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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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, May 31, 2009

Walking Opportunities This Week (and for the Next Six Weeks):

Monday 6:45 AM--Meet at church and walk around the lake. Led by Kristin. Afterwards, if your time permits, you can join Kristin in walking the labyrinth and journalling.

Tuesday 7 PM--Meet at church and walk around the lake. Led by Denise.

Wednesday 6:30 PM--Meet at church for a quick lake walk before choir rehearsal. Led by Lisa.

Thursday 7 PM--Meet at church and walk around the lake. Led by Basi.

Friday 7 PM (except for June 5)--Meet at the Beach for a walk led by Lisa. We'll meet at the north end of the Hollywood Broadwalk, at the Turtle Cafe/Snack Bar. Plenty of side street parking (cheaper!) north of the Broadwalk and the North Beach Park.

Saturday 7:30 AM--Meet at church and walk around the lake with Denise. Or join Lisa for a 5 K--race opportunity information will come each week.

Sunday 7:30 AM--Meet at church and walk around the lake with Pastor Keith.

Also, every Thursday from 6:30-7:00 pm, members of the Health and Wellness Team will meet briefly for prayer/fellowship at the church hall. If you are interested in joining this ministry, please join us.

Contact Information for leaders:

Kristen Berkey-Abbott –kristinlba@aol.com, 954-921-6739

Lisa Montalchi- lisamontalchi@yahoo.com, 954-538-7781 or 954-534-7781

Denise Payne-954-443-5475 – jp9910ayne@aol.com or denise_a_payne@uhc.com

Basi Perkins- markbasi@yahoo.com 954-989-5079 or cell: cell phone # 954-439-1596.

Keith Spencer- drpk@earthlink.net, 954-981- 7174

Thursday, May 28, 2009


THIS SAT May 30th
at 9AM
Help Needed and Appreciated!



Trinity Affinity Groups
A summer of Scripture, prayer and fellowship

What is an Affinity Group?

Just follow the “Rule of Three PLUS ONE!”
· An Affinity Group is a group of three or more people that share a similar interest led by a convener – someone who provides leadership for the group. For example: a group might want to read a book together or visit parks or the beach or a group of singles or seniors or parents of teens or new moms with babies. It could be a group that wants to work out together or walk together or who like fishing or creative writing or walking labyrinths or knitting prayer shawls or Bible study or intercessory prayer or cooking a meal together. It is limited by your imagination and interests.

· The group agrees to meet a minimum of three times during the three month period (July-August).

· They covenant that when they meet they will include Scripture, prayer and fellowship in their time together.

· They covenant that during the three months they will seek to include at least ONE person not currently associated with Trinity into their Affinity Group.

Just remember: THREE + ONE
Where you meet, when you meet, and how often you meet is up to you!

***Just remember to include the SPF factor in your time together***
SPF = (Scripture – Prayer - Fellowship)

So how will these groups get started?At our semi-annual congregational meeting on June 7th at 11:30AM while we are munching on pizza, folks will have the opportunity to list their ideas for an Affinity Group that they would be willing to convene. After giving people some time to think about what has been offered, everyone will then be free to sign up for the group in which they are most interested. Sign-ups will continue through the worship slip and through contact information in the BLOG throughout June. Conveners will attend one of several opportunities with Pastor Keith for prayer and to discuss any needed resources, logistics, questions and so forth. Conveners will be introduced and receive a prayer of blessing on Sunday worship June 28th


Congratulations to our
2009 Confirmands!

Elizabeth Lankford Furey
Michael Sebastian Mannino
Maya Katie McCoy
Thomas Alden Spencer
Joanna Vega
Mark Kevin Vega

Confirmation Teacher extraordinaire!

Please join us for the Service of Confirmation

Sunday May 31st at 10:45AM - No 8AM service this day

Remember in your daily prayers Maya and Dinesh McCoy; Joanna and Marc Vega; and Thomas and Christian Spencer who are attending the gathering
and our leaders Ron McCoy, Piper Spencer, and Pastor Keith
Dear Friends,
We are grateful to be part of the largest servant project in the country as 36,000 people serve in New Orleans this summer as part of the ELCA Youth Gathering – Jesus, Justice, Jazz. 12,000 people serving for three days is unheard of! Please, help all those involved be successful with this important work as we serve people who are still recovering from the floods of Katrina, most often children and families living in poverty.

You can help in three ways:

First, make a personal donation at the online gift catalog at: http://archive.elca.org/scriptlib/DS/giving/youthgiving_gift.asp
Second, pass this invitation to everyone in your address book.
Third, pray earnestly for the youth and adult participants and those they come alongside during the three days of service - July 23, 24, and 25.

Your partnership is greatly appreciated as we work together –in the spirit of compassionate justice - in New Orleans this summer.

