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...

Saturday, January 31, 2009

PASTOR KEITH'S "FRIDGENOTES" for this week's sermon

Mark 1:21-28 FEB 1, 2009
The woman sat in her wheelchair with an afghan on her lap.
On top of the afghan was a board covered with letters, numbers and simple words and phrases.
“Would you like to pray?” I asked the woman
She pointed to the word “Yes.”
Disease had taken her voice and she communicated by pointing out the word or spelling it one letter at a time. The process was painstakingly slow.
“What would you like to pray for?” I asked as her finger began to quickly play upon the board. This letter, than that letter – I built the words together in my mind barely able to keep pace. “Your brother?” I inquired, hoping that I got it right.
“Yes,” her finger replied with a quick flick on the decidedly low-tech board.
“What should we pray for your brother for?”
The finger danced from letter to letter. I got utterly lost and had to ask her to start over and patiently she did. One letter at a time. I got a few words into thee message and lost my place. I should have been writing them down, I suppose. I asked her to start over again. I juggled the words in my mind, finally keeping them straight.
“That-he-know-the-Lord,” she spelled.
“That he know the Lord?” I repeated.
She shook her head, yes. Tears began to well in eyes.
She pointed to the board, to the words “Thank you.”
And so we prayed, we prayed for many things, but especially for her brother. That he know the Lord.

To know the Lord is our hope, our desire, our prayer, our mission, our life, isn’t it?
To know the Lord is to follow him, to serve him, to love him with our whole heart, our mind, our very soul.

We desire to know the Lord, because the Holy Spirit teaches us that our only true hope dwells with him, in him and through him.

In the synagogue a man whose life was racked in suffering, out of his mind, cried out in fear speaking the truth:
"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."

Rebuked by Jesus, the spirit departs and the man is healed.
The great irony throughout the Gospel of Mark is that time and time again it is the demons who know who Jesus is and the people who cannot fathom it.
The demons know and fear his righteousness, while the people do not know, do not understand, and cannot comprehend, until the cross on Calvary.
On the cross it all became clear.
That death is swallowed up.
That victory is won.
That the powers of this world are ultimately destroyed and will have no claim on us.

It is far easier to preach these words from the safety of a pulpit than from the disturbed grass at the grave. Yesterday as I stood by the graveside next to a coffin no bigger than loaf of bread, I struggled to find words to speak. Words that might cut through the tears being shed for the death of a child who took a single breath before dying unexpectedly at birth. Not to vanquish the grief, for that we must do for those we love, but rather to proclaim in the midst of the pain and suffering a word of hope and comfort that showers down upon us from the cross:
That death is swallowed up.
That victory is won.
That the powers of this world are ultimately destroyed and will have no claim on us.

That in the death of a newborn child there is so much that we do not know, cannot say, cannot even begin to comprehend, but this one thing we can say and say with assurance:
We know who Jesus is: the very Holy One of God.
There is nothing more to cling to as the flowers cascade down upon the small casket and tears shower down like bitter rain and a mother wanders off alone in her grief that will not be stilled.
Yet the Holy One of God will not let this day end in defeat. Because we know who Jesus is we know that death has no victory that day.

One of the hundreds of prayer shawls that we send off each year arrived in New York last week to a man who 25 years ago, give or take, taught me drama and directed me in our senior high school class production of MASH. Jim, I can call him that now since a quarter of a century has passed, has endured three bouts with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma over the past few years and will be undergoing Stem cell replacement therapy in a few weeks. They will be destroying his immune system and hoping to rebuild it with healthy cancer free cells given by a donor.
He gives thanks for our prayers.

We send out these shawls, we pray silently or out loud, fervently, passionately, we pray from the depth of our hearts for people like Jim, for our loved ones, for our family, for the nation, for the world, for the suffering, for the strangers that we meet on the street or on a bus or even in the pew right next to us because we know who Jesus is. That such knowing overwhelms our doubt, overruns our fears, and ultimately leads us besides the still waters to a place where we can declare in the midst of any circumstance that our sup still overflows, because we know who Jesus is.

The very Holy One of God.
The bearer of our cross.
The Savior of us all.

We live on this side of the resurrection. We live into the victory won for us. And so we are a hopeful people who bear a message of victory in the midst of every circumstance to the hurting, the grieving, the fearful, the broken, the lost of this world.

