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

Featured Post

Our Many Gendered God

This week at Trinity Lutheran, we'll be thinking about issues of gender and the ways we still need to transform our society.  I've b...

Sunday, March 29, 2009




And the bread is...Chocolate Babka!

You miss a week...you miss a lot (of chocolate)

Saturday, March 28, 2009


John 12:20-36 March 29, 2009 LENT 5
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, "Sir, we wish to see Jesus." 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.27Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say — 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him." 30Jesus answered, "This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Are you ready for some trouble?
Listen to this:
“Sir, we want to see Jesus.”
It doesn’t sound troubling, does it?
In fact, it sounds rather simple.
“Sir, we want to see Jesus.”
Now we would likely assume that any good disciple upon hearing those blessed words would immediately do what?
Sir, we want to see Jesus.
We would assume that before they could even get their mouths to work that words like this: “Of course you do – follow me ” would just come tumbling out of their own accord.
But no words come tumbling out.
Instead of being disciples for Jesus Philip and Andrew decide to play gatekeeper.
“Sir, we want to see Jesus.”
Philip does not bring them to Jesus, but instead goes and tells his brother Andrew.
Gatekeepers always see, tend to work in pairs, don’t they.
“They want to see Jesus,” Philip tells Andrew.
Then together they do not bring the people, these Greeks, to Jesus, either. They go to Jesus by themselves.

The men who wanted to see Jesus were Greeks, we are told. Not Jews. Greeks.
Perhaps there were proselytes - Greeks who believed in God and were called "God-fearers," but who had not made the final commitment of circumcision.
Perhaps they were just curious Greeks who had heard about this man Jesus and all of the miracles attached to his name and all of the wisdom and authority in his teaching.

"We want to see Jesus."
And the actions of the disciples sent a not so subtle message:
Hey, great, we'll let him know. We'll get back to you on that.

So they tell Jesus words, something like: “ Teacher, these Greeks want to see you.”
Now Jesus could have asked them where they had left those curious Greeks. Jesus could have asked them why they didn’t bother to bring them along. But instead Jesus decides to make that moment what we call a “teachable moment.”
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth,” Jesus teaches, “ I will draw all people to myself.” My death on the cross is for all – its promise is for all, the Kingdom it announces is for all.
All people.
Not some people or Jewish people or Greek people or some other category of people, but rather all people, both Jew and Gentile.
The Apostle Paul will later put it this way:
26for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus

This has serious implications for what it means to be the church – to be the body of Christ – and of course, then, as it must follow - for how we go about the task of proclaiming and living out the gospel.

Now time for some real trouble:
Permit me ask you a question.
Is there a difference between being a "welcoming church" and a "missional church?"
You see it is an important question because I have never been in a church that didn't consider itself to be a welcoming church.
Could you imagine? Stopping by a church on a Sunday morning…”Are you welcoming here?” And some person blocks the door and answers, “Of course not – If you can’t trace your family back three generations in this church you might as well turn around and go home.”
No, that never really happens.
"Everyone is welcome" they'd say.
"The doors are always open."
That is the church-going equivalent of "It's a free country."
Sure, anyone can walk through the doors.
Someone might even hand them a bulletin.
But God help them if they don't know what they are doing.
When to sit and stand.
What pews are open to them.
How communion works.
How to properly share the peace.
This list goes on and on. Churches can say that they are welcoming – all probably would, but churches fall prey to the temptation to draw boundaries – decide who is in and who they want to keep out.

Oh sure, people would never say that out loud in any church (we hope)
But how many might think it? Any how much do our thoughts influence our actions?
"Everyone is welcome," they would say.
But what they really meant was "as long as they are just like us."

“Sir, we want to see Jesus,” the visitors say.
Sure, sure, I'll let him know . You wait right there. (Thought to self: "What makes you think he wants to see you since you are obviously not like me?")

I once told some of young people that I could care less what they wore to church.
Apparently, if the rather animated conversations that followed were any indication, others did not share my indifference.
My indifference of course was to clothing.
What I truly cared about was the youth's presence in church...and their comfort in inviting their friends to church. And their friend's friends.
A missional church cares first and foremost about seeing Christ in all (Matthew 25) and being Christ for others (Martin Luther).

If dressing a certain way is a barrier for some people to come to worship, where Christ has promised to be present, to meet them and us, together, then our concern ought to be to remove that barrier, right?