Jo Mueller
ServantLife Team Leader, ELCA Youth Gathering
Peggy Contos Hahn
ServantLife Team Leader, ELCA Youth Gathering
Walk With Us on Pentecost

Don't forget that our kick off walk for our 6 week walking program will be Pentecost Sunday. We'll walk at 8:00 a.m., eat healthy goodies at 8:30, and still have plenty of time to get ready for worship at 10:45.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Weekly Gospel Meditation

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, May 31, 2009, Pentecost:

First Reading: Acts 2:1-21

First Reading (Alt.): Ezekiel 37:1-14

Psalm: Psalm 104:25-35, 37 (Psalm 104:24-34, 35b NRSV)

Second Reading: Romans 8:22-27

Second Reading (Alt.): Acts 2:1-21

Gospel: John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the event that sets into motion the events that will form the church as we know it. In mainline churches, Pentecost often gets overlooked. It doesn't have the gift giving potential of other holidays; it doesn't have any special candies or foods (although I see lots of potential here--flame shaped chocolates, anyone?). But I think the real reason that Pentecost has gotten the short shrift is that the events of Pentecost make many of us nervous.

Speaking in languages we don't ourselves understand? Evangelizing to strangers? No wonder we don't spend much time contemplating the meanings of Pentecost for modern life.

But maybe we should. Many North Americans are members of a church that is in clear crisis. Some of these crises explode on the national stage, like the wrenching scenes from Episcopalian churches who decide they'd rather be part of African episcopates than to continue to work with American bishops.

And even if our ELCA manages to avoid schism, it's hard to deny that many mainline churches are institutions in trouble. We face declining membership, declining donations. It's unclear how long many individual churches can keep limping along.

If we let the Holy Spirit loose in our home churches, what might happen? If we trusted in the transforming power of God, what changes might we see, both in our individual lives and in the lives of our church bodies?

Perhaps it is time for another Pentecost, for the next Reformation. Maybe the way we've been doing church is unsustainable. Which leaves us with a burning question: what will the future look like?

Some people would tell you that the next Reformation is underway. In her slim book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why, Phyllis Tickle explains how we've come to the point of another great Reformation, and she draws a compelling picture of the various ways the Church will look when we're done. Some people are excited, as they point to a number of churches, both mainline and experimental, who are thriving. For an inspirational read, turn to Diana Butler Bass's book Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith.

Of course, there's a darker side. We are about to move into a time period where there are more Christians in developing parts of the world, like Latin America and African nations, than in the previous power centers, like the United States and Europe. No one has chronicled the changes already underway better than Philip Jenkins in The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.

Let's leave the larger questions of the larger institutional church to the Bishops and other higher-ups who get paid to ponder these things. Let's think about our individual lives and our church home. What do you need to nourish yourself spiritually? How does Trinity provide that nourishment? In what ways could Trinity become even more of a blessing in your life? And here's a tougher question: how could Trinity be a blessing for the larger community in ways that we're not even thinking about right now? Think about a religious community that can fulfill a variety of missions. What would that community look like? What would Trinity look like, if we became that transforming wind?

What would your role be in such a community? How can you be part of its creation? How can we go from a vision to a reality? Pentecost is the time for dreaming daring visions--and then going out to bring them into being.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Last of our Three Classes on the Holy Spirit and "Holey" Bread
We study Acts Chapter Two
and learn about making
Home-made bagels
"Everything" bagels to sample!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meditation on This Week's Gospel

By Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, May 24, 2009:

First Reading: Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Psalm: Psalm 1

Second Reading: 1 John 5:9-13

Gospel: John 17:6-19

Parts of the Christian world will celebrate Ascension Day this Sunday, the one before Pentecost. The reading for today comes before the Crucifixion story in John, but it still makes a good Ascension Day text.

Here is the paradox of our Gospel Good News. The Kingdom of God is both here, now, already, but it is also not yet fulfilled. Those two conditions seem impossible to reconcile, impossible to live with both conditions in our head--and yet, it is what we are called to do.

But how?

The words of Jesus point the way. We are to be in the world, yet not of the world (the Gospel of John is quite mystical in places--the reading for this Sunday is one of those places). That seems complicated as well, another paradox, impossible to be both things.

In some ways, it is. But in this passage, Jesus reminds us that we are sanctified consecrated, and sent out into the world. The not yet message of the Gospel reminds us that we have work to do (the ELCA motto also speaks to this: God's Work, Our Hands). And this Gospel passage reminds us of the stakes: Jesus prays that we will be protected from the evil one.

In many ways, our most basic task is to confront evil. Everything we do, everything we create, needs to be a challenge to evil. We are not to go through the world with our business as usual selves. We are not to have a self that we bring out on Sundays, in church, and our week day self, and our Saturday self. Our task is to live an integrated life, a life that lets the light of the Good News shine through us and our actions.

So, it's all still a bit abstract? That's the beauty of our religion. We worship a God who came to model life's potential for us. Whenever we're confused, we might ask ourselves how Jesus would handle things.

You say you have a boss who is driving you crazy, making you redo work 5 times, only to arrive back at the place you started? You could growl and grumble. But you'd use your time far more wisely by praying for your boss. Maybe you've got neighbors who are at loggerheads--how can you be a peacemaker? Your grandma is lonely and far away? Write a letter once a week or send a card. You've got a friend who has hit a rough patch? Invite them over for dinner and share a bottle of wine. You know that people are hurting in the local tough economy? Donate some food to the food bank.