With the strength and compassion of God will you bear this message for the sake of the Kingdom? You know who Jesus is – together do we dare to bear this message this day?


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Isaiah 58:6–12
What could be better than a sermon on faith and food.
There’s no denying it. We love God, most of us I believe would agree with that, and we love food, especially the eating of it. No matter how much fun we might have cooking this cool new recipe that we caught on The Food Network or read about in Martha Steward Living or that some celebrity chef wow’d Oprah with, truth be told, we much prefer eating it to cooking it. Mostly. Cooking is fun, but eating, to many, is life itself. I’ve seen a lot more t-shirts that proclaim “I live to Eat” then “I live to cook.”

Faith and food.

OK, so here’s the faith part. Or maybe it’s the food part. You’ll have to decide for yourselves which hunger is being addressed at what point during this sermon.
Look, we do a lot of things for the sake of our spirituality.
A lot of things to draw nearer to God.
Deeper into God’s presence.
Prayer and fasting are perhaps two of the most ancient practices.
Prayer, of course, we know prayer.
Intercessory prayer and centering prayer and embodied prayer and lectio divina…even simple table grace. Prayer comes in more flavors than Baskins and Robbins Ice Cream. There’s listening prayer and praying in the Name of Jesus and the Jesus prayer and the Lord’s Prayer. Healing prayer and confessional prayer. We’re just barely scratching the surface here.

Now fasting, that’s something different.
Some people confuse fasting with “holy dieting” – denying one’s self food for the supposed health benefits. They talk about purging the body of toxins and so forth. I’m not here to comment on the merits of those claims one way or the other. As a faith practice, fasting is meant as a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to God. By having less food, we have more, so says Franciscan sister and author Jose Hobday: “…if we take less food, we have more capacity for spiritual hungering.”

In our readings from Isaiah this morning, we learn that God looks at fasting in several different, but complementary ways. Traditional fasting, the giving up of food, is one: we deny ourselves the comfort and luxury of food. Acts of mercy and justice are another: in these we deny ourselves the comfort of denial. Denial that the systems in which must of the world’s power has accumulated leaves far too many millions on the margins lacking the basic necessities of life. By robbing ourselves of the comfort of denial, we must act. Facing the reality of suffering in the world, we cannot help but to act.

We read in Isaiah:
Is not this the fast that I choose:to loose the bonds of injustice,to undo the thongs of the yoke,to let the oppressed go free,and to break every yoke?7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,and bring the homeless poor into your house;when you see the naked, to cover them,and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
God, speaking through Isaiah touches upon acts of mercy and acts of justice.

By and large, acts of mercy are easy to spot.
Consider last Wednesday night at First Lutheran Church in Fort Lauderdale.
If you walked into the kitchen around 5:30PM you would see a dozen or more people from Trinity around a large island in the middle of the kitchen - some slopping jelly and others carefully layering peanut butter on a slice of bread. Others placed the completed sandwiches in baggies and the “baggied” sandwiches in boxes. In the hall there, more people were setting tables or filling a large salad bowl or placing warmed lasagnas and baked zitis out on the table. Large plates were being filled with cookies. As six o’clock arrived the doors were opened and fifty or some people from the margins, from the streets, the homeless and hungry, filled sears around the tables with Trinity folks scattered at this table or that table to engage in conversation and fellowship. A couple of kids walked from table to table with scarves knit by our prayer shawl group to ward off the night’s chill until their arms were empty and it seemed like everyone had a scarf wrapped around their necks. A hasty collection of donated jackets and sweatshirts found their way to the most in need. It is such a small thing, one supposes, to clear out a closet of old jackets and sweatshirts and the like, such a small thing until you see dozens of people coming in from the cold with nothing. I saw an old sweatshirt of mine keeping a older woman warm, a sweatshirt that I hadn’t worn in years beyond counting, and it seemed almost embarrassing to call that gift an act of mercy, but that is what it was. Acts of mercy are those things that we do in the name of God for the comfort or aid of those in need. For relief of their immediate suffering.

Acts of Justice go to the root of what generates the need for acts of mercy.
We’re talking about systemic change.
What does the Lord declare through Isaiah?
6Is not this the fast that I choose:to loose the bonds of injustice,to undo the thongs of the yoke,to let the oppressed go free,and to break every yoke?
Feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked - these acts of mercy and more have their place and their importance to alleviate immediate suffering. But the Lord declares to us that this is only half the battle. That we must be warriors not only of mercy, but also of justice.

