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8:30AM, 9:45AM in the hall, or 11AM

Location:
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Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
(954) 989-1903
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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
Sundays at 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

Featured Post

Advent Meditation on Joseph

The reading for Sunday, December 17, 2017: Matthew 1:18-25 This Sunday we read about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. We've no...

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Light The Night Walk
Janean Baumal is again team captain and wants you to join her! Light The Night is a two-to-three mile evening walk to celebrate and commemorate the lives of people touched by cancer. Team members raise funds by encouraging others to contribute. Log onto www.lightthenight.org to register with her team "In Memory Of Jami". Information and walker welcome packets are available in the narthex. Please join us for this very special evening!

When: Saturday, November 7th @ 5pm
Where: Fort Lauderdale (Huizenga Plaza)
Who: Anyone who wants to fight cancer is invited to join.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

ACOLYTES NEEDED
Lots of them!

Training available.
Come light the candles!

Let Ro Mileto, SAM or Pastor Keith know if you are interested.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Opening
the Book
of Faith:
An intro to
LUTHERAN
BIBLICAL
INTERPRETATION
A four week coffeehour Bible Study
with Pastor Keith
SUNDAYS at 12:30PM
SEP 27th, OCT 4th, 11th and 18th

SERMON ON

Mark 7:1-8; 14-15, 21-23

August 30. 2009
Now when the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, 2they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. 3(For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; 4and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles.) 5So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?" 6He said to them, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written,'This people honors me with their lips,but their hearts are far from me;7in vain do they worship me,teaching human precepts as doctrines.'8You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition."14Then he called the crowd again and said to them, "Listen to me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile, but the things that come out are what defile." 21For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, 22adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. 23All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."


Does what we eat really matter?
Some say “yes!”
Some say “No.”
Some say you are what you eat, which means I am toast. Literally.
Does what we eat really matter?
I say this as one who fifteen months ago ate some fried fish for dinner. Some good fried fish – my father-in-law knows his way around fish and batter, yet within a few hours the chest pain began. It burned, it doubled me over and no amount of Tagament or Mylanta was going to make a difference. I woke Piper up after midnight because I could feel the pain getting worse and there was nothing that I could do to stop it, which is a frightening feeling. I had paced. I had drunk gallons of water. I had hopped up and down. All useless. Piper saw the look on my face and within minutes Her father was driving me through the mountains to the nearest hospital which was 45 minutes away through winding roads choked with deer, raccoons, rabbits opossum and who knows what else all attracted by our headlights and our need for speed. In the ER they treated me for an irritated hiatal hernia – an incorrect diagnosis, but give them points for trying and the pain medicine. By the time we had returned to Florida and my wonderful, yet cautious local doctor had ordered enough tests to choke a horse what was certainly clear was the fact that my heart was in fine shape. The nuclear stress test confirmed it. Took that treadmill all the way, baby. My ticker was fine, is fine. As it turns out the fried fish had triggered an attack from an essentially non-functioning gall bladder.
Bottom line: what I ate really mattered, but my heart was great.
This is the issue, these are the questions, in a manner of speaking, in today’s gospel.
Does what we eat matter – the things that we take in from the outside? And how’s our heart?

The Pharisees had interpreted laws concerning ritual purity, things such as the ceremonial washing of hands before eating (do not confuse this with what your mother told you to do before you sat down at the table) as applying to all of Israel, not just the priests. They weren’t breaking out Lava soap or anything, just splashing some water. In trying to help the people of Israel to maintain the proper boundaries of holiness and righteousness as a people set apart by God from all others, the Pharisees here saw Jesus’ disciples, who it seemed were a little lax in their ritual washing, as serving as poor examples to the rest of the people.


They declare to Jesus: Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?"


So what does Jesus say?
Does Jesus cite chapter and verse in the scriptures where it says that only the priests need to wash their hands? No.
Does Jesus say: “The Scriptures says what they mean and mean what they say?” No.
That’s right, “No.”
We might be tempted to say that – Jesus does appeal to the Commandment of God.
That is important. The Holy Scriptures are, in fact, very important - as we said last week they point us to Christ – As we declare in our own constitution as part of the ELCA - “The canonical Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the written Word of God. Inspired by God’s Spirit speaking through their authors, they record and announce God’s revelation centering in Jesus Christ. Through them God’s Spirit speaks to us to create and sustain Christian faith and fellowship for service in the world.” But before we jump in and make the interpretation of Scripture for moral deliberation as simple as reading the plain sense of the written word we need to take note of what Jesus does here.