We are to care for everyone. We can start by praying for them. The beauty of prayer is that you can do it anywhere. In your car, on your way to work, pray for yourself, your boss, and your co-worker. When you take a break during the day, remember to pray. In your car, on the way home, pray for your family. As you watch the news and read the newspaper, pray for all those victims of various traumas.

As you move through the day, be on the lookout for ways to be the yeast in the bread, the salt that flavors the soup. Look for ways to show Christ's love. You can do it quietly--in fact, there are plenty of Gospel passages that say you must do it quietly. You don't want to be that pious Christian that makes people feel squirmy; you don't want people to accuse you of being a typical hypocritical Christian on the days when your light flickers and dims. Radiate love, as often as you can, and you will be a far stronger advocate for God, and a person who is far better equipped to fight evil.

Each day, pray the prayer that Jesus prayed so long ago, that his joy may be fulfilled in you (verse 13). May that joy spill over onto others, as joy invariably does. Each day, ask God to guide you as you seek to be God's love incarnate in the world.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

After a three year run, our Inter-generational Sunday school (IGSS) bids farewell Sunday at 9:30AM with the making of its annual stepping stones. All are invited!

Confirmands have their rehearsal at the same time in the sanctuary.

SPARK, a new Sunday school curriculum from Augsburg Fortress Publishing, our Lutheran publishing house, will debut this fall - Look for details on planning and Rally Day as we move forward.

Are hereby Confirmed!
Co-Leaders will be
Pastor Keith and Faith Marie Lombardo
Stay-tuned to the BLOG for further updates.
All Welcome!

Meet at Trinity at 7PM (weather permitting)
We'll walk from 7pm to 8pm around the lake.

John 17:6–19
6I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; 8for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. 14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 15I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. 16They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. 17Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

So, let’s not beat around the bush: Are you in the world or of the world?
In the world or of the world?

Jesus declares in his prayer that just as he does not belong to this world, neither do we. We have been sent into the world with a purpose, with a mission, but the world has no claim on us. Our citizenship is in and of God’s Kingdom. We know this. Our faith comprehends this. We can nod our heads in agreement, but challenges are not far off. Trials and testing and choices on this very issue lurk very near to us.

Pick up the newspaper, troll the internet. Left and right the question of loyalty makes for some good reading. I read a quote from a politician who declared that his loyalty was to his political party (as compared to a colleague who had voted his conscience on a particular issue much to the chagrin of this particular legislator.) For him, it was party first and conscience second.

As Christians, the issue of loyalty is ever before us.
As we learn in today’s gospel our loyalty is conditioned by our citizenship – not whether or not we are US citizens or resident aliens or undocumented workers, but rather how well we understand our citizenship in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whether or not we stand behind the truth that we are a Kingdom people.

Perhaps no one knows this better than Bob Riley whom Time Magazine anointed back in 2003 as either politically suicidal or the bravest chief executive in the country.

That year as Alabama’s Governor, Republican Bob Riley wanted to reform what some called "the most unfair tax system in the nation" with the biggest tax hike in Alabama's history. His plan: Raise taxes on the wealthy and cut taxes for the poor.

Journalist and commentator Bill Moyer described the tax system this way:
"When it comes to state income tax, the lowest-earners — two-thirds of Alabama's population — pay 11 percent of their income in taxes. In contrast, the wealthiest 1 percent pay less than 4 percent.

Alabama's been called an economic plantation: for example, trees cover more than 70 percent of the state, and forestry is Alabama's leading industry. Yet timber and paper companies contribute less than 2 percent of all property tax revenues in the state. Meanwhile, Alabama's families are taxed on earnings as low as $4,600 a year. Even by the standards of the poor Southern states, this is extreme. In Mississippi next door, you pay no income taxes until you earn $19,000."

The Governor, a devout Southern Baptist declared that "In my New Testament, it says that there's three things we should do, "Love God, love each other, and take care of the least among us." I think this [his tax plan] does that."

Once voted "the most conservative member of congress" where he refused to run for re-election after three terms because he believed in term limits, Governor Riley was assailed by his fellow Republicans, criticized by the Christian Coalition, and vehemently attacked by Big Business. With a huge TV ad blitz that convinced the poor that they would SUFFER more with this tax plan designed to give them TAX RELIEF, the opposition forces defeated the plan in a state-wide referendum. As a result more services had to be cut for those in need. Governor Riley’s ambitious plan to close the budget gap, provide additional funding for Alabama’s poorest schools and an extensive college scholarship program was scuttled

It is not only Christian governors or state legislators that face the challenge of loyalty – of discovering for themselves what "not belonging to this world" may mean. You and I face that challenge, too. We do because we have been sent into the world bearing the Word of God: God's truth, hope and promise. In entrusting his word to us Jesus tells us plainly that that Word, that holy and life-giving Word will produce sharp reactions in people – some will embrace it and through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit will be changed forever – and some will reject it and hate us for declaring it.