Trinity’s work with other congregations, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish, here in Broward County, are a prime example of our justice work – and work in which you can become involved.
As well, two years ago we became one of the first congregations in the Florida Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to become a ONE Lutheran Congregation.

What is the ONE Lutheran Campaign?The ONE Lutheran Campaign is the unique effort of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to engage Lutherans in the ONE Campaign. ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History is an effort by Americans to rally Americans – ONE by ONE – to fight global AIDS and extreme poverty. Founded in 2003, ONE is the U.S. expression of international anti-poverty movements inspired by the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. Today, ONE has more than 100 faith-based and humanitarian partners that work together as ONE – to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and make poverty history.
What are the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)? The MDGs are eight inter-related targets toward the elimination of extreme poverty by 2015. The goals flow from the Millennium Declaration that was signed by more than 189 countries in 2000. It is understood that developing countries are primarily responsible for achieving the first seven MDGs. Industrialized countries are primarily responsible for goal number eight – to create a global partnership with targets for aid, debt and trade. The goals include:
Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Achieve Universal Primary Education
Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Reduce Child Mortality
Improve Maternal Health
Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Create a Global Partnership for Development with targets on aid, debt and trade.
Trinity’s Justice Ministries work hand in hand with our Ministries of Mercy – forming a key portion of our corporate spirituality - together drawing us as a congregation higher up and deeper into the love of God. It is who we are as God’s faith community here and now. Through them we are blessed to be a blessing. This is who we are – may we ever be more so.
Let us pray…Amen.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Samantha's Obituary
Samantha Jo Trost, 20, of Virginia Beach, lost her courageous battle with cancer January 19th surrounded by her family and friends. After 5 years she is finally pain free and whole again. She is survived by her parents, Melia and Joseph, her loving sister Kristen, and her beloved Jordan Anderson. She is also survived by her grandparents, Ann and Hank Trost of Virginia Beach, and Charlotte Davies of Stafford, and her Uncle Carl and his wife Ann Trost of Guam. Her Aunts Michelle and her husband Mark Carlson of Culpepper; Megan and her husband Kendall Ferguson of Stafford. Numerous cousins, her puppy Stella, the sisters of ΕΣΑ, and the student body of ECU.Sam loved life. She loved people. She loved helping people. Those of us lucky enough to know Sam are forever blessed. She had a way of making you love her and those around her by just smiling. Her love of life was shown through her artwork, jewelry, and her willingness to help everyone. Cancer might have taken her life but she had the last laugh. No matter how hard the cancer or the cure attacked her she could still smile through it. Everyday she would smile at strangers and friends alike, and we would forget about her pain for a short moment. So today and every day, share a little bit of Sam with everyone, smile at them and make their day a little better. That is what Sam would do. So be angry, be mad, yell, cry, and then smile.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Something to Share
If you were in church on Baptism of our Lord Sunday you heard me preach about Baptism, of course, and the life of a young woman named Samantha. Sam to her friends. Let me share what was shared this evening in the journal written by her family that kept all of us in the loop as to her story:

It is with heartbreaking sorrow that I must tell everyone that Samantha passed away today. She was welcomed by God tonight at 6:00pm.Be angry, be mad, yell, cry and then smile. Smile to yourself in the mirror, smile to your mate, smile to your family and friends, smile to strangers. That is what Sam would do. Share her smile with everyone you know, it is infectious. She could melt anyone’s heart with her beautiful smile. Cancer might have taken her life but she had the last laugh. No matter how hard the cancer or the cure attacked her she could still smile through it. Everyday she would smile at strangers and friends alike and we would forget about her pain for a short moment. Her smile healed us. She loved life, she loved her friends she loved her family and she loved her Jordan. She expressed it everyday with a smile and laugh. What is really amazing is that as an infant Samantha would wake up with the sourest face. A smile was the farthest thing from her mind. Somewhere along the line she learned that smiling was more useful then frowning, and laughing was better than crying. So today and every day share a little bit of Sam with everyone, smile at them and make their day a little better. That is what Sam would do. So be angry, be mad, yell, cry and then smile.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Psalm 139:1–6, 13–18
1LORD, you have searched me out;
O LORD, you have known me.
2You know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You trace my journeys and my resting-places
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Indeed, there is not a word on my lips,
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
5You encompass me, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
13For you yourself created my inmost parts;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14I will thank you because I am marvelously made;
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
15My body was not hidden from you,
while I was being made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book;
my days were fashioned before they came to be.
17How deep I find your thoughts, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
18If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
I was reading the lessons for this Sunday and the Psalm immediately grabbed me.
That is unusual.
I have to preach on the psalm, I said to myself.
I had to, but I wasn’t sure why.
Or initially, how.
Psalms can be tricky things.
People’s souls crying out to God in praise or pain, clarity or confusion.
People feeling forsaken or fearful or delighted and overflowing with joy – the Psalms run the spectrum of human experience , of human emotion, of the width, the breadth, the height, the depth of our faith journey with God.

