In the Sanctuary at 8:30AM and 11AM -
a blended service of traditional and contemporary elements with communion

In the hall at 9:45AM
scripture, prayer, and creative response with communion

Worship each Sunday @ 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

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We have moved the service that was tentatively planned for this Friday July 13th to Friday, September 21st 7PM-8:30PM in commemoration of th...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Please notice that I have not dyed my hair or acquired an earring or tattoo. Of course, you might notice that this guy doesn't exactly resemble the guy in the picture below.

Please vote in the blog poll on which one you want in the pulpit in September.

We swam with the manatees this week. What incredible creatures God has wrought! So huge, so gentle, so magnificent. It's sad that the only way that we could distinguish them from the bottom in the shallow murky water was by their white scars. A shame, too, that people would rather race their boats (and fight to increase channel speed limits), rather than take it easy and enjoy what is around them. Adrenaline is far too addictive a drug, I think. I remember swimming along with my mask in the water and next thing that I noticed this 12 foot long manatee was swimming a mere foot below me. like it didn't have a care in the world (except eating grass and sleeping). It's only known predator is a boat prop.

We took some time to relax in Tampa with Piper's folks, visit Eckerd College in ST Petersburg with Christian (great school!), and check out the manatees this week. Our prayers are filled with you and thanks to God. More soon.

Your Pastor and Brother, Keith

[MARTIN LUTHER with stylin' hair!]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

So, how is your prayer life?
Are you praying?

As I walk most days, the first thing that I do is to lift up prayers of thanks and gratitude and confession, followed by prayers of intercession. The list is long and growing longer for those intercessions. I prayed over a mile of prayers the other day before I turned on the music and lost myself for a couple of more miles. The one constant during this sabbatical has been my daily walk/run (much more the former than the later). I'm steady at four miles now and the knees haven't been cranky at all.

The Christmas Program
The Christmas Program "The Dance of the Night Wind" is humming right along. It is the story of the birth of our Savior told by the Wind that has born witness to God's creative and redeeming work since the beginning of time. The wind dances through creation and the fall, the prophets of judgement and those bearing a word of hope, with shepherds and sheep, Mary and Joseph, and even in a simple manger until finally, the wind dances through us. With solos and a children's choir, plenty of readings, dancing, of course, and oh, and it is interactive a bit - it should have something for everyone.

Some Friends from the Past
We worshipped at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palm City last weekend where Eloise and Jeanne Cerniglia are now members. I am happy to report that they are both doing well and that Jeanne's hip seems to be recovering nicely after surgery. As visitors at Immanuel, the greeters went out of their way to make us feel welcome, to ask our names, where we were from, and to thank us for being with them. Sharing of the Peace there is much like Trinity and for communion it was cool to see another church using real bread. Instead of plastic cups creating more landfill waste, they had individual small re-useable handmade glazed stoneware communion cups, a nice touch and good stewardship of creation to boot!

Becoming A Blessed Church
What kind of garden is our church?

Standish speaks of six types of gardens, representing six types of churches.
I repeat his prelude to this section because it is just so good.
"For churches to become blessed churches, the first thing they must do is to become grounded in God's purpose by reconnecting with God the Creator, God the Eternal Purpose. They must become more aware of who they are and why they exist. The more firmly grounded in its purpose a church is, the more it opens conduits of grace that allow god's blessings to flow. For a church truly to become a blessed church, it must become grounded in a deep experience of and relationship with God as Purpose.

Churches are like gardens in that they grow best when planted and cultivated according to a clear plan and purpose. In fact, certain types of gardens resemble specific kinds of churches."

Planting A Garden for God

The Old English garden is a carefully planned plot - typically, a whole slew of professional gardeners meticulously maintain it. Its purpose is to provide a beautiful and inspiring landscape to awe and inspire visitors. A church like this provides a space where people are inspired to worship the transcendent God in holy space. Among the members there isn't much interaction or a sense of relationship. People there come to worship to be awed, inspired, and transported into a mystical, sacred world.