So, are we in the world or of it? What do our actions say about where our citizenship may be found? How do our actions declare that we are Kingdom people?

Well one thing that Kingdom people do is that they strive together for justice. A month ago over fifteen hundred people from 28 congregations and synagogues gathered together in an action for justice. This congregation was one of them. By ourselves, as individuals and individual congregations there was little that we could have done to marshal the forces necessary to achieve changes in a system for whom the voices of the poor could not shout loud enough. But as one we declared that we wanted changes, that we wanted Broward County’s Workforce Centers to be able to correct the flags in the records of the unemployed that prevented them from receiving their benefits. Without this change it might take hours, days or even weeks for these changes to be made. As a small team representatives of these congregations and synagogues went to the CEO of Workforce One and told him that no one spent time looking for a job when they were worried about their benefits, if they were worried about if they could put food on the table or keep the lights on or pay their rent. But we were few and we were ignored. But a week later fifteen hundred gathered and as one demanded justice and our collective voice was heard loud and clear. Fifteen hundred people gave up a Thursday night for justice. I mean, wasn’t Idol on that night? Grey’s Anatomy? Weren’t there clothes to wash, kid’s lunches to make, dishes to clean?

So, are we in the world or of it? What do our actions say about our citizenship? How do they declare that we are Kingdom people?

Last week I attended a meeting with Broward County Commissioner Josephus Eggletion who sits on Workforce Development Board. There he informed us that the Workforce Board directed the CEO to make the changes that we had demanded be made. Our most recent communication indicates that this has in fact happened. That it is a reality. It is amazing what happens when together we declare by our actions where our true citizenship may be found.

Whether it is the temptation in our occupations to survive at any cost or to win a bitter divorce fight through lies and deceit or rip off the government figuring that it’s our money anyway or that they owe us, or deciding that “me first” is a pretty good mantra to live by, we will find declaring our citizenship through our actions an almost daily challenge, a constant tension.

Jesus understands that being in the world not of it will create tension in our lives. That’s why he doesn’t expect that we live in that tension on our own. In the gospel this morning, Jesus prays to the Father on our behalf:
“Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

Jesus knows that our life in the tension of living in the world and not of it will not be easy. He calls upon God to protect us; to sanctify us, that is to make us and our lives holy, in the truth. Not just any truth, but God’s just truth. Thus the impossible becomes possible. Fear can give way to hope. When the world comes calling, demanding our loyalty, we can find the strength to be bold, we can reach inside of ourselves and find the wisdom born of faith to remember that Christ himself has prayed for us, prayed to God to watch over us, to protect us, to give us the courage to be Kingdom people, now and always.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sermon Draft for Sunday May 17th
John 15:9-17 May 17, 2009
9As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.12This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

Parents look at a newborn child looking for evidence that the child bears the features of one or the other. It can be quite a game:
“Oh look, he has your eyes.”
“Wait, look, she has your smile.”
“I can’t believe it! He makes the same face while passing gas as you do!”
Don’t laugh, you have in all likelihood played this game with your own children or someone else’s.

With that question in mind, let’s wonder a bit about God, today.
So, when God looks at us, what does God see?
We look at babies and try to see mom or dad lurking in each feature, each expression.
When God looks at us, what does God see?

We read:
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

When looking at us – when God considers us – the work of God’s own hand - Does God see the Joy of Christ within us?
Does God see the Joy of Christ in its completeness? In its fullness?
The very Joy of Christ?

And if God is looking for that joy in us, you and I better spend some time considering that notion, that idea, that joy. We need to spend the time because we are subject to the temptation to equating joy and happiness. And it is a temptation because it makes things a lot easier for us. And it is wrong.
Joy and happiness are not equivalent – are not the same thing.

One clue to this is found in the wedding service.
We vow to be together "in joy and sorrow."
Ever notice that?
Never "in happiness and unhappiness."
We jump to the conclusion that if we do not feel happy all the time that something in our marriage is profoundly broken.

Happiness and joy are not the same thing.

We read:
I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete
A good cup of tea can make me happy.
Its warmth and smoky light but sweet liquid does wonders to evoke a smile on my face. A good cup of English breakfast tea make just right, with a splash of milk in first and two teaspoons of sugar and steeped for about one minute is my formula for happiness.
A good cup a tea makes me a happy man.
But one can only savor that cup so long. Eventually it will get cold.

As a displaced New Yorker and rabid Mets fan, when the Mets win I am a happy man.
When they lose, I am not.
It is rather simple. Right now I am happy, but around 11:30PM tonight, I may not be. We’ll see how the game goes.

The smell of warm bread makes me happy. Eating fresh home made bread even more so. Add some creamy butter and let it steam itself into the crust and happiness just seizes the palate and will not let it go.
That happiness is fleeting however.
After all, I don't bake every day. And every loaf is not perfect.
And sooner or later the last slice is gone.