The Gospel tells one of the stories of the calling of the disciples – lots of possibilities there. We all share in that experience – in our Baptism, in our gifts, in our relationships, in our encounters, in our work and in our play, God in Christ Jesus does call each of us as disciples to follow him. Invites us. Takes the first step of us. This year’s call story in our reading cycle is from the Gospel of John and notice that it is all about seeing. Over and over again – we attune our ears to this important word. See.

45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." 46Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" 48Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you."

49Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 50Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." 51And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

To see is to know, an invitation to have faith, to believe.

45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." 46Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."

Come and See.
Come and know.
And in seeing and in knowing, above all, be believing.

So much for a quick look at seeing in the Gospel. We note with some interest that the Psalm is all about seeing as well, but not about our seeing, not about what we see, but rather about what God sees, what God knows, perhaps even what God believes.

Now that is pretty cool.

And right off the bat we learn that God sees us. You and me. God sees us.
We read:
1LORD, you have searched me out;
O LORD, you have known me.
2You know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You trace my journeys and my resting-places
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Perhaps your initial reaction would be different from mine.
I’m thinking: Uh-oh! This is worse than Santa Claus.
Not only does God know if I have been bad or good, God knows everything about me.
When I go to sleep and when I wake up (and what I have been doing in between)
God knows my thoughts, my deepest most private thoughts. If I had a diary God would not only know what I put there, but what I didn’t dare put there. The thoughts too personal to write down, to put at risk for discovery. God knows such thoughts.

God sees us in the womb. Knows things about you and I that we, ourselves, cannot remember.
God watches us. Surrounds us with his presence. Knows every word the moment it reaches our lips and every thought that comes to us. God’s limitless knowledge of us, an intimacy that we can barely begin to comprehend, can be flat out frightening, don’t you think?

Think about it – God knows when we use caller ID to screen our calls and pretend that we are not home. God knows! God knows when we were 8 years old and pretended to be sick so we could watch cartoons all day (speaking theoretically, of course). The cars that we bumped into, the windows that we accidentally smashed playing baseball out in the street, when our friends used fake ID’s to buy beer for us, again theoretically speaking) God knows. Knows our jealousies and pettiness and fears and loves and dreams and hopes and pleasures. God knows them all.

Now, when I was a kid, the day came when I stumbled across passages like those in Psalm 139. 1LORD, you have searched me out;
O LORD, you have known me.
2You know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3You trace my journeys and my resting-places
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Now that was a day of reckoning. To realize that God knew me this well - I figured that God was keeping track of every unkind word, every selfish thought, everything disappointment. Scary. It seemed much more preferable to be a stranger to God than on such intimate terms. Better a God that was far off on vacation having a good time, distracted, than a God with figurative arms around me, looking over my shoulder, knowing everything, every thought, every word, and every deed.

But here’s the thing. That’s not the picture that this Psalm paints. It doesn’t paint a picture of the eavesdropping God with good ears, a long memory and a very sharp pencil and plenty of paper. No.

I want to tell you about a woman, let’s call her Linda. Linda is sweet and lovely and kind and compassionate (you get the picture). Well, as a young woman Linda spent years in a relationship with a young man who would constantly tell Linda how ugly she was. How awkward. How no one would love her except him and how lucky she was to have him. And she believed every word of it. He was obsessive and controlling and abusive and still she stuck with him because she believed that she was nothing without him. Would be less than nothing without him. She had bought into his lies hook, line and sinker. And so she suffered in silence as the years rolled by. Know anyone like that? Someone who has learned to hate themselves and clings to someone else to give their life meaning because they believe that they themselves are nothing? Do you know anyone like that? I have and I do and it breaks my heart. Their picture of God must be far off. Distant. Uncaring. Cold.

