March 30, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri

March 30, 2021 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

March 30, 2021

STEEPLE REMOVAL UPDATE — NOW  SET FOR WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31 The companies involved are hoping to have equipment here at 8 am but we are not sure when the actual removal will occur. IF I get a firmer time, I will post it in our church office phone message system. IF there is significant wind (like predicted for Wednesday night and Thursday,) the removal might be delayed. I would post that, too. Call the church 301-733-5056 and press the (*) button as soon as the main office message begins to get those updates.
Right now the weather looks like rain on Wednesday, so we may be in our cars watching. It would be great if someone who was here could video it on their phone and send it to the church office ( We could then post it on our website and Facebook page. And so it begins.

We are now supplying Micah’s Backpacks of weekend food for 10 Fountaindale children. So we once again need our volunteers to pack the food into the backpacks and volunteers to deliver them to Fountaindale.

PACKING  Packing is a one or two-person job.  Food will be on the table in the Micah’s Backpack room by Sunday and needs to be packed by Wednesday evening.  It really only takes one person- it is just more fun for 2.  If you would like to help, contact Linda Clark at her new phone number 301-491-4027.

If can help take the bags to Fountaindale, they can be picked up on Thursday and delivered the same day.  Call Kathy Wright – 301-791-2749 – to volunteer for delivery. Thank you for helping.

PLEASE PRAY for the families receiving food baskets from Haven.  At this moment, it is 5 families with ties to Fountaindale School.  Distribution will be April 1 from noon until 2. We pray they are nourished in body and spirit. We pray they will know the power and peace of God’s grace and resurrection.


Wednesday, March 31 PRAYER VIGIL 7 am – 7 pm
How will this work?  YOU choose an hour of the day. Contact the church office ( or  Pastor Alessandri ( ) to let us know when you will be praying. We’d like to share with the congregation the number of hours in which prayer was being offered.
Where will you pray? YOU choose a place for your hour of prayer. (It could be a place in your house or yard, a favorite park or trail, a place you can sit or a place, walk or do both.)
What will you do during that time?  One suggestion is to take out the church directory, your own address book or maybe that stack of Christmas cards you still haven’t discarded. If you are walking, you may think of family members, friends, church members or neighbors. Read or say aloud a name and pause to bring him/her/them to mind. Then pray to the Lord on their behalf, for needs you know they have and those needs for which you are not aware. You are free to use the hour in any way that gives you meaningful time in God’s presence.

Thursday, April 1~ MAUNDY THURSDAY

7:00 p.m. Worship with Holy Communion
  Live Stream on Haven’s Facebook page )

Bulletins and blessed communion elements are still available on the parsonage back porch

Maundy (“Command”) Thursday commemorates the Last Supper at which Jesus gave us the gift of Holy Communion and gave his disciples (including us) the command to love one another as he has loved us. The service concludes with the reading of Psalm 22 as the altar and sanctuary is stripped all adornments, except a rugged cross that is brought in to the bare chancel. There is no benediction or dismissal as participants leave in silence.


Friday, April 2 ~ GOOD FRIDAY

7:00 pm ~ Tenebrae Service
7:00 PM Live Stream on Haven’s Facebook page
Bulletins are still available on the parsonage back porch

The Tenebrae Service is a traditional Good Friday service of Light and Word commemorating the Passion and Death of our Lord. As we move through the events leading to the crucifixion, we extinguish candles, letting the darkness of the betrayal, abuse and abandonment Jesus experienced surround us. Be ready to be moved. Be ready to leave marveling at the depth of the Lord’s love for us. Be ready to walk into Easter with deeper appreciation.

SUNDAY, APRIL 4 ~ Easter Sunday

9:30 am ~ Worship with Holy Communion

10:45 am ~ Resurrection Easter Egg Hunt







I will leave for a visit with family in Atlanta after our Easter celebration on April 4th. So a few reminders.

STAY WELL! But if you would want the presence or care of a pastor while I am away, please call Pastor Allen Reed 301-331-6368. He is kind, gentle and pastoral.

THIS WILL BE THE LAST E-MESSAGE FOR A WHILE since I  need to shift my focus to our Holy Week and Easter worship services. And, after Easter, I will be away. I am asking you to stay connected to one another with calls and notes. I will keep you in heart and prayer.




Spring Bargain Sale featuring household goods, gently used clothing, collectibles; lunch to go also for sale. All proceeds go to supporting the Women’s Club mission to provide low income housing for women in transition.

Friday and Saturday, April 9 and 10, 9 am – 1 pm
Women’s Club of Hagerstown (31 South Prospect Street)






I know I said I would no longer include a devotion in the E-Message, but Richard Rohr just blew me away with his Monday morning posting. It has given me something powerful to ponder on this Holy Week, especially the events of Good Friday. I hope you will find it meaningful, too.

Scapegoating and the Cross

A Temporary Solution

The word “scapegoating” originated from an ingenious ritual described in Leviticus 16. According to Jewish law, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest laid hands on an “escaping” goat, placing all the sins of the Jewish people from the previous year onto the animal. Then the goat was beaten with reeds and thorns, driven out into the desert, and the people went home rejoicing. Violence towards the innocent victim was apparently quite effective at temporarily relieving the group’s guilt and shame. The same scapegoating dynamic was at play when European Christians burned supposed heretics at the stake, and when white Americans lynched Black Americans. In fact, the pattern is identical and totally non-rational.

Whenever the “sinner” is excluded, our collective ego is delighted and feels relieved and safe. It works, but only for a while, because it is merely an illusion. Repeatedly believing the lie, that this time we have the true culprit, we become more catatonic, habitually ignorant, and culpable—because, of course, scapegoating never really eliminates evil in the first place. As Russian philosopher Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” [1] As long as the evil is “over there,” we can change or expel someone else as the contaminating element. We then feel purified and at peace. But it is not the peace of Christ, which “the world cannot give” (see John 14:27).

Jesus became the scapegoat to reveal the universal lie of scapegoating. He became the sinned-against one to reveal the hidden nature of scapegoatingso that we would see how wrong even educated and well-meaning people can be. This is perfectly represented by Pilate and Caiaphas (state and religion), who both find their artificial reasons to condemn him (see John 16:8–11 and Romans 8:3).

In worshiping Jesus as the scapegoat, Christians should have learned to stop scapegoating, but we didn’t. We are still utterly wrong whenever we create arbitrary victims to avoid our own complicity in evil. It seems it is the most effective diversionary tactic possible. History has shown us that authority itself is not a good guide. Yet for many people, authority soothes their anxiety and relieves their own responsibility to form a mature conscience. We love to follow someone else and let them take the responsibility. It is a universal story line in history and all cultures.

With the mistaken view of God as a Punisher-in-Chief that most Christians seem to hold, we think our own violence is necessary and even good. But there is no such thing as redemptive violence. Violence doesn’t save; it only destroys all parties in both the short and long term. Jesus replaced the myth of redemptive violence with the truth of redemptive suffering. He showed us on the cross how to hold the pain and let it transform us.

[1] Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918–1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, I–II, trans. Thomas P. Whitney (Harper & Row: 1974), 168.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, CONSPIRE 2016: Everything Belongs, sessions 2 and 3 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2016)
Image credit: Dorothea Lange, Village dwelling. Escalante, Utah (detail), 1936, photograph, public domain.
Image inspiration: Closed and shuttered, this house offers no welcome to a passerby. The sharp shadows of an unseen tree evoke the shadow of our often unacknowledged biases about who is “in” and who is “out.”

Written by Richard Rohr for his Center for Action and Contemplation  <