Jesus says: I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
Joy and happiness are not the same thing. Joy is the far greater gift. Jesus does not grant us his happiness, but his joy.

And how do we know that it is there? How can we be sure?
How is Jesus’ gift of Joy completed in us so that we absolutely, positively know that it is there in its fullness?

We turn to a song for our answer.
A song that only gets it half right.
Perhaps you know it - it goes like this:

I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart!
I’ve got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
Down in my heart to stay.
Great. Now do you see our problem?

Listen again to our gospel:
16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last

If we have that joy, joy, joy down in our hearts – then we are two dimensional Christians who are called to live a three dimensional faith.
That joy in our hearts - that joy of Jesus – isn’t there to make us feel all warm and fuzzy or even happy – it is there so that we can bear fruit in Jesus’ name. We’ve been appointed to that very purpose, for that very calling, to the vary life. To bear fruit in Jesus’ name. Fruit born of the joy of Jesus. The fruit in our lives points us to the holy and blessed joy that must be a part of us.

What are the signs of this fruit that reassure us that the Joy of Jesus runs through every fiber of our being? So how will we recognize it when we see it?
We can’t and we don’t.
The fruit that we bear in our own life can only be seen in and through the lives of others.
Let’s not make the mistake of dumbing down our Christian faith into a bunch of people who merely do some good things.
Bearing fruit isn’t about being a good person – it is about being ambassadors for Christ – embodying the love of Jesus in word and deed - bearing fruit in the name of Jesus. That’s why we cannot see our own fruit – because we do not do it for ourselves, we do it for Jesus. Our lives become one glorious moment after another, taking the joy of Jesus gifted to us, bearing fruit with it in the lives of others, and doing this over and over and over again, never bored with it, never complacent with it, but thrilled and humbled that God in and through Christ Jesus is willing to appoint us to the task.

So, you got that joy, joy, joy down in your heart? Or is it bearing fruit in someone’s life?
And the thing is – you can’t answer that question – the lives that are changed by God working through you by the power of the Holy Spirit will be your testimony.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

2009 Florida-Bahamas
Synod Assembly

The 2009 Assembly of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA

You can download and read the 2009 Post-Assembly "In-Review" Report online at http://www.fbsynod.com/synodassembly/09/dailynews.html. You can also download a reproducible bulletin insert to share in your congregation. It is photocopy-ready in color or black & white.

The three issues of the Assembly Daily Cross+Currents Newsletter are also available to download thanks to the ELCA Mission Investment Fund (www.missioninvestmentfund.org).

Photos, blogs, and other assembly information available online at www.fbsynod.com/synodassembly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thursday, May 14th at 7:30PM
More voices needed and appreciated!

Thursday, May 14th at 7PM
Meet at Trinity
From Your Trinity Family
Meditation on This Week's Gospel
by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, May 17, 2009:

First Reading: Acts 10:44-48

Psalm: Psalm 98

Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-6

Gospel: John 15:9-17

In this week's Gospel, Jesus again reminds us to love each other. If I had to sum up the whole of the New Testament, I'd do it this way: Love God (which of course would include Jesus and the Holy Spirit), and love each other with as much intensity as you love God. Jesus doesn't present us a choice in the matter. We're commanded to love each other.

And the impact of this commandment is even greater. We must love everyone--not just the people who are easy to love.

Let's be honest with each other. We don't always do a good job of loving people whom it's easy to love. For example, I know that my grandmother loves getting mail. There's a thrill about getting something in her mailbox from family members. In some ways, it doesn't matter what's in the envelope. She's just so thrilled to get mail. I understand that--I've been a student; I've been a homesick camper at Lutheridge.

How hard would it be for me to send her something once a week or once a day? She doesn't do e-mail, but I could print an e-mail and mail it the old-fashioned way. Often, I do a good job of mailing something once a week, but then I go away, my routine gets disrupted, and it takes me awhile to get back into that habit.

I'm bad at mailing birthday cards, and I rarely get presents into the mail on time. Why is this so hard for me? I love my family. If I had an abusive family, I might let myself off the hook, but I don't, so I won't.

Then I feel despair. If it's so hard to show my loved ones that I love them, how on earth will I do this for people who are less lovable?

Jesus came to show us the way. We show love by sharing a meal. We show love by spending time with people. We show love by listening to people. We show love by praying for them.

You might say, "Well, that's just too hard." That's where being a member of a faith community is important. Through our faith communities, we can show love by working with the poor and dispossessed, in a way that we can't by ourselves. Here at Trinity, we run a food bank, and we make dinner for the homeless in downtown Ft. Lauderdale once a month. I can't run a food bank by myself. I can't make dinner for 90 homeless people all by myself. But as part of a faith community, I can do all sorts of things that require strength in numbers.

Our faith communities should ideally model good behavior for us. Trinity reminds us of our prayer responsibilities by publishing an updated prayer list each week. At Trinity, we share meals on a regular basis.