The Cottage garden provides beauty, shade, inspiration, comfort, and screening from nosy neighbors. Churches like this have as their purpose to provide shade for those scorched by life's heat, small-scale beauty for those needing a respite from life's ugliness, inspiration for those seeking God's Spirit, and comfort for those suffering pain. In these churches much more interaction connects the members.

The Vegetable garden has as its purpose to feed others, both in their midst and abroad. Churches like this are mission-focused places who feed others physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The Herb garden's purpose is to provide spice and healing. Churches like this are places of healing for those who are broken and hurting, salving their wounds and helping them discover God's love. They also provide "flavor" to the lives of people whose existence has become bland and flavorless.

There is also the Wilderness garden which is planted on a large tract of land and has some organization, but the gardeners have a propensity to let plants and flowers grow wild. With delightful experiences, but dead patches as well, they can be places of inspiration, but with mazes where people get lost. Churches of the New Age movement can be light this - inspiring and nourishing yet deadly and misleading.

Finally, there is the Conservatory. A conservatory is a large structure that contains many kinds of gardens. Each room in the conservatory offers a contrast - and visitors are invited to spend as much time as they want in each garden or to walk through all. Large non-denominational churches can be like this - they present a range of experiences - a bit of everything.

Standish finishes up with this explanation:

"...Just as there are many types of gardens in the world, there are many kinds of churches. Unfortunately we live in a cookie cutter McWorld and would prefer to find the one model that fits all churches. But like gardens, churches are meant to be unique. The point is that when planting a garden, gardeners have to be true to their purpose....To plant and cultivate a healthy garden, we have to be as clear as possible that we are being true to the garden's purpose, otherwise the garden becomes chaotic."

For the church to become truly blessed with God's grace and bear fruit, it must live and grow according to the purpose it was created for....The more we ask, "God, what is your call for us?"and patiently wait for the answer, the more we become a blessed church.

Some things to ponder...how often do churches blindly try to imitate what another chruch is doing just because that ministry or church is successful, rather than inquiring of God what God's call for them? And what would it take to become such an inquiring church? Prayer and patience? Faith and trust? Risk and sacrifice?

Till next time : )

Ever with you in Christ who has already Won for us the Victory!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I want to whet your appetite for blessedness.
Not in the way that some TV preachers have hi-jacked the term and transformed it into money and material success. No.
Blessedness for congregation we will learn is about being a church that both experiences God as well as serves God. It is "a glimpse of what the church can be." Imagine coming to church and not merely experiencing church, but experiencing God.

Perhaps you already do. Perhaps some times or most times. Perhaps not at all.
I won't make assumptions one way or the other.
But if we could do more to create the potential for those at Trinity to experience God, wouldn't we?
You betcha!

This summer, the Trinity's council (including me) are reading N. Graham Standish's "Becoming A Blessed Church." I probably used up an entire pen underlining passages in this important book, which we could spend the next several years unpacking, reflecting upon, and being challenged by. (And I think we just might).

In the foreword, a pastor, Stanley Ott, notes:

"In the church's own "activity trap" of people and programs, we can easily lose sight of our Lord. We lose touch with what it means to experience God's love, presence, and power. It is easy to be so consumed by what we are doing for God that we miss the experience of being with God, the experienced of being blessed. (My underlining).

"A church is alive not because its organization is busy. Churches are alive because God is alive.

Let's face it - for those active in a congregation - myself included - it is so easy to view the task of ministry as just the stuff that we do. Busy, busy, good stuff. Important stuff. But somehow we do miss the experience in the midst of our work for the Lord of being with the Lord.

Perhaps we might ask ourselves:
Are we, the community of faith called Trinity Lutheran Church, open to God at our core? Do we have a sense of Christ in our midst? Is God's call and purpose the driving force in our direction? Our decisions?

Maybe? Somewhat? Perhaps better put...sometimes.
Would like to be able to say "yes" more often?
I think so and pray so.