Sir, we want to see Jesus.
Then hurry home and change into more appropriate clothes. Worship starts in five minutes. And you know, I have never found a verse in scripture where Jesus turns his back on someone and walks away because of what they are wearing or where they are from or what they look like. Or their age or their accent or the number of tattoos they have. Never. Jesus is too busy gathering all people unto himself.

So what does Jesus care about as he pours his entire life into this mission of gathering of people: That people follow him.
Whoever serves me must follow me he says and to follow Jesus is to humbly declare with Jesus “Not my will but yours be done.”
To follow Jesus is to put aside what we want and seek what Jesus wants. Chances are they may not be the same thing.

The family was new in town and the young mother brought their two children to a large downtown parish, while her husband worked each Sunday morning. The parish had lots of families, especially children, and a huge Sunday school. The eldest child had difficulty adjusting to the new Sunday school and was disruptive. The mother offered to assist in the classroom, but the teacher was adamant. Other parents were complaining. The child had to go.

Sir, we want to see Jesus.
Not in that church.
Not that day.
Not as the young mother wept holding her two children tightly around her and dozens of parents walked by oblivious or far worse, uncaring.
Was it a welcoming church? They welcomed everyone - shook their hands and everything. But was it a missional church? Did the people see Christ in all and be Christ for all?
Certainly not.

Sir we want to see Jesus.
We'll let him know....
We’ll get back to on that. As soon as we can.

When I am lifted up Jesus says, I will draw all people unto myself.
Can we as the body of Christ do any less?
Is there any barrier worth ignoring that separates one child of God from the very God who went to the cross for their sake?
Is there any hand that we would not reach out to in friendship, in welcome, in the name of Christ?

Sir we want to see Jesus.
The missional church replies “let me show you how we can be Christ together.”

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Maundy Thursday
Noon and 7:30PM Holy Communion

Good Friday
Noon - 3PM Self-paced Outdoor Stations of the Cross at our Prayer Labyrinth. Sanctuary open for prayer and reflection.

Good Friday
7:30PM Service of Tenebrae

Easter Sunday
6:30AM Sunrise Outdoor Holy Communion Service in the Garden
8AM Holy Communion Service
10:45AM Holy Communion Cantata Service

Saturday, March 21, 2009

John 3:14-21 Lent 4 2009

I was seven years old.
Mom was in the kitchen and dad was in the garage. My sisters were busy, too. And so
I crept up the stairs and quietly opened the door to the attic and then shut it behind me.

It all began with light. Before I had taken the first step onto the stairs, I had turned on the light. Light bathed the attic in a warm and inviting glow from three 60 watt bulbs, one at each corner. In the light I could see where the plywood floor covered the braces. I could see exactly where the plywood began and where it ended. On the uncovered areas of the attic, I could see the insulation and I knew that below the insulation was the sheetrock that formed our ceiling. I also knew how weak that sheetrock was – for I had witnessed my father fall through the ceiling and into the garage one day when he had slipped and lost his footing. A small square of new sheetrock memorialized the spot – I looked up at it each time that I walked into the garage. It served as a warning. And that particular afternoon, there I was, a small and curious child alone in the attic, in the land of plywood, sheetrock, and ceilings that could give way like quicksand with one misstep.

If my father could fall through the ceiling then I knew that the attic could be a dangerous place – but it was also a place of wonder. And in the light, I could see the wonder before me. There were countless boxes and trunks belonging to my parents and stuff from Grandma and Grandpa’s house. In several boxes, wrapped in yellowing newspaper awaited dad’s old Lionel trains. In another corner past an old dresser and under a layer of old sheets, several wooden boxes held photos that my grandfather had taken during world War II of battleships, old fighter aircraft, and France. It was truly a place of wonder!

Soon I came across one of my favorite boxes – the one with my parent’s things from high school: the newspaper article with a picture of my father, smiling and 18, in his Southside High school football uniform, waiting for the ball to snap; my parent’s report cards – always good to know how the folks did - memorizing their grades for possible future arguments…Gee Dad, geometry was tough for you, too! In the next layer I found their yearbooks with so many polite comments written in the margins. Like a seven year old archeologist, I carefully lifted out item after item dusting them off before noting its features and placing each in their proper pile. Then the lights went out.

Now there are two windows in our attic so it was not utter darkness, but to my seven year old eyes it was dark enough. Too dark. And then just as I felt the panic rise in my chest and my eyes go wide I heard the sound of the latch being re-inserted in the eye hook that served as a lock. I was locked in! There was no emergency exit – no hidden passage. My instinct to cry out was muffled by the realization that I was in a place that I was not supposed to be, without permission to be, and opening boxes that I was not supposed to be messing with. I remained silent taken in the punishment that might await me if I called out. In the darkness, fear began to course through my seven year old veins like the fear that Santa Claus that had actually kept track of the number of times I had teased my older sister.