Hopefully, our experience of church (and other faith communities) strengthens us for the intense work of loving the world. It's hard work. It's what we're called to do. It's what we must do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

For those who come to Zumba on Thursday nights, we will be meeting at church and walking over to the park at BCC for a walking workout - this will be our ongoing plan while we see if interest in Zumba or Yoga picks back up again. . If you come late, just meet us at the park. Our walk will be about an hour and we'll end it with some "quiet time" at the church's labyrinth. Another reason for this change is that we are going to start a 6 -week congregational walk starting on 5/31/09, so this would be a way for our Zumba class to get involved.

I congratulate you for making your health and wellness a top priority. By making small changes and creating new healthy habits, you change your life, your family's life and even the health of the whole community.

See you on Thursday. Have a great week!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Come Walk With Us!

Soon, we'll start a variety of walking programs as a congregation. Feel free to participate in as many as you'd like.

For those who want a sustained challenge, we'll begin the Pentecost season by challenging everyone to walk an extra 2,000 steps a day. If you want to do some more detailed analysis, for $5, we'll give you a kit that has a journal, where you can record your progress and read inspirational verses, and a pedometer that will enable you to be sure of exactly how many steps you're taking. If you want a kit, let Basi, Kristin, Pastor Keith, Lisa, or Sam know--and leave your contact information so that we can be in touch.

We'll begin with a kick-off walk on Pentecost Sunday, May 31. Come join us before the 10:45 service (the only service of that day) to walk from 8:00-8:30 and to share some breakfast treats afterwards. We'll be doing the final organization of participants into teams and giving out information about walks during the Pentecost season. You can walk with just your team or all three teams. You can walk on Pentecost alone or throughout our 6 week walking program. We'll be letting people know about various walks in the area for charitable causes, and some of us will be walking those. We hope to build our strength while building community.

Can't wait until Pentecost? Come join Basi and Kristin on Thursday nights; we'll be walking instead of doing Zumba or Yoga. We'll go over to the park at BCC between 6:45 and 7:00, where we'll walk for an hour and then end with a contemplative walk in the labyrinth. If you're running late, come join us anyway.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Day Two mornings come quickly and somehow I failed to caffeinate myself against the prospect of a very full day. No matter, since morning worship proved a gem. Former Assistant to the Bishop Bob Shaefer began our morning by co-leading morning worship along with AIM Connie. Never heard Bob preach before since he served on the other coast, but now that he has moved on to his position with worship at ELCA Headquarters in Chicago I can fathom how great their gain and deep our loss.

Another cool thing about Synod Assembly includes the many and diverse ideas generated and shared. Our Bible Study leader, former bishop Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl, ratcheted up her folksy humor which was a delight, but she also drop ideas here and there, like giving away dirt at ASH WED Services, perhaps along with a seed which is planted nurtured and tended during Lent and returned for a visit as a plant at Easter. Someone else shared how their congregation had folks donate towards the purchase of live plants instead of lilies at Easter. Not only did the plants provide a beautiful environment for Easter worship, but they then were planted outside sprucing up the grounds.

The vote for Synod VP was announced 214-213 with Cheryl Stuart taking over for Bill Horne, both good friends, servants leaders, and faithful colleagues on Synod council.

Once again I am being reminded that we still struggle in understanding the role of children and youth and the power of Baptism. Twice now during our Assembly I have heard adults refer to youth and children as the “future of our church.” What this fails to grasp is that they are as much the present of the church as we are. That’s the power of Baptism in which God through the Holy Spirit claims us as children of and for the Kingdom. As long as we push children and youth into our future we let ourselves off the hook from confronting the barriers that exist in our congregations to their full participation right now. They are co-workers in the present with great gifts if we only have eyes to see and ears to hear. Watching the children and youth of the REZ House choir share their gifts this morning provided just one more reminder of the power of God to work through our young people as effectively as adults.

More Later!
Defining the day for me was the trifecta of worship, memorials, and friends.

Worship: It was billed as festive worship and it was! From the never-ending glorious procession of our rostered folks – Pastors, Associates in Ministry, Deacons and Diaconal Ministers – and our many congregation’s multi-colored banner extravaganza – to excellent music and an impassioned sermon from Bishop Benoway. Good call moving it to the evening – my vote is to keep it that way. What a resounding way to end the day!

Memorials are the assembly’s opportunity to deliver our thoughts on issues to the church-wide assembly. Of the ten memorials and resolutions on the agenda thus far, we turned our attention to three concerning the Human Sexuality Social Statement and the separate proposed resolutions drafted by the same committee and endorsed by the ELCA Church Council to change ministry policies concerning the way that folks are rostered in the ELCA that would allow opportunities for those in committed same sex relationships to be rostered.

The rules adopted for the conduct of the assembly provided a helpful framework for the debate – folks had a minute to make their point and those for and against the proposals on the floor had to alternate at the microphones. For those who love Robert’s Rules – they saw them in action – with motions to substitute and division of the house being more popular than they have in my nine years coming to these assemblies. While the electronic voting devices that were used during the Bishop’s election might come at a price – I think it would be money well spent whenever there are a large number of memorials or particularly controversial ones. This year we had both.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty of these resolutions, suffice it to say that (again in my opinion) history was today and it was awesome to bear witness to it. Both the Human Sexuality Social Statement and the four resolutions pertaining to ministry policies on rostering were commended for passage to the church-wide assembly meeting later this summer.

