September 4, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri

 September 4, 2020 Message from Pastor Alessandri (pdf)

Haven Lutheran Church

September 4, 2020

Friday 5 pm Spoken Service with communion in the sanctuary.

Sunday 9:30 am Worship On-line at       This week’s taped worship has been prepared by the DE-MD Synod to allow musicians and worship leaders a break from taping worship. The link to this taped service will be sent out as usual and posted at our usual sites. (No bulletin) We’ll be back with our taped worship from Haven’s sanctuary on September 13.

Sunday, 9:30 am  Drive-up and Outdoor Worship at Haven – Our worship will include a blessing of Bibles and God Squad Explorers backpacks to be distributed to our elementary school children.
(REMEMBER if weather looks uncertain & before you leave home, call the church after 8:30 am on Sunday  301-733-55056 Push the star button (*) as soon as the message begins to get worship cancellation information.


A God Sighting— The Hibiscus Says Good Morning and Good Night—or is that God?

 This spring Jim bought a Hibiscus flower and planted it for me right outside our window where I sit each morning with my tea, which happens to be the same window I sit in the evening to relax.

This flower has brought me so much joy, peace and prompting of me spontaneously declaring that I feel like God is speaking to me right through this flower. In the morning its bright beautiful face looks right at me and says “it’s going to be a beautiful day, are you ready, are you ready to see my beauty?  Will you be a smile for someone today as big as you see in this flower”?

And then in the evening, the flower looks totally different.  It quietly retreats within itself and I hear God saying, “Jamie, its okay, sit and be quiet, there is nothing more to do today, meet Me inside yourself.”

If you have not yet experienced the transformation of this beautiful flower, see the photos below that I took the same day.  Do you hear what I hear? Do you hear a different message?






Here is a music video that I think beautifully reveals how much beauty there is in this wonderful world God has created for us.  I think it is so important to keep looking for the beauty and to know that God is truly all around us.               Jamie Cannon

A friend shared this prayer used at a virtual Kiwanis meeting today and Jim shared it with us.

Our Father, we thank thee for the joys of this day –for the recent rains that refresh the earth.
Help us to be more appreciative of the wonders of the universe.
As we approach Labor Day, may we remember those who worked hard and toiled
to make our country a prominent and outstanding place to live.
Bless our Club and all its members, and keep us in your care.  Amen.


“First tag of the season for me.” Pastor Dave Kaplan

(I’ve even seen Pastor Kaplan tag a monarch butterfly but I still find it amazing. And to think, that when the Maryland monarchs migrate to Mexico, their place of origin can be confirmed by this little tag.)







9.3 harvest. 1 watermelon (Thank you Pastor Linda for sharing), 6 green peppers. Ethan also picked some green beans (hope you don’t mind Pastor Dave). God has been good to the Haven Garden Buddies this year!!! Very blessed!!    Scott Rhodes 











The Church is not closed!
Good Shepherd (Wilmington) has collected for the LCS food pantry at St. Stephen’s and broadened our support to pantries at the LCS headquarters, Congregation Beth Emeth and the Claymont Community Center for the last six months! Jerusalem (Belair Road) is distributing (literally) tons of food to the community, in partnership with the Maryland Food Bank, every Wednesday and Friday! Elias (Emmitsburg) in partnership with the Emmitsburg Council of Churches is planning its Second Annual Unity Celebration scheduled for Sunday, October 4 at 2 p.m. in the Emmitsburg Town Park! St. Philip’s (Caroline Street) partnered with their community to give away 35,000 pounds of food, 15,000 masks and100,000 ounces of hand sanitizer in seven days! Calvary (Mt. Airy) is enjoying a “How to Return to In-Person Parking Lot Worship” instructional video prepared by Pastor Eric Deibler – it will make you smile! Reformation (Milford) has an early childhood education center, KIDS, Inc., that has made arrangements to host children in their safe and supervised facility for online learning through their local schools as a ministry to parents who are unable to be home for virtual schools this fall!

With my love and prayers,





























Read  Matthew 18: 15-20
[Jesus said to the disciples:] 15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. 16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Reflection  (Today’s reflection and prayer has been prepared by Pastor David Kaplan)
In the dark days of Nazi Germany prior to World War II, public worship was coopted by the state, and the message preached from pulpits was simply a “theological” version of official propaganda.  In response, confessing Christians formed an underground Church whose congregations met secretly just as early Christians often huddled in catacombs to avoid persecution from the Empire.  Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pastor, theologian, soon-to-be-martyr and one of the leaders of the underground Church authored a small, but inspired book called Life Together, which has guided God’s people in difficult situations ever since.  When I went to seminary, it was required entrance reading.

As the title implies, Life Together is a tutorial about Christian fellowship, how brothers and sisters in Christ interact in a faith centered community, how the Church lives when we meet together, and how we are strengthened to reach out to those on the outside.  The model is Jesus’ loving, self-giving saving work on the cross, and how first century Christians in the Book of Acts lived out that love.  Ironically part of our interaction needs to be solitude where we seek in silence and prayer God’s guidance for our own lives.