In the darkness everything seemed different. I dumped the things that I had removed from the box back in it and began to stumble in the direction of the door, but then I remembered the sheetrock. I froze not knowing what to do next. If I moved towards the door I risked falling through the ceiling like my dad had done. He had s[rained his ankle in the process, who knows what would happen to my seven year old body. The floor of the garage was a long way down. If I stayed in the dark who knew what might happen. Everywhere there were shadows. Everything looked different, frightful, menacing. I was lost in the dark. All at once I rolled myself tightly into a ball and began to cry out for help. The fear of being punished had been overcome by the fear of being alone in such a frightful place. I longed for the light to push back the darkness. For a flashlight. A candle. The penlight from dad’s keychain. Anything.

Then as I rocked and cried and let he fear have full sway, the light came on, like an answered prayer, like an unexpected gift.

In our gospel today, John reminds us that in Christ Jesus, light has come into the world. Not just any light, but THE LIGHT. The Light through whom God would save the world. The light of hope, of truth, of salvation. The Light to whom we cling to when all other things fade and fail us. The light that will not be dimmed by cloud or storm or cataclysm in our life, economic, physical or spiritual. That light, the light, unbelievably shines on. Shines on for us because it came into the world for us, it suffered for us, it died for us and death itself could not extinguish its glow.

While a student at seminary, I served a parish and one Sunday service had ended and folks were all downstairs at coffee hour. I had just finished locking up the office and putting things away so that I could head downstairs and join them when I noticed someone in one of the pews, sitting alone in the darkness. I recognized him – a man who had grown up in the church and whose father and grandfather had been two of its strongest pillars over the years. It was dark, but the light of the early afternoon illuminated the stained glass windows that filled every wall. Up above the ornately carved altar was a stained glass rosette of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. I noticed that he was kneeling and looking up at Jesus kneeling in the garden. “You ok Richard?” I’ve changed the name, of course. I called out to him in the darkness. His eyes never turned from Jesus: “I just need to pray here for awhile. I’ll lock up.” The pain of some great burden was evident on his face. “Want some company?” I asked as I got down on my knees beside him and stared up Jesus. “Sure,” he replied. Both of stayed there for awhile bathed in the light that poured out from the glass.

But sometimes darkness presses in – on us and on people that we love. Marriages struggle and sometimes break. Illnesses and disease sap our strength, rob us of our health, and can leave us less than we were before. Loved ones suffer from the afflictions of growing older and our own mortality stares starkly back at us leaving us bewildered. Raising children in what seems at times a hostile and complicated world gets harder and harder. Sometimes hurricanes destroy what we have taken years to build. Sometimes overheated housing markets and crippling economic conditions leave our future habitation in doubt. Sometimes our employment seems tenuous. So many decisions. So great the fear of making a mistake. The darkness seems to swallow every ray of the light of hope.

Richard spoke softly, never moving his eyes off Jesus: “It’s work,” he said. “It’s killing me. I’m under so much stress. I can’t afford to leave, though. I really need the benefits.” “So what are you going to do?” I asked him. “I am just going to pray here for awhile,” he answered. “It will be ok.” And in the darkness of a nearly empty church, we prayed on with a praying Jesus keeping us company.

We sing “I want to walk as a child of the light. I want to follow Jesus.” We declare that in Christ there is no darkness at all. That in Christ, the true light has come into the world and that the darkness could not overcome it.

Where is that promise born?
Listen to the words of the Gospel:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.

To those burdened with any suffering – to those afflicted with doubt – those surrounded by the wispy tendrils of darkness and despair, to those paralyzed by fear, Christ speaks a word of hope. Listen!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not cannot overcome it. Not now. Not ever.

God did not give Richard a new job or change his boss or alter his work schedule. But there in the soft glow given off by the light that illuminated Christ’s most difficult moment in the cold night of Gethsemane, together, both Richard and Jesus found the assurance that they needed. And the darkness gave way to the dawn. The light of hope burned. The light of promise. The light of Grace. It burns for me and it burns for you and it burns for all. Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2009


From Basi:
Dear Friends,
I have really enjoyed teaching Zumba on Thursday nights and getting to know those of you who have joined. I was hoping that instead of one class on one night we could discuss the possibility of creating a health and wellness ministry at Trinity, with the goal of reaching more people. A number of congregations use a health and wellness ministry for both physical and spiritual fitness. Activities can vary from exercise classes to walking groups, lectures, cooking classes, etc. A health and wellness ministry is only limited by people's gifts, interests and passions.