Synod Assemblies provide a joyous opportunity to renew friendships and make some new friends - sharing with them a year’s worth of faith journeying in life and parish. It reminds us that we are not alone in our common mission of proclaiming and embodying the Good News: far from it! How blessed I feel right now, as I unwind from the day, recalling the hugs, handshakes, smiles and kindnesses that filled its long hours.

Number for the Day: 11,787
(number of steps my pedometer claims I made today).

Extra Number for the Day: 2
Number of times Bishop Benoway made people laugh during the memorials and resolutions discussion.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel
by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, May 10, 2009:

First Reading: Acts 8:26-40

Psalm: Psalm 22:24-30 (Psalm 22:25-31 NRSV)

Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-21

Gospel: John 15:1-8

The Gospel of John includes several "I am" stories, like the one we find in the Gospel for today. Unlike the idea of Jesus as shepherd, which might be unfamiliar to those of us who live so far away from farms, the idea of Jesus as the vine, and believers as the branches isn't that hard for most of us to grasp. Most of us have watched plants grow, and we understand that one branch of the plant won't do well if we separate it from the main stalk.

To continue the plant metaphor, Jesus is the one who delivers water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. We won't do well when we're disconnected from the life source. In fact, Jesus makes clear what happens to those of us who separate from Christ: we wither.

Maybe you're feeling fairly withered anyway, even though you don't see yourself as being cut off from Christ. If that feeling persists, perhaps it's time to consider doing something differently. Maybe you need to pray more. Maybe you need to withdraw and take a retreat. Maybe you need to do some social justice work. Maybe you need some sort of midweek class or worship activity. Maybe you need to walk a labyrinth and meditate.

This week's Gospel makes clear that we are not put in place to just sprout meekly. We are to bear much fruit. If we feel like we're withering, we shouldn't let that feeling persist for too many months before we consider how we're going to become more fruitful.

Congregations will hear this Gospel this week, and many will consider what this verse means. Are we to bring more members to church? Are we to go out and create some sort of intentional community? Should we do more vigorous work for social justice? How can we be light and leaven in our workplaces?

The answers to all these questions might be yes. Or perhaps no. Let's return to the vine metaphor, and let's think about wine. Those of us who drink a variety of wines know that even though wines are made from grapes, there are lots of different grapes, with very different characters, which make a wide variety of wines possible.

Some of us are the type of grape who can go out and invite all our friends to church. Others of us are the kind of grape that would prefer to pray for others in private. Some of us might be the kind of grape who can visit sick parishioners, at home or in the hospital. Some of us might be called to create intentional community, while others of us have already found the community which can nurture us.

There is no single right or wrong answer. But we need to make sure we're asking the right questions. When I was on retreat this past week, talking to a pastor friend about work issues, she asked, "But through your work, are you creating a thing of beauty?" That's one of the interesting questions.

We also need to consider whether or not our daily activities are working on behalf of good or evil. Every action that we take helps to create a world that is either more good or more evil. We want to make sure we're creating the Kingdom that God has called us to help create. We're to be creating it here, now--not in some distant time and place when we're dead.

We're in a world where the Good News of the Gospel is that the Kingdom of God is both here now (thus a cause for joy) and not yet (as evidenced by evil in the world). Everything we create needs to be a challenge to evil.

We don't have time to waste withering on the vine. God has many joyous tasks for us, and the world urgently needs for us to do them.

Monday, May 04, 2009

For Sunday May 10th 2009
1 John 4:7-21
Some stories are just worth re-telling.
The woman entered the old Lutheran church in a farming community nestled in a beautiful valley near Gettysburg long after worship had begun. The opening prayer had been prayed and the Kyrie chanted and the hymn of praise echoed off the walls. “You alone are the Holy One. You alone are the Lord! You alone are most high Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen!” The pastor began to chant “The Lord be with you” and the congregation, as they had probably a thousand times before, opened their mouths, the next words forming automatically only to die on their lips as a woman entered through the main doors and walked directly up the center aisle to the altar. There she fell on her knees and wept. Eyes turned, fixed her slight frame in their field of vision. They could not help but see her heaving chest. Tears dropping, falling raining down on the carpet, on the step up to the altar. Everyone was wondering what would happen next. What would the pastor do? Why was the woman kneeling at the altar in tears? Would the service ever continue? The deafening silence stretched into forever. A cough. A sigh. Someone nervously adjusting their frame to get a better glance without looking like they were trying to look as intently as they were.

The pastor looked out into the congregation and all eyes followed his gaze, not down to the woman a mere few feet away, but at another woman off in the congregation. And as his eyes caught her eyes she knew without a word being spoken what had to be done. What she was being asked to do. The woman, a Sunday school teacher that led the adult class, rose and slowly walked up to the altar and knelt down next to the praying, weeping woman and joined her for a few moments, sobs punctuating the silence, the terrible awkward silence.