Life Together might also be a title for today’s Gospel reading and in fact for much of Matthew 18.  Here Jesus gives guidance to disciples of every age about how we are to interact as members of the Church (along with Matthew 16:18 which was part of the Gospel two weeks ago, it’s the only place in the Gospels where Jesus mentions the Church).  The word for Church literally means “called out” and so we are: called out of the world by the Spirit at our baptism, strengthened and nurtured by word and meal to be filled with and reflect Jesus’ life in us, and sent back into the world by the same Spirit to bear witness to it.  Specifically the reading features four specific aspects of that life (more about forgiveness in next week’s Gospel, a continuation of this reading).

Breakdown in communication.  It can be a serious hurt or a minor irritation, but it occurs in all human relationships including the community of God’s people.  So how do we react when we’re on the receiving end of a harpoon we didn’t see coming?  From a human perspective our tendency is usually fight or flight.  If it’s a simple matter of misunderstanding or miscommunication, we often simply ignore it or “get over it” in a day or two without any words being spoken.  More serious breakdowns may develop into quarrels, long term anger and continuing grudges.  We won’t speak to the person(s) who offended us; it’s their responsibility to apologize to us!

What a different outlook this Gospel provides.  It’s not the offender whom Jesus calls to make the first move, but the one who is offended: If another member of the Church (literally your brother – or sister – the word for Church is not actually used here) sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone.  Point out the fault – but not in an accusing or judgmental way, and not with abusive language.  “I-statements” are often a helpful starter.  We begin not with a summary of how the other one offended us, but rather with our own feelings and some type of explanation for them.  Rather than “You made me so mad…” try “I became angry yesterday when you yelled at my child because I don’t feel it’s appropriate for someone outside our family to discipline our children.  In the future would you please speak first to me?”  Also please note that conversation is to be a private one – not before or after worship when there are others nearby (well maybe 6 feet away) who may overhear.  That private, honest but not insulting conversation opens a door for the other person to apologize without becoming defensive.

If the offender rejects our approach, the process continues involving people in the congregation.  How that process might be modified today for particular congregations is usually determined by the congregation’s constitution; these verses are often referenced there under the heading Church Discipline.  Those of you who have copies of Haven’s constitution (I don’t) may want to check it out, particularly if all attempts at reconciliation fail.  If that frustrating outcome occurs, Jesus pronounces what seems like a harsh judgment: If the member refuses to listen even to the Church (here the word for Church actually is used), let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  In other words, have nothing more to do with the person?  No, that’s only how the religious authorities regarded Gentiles and tax collectors.  For Jesus – and now for his Church – they were folks to be evangelized, to be told about Jesus and his love, so that they would want to become members of the faith community.   Those offenders who persistently walk away are like that.  They need to hear and remember again the Gospel so they can welcome Jesus’ love once more in their hearts.  And our responsibility as faithful disciples is not to ignore those who have repeatedly offended us, but to keep sharing that Good News with them by our words and deeds.

Binding and loosing.  This appeared two weeks ago in the Gospel about Peter’s confession of faith: Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  The two accounts are identical except the statement in 16:19 is singular, addressed simply to Peter, while in this reading it’s plural, addressed to all the disciples and hence to the whole Church.  What wonderful authority Jesus has given to his community!  I mentioned in my devotion then that there was continuing discussion on exactly what the two key terms referred to.  I prefer the understanding that binding refers to the sin that would separate us from our Lord and from each other.  When that is bound up through reconciliation and mutual forgiveness, it no longer has the power to threaten or destroy.  And by Christ’s authority that’s the good news we have the privilege of announcing at every worship.  So when would we ever pronounce the opposite – that sin was still loose to do harm?  Stay tuned for next week’s Gospel reading!

Praying together.  This is truly the most difficult of these life together sayings: If two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  Really?  What about COVID?  Lots of prayers, but people are still dying.  And yet, whether it arrives in two months or four or six, we appear to be closer to having a vaccine now than we expected six months ago.  Yes, but that’s just a matter of human ingenuity and medical research – or is it?  Maybe it’s prayer attached to human effort.  Maybe God uses those two who pray to help become the answer to our own prayer.  Sound confusing?  We say it all the time at Haven; it’s on the logo of the ELCA: God’s work – our hands!  We think of God using individuals to answer prayer.  What I believe Jesus is declaring here is that he uses communities as well, both the Church and secular communities who may not even be aware that their hands are the answer to prayer!

Christ in our midst. Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them (literally, in their midst).  Life together in Jesus’ community is more than a remembrance of his directions here and elsewhere in the Gospel.  It’s the amazing assurance that as risen Lord he is still in our midst.  In his word that we hear.  In his meal that we celebrate.  And here, in our presence with each other – not just in worship, but in our planning meetings, Church Council sessions, pastoral visits, backpack distributions, online tapings, congregational meetings and casual conversations.  It’s all part of his great assuring promise at the beginning and end (remember inclusio?) of this Gospel: they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us…and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  Life together with each other in the Church is always life together with Jesus.

Prayer (LBW prayer for Psalm 133, preface psalm of Life Together): Lord God, you have poured into our hearts the precious oil of your Spirit of love.  Make us of one heart and of one will, so that we may be true members of the body of Jesus Christ, united as he has commanded us; and to you be the glory now and forever.  Amen.


Pastor Kaplan suggests:

Where True Charity and Love Abide (ELW 653)

Blest Be the Tie That Binds (ELW 656)
(congregational singing)

(acapella quartet)

Will You Let Me Be Your Servant (ELW 659)