Here again what the Psalmist has to tell us – remind us – as he calls out to God in awe and wonder and reverence:

13For you yourself created my inmost parts;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14I will thank you because I am marvelously made;
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
15My body was not hidden from you,
while I was being made in secret and woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb

Now there is a big difference between a sermon and a self-help seminar, but know this:
We learn in this Psalm of God’s desire to see and know us as we are. We cannot fake out God, deceived God or fool God. God knows us stripped away of every façade, every mask, every act.
We stand naked before God, so to speak, exactly as God has made us. Wonderfully made us in God’s own image.

And God is not satisfied with observing us from afar, but through his Spirit draws us unto himself, enfolds us, embraces us. That’s what the Psalmist declares. God surrounds us and lays his hand upon us in warmth and friendship and love. And we are transformed. Such love, if we allow it, breaks through the lies that people tell us about who we are.

Nearly eight years ago there were some folks here with whom I was having a difficult relationship. They didn’t like some of the changes that I had made and I felt very distant from them and part of me thought, the more distant the better. One had threatened to leave and I thought that might be a good thing, at least for me. When I looked at her all I saw was an angry person who I believed greatly dislike me for what I was doing. When she looked at me, I have no idea what she saw. Then one Sunday she came through the line at the end of worship to shake my hand (we were a congregation of hand shakers then) and instead she grabs me and says I want a hug. And the lady behind her, she wanted a hug, too. And the next one and so on and so forth until hugs abounded and handshakes just seemed too darn formal anymore. I looked at her differently after that and I imagine she, me. And she began to take more and more time as she stopped to give me a hug, telling me about her adventures that week, and for a woman who had seen something like eight decades of life, her stories were always intriguing. I began to see the person behind my own judgments and clouded thoughts and my heart was opened to love her. She has since moved away, but I will always remember her fondly (for the most part, anyway) as someone who got me to see more like God sees each of us. All it took was an embrace to break through. Arms enfolding in a hug, much like God enfolds us all. To see ourselves and others as God sees, will always be a struggle, yet the rewards of such struggle are no less than the transformation of our life by drawing us closer to God and one another. May we always be asking God to open our eyes see! Amen.
Our bread for "BREAD and BIBLE STUDY" this Sunday

STRUAN (by Peter Reinhart from his book “Bread Upon the Waters” - a good book to have and cherish)

Makes 1 loaf
2 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
3 tablespoons uncooked polenta (coarse cornmeal)
3 tablespoons rolled oats (or instant oats)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons wheat bran (untoasted if possible)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast (or 1 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast dissolved in 4 tablespoons warm water)
3 tablespoons cooked brown rice (this is a small amount – you can make some and freeze the rest for use in your next loaf or make the bread when you have some leftover rice or just omit)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey (non stick spray on your measuring spoon makes the honey slide right off!)
1/3 cup buttermilk (low-fat or whole milk can be substituted)Approximately
3/4 cup water (room temperature)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds (optional; for the top)

Mix all the ingredients, including the salt and yeast, in a large bowl, stirring to distribute. Add the cooked rice, honey and buttermilk, and mix. Then add 1/2 cup of water, reserving the rest for adjustments during kneading. With your hands squeeze the ingredients together until they make a ball, adding more water as needed, until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the dough ball. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and turn the ball out of the bowl and begin kneading. Add additional water or flour as needed.

Kneading by Hand
It will take about 10 to 15 minutes to knead by hand. The dough will change before your eyes, lightening in color, becoming gradually more elastic and evenly grained. The finished dough should be tacky but not sticky, lightly golden, stretchy and elastic rather than porridge-like. When you push the heels of your hands into the dough, it should give way but not tear. If it flakes or crumbles, add a little more water; if it is sticky, sprinkle in more flour.

Clean out and dry the mixing bowl. Wipe the inside of the bowl with a little oil, or mist with vegetable oil pan spray. Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap or place the bowl in a plastic bag. Allow the dough to ferment in a warm place for about 90 minutes, or until it has roughly doubled in size (it may take a shorter or longer time, depending on the temperature).

Forming the Loaf
This recipe makes 1 regular-size loaf of bread (about 1 1/2 pounds finished weight). Because the dough is relaxed and supple, and already scaled for one loaf, it can be shaped without first rounding and resting.

