September 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

September 23, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church

 September 23, 2020

BECOMING A 21ST CENTURY CHURCH The author, Rev. Fred Lehr, will continue his presentation on being a church in the challenges in this world that is very different from the world we knew growing up. The session begins at 6 p.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church (Hagerstown) Masks are required and there is plenty of space for social distancing. You can also see it on Trinity’s You Tube channel — “Trinity Loving Community” — and posted for viewing later at the same YouTube station.

Washington County Interfaith

September 22, 2020


We wait in the darkness!

Come, all ye who listen,

Help us in our night journey;

Now no sun is shining;

Now no star is glowing;

Come show us the pathway;

The night is not friendly;

The moon has forgot us,

We wait in the darkness!


Tao (Loy Ching Yuen)

Like a golden beacon signaling

on a moonless night

Tao guides our passage through

this transitory realm

In moments of darkness and pain

remember it is all cyclical.

Sit quietly behind;

your wooden door:

Spring will come again.

Holiness of the changing seasons, incline our hearts and spirits to these days which begin to shorten.  As darkness grows, we reach forth with our own unique vision and become aware of both darkness and fading light.  Each evening twilight enfolds us in the day’s ending. Each morning we arise to the newness of dawning light.

Let this time of darkening days embrace us in a time of change… and in a time of promise… and in a time of joy.  May we greet each morning’s awakening light knowing the Love which surrounds us even when it is hard to see

Turn our hearts to the coming season: not to darkening thoughts and feelings but rather to the joy of individual moments and the quiet of rest.  Guide us to build within us space for Your spiritual light and for the light in each other’s eyes and actions.

Spring will come again.  Let us receive the days of Autumn as moments of gleaned light.

Be in our hearts each daybreak we pray. Be in our hearts no matter how many hours of darkness there are. Blessed be.  Blessed be. Amen

Reverend Valerie Wills, Coordinator
Washington County Interfaith Coalition
















Pam O’Conner shared this with us.

How grandchildren perceive their grandparents, Part II

  1. When my grandson asked me how old I was, I teasingly replied, “I’m not sure.” “Look in your underwear, Grandpa,” he advised “Mine says I’m 4 to 6.” (WOW! I really like this one — it says I’m only ’38’!)
  2. A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, “Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today.” The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. “That’s interesting.” she said. “How do you make babies?” “It’s simple,” replied the girl. “You just change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es’.”
  3. Children’s Logic: “Give me a sentence about a public servant,” said a teacher. The small boy wrote: “The fireman came down the ladder pregnant.” The teacher took the lad aside to correct him. “Don’t you know what pregnant means?” she asked. “Sure,” said the young boy confidently. ‘It means carrying a child.”
  4. A grandfather was delivering his grandchildren to their home one day when a fire truck zoomed past. Sitting in the front seat of the fire truck was a Dalmatian dog. The children started discussing the dog’s duties.
    “They use him to keep crowds back,” said one child.
    “No,” said another. “He’s just for good luck.”
    A third child brought the argument to a close. “They use the dogs,” she said firmly, “to find the fire hydrants.”
  5. A 6-year-old was asked where his grandma lived. “Oh,” he said, “she lives at the airport, and whenever we want her, we just go get her. Then, when we’re done having her visit, we take her back to the airport.”
  6. Grandpa is the smartest man on earth! He teaches me good things, but I don’t get to see him enough to get as smart as him!
  7. My Grandparents are funny, when they bend over, you hear gas leaks and they blame their dog.


BARBARA TYLER joined Haven Lutheran Church in 2014. Most of you will not know her, though her picture was in the last photo director. She was a neighbor of Ed Bentz and Jim Failor. Barbara never was able to visit the church after a stroke limited her mobility, but she still considered Haven her home church. I would visit and bring her communion. She always asked me to take her offering envelopes back to church. One Christmas season when we took the Haven children and teens “on the road” for Christmas caroling, we visited Barbara. She was delighted. She sang along and cried and thanked everyone with genuine gratitude.

Whenever you visited Barbara at her home, you thought you had stepped into Christmas. Before his death, her husband had been a skilled crafts person and Barbara loved being surrounded by his many projects. They lined the rooms, the stairs and the second floor ledge. When she finally needed to move to Coffman Nursing Center, she grieved the loss of those things and that place where she best remembered her husband and her life before her stroke. She would end up accepting the circumstances with grace and with her usual determination to make the best of what was.

