposing supremacies, the world of other spirits, the potent power of possession and saying, “God is here;” breaking through the barrier that holds at bay the unclean, the evil of the universe, the places and spaces where it seems God could never be, the very presence of the opposite of God.

Because what does the good news/Gospel of Jesus Christ really mean (Mk 1:1)? Mark isn’t just making stuff up. Mark knows Isaiah. And what is the good news, the gospel in Isaiah 40:9 and 52:7? The herald of good tidings, that is, the one who brings good news says, “Your God reigns. Your God is here.” This is the good news. This is the meaning of the heavens being ripped apart, a suffering Messiah, death on a cross, and an empty tomb. When all looks that God is absent? God is present. Your God is here.

Prayer   God who is present and here, help us to see you, trust you, rejoice in you in all circumstances. Help us to look beyond the barriers we place between us, that we might learn to see as you see and love as you love. Amen.


“God, Whose Almighty Word” ELW #673  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6G3vhBVPM4

“Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” ELW #311  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkrepBvrLI4

‘God’s Not Done with You” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVHrkYBEgFM

“Truth Be Told” (Matthew West) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdUu6ZsdVfM

“Set Me Free” (Casting Crowns – Based on gospel stories of possession by demons) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRtN0MMJYzw