Shape the dough into a loaf by pressing it out from the center with the heels of the hands, gently flattening it into a rough rectangle and punching it down, degassing it. Then roll the dough up into a cigar shape, and a seam forms. Tuck the end flaps into the seam, and pinch the seam closed with either your fingers or the edge of your hand, sealing it as best you can. Place the loaf, seam side down, in a greased 9” by 4 1/2” bread pan. Spray the top with water and sprinkle on the poppy seeds. Cover and allow the dough to proof until it crests over the top of the pan, approximately 90 minutes.

Baking and Cooling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (300 degrees if convection). Bake the loaf for approximately 45 minutes. The loaf should dome nicely and be dark gold. The sides and bottom should be a uniform light golden brown and there should be an audible thwack (or thunk) when you tap the bottom of the loaf. An insta-read thermometer should read 190 degree when placed into the center of the loaf. If the loaf is dark on the top but too light or soft on the sides and bottom, return the loaf, not in the pan, to the oven, and finish baking it for a few minutes more, until it is thwackable. Bear in mind that the bread will cook much faster once it is removed from the pan, so keep a close eye on it.Allow the bread to cool on a rack thoroughly, at least 40 minutes, before slicing it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


About alathea
The real substance of Alathea comes from the unexpected, the underground and the out of sight. The duo’s fourth full-length recording, My Roots Grow Deeper, conveys a depth of thought, insight and care that is rare in a surface age, and which puts on display the reason for their continually expanding community of supporters. And that’s what Alathea has developed: community, not fans. My Roots Grow Deeper is a full and textured record, thoroughly modern yet absent of any cliché studio trickery or gimmicky hybrids. Led by Radford’s clear-as-a-bell vocals, and complemented by Johnson’s smoky harmonies, the song cycle delivers an emotional and atmospheric ride as dynamic as the mountain view they glimpse from their East Tennessee cabin. That spirit allows Alathea to connect to anyone, anywhere, simply by being invitational in the way they approach their craft and their lives. And while their lyrics display a sharp intellect and grounding in the work of influential artists, it is the unresolved honesty of how the songs are conveyed that marks Alathea’s work. (bio written by Dave Palmer)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Trinity's pastor from 1968-85, Pastor Haslage entered the Kingdom Triumphant on December 28th. His service will be held at Trinity on FRIDAY JAN 9th at 7PM with a memorial meal in the fellowship hall to follow. The Reverend Ann Hoyt will deliver the eulogy and Pastor Keith will lead the service. The development of a new section of the memorial garden is already in the works, with an appropriate stone sponsored by WELCA and a tree to be donated through the family. Memorial donations in memory of Pastor Haslage will be applied to this effort.
Baptism of our Lord 2009
As Lutherans we know that Baptism like our other sacrament, Holy Communion, isn’t about what we do, it is what God does – taking ordinary water and the power of God’s Word, God’s mighty promise, and through the Holy Spirit claiming us forever, washing away our sins, making us God’s own.

It isn’t what we do, it is what God does.

Then we are invited to spend our lives living into that promise.
The question remains: Will we? Will we live into that promise? Will we through the power of the Holy Spirit let our light so shine before others that they may see our good works and glorify our father in heaven?

Will we?

Will our works, what we through the Holy Spirit choose to do with the gift of our baptism, will they echo in all that we do and say from our first day until our last? Today? Tomorrow? Ever and Always?

When I was a kid, one of the most memorable rituals of spring was the opening of our pool. All winter it waited, covered in black plastic that would accumulate water, leaves, and the occasional frog or two. As the winter chill gave way to the early warmth of spring, we would pump off the water, catch the frog, remove the leaves, clean and fold up the black plastic liner, re-connect the pump then prepare the pool itself. In went the chlorine. Out came the long handled pool vacuum pole and its ribbed hose. Soon the dingy water sparkled in the sun and the pump hummed along and it was time. It was time! But whose time , more to the point, “whose turn?” Who would take the first jump in to the rather chilly water – so inviting, yet so frigid. It mocked us. Toyed with us. You could stick in your toes, but that was foolish. The toes would turn blue and it might take hours to slowly move up the foot to one’s ankles and unless one of the family members could sneak up and give a big push, few might dare to go beyond their calves that first day. Ice cubes tossed in the water bobbed merrily taking hours to melt. It was that cold. But we had waited all winter long. And it was so inviting.