Barbara shared great memories. She had worked at Hood College until retirement. She had been a ten pin bowler who had competed in and won tournaments throughout the country. She had a mischievous twinkle in her eye and a feisty spirit. She loved sports. When her Nationals won the World Series last year, I took her balloons and a National’s pennant to her room in Coffman. I had not been able to visit with Barbara during the COVID pandemic. She had finally got a phone and let me know that Coffman was allowing “porch visits.” When I called to arrange a visit, she told me they had just stopped visits again because there had been a COVID case and they all needed to go into a fourteen- day quarantine. I wrote on my calendar to call again on September 20th to arrange a visit. Barbara died on Saturday, September 19th.

Why do I share all this with you? Maybe because I am amazed at the richness of the many lives we may only briefly brush against. Maybe to let you know what a privilege it is to be invited into that richness of your lives as your pastor. And here is yet another wonder — You did not even know Barbara, yet each time you received communion here at Haven, you shared it with Barbara. She was a part of you through Christ part of the communion of saints that transcends all time and place.

Barbara asked to have her funeral at Haven the second Saturday after her death. That’s not possible with worship on Sunday. I made it clear to her family that there would be many restrictions if the funeral was here — masks, social distancing, no gathering in the narthex, only in and out of the sanctuary and building and limited space. Still, her family wanted to honor her wish if we would allow it. On October 7th at 11:00 am we will hold a memorial service for our sister in Christ, Barbara Tyler. It will not be as she might have wished but we will do our best to safely celebrate Barbara and comfort her family during a pandemic. She is held dearly and forever in God’s arms. On All Saints Sunday, we know that Barbara will be among the communion of saints who dearly and forever hold us in heart and song.                                                                     Pastor Linda M Alessandri














Read Philippians 2:1-13

1If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.

9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Reflection: (Today’s Reflection and Prayer has been prepared by Pastor Dave Kaplan)

One of the most beautiful passages in the whole New Testament, the middle section of this text (verses 5-11), is actually an early two stanza hymn, often called the Christ Hymn.  Paul quotes it here to remind his readers of Jesus’ saving work, not just during his ministry on earth, but from before time began until the final fulfillment – all part of God’s eternal, over-arching purpose for the world God so loves.  The hymn appears each year as the second reading for the Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday) where it serves as a prelude to Holy Week and a reminder of the deeper significance of the events we’re about to remember during that week.  It’s also helpful, though, to read and hear this marvelous passage outside of Lent and Holy Week where we have more opportunity to focus on its message.

The two stanzas of the hymn could be labeled respectively humiliation and exaltation.  The first stanza begins with a rather strange assertion about Jesus, who though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God as something to be exploited (literally, grasped or held onto).  The verse points to a mystery in the Trinity which we could never even begin to unravel: what would it mean for one of the Persons of the Trinity to hold onto or exploit that Person’s identity above the other two?  Sounds like something theologians with too much time might debate along with the number of angels that can stand on the head of a pin!  But the real point of reference in that verse is not the complex interactions of the Trinity, but the old familiar Garden story: when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God… Yes, that kind of grasping and exploiting to become more than we are, more than we were created to be, to be like God, we know all too well.  It comes with every temptation, every human attempt to blur the boundaries between creature and Creator.  Fact is we count equality with God as something to be grasped on a regular basis!

But Jesus didn’t.  Instead of holding onto what was rightfully his from the beginning Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  Now that’s a different way to tell the Christmas story, but that’s exactly what this verse proclaims; and that’s what Christmas, without angels and shepherds and stars and stables and Sunday School programs, is still about.  Even in Covid times with everything else stripped away and feeling in our hearts it just doesn’t seem like Christmas, the good news comes crashing in with no virus to overpower it: Jesus emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And it doesn’t end there: being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.  The emptying, the self-humbling that began in the depths of the Trinity continued through Jesus’ life and ministry on earth, on the journey to Jerusalem, in the Upper Room where he shared his body and blood with disciples and continues to share them with us, in the other familiar Garden story – not my will, Father, but yours be done; on the road to the cross, in his obedience to the point of death.  No wonder that verse about Christ humbling himself is sometimes used as a Gospel acclamation during Lent and Holy Week – it vividly captures what the season is all about.