Hanging in the air “The Lord be with You!” seemed to hold everything together, as if in the silence it kept its strength, its power, its purpose. Together the two women exchanged a quiet word and then walked arm in arm to a pew off to the side where they spent the rest of the service.

When a stranger appeared among them lost and weeping, somehow that community of faith had the faith to trust that the Spirit of God would lead them in the right direction. They did not rehearse it. There were no contingency plans written into their constitution that covered such a situation that they could quickly turn to for the proper actions to take. No turning to section One hundred and four “What to do when a weeping woman throws herself down at the foot of the altar in the middle of a prayer and response.” There is no section one hundred and four. There is only a gracious God who in Christ Jesus taught us how to love by becoming love for us.

A couple entered a church in a upper middle class suburb in New York with their baby in their arms. Someone handed them a bulletin before returning to their conversation about some church business or other that had set one of them off. The couple wandered into the sanctuary unsure of where to sit and where the nursery was if they ended up needing it; unsure of just about everything. Looking back the usher’s conversation was growing more heated so they opted to just wing it and sit in the middle pew of the middle section, close to the aisle, in case a quick exit was required.

During the service, every time their baby gurgled or cried out or made any noise at all they felt a hundred pairs of eyes staring at them. Whispers here and there. Louder and softer and louder again. They considered the nursery, but as they found buried in the back of the bulletin, it was located in the opposite end of the building from their pew and to get there would involve having every pair of eyes follow them as they got up, walked to the rear aisle and behind half the sanctuary until they reached the safety of a side door that led down the hallway to anonymity. That there were no other children at worship escaped them at the time, but should have come as no surprise. They felt like lepers and no one came to their aid.

When strangers appeared among them alone and unsure, that community of faith ignored them. Perhaps strangers were not that important or at least not as important as the members and their comfort were. They did not even need to say a word, for their glares and serious expressions said it all. And what was said was not a word of love.

We read again:
God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.…Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another….if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

This Sunday we turn ourselves to the joy and challenge of loving as God loves - no simple or easy task. What does it mean that love defines a community? This text is about us and every community that declares itself to be Christian - about a community defined by love for one another. Not selective love, or shallow love, or love in words only. But love made powerfully manifest in word and deed.

If we love one another, God lives in us and his love is perfected in us. But this love is not just any kind of love – no pale imitation of love. We are called to imitate Christ. This is not about being a warm and friendly community of faith. It is not even about being a welcoming church. This about manifesting Christ Jesus in our hearts so deeply, so honestly, so purely, that when people get home after worship they say to themselves: “We didn’t just go to church today – we encountered Christ!”

Church after church might say to itself: This is impossible. Sounds nice, but let’s get serious. We’re just human beings – we are how we are. We can be friendly, we can be warm, we can be welcoming, but we can’t love as Jesus loves. There is only one Jesus.

But in every instance when our love falters as we encounter another human being, Christ reminds us that this act of audacious love is the very thing that he is calling us to do. And God has a history of empowering people to do the impossible, time after time after time.

Listen again to the words from 1st John:
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world
As he is, so are we in the world.

We boldly and audaciously choose to love as Jesus does with a love that is sacrificial, fearless, committed, genuine, just, patient, and true.

As Jesus is so are we to be in the world.
How does a faith community live so differently, so lovingly?
Simple: they become a school of love.
That’s how the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, describes themselves: As a "School of Love."

Not perfected and finished becoming all that God hopes for them to become, but rather a school, a place where that love of Jesus is taught and experience and practiced over and over again.

A school is a place of learning: it is never satisfied with the status quo. And a school of love never declares itself satisfied that it loves enough. Never. It is never satisfied with being a warm and friendly community of faith. It is never satisfied with being a welcoming church. Instead it seeks with the full force of faith and ample humility to manifest Christ Jesus in its heart so deeply, so honestly, so purely, that when people get home after worship they say to themselves we didn’t just go to church today – we encountered Christ!
Will everyone here be able to say that with confidence this afternoon?
Are we all prepared to declare school in session?

Two Bible and Break Baking Classes Remain!
May 17th We learn how to make Smoky Fougasse (ladder bread with cheese and onions) while studying the topic of Christ and the Holy Spirit

May 24th We make bagels while considering the role of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost from Acts Chapter Two. The trio of breads that you see here are the half whole wheat ciabatta that we feasted on at our May 3rd class on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. The leaf-like bread is an example of fougasse. Classes are open to one and all and are held at 12:15 Sunday afternoons and wrap up by 1:30PM.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


for our

8AM and 10:45AM
Flowers for each mom!

Friday, May 01, 2009

We'll look at the Holy Spirit as both wind and breath in the Old Testament and learn how to bake a rustic Ciabatta using the fairly easy (really) delayed fermentation method promoted by Peter Reinhart in his 2007 "Whole Grain Bread Cookbook."
Bible Study at 12:15PM and Bread Baking from 1-1:30PM.
Please Join us!