Please join me this Thursday night between 6:30 and 7PM during the
Labyrinth Walk potluck - we'll share in the meal and share some ideas
about how the Lord might be calling us to grow this ministry.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

John 2:13-25 2009 SERMON STARTER
In today’s gospel people get real excited about RAMBO Jesus. Jesus who kicks butt and takes names while righteously cleaning up the corrupt mess that the Temple Courts had become. When things make us angry, perhaps we call to mind this passage, this scene: angry RAMBO Jesus break things and swatting people left and right with his broom of righteousness.

Perhaps unemployment makes us angry. Who knows someone who has lost a job in the past year? It is a blessing that we live in a country where many of those who lose their jobs have access to unemployment benefits to help them make ends meet while they look for new employment, but two things immediately come to mind.

First: That the unemployment system can be difficult to navigate and is overwhelmed by the number of applicants

Second: that the number of unemployed people in Broward County far exceed the number of jobs available for them.

In Broward County over 97,000 jobs were lost last year – and over 68,000 people are currently unemployed. If you are newly unemployed and you need to file for benefits so that you and your family can eat, can pay the bills, can keep the lights on and the water running then you might go running to WORKFORCE ONE. In Broward County, in the entire state of Florida, there are no local unemployment offices. You have to call or file online. But if you need a computer or need a phone to file then one of the places you could go in Broward County is WORKFORCE ONE. If you need to look at the jobs bank or sign up for a workshop to brush up your resume or learn how to prepare for an interview then in Broward County the place that you go is WORKFORCE ONE. Just be prepared to stand in line. Possibly for a long time. And if you make a mistake filling out your unemployment benefits application when you get to a phone or a computer your file will be flagged. And if your file is flagged be prepared to wait and wait some more to correct it and to be able to receive the benefits that you desperately need.

What can be done, you might wonder? What would make the biggest difference? Relieve the greatest suffering. Win some justice for families struggling to keep food on the table, the lights on, the water flowing in this difficult economy. Well, the staffers at WORKFORCE ONE told a group of researchers from BOLD Justice, the community justice organization to which Trinity and 27 other congregations and synagogues here in Broward County belong to, that if they had the authority to correct minor mistakes on unemployment forms that it would save those in line hours of their time and ensure that their much needed benefits - money to put food on the table and pay the rent and mortgage and electric bills - arrive as quickly as possible. In our research we found out that all WORKFORCE ONE has to do is to ask the state and they can be granted permission - just one phone call - and the state will even train them to fix these errors for free! In fact half of the Workforce centers throughout Florida have already done this, but not Broward. Not yet. Once the call is made, the time to implement the change is only three days. Now who thought that justice could come so easy or so quickly!

But despite the fact that half of the Workforce centers throughout the state are already doing this very thing, the Workforce centers in Broward County refuse. Outright, no more discussion on the subject, refuse. Relieving the suffering of people in this way is not part of their strategic plan, management told us. Too many people might show up, they told us. No, they tell us. We are finished discussing that issue. No, no, no.

Does this make anyone here angry? Anyone at all? It sure made me angry because I was there asking the questions. Asking for justice to be done. I was definitely angry. That, I imagine, was the expected emotion, but not a particularly helpful one. Something has to be done, but spending time being angry isn't the most helpful action.

So, what does Jesus tell us ought to be done?
We read:
13The Passover of the Jews was near and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!”

It is not uncommon for folks to cite this passage (and typically this passage alone) to justify what we have come to call ”righteous anger."
Jesus, we imagine, was agitated, angry, in the common vernacular, pissed.
Our imagination does not have to break a sweat in order to picture Jesus kicking over tables sending money flying in all directions, pigeons loosed from broken cages climbing high to freedom or salesmen and moneychangers jumping out of the way of Jesus' makeshift broom that was swinging for the fences with their posteriors in his sights.
Righteous anger.
Feels good, doesn't it?
To let it out and let it fly.

As Jesus encountered those money changers and so forth in the Temple Courts, so, too, do we encounter that which causes righteous anger to well up in our hearts, like the people refusing to help the suffering because it doesn’t fit into their strategic plan.