But thankfully, wonderfully, magnificently the hymn – and the story of which it sings – didn’t end there.  Stanza two is linked to the previous stanza with the ironic and illogical connective therefore.   Therefore, you would think, Jesus was buried and his tomb became a memorial.  Therefore, the disciples went home grieving.  Therefore, others were inspired by his heroic but ultimately tragic life story.  But no, none of the above.  This therefore connects to something no one could have imagined or guessed even though he had tried to tell disciples on several occasions: Therefore God also highly exalted him.  Easter!  Resurrection!  Christ is risen indeed!  Death no longer the last word.  Covid banished.  Fires extinguished.  Hurricanes stilled.  People living together peacefully – even when they disagree.  Former things passed.  2020 gone.  All things made new.  God also highly exalted him – but wait, there’s more – and gave him the name that is above every name.  What would that name be?  In New Testament times, there were two possibilities, one Jewish, one Gentile.  For devout Jews, the name above every name was the divine name of God – YAHWEHso holy, it wasn’t even pronounced in worship.  Instead Adonai, translated Lord was used (still used in most Bible translations).  For Gentiles the supreme name was kurios, also translated Lord, and was accorded to only one exalted human, who was often worshiped and offered sacrifice as if he were a god: the Roman Emperor.  Caesar kurios, Caesar is Lord, was the required patriotic affirmation when demanded by authorities.  But now, the hymn declares the unthinkable:  this crucified servant teacher, raised from the dead, is truly Yahweh in human flesh, truly the King of all kings of the earth!  For Jews and Gentiles alike and all who will receive him, Jesus is Lord, no exceptions, no one more highly exalted!   And one day, not just his followers but all peoples everywhere – in heaven and on earth and even under the earth – will confess and praise and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

But wait there’s even more!  While the reading for the Sunday of the Passion is limited to the hymn itself, the reading for this coming Sunday includes surrounding verses, which effectively relate the hymn to our lives as God’s people.  Remember that Paul did not write theological essays; he wrote pastoral letters to congregations that he had begun or at least visited.  While he included in them constant reminders of the Gospel, for the most part he dealt with issues that were affecting and sometimes even threatening the well-being and mission of these churches.  In this letter to the Philippians Paul expressed his love and gratitude for their growth in faith, their partnership with him in sharing the Gospel, their personal support while he was in prison.  But (again always the “but”!) there was friction among some of the congregants.  No, it didn’t appear to be a major conflict – just enough irritation to hamper their effectiveness.  Paul’s counsel in the opening verses of the chapter was that these faithful, but somewhat disgruntled Christians be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind… in humility regard others as better than yourselves.

That’s the setting for introducing the hymn – to have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God… so that Jesus’ act of emptying himself in coming into the world and then humbling himself to take on the cross are not only pivotal events in the salvation of the world, but become a pattern for Christian living.  In our relationships with others, a willingness to let go of what we otherwise would try to grasp and hold onto, expresses Jesus’ saving love in our hearts.  In this period of transition as Haven regroups for worship once more in the Sanctuary while still under Covid restrictions, it will take some time to feel comfortable with the “new normal.”   We may not be able to sit in our favorite pew or sing our favorite hymn or hug during the sharing of the peace.  Our natural inclination may be to feel irritated and resentful, to blame others, and to grasp for our old familiar pre-Covid style of worship.  Here’s where these introductory verses can speak as powerfully to us as to the first readers.  Let them point us also to this beautiful hymn that reminds us of Jesus’ attitude of self-giving and calls us to the same attitude in our relationships with each other.

Finally, the concluding verses after the hymn invite us to an impossible task: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  But what sounds impossible becomes a renewed possibility, for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  God at work within each of us and within Haven Congregation!  God working in us enabling us to work together in love and humility even when it involves struggle and suffering.  God at work enabling us to trust that in due time God will also exalt us to confess and praise Jesus Christ as Lord and to dwell in the glory God provides.

Prayer (Prayer for Sunday of the Passion, ELW p.29) Everlasting God, in your endless love for the human race you sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take on our nature and to suffer death on the cross.  In your mercy enable us to share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.


Pastor Kaplan’s suggestions
Great God Your Love Has Called Us (ELW 358)

Christ, the Life of All the Living (ELW 339)
(Virtual Choir)

O Christ, Your Heart, Compassionate (ELW 722)

“At the Name of Jesus” ELW #416 (two additional verses between ELW 3 & 4)

“Let This Mind Be in You” (Choral)
(Notre Dame Liturgical Choir)

“To You Alone” (Hillsong)

Philippians 2: 3 “for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” “A Great Work”

“Humble and Kind” secular spin (Tim McGraw)

I think it would be good to remind people that during this time and all times we need to remember who is there beside us all the way. In God’s Love, Carol Shull

“I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”