Now the chances of one of us jumping right in – no toe dabbling – no long slow adjustment - the chances of that first insane cannonball were inversely proportioned to our age. At say five or six there was no hesitation. Cold did not affect us. Did not slow us down. Did not frighten us. Our innocence and naivety held all of the power in the world. By our teenage years we might stack up three rafts, one on top of the other, to ensure that no part of our body came in contact with the water. There we would lay, perfectly balanced, praying that a gust of wind might not send us tumbling into the Arctic freeze below. In adult hood we were strictly toe dippers. Fearful, frightened toe dippers. How about you?

All too often, we live into our response to baptism the same way. We get less enthused the older we are. The pool was a wonder when I was a kid, but as I got older I just took it for granted. I mean, it was always there, right? No big deal. Look, lots of folks dive into their discipleship – that’s a nice fancy church word for the act of living out our response to our baptism. We become disciples of Jesus and follow him with our child-like innocence and wonder at it all, but then, it seems like we all too often hit this patch where our discipleship is no big deal. Our faith loses its passion. Its wonder. Its sense of awe about God and this life of ours as God’s children. We lose a sense of urgency to our faith. Until finally, we become afraid of far too much in our life and the power of our baptism is diminished in our own minds. Not in reality, but in our understanding of it. The fears of life seem much bigger than the promises of God. Much stronger. Much more powerful. We become toe dippers in living into our baptismal promise. We trade the power of God working through us by the Holy Spirit, for the low expectation of a faith robbed of nearly everything God gifted us.

When we re-read the Gospel story of Jesus’ baptism we are reminded of that power. The power of God, the power of the Spirit active in and through Baptism. The power that is active in you and me ever since the waters splashed upon us and the almighty promise of God was inscribed upon us.

As the water cascades off Jesus, the heavens are ripped open. The Spirit of God descends. The voice of God speaks: “You are my son,” God says. “You are my beloved.”

We learn in Scripture that our baptism, we die to sin and rise with Christ. Death no longer holds sway. We become children of God and co-heirs of the Kingdom. Now that is power. Power to break the power of sin and death. Power in the freedom to love and serve God. Power to live for God.

Years ago, a man came into my office with a very serious look on his face. “I have done things in my life that God can never forgive,“ he said, “I have asked him and asked him but I still do not feel forgiven.” Quite frankly, this is probably not that unusual a feeling. I have done several Bible studies on grace over the years and the whole idea of grace bothers people. God just can’t forgive like that. “I need to do something, don’t I?” they declare. “If I don’t I won’t feel right. I won’t feel forgiven.”

So here’s the thing. As children we all join hands and sing “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.” And we believe it. We are smiling as we sing and we trust that Jesus does in fact love us. No questions ask. That Jesus forgives us. No problem. That Jesus went to the cross for us. You betcha. That in our weakness Jesus is strong for us. Yup! Then at some time in our life our fears become stronger than we think the power of our baptism is.

Paul says in Romans: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. 8But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

In our baptism we die with Christ and are raised with him to eternal life. But as we get older we no longer believe in the power of our Baptism. We become toe dippers, afraid to get wet, to get soaked, to jump right in. Fear will do that. Fear and doubt. So instead of living into our baptism and living for Christ, living a life of discipleship, we keep the waters at a distance, a toe’s length, just in case one of the children might splash us and get us wet.

It is never too late to jump into the pool.

The cover is off. The pump is running. The frogs are gone. Ready for a swim?


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Matthew 2:1-12 Epiphany

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
'And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.'"
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

A few years ago, Rick Lawrence, the Editor of Group Magazine, a magazine devoted to helping Churches reach the youth of today, repeated an interesting statistic from the National Youth and Religion Study, the largest study of its kind looking at religious issues surrounding youth. It is currently in progress. What the National Youth and Religion Study has found so far, according to Lawrence, is that 90 percent of adults and teenagers report that they are not devoted to God. They might believe in God, but they are not devoted to God. To be devoted to anything implies faithfulness. For example, if we are a devoted fan of the Miami Dolphins (this is just an example mind you) then we would stick with them through thick and thin. One and Fifteen; Ten and Six. It wouldn’t matter. Wannestadt, Saban, Sparano. We’d tough it out no matter what. That’s devotion.