In the Temple Courts the money changers made their living by changing all of the coin of the realm (with graven images abounding) into the only coin deemed acceptable to pay the required Temple Tax. Of course, they extracted a transaction fee for the service. It was a convenient setup to make some bucks at the expense of others who had arrived from pilgrimage to the House of God.Don't want to insult God with graven images on the Temple Tax, now do we?

There were other profitable businesses at work as well.Pilgrims brought with them the prescribed animals for sacrifice, but wouldn't you know it - when the priests examined the animals they were found wanting. They found blemishes here and there that would render the animals unfit to be sacrificed to God. And so the pilgrims had to buy new animals in the Temple Courts at a reasonable mark up, of course.

Pilgrims that had come to worship were being systematically shaken down.
A little here. A little there.
And the insiders grew rich at the pilgrim's expense.
A den of thieves, they were.

And Jesus was righteously livid, angry, and apoplectic, right?
In our minds, we picture this scene and the over whelming emotion is what?
Now, we dig a little deeper. Notice, what Scripture says and doesn’t say.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the only indication of Jesus’ actual emotional state is in the Biblical quote used to explain it:
"Zeal for your house will consume me.”
And we think to ourselves – Zeal – righteous anger – there it is. But there, in fact, it is not.
Zeal, according to Merriam Websters means: "Eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something."
Eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something.
Its synonym is passion. Passion!

Perhaps we should consider throwing a little water on our righteous anger and lighting the fire under our eagerness, our ardent zeal, under our passion.
Just a matter of semantics, some might say.
It’s the same thing, some might say. You are just mincing words. If one merely takes a few steps back, one finds a righteous anger forest there among the trees of eagerness, ardent zeal and passion.

Anger leads us down a serpentine path towards hatred, self-righteousness, egotism, and so on. Unbridled anger can breed a demand for revenge, rather than justice.”In your anger do not sin,” scripture admonishes us. Why?
Because in our anger we will be sorely tempted to sin. Are we ever! Boy Oh boy, are we ever!

Clearing out the Temple Courts was an act of justice and compassion on behalf of innocent pilgrims who had arrived to worship God and who were being systematically ripped off by those who in theory were committed to help them. The very people who should have been guiding people in their relationship with God were in fact putting up walls and barriers and fences of every sort and kind to delay growing that relationship as long as possible in order to extract as much money as possible.

Jesus is not lashing out at people who make him angry, Jesus is removing barriers between people and their God. There is a difference.
Jesus isn’t taking letting his emotions rule the day – far from it. Jesus is ardently working for the cause of justice for the sake of the powerless in this situation, the innocent pilgrims who have only arrived in order to worship God.
As Christians we, too, will frequently find ourselves confronted by injustice both perpetrated upon ourselves and upon others and in faith be invited to act out in faith as God’s sons and daughters. To passionately act out in faith.

When confronted with a situation such as corporations that do not consider the suffering of the poor and unemployed part of their strategic plan, we must say to ourselves that it is not time to mutter under our breath and fume and stew as anger might suggest. Jesus does not complain to the disciples about the injustice done to the pilgrims he removes the barriers by making a statement through his actions.

We can make a statement, too. We can challenge those who are putting up barriers or refusing to take them down. For starters, we can all turn out on April 2nd for BOLD Justice’s Community Assembly to show the management of businesses like WORKFORCE ONE that we care how they treat the poor and unemployed. We can show the County Administrator and County commissioners of Broward County that we care about the lack of affordable rental housing in Broward County, another issue being reviewed that night. We can show the medical community that we want them to keep moving forward to establish a program for affordable dental care in this county, the third issue of that evening. I believe that there is information about the event in your bulletin and on your worship slip.

Zeal, according to Merriam Websters means: "Eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something. And in today’s Gospel that something is justice. It is time for all of us to take a stand for the poor and most vulnerable, just like Jesus did. Hope to see all of you on April 2nd to make a statement by your presence. Consider well how Jesus responded in the Temple. He got their attention, didn't he? In Broward County a few thousand people showing up and being passionate about justice will get just about anyone's attention. Amen.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Church-Based Shelter Program Coming To Trinity Week of March 23rd
Sign up lists at church or contact Lyn Joseph
Overnight hosts, greeters, dinner preparers and food donations needed.