Standish notes that most mainline churches struggle with this.

Churches can become so rational and functional and programmed that they fail to see themselves as the body of Christ, guided by Christ as their head. Yes, they do good things. Perhaps many good things, but they fall into the trap of believing God is in heaven and the church on earth.

Being open to God's purpose, power, and presence nurtures in a church a "vibrant sense of faith, hope and love." Such a church, according to Standish, "is not afraid to serve God in its own way." Rather than trying to fit into some mold or expectation of what a church is - "it is concerned with responding to God's call and God's call alone."

How many times do churches just want to imitate some other church judged successful by some benchmark? They figure, if so and so church does such and such and it is successful, then we should too! Never mind humbly seeking to determine God's particular will for one's church. That takes time. Patience. Faith. Hard work. Do churches have something to teach other churches? Sure. But that is never the place to start.

Standish and I both believe that we should come to worship prepared to meet Christ.
Shouldn't we?

Standish goes on to say that "where there is no expectation of encountering Christ, the church atrophies and dies."

We know churches like this. churches that have lost all expectation of encountering Christ. Whose best days are some time in the distant past rather than right then, right there, because Christ ---is---THERE.

I will close for now, hoping to have intrigued you at least a bit with the idea of becoming a blessed church, with the Vineyard Guild Prayer that Standish shares in his introduction.

Holy God, beloved Trinity,
let me always be rooted in you so that I may live in you and you in me.
Bless me so that you grace may flow through me,
allowing me to bear your fruit to a hungry and helpless world.
As I wander, prune me of all that inhibits your growth in me.
Let me do nothing apart from you so that your joy may be complete in me.
In Christ's name I pray.

Ever with you in Christ,
your vagabond Pastor

Friday, July 04, 2008

We're Back!
(in case you have been wondering)


The second half of the trip was quite busy with the highlight being the baptism of my niece, Olivia Grace seen with her proud parents, cousin Thomas, aunt Piper, and Uncle Keith (above).

By the time our car pulled back into Pembroke Pines we had logged over 3,600 miles, taken the subways in both New York and Boston (the friendlier of the two by far), ridden in a DUWK boat and on a ferry, "trolly-ed" along the streets of Savannah, passed by two Chinatowns, toured two colleges and and equal number of candy factories (gotta get one of those salt water taffy machines!), tubed on one creek, saw beautiful mountains not made of trash, passed through Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey (once by accident, once on purpose), Connecticut, Road Island, Massachusetts, and Delaware. We visited two sets of parents Piper's in Georgia and mine in Florida (and at the Baptism in New York) and both of my sisters (in New York and Boston, respectively).


After all of those miles and so many states (and interstates), it is a toss up on which state can claim the title of the "worst drivers," but how's this for an incentive to be a little more gentle with the horn: sign in Manhattan - "$350 fine for improper use of horn." Florida's budget would be balanced with money left over. (Note to self: give suggestion to Governor Crist as a wedding present.)

[The Great Baptismal Afternoon Whiffle Ball Game]

The Present
We are staying with gracious friends until the work on the parsonage is completed.
Now that the "rip out" is finished, once-hidden issues have surfaced, especially with the plumbing which are being remedied so that the rest of the work can continue. These things should be expected in a nearly 50 year old house. Keep Janean (our much beloved project coordinator) and the rest of the leadership in your prayers as they continue to deal with the issues that arise in such a project. We are ever-grateful for all in this much needed and thoughtful project.

I will soon begin blogging on "Becoming a Blessing Church," the book that council and I are reading this summer and on "Natural Church Development" a process that Trinity will be entering into later on this year. Both are quite exciting! This year's Christmas Eve production "The Song of the Night Wind" is in early development.

No running yet, but I am now walking up to four miles a day and keeping up with the medication that the emergency room doc put me on for the hiatal hernia. No more attacks - so thanks for the prayers!

For now - the Blessings of Christ be upon you, the wind of the Spirit blow through you, the grace of God bring you the hope that sustains and keeps us!