If we are devoted to our spouses, then we are faithful in all aspects of our marriage. We work hard at our marriage. The health of our marriage becomes our number one priority. If other things get in the way of the health of our marriage they are modified accordingly. That’s devotion.

To be devoted to anything implies a certain special faithfulness, and devotion to God is no exception. And if the research is to be believed and there is no reason to doubt it, then most people don’t see themselves as being particularly devoted to God.

No we have to make an assumption here. Are most people so humble that they wouldn’t dare suggest that they are devoted to God when in reality that is what they are? Or is the truth that most people here are being brutally honest. They may want and desire that their relationship with God is one of deep and special devotion, but right now, at this moment in time it is something else, something less.

With this in mind we approach this week’s Gospel, the Gospel for Epiphany, the arrival on the scene of the three wisemen. There they are sitting outside Herod’s palace wondering if they should had invested in one of those turn by turn GPS systems, like we now buy for our cars. A couple of Decembers ago I was driving to Coral Gables at night for a wedding rehearsal and got so lost that I had no clue where I was. In the Gables there are no street signs – they write the street names on small rocks that aren’t lit at night – I guess they do that to keep us out-of-towners away. Anyway, the wedding party called my wife wanting to know where I was and she panicked. And I ended up calling them on my cell having them direct me by pone one turn at a time until I could see a set of waving hands that belonged to the groom who then got into my car and guided me to the church. Needless to say, I received a GPS for my car that Christmas. The Wisemen were not so lucky. There they are at Herod’s Palace looking for the king whose birth the star heralded, wondering if they had the wrong address.

Press the bell. No you press the bell. No YOU press the bell.
We're looking for the king - a new born king - you see we've been following this star...
Ummm, the only king here is Herod and while he might act childish some times I assure you he's a grown man who thinks that he is a star.
Darn, wrong house. Do you know where the new King was born? Where his house might be? We thought this being a palace and all was his...

Who could blame the wisemen/astrologers/kings (most likely astrologers - men who study the stars and would recognize the special star as a sign of the birth of a king)?
It was the palace. The place where kings live.
The star led them there, didn't it?
Stars were thought to be cosmic signs of great importance.

Herod does not send them packing, at least not yet – he doesn’t offer them tea and cookies either. What he wants is information. Herod asks about the date that the star appeared.
No big deal, right? Just another small fact. A minor question. A mere curious detail.
The king asks the wisemen to report on the Messiah's location so that he, too, could pay him homage.
Homage is a sign of "high respect or regard."
We should be catching on when Herod fails to call FTD or logs on to Flowers.com or makes a special trip to the Baby Superstore for some blue footsie Pajamas. .
Plans are in the works. Dreadful plans. Murderous plans.
But they will wait awhile yet.

The wisemen follow the star a bit more and it leads them to a house. The star has stopped. The journey is over. The wait is over. No more false trails that lead to palaces with clueless kings. (We note that Jesus and family have moved out of the stable). As soon as the star stops "they are overwhelmed with joy."

Let me suggest something here.
They are not overwhelmed with joy because their feet are tired and they can now rest their feet or because they were beginning to have doubts about the star's direction finding ability or because they are hungry and there’s a McDonalds next door. All of those things, rest, food, assurance can make us happy or even glad, but joy, well, that's some thing different.

And they didn’t travel all that way, over mountains, through deserts, guided only by a star, just so that they could feel all warm and happy inside.

No. the journey which may have begun as a journey of curiosity finds its completion as a journey of devotion: they kneel before the Messiah.

Let us recall what research tells us – that lots of people believe in God, but over 90% aren’t devoted to God, at least in their own individual thinking. Devotion goes beyond corporate worship to our individual acts or expressions of love for God. Of entering into God’s presence and expressing our love with our whole hearts, with our whole being. Sometimes baking our communion bread is like that for me and sometimes it is just something that I have to do. Sometimes working in the butterfly garden is an act of devotion for me and sometimes it is just work. How about you? Take a pew pencil and take a moment and think about how you might intentionally increase your devotion to God this week. What gift of time with God; what act of love; what deed of joy; what holy moment of commitment might you offer? How will you transform it from something that you do to a act of purest devotion and love for God?

We recall Jesus’ declaration that the greatest commandment is for us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind. How will we express that love in this new year? This gift of days given to us?
Take a moment and jot down your thoughts. To write them makes them more real, more possible. How shall we grow our devotion to God this week?

More on Sunday!