In partnership with the Coalition to End Homelessness, a leader in coordinating services, educating the community and advocating for the needs of more than 10,000 homeless individuals and families in Broward County. Florida
Want to be one of the Good Friday readers and candle "snuffers" for Tenebrae?
Want to greet Easter morning and welcome all of our guests?
Ready to assist in special prayers on Maundy Thursday?
Read the Passion Gospel at 8AM on Palm Sunday?
Dozens and Dozens of positions available for immediate occupancy - first come, first serve.
List is in the office during the week and in the Narthex Sunday morning.
Call or stop by because when these positions are gone - they're gone until next year!
Soup and Bread Suppers and Prayer Labyrinth Walks Continue During Lent

March 11th, 19th*, 25th April 1st

We'll gather at 6:30 for a soup and bread meal. Then, at 7, we'll move chairs outside and light candles at the labyrinth. We'll have a short Bible reading/study (10-15 minutes) and then we'll walk the labyrinth by candlelight.

*On Thursday that week because of Feeding the Homeless People at 1st Lutheran

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Alathea Shares their Music and their Joyful Message with Us on Sunday March 8th.
Thank you to everyone who by their generosity supported their ministry and who used their presence to invite friends and family to the concert and worship service that followed!
One of our members invited 8, count 'em, eight people, a vast majority of which do not have a church home, while many others invited a friend or two. To see so many new faces - how awesome was that! What a privilege that God trusts us enough and empowers us enough to share the Good News and invite people to experience Christ in community at Trinity!

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Nehemiah Action -
THE BOLD Justice turnout event of the year
is less than one month away!
Trinity has a goal of turning out 60 people this year -
and we need every one of you and your friends to join us!

The ACTION will be Thursday April 2nd at 7:30pm
(Sign in at begins 6:45PM)
St. Mark's Catholic Church
5601 S Flamingo Rd
Southwest Ranches, FL 33330
Carpools will be arranged as needed -
just let Janean Baumal know or indicate it on your worship slip.

The ACTION is where we take proposed solutions
for our identified county-wide problems to our
elected and community officials and demand action, right then and there - "Yes" or "No"
This year, these issues/problems concern affordable dental care, affordable rental housing, and jobs and unemployment.

Officials listen to the power produced when thousands of people gather together for justice.
People are suffering in Broward County and Trinity is a proud member of BOLD Justice, our grass-roots community justice organization that includes some 25 congregations - Catholic, Protestant and Jewish.

Put the date on your calendars, right now and circle it BOLDLY!

to perform pre-service concert

This Sunday, March 8th at 10AM
at Trinity
and join us for worship at 10:45AM.

We'll provide hospitality with a Trinity Potluck lunch following the service.

Bring friends, family and your neighbors for this wonderful opportunity !

(Remember to set your clocks ahead one hour Saturday night!)
God Spa Retreat
at Luther Springs, Hawthorne

Deadline to Register March 20th!
See Piper for Registration Forms.

April 17-19, 2009

This weekend retreat for women is a time for renewal, relaxation, and rest. Come together and enjoy time away from laundry, telephones, cooking and careers. Meet new friends and soak in the beautiful scenery and solitude of Luther Springs. Weekend activities may include: lots of pampering, learning, devotions, and several spa-type activities such as facials, hand/foot scrubs, and massages. Free time can be spent reading a book on the front porch, resting by the pool, hiking, canoeing or paddle boating on beautiful Vause Lake, or just spending time with God and deepening your faith. The cuisine will offer a wide variety of healthy choices. We will conclude the weekend with Sunday morning worship and a light brunch. There will be an extra fee for some spa services.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Mark 8:31–38
31Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things."

34He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. 36For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news.”

The words of Jesus are still ringing in our hearts from last Sunday’s gospel.

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news.”

Now is the time. Now is the moment of Kairos, the opportune time. God’s time. Now is the time to change direction. To reverse course and go back the way that we have come, the path that we have chosen, and instead turn and follow God. Go God’s way. To accept as the truest truth that our way and God’s way and not synonymous. That just because we are Christians does not de facto mean that our way and God’s way are one – that our will and God’s will are one and the same. Jesus calls us to repentance, to change direction.

Good Lutherans, when faced with profound questions of faith, ask themselves simply: “What does this mean?” And then, of course, the work begins to faithfully seek the answers. So perhaps we left last Sunday asking ourselves: “What does this repentance, this change of direction means for us?” What does it mean to stop stubbornly following our own path and instead to follow Jesus?
Walter Ciszek was born in a land of beauty and Mrs. T’s Pierogies in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. In 1939, he was serving as a Jesuit priest in eastern Poland when the Red Army troops invaded and to the outside world he disappeared from off the face of the earth. For the next 16 years he was presumed dead. What happened during those 16 years and in the 8 more that followed until he was exchanged for two Soviets accused of espionage and allowed to return to the United States may help us to begin to for an answer to our question: What does it mean to follow Jesus? What does it mean to walk his path, in his footsteps, to deny ourselves and to take up our cross and follow him.

Jesus declares to us in today’s gospel that following him involves that trinity of actions: To deny oneself, to take up one’s cross and to follow him. Of those three, the idea of carrying one’s cross has always been a bit problematic. It’s a problem because we fail to grasp that these three actions can’t be separated from each other without their meaning becoming distorted at best or corrupted at worst, especially bearing ones cross. If I’m making a banana split and I take away the bananas, I have a sundae, which is quite a different thing. If I try to understand take up my cross apart from denying myself and following Jesus, then I open the door to boasting, pride, or even self-pity. Let’s try a totally made up example: Taking care of Grandma in her ill health, some might say, is their cross to bear. They may turn to us and say: “Yes, it is difficult. Yes, I don’t get to do the things that I want to do, but she is my burden, my cross to bear.” We are tempted to declare the things in our life that are hard and bring us suffering as our crosses. We label them, complain about them and even brag about them. And in doing so, by drawing attention to ourselves instead of Christ, we may find that what we are carrying isn’t a cross at all.

As Polish refugees were being marched across thousands of miles into Soviet labor camps, Walter Ciszek saw an opportunity to enter the Soviet Union which had been closed to outside missionaries. Working in a lumber camp, he was discovered by the Soviet Secret police, who had learned that he was a priest. Held in solitary confinement for five years and tortured in the infamous Lubianka prison, he signed a confession declaring himself to be a spy, and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in Siberia. While there, he came to realize that as long as he resisted his call to serve the prisoners there as priest, he was exhausted and miserable. But to the extent that he abandoned himself, denied himself and sought to follow Christ in every situation and circumstance, he felt a sense of freedom and peace. Bread and wine were smuggled in and he celebrated mass for the prisoners, finding the grace to carry on and convinced that it was possible with faith to redeem these terrible circumstances. Even non-believers sought him out for counsel and encouragement and he could not help but see in each encounter with every prisoner an opportunity to do the work of God. Simply by refusing to succumb to bitterness or despair, Father Ciszek became a vital witness who offered up his sufferings to help others discover and preserve their faith.

To deny oneself, take up ones cross and follow Jesus means that in the ordinary and sometimes even extraordinary circumstances of our life, that we seek to serve and bear witness to the one in and through whom true life is given and preserved. To bear witness to the gospel is to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit to bring the very Word of life to the world. Few of us likely will be called by God to do that in a prison where we are tortured or unjustly held or in the frozen work camps of Siberia like Father Ciszek, but in the ordinary and sometimes extraordinary circumstances of our lives, the opportunities are continuously present.

Each Sunday as we open our worship we declare our mission to one another: To Teach Christ, Live by Loving, Care by Serving, and See Christ in all! What if seized that moment to ask you how you how that mission has been manifested in your life for the past week. What would you share? Would you tell about a shawl shared last week with a friend? Of encircling someone in need with the tender prayer of friends and strangers? Would you mention a phone call? A visit? A meal cooked for someone hungry? Driving someone to the doctor? Sitting down with a stranger after church and sharing a cup of coffee with them? So often we do not even think that our simple actions bear witness to Christ. We don’t have to – we just do them – because Christ has given us such grace that we just can’t help it. It is who we are. And as lose ourselves in serving Christ, in denying ourselves, picking up our cross and following Jesus, we live each day in the promise of Salvation.
Thanks be to God! Amen!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sermon Lent Week One Mark 1:9–15
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."
12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news."

50th anniversaries represent incredible milestones.
Next year Trinity will celebrate its 50th anniversary and in 1935 another Lutheran church, Salem Lutheran in South Baltimore, was celebrating its 50th. For Salem, it didn’t look like there would be much to celebrate. As they approach their 50th year they were in between pastors. The church had been struggling. There was talk of it closing its doors. The Great Depression was at its height. Times were tough. People were focused on their very survival.

In a bold step of faith they called a 29 year old recent graduate from seminary, who spoke no German, meaning that their German language service would have to end. He re-organized their anniversary committee and instead of a funeral, the day provided a celebration. The Holy Spirit used that pastor to fill the people with a renewed faith and sense of calling. Their golden anniversary became a golden moment for God and God’s shining Kingdom. Later that spring in the early morning hours following Easter services, the organ caught fire. Between the fire, smoke and water damage, the building was a total loss.

Just as things had been looking up, it was as if someone had pulled the rug out from under them. People love to look at events as signs – to re
ad into events mystic power and draw their own conclusions. After 50 years, perhaps this was Salem’s sign with their golden anniversary their farewell song.

Jesus’ ministry begins ion an ominous note. He gets baptized by John at the Jordan, the heaven’s are torn asunder, The Holy Spirit descends, the voice of God speaks. Well and good. But then everything seems to go wrong. The Spirit drives Jesus out in to the wilderness where he faces 40 days of hunger and temptation and wild beasts. Not exactly a stroll through the park or a visit to the zoo. Then John the Baptist is arrested – the voice that had called the people to repentance – the one sent to prepare the way for Jesus – the one who pointed all of Jerusalem and Judea to Jesus as the ONE who was to come, the one that had waited so long for, the one to whom the prophets of old had testified - he was arrested. Could they be next? Could Jesus be next? If they followed Jesus could the lot of them find their fates no better than John? Were people now looking at Jesus think twice before throwing their allegiance behind him?

Within days, it wasn’t much longer than that, Salem quickly gathered as a congregation with one question on their minds. With the Great Depression still holding the nation in its mournful grip, time were more than tough – more than bleak- bad news upon more bad news – we can relate, can’t we? With the sanctuary a total loss, what was God calling them to do? What was God calling them to be? What was God’s message to them?

As word of John the Baptist’s arrest spread, casting a cloud of fear in its wake, Jesus, rather than beating feet out of town or going in to hiding, begins his very public ministry. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news."

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news."

At their meeting, with perhaps the acrid stench of smoke and char still clinging to their clothes if not their memories, the people of Salem, this working class church of South Baltimore, chose to rebuild. Turning their backs on the realities imposed by the greatest economic crisis of their lifetimes, if not several lifetimes, they made a decision that some would see as foolish, while others, perhaps, audacious. Where would the money come from? How could it be possible? Question after question could have been raised, might have been raised, but God’s message to them might have been no simpler than God’s message to us through Christ Jesus today:

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near, repent, and believe in the good news."

In the wake of John the Baptist’s arrest, with Jerusalem and all of Judea occupied by the most powerful nation in the world, knowing the at the trials and temptations were not over and that the road ahead would ultimately cost him his life, Jesus proclaims a moment of Kairos, the ultimate moment of Kairos, of opportune time Now is the time, Jesus declares. The Kingdom of God has come near. Change direction and believe the Good News.

Can we do any less today?
Isn’t today the time, isn’t today a moment of Kairos, of opportune time birthed from THE Moment of Kairos?

I just got back from a meeting as a member of the Florida-Bahamas Synod Council in which we spent hours discussing and praying over the synod’s soon to be birthed missional strategy called Together in Mission.

A snippet of this emerging strategy says that
Together, in the name of Jesus Christ, we shall…
(1) Invite each congregation of this synod: to become more powerfully a sign of the Lord’s presence in the midst of its community; to establish vital relationships in their community; and to meet human needs through bold and courageous witness to the Gospel message.
(2) Dedicate ourselves to prayer, Bible study and worship calling upon God’s Spirit to guide us in our mission to grow and expand God’s Kingdom in our communities.
(3) Encourage congregations to appoint and commission missional planning teams which will help guide congregations in rediscovering themselves as mission outposts and re-imagine what it means to be God’s Church in today’s world.

Our Bishop and the synodical staff and leadership firmly believe that this is a moment of Kairos. That this is the time to proclaim the Good News that we believe. That especially now the voice of the church must shout to the world that the Kingdom of God has come near, that it is time to change direction, that it is time to believe the Good News.

Almost 75 years after the fire destroyed their organ and challenged a church to renew their call to mission, Salem is still a faithful worshipping community. Dedicated to community outreach, faithful in worship, fervent in prayer they continue to try to meet the challenge of proclaiming the Gospel in an ever changing community. It has meant some hard times and difficult decisions, but bearing the Good News to the community continues to drive them.

What about us?
Isn’t today the time, isn’t today a moment of Kairos, of opportune time birthed from THE Moment of Kairos? The synod is challenging us to become even more powerfully a sign of the Lord’s presence in the midst of our community; to establish vital relationships in our community; and to meet even more human needs through bold and courageous witness to the Gospel message.

Is that what we want to be about? Is that who we are? Are we prepared to Dedicate ourselves to prayer, Bible study and worship calling upon God’s Spirit to guide us in our mission to grow and expand God’s Kingdom in our communities?

Are we prepared to back up our faith with action, bold and courageous, just as Jesus did, to proclaim the Good News?