Jesus goes on to say that nothing outside of the body can defile the body, which essentially re-writes the a good chunk of holiness code handed from God to Moses to the people of God. In the OT what we eat really matters. What we touch really matters. A lot of things outside of the body defile the body. But Jesus says, look, don’t you get it – my coming into the world changes things: It’s your heart that matters.
Is your heart close to God or far away?
Is your heart close to God or far away?

OK, so we are thinking the good Lutheran question: What does this mean? This heart talk. Jesus connects the nearness of our hearts to God with the Commandment of God and Jesus says this about the commandments of God in the Gospel of Matthew: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Which is to say all of Scripture for him.

To have hearts near to God means that we must empty our hearts of all that is not love for God, which is tough because we wrestle with sin all of the time and sin desires to fill our hearts as Jesus puts it with: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person, Jesus says.

So in our wrestling we desire , guided by the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to make good moral choices, do we not? We desire to conform our lives to his. To allow God to rule in our hearts, to my our hearts God’s throne room. And here the Holy Scriptures are invaluable. As long as we accept that it is far too simple to say that they say what they mean and mean what they say.

“Living the Faith: A Lutheran Perspective in Ethics,” tells us [that] the Bible has not been dropped from heaven apart from an historical setting. Therefore, to read the Bible responsibly, we need to interpret its contents for our own time. This does not mean that only scholars can understand or apply the Word, nor does it mean we must insist on finding the one and only perfect interpretation for each biblical passage. But it does mean that the Bible deserves serious study. We must first understand what the words of Paul or Jesus meant to the people of their day before we can appreciate what they are saying to us.”

The study goes on to ask: “What does all this mean for the use of the Bible as a help in making moral choices? Because we Lutherans believe the Bible is the Word of God, we approach it expectantly and with reverence. We want to listen to what God says to us in Scripture, but what we hear will always involve our interpretation of the text. This means that we can and do come up with differing conclusions on what the Bible is saying to us.”

There are certainly Christian traditions that use the Holy Scriptures as a rule book – Give me a question and I’ll pop a verse right out for you that will tell you exactly what to do. In fact, just as I was writing this some folks came to the door wanting to argue that only the meek get into heaven, because that is what it says in the Psalm and Matthew and I am sure that they were going to tell me what meek means in their manner of thinking, but I graciously sent them on their way so I could get back to writing this. People come to us pastors and want to know where in the Bible they can find the simple answer to a moral dilemma that is holding them captive in their life. But this is not the most faithful path in our deliberation, is it, because taking one piece of scripture out of context can lead one to justify both good and evil, or lose the meaning by taking only a piece and taking it out of context at that. The Bible is not best served as being seen as a “Magic 8 ball” that you come to with questions, shake and wait for the appropriate verse to appear (and hope that it doesn’t say “Ask again later” because people tend to be in a hurry.)

But the study invites us that “Rather than to see the Bible as a book of answers to difficult moral questions, Lutherans, along with many other Christians, tend to see the Bible as a book through which the Spirit brings nurture and growth in the life of faith. As the church seeks to equip its members for Christian living, it uses the Bible as an important teaching tool. It gives us the Ten Commandments, stories of moral heroism (Joseph and Potiphar’s wife), of moral accountability (the prophet Nathan and King David), of loyalty under pressure (Ruth and Naomi), and parables that judge self-righteousness (the Pharisee and the tax collector) and exalt love and reconciliation (the prodigal son). We hear and learn these stories from childhood. They all are part of the church’s message that inspires and directs our life toward Gospel-motivated works of love and a sense of responsibility toward the neighbor.”


In terms of our salvation, what we eat does not matter (our health, of course, is a different matter altogether). But as a people of faith and a child of God, the status of our heart does matter. It matters to God in Christ Jesus; it matters to the world for whom God has chosen us as witnesses; and it matters to us as we shine the light of the love of Christ for one another. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, our soul, and our mind and our neighbor as ourselves requires us not to memorize a book of rules, but to allow our Lord to rule in our hearts and the power of the Holy Spirit to shape and confirm our lives to his. Which is on the one hand vastly more difficult because it requires true humility on our part and on the other vastly easier because we allow God to be God in power, wisdom and might, surprise and wonder, love and grace. Amen.
Frequently Asked Questions
about the 2009 Churchwide Assembly actions

regarding human sexuality

About the Social Statement
What happened at the assembly in regard to the social statement?The assembly adopted by exactly a two-thirds vote the 10th social statement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) entitled Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust. The statement is now available online at www.elca.org/assembly/actions and is expected to be published in mid-autumn.

What are social statements? Social statements are an important means by which the ELCA addresses social concerns and carries out its active participation in society. They are theological and teaching documents that assist the ELCA and its members in forming judgments but also govern institutional policy in terms of the its witness as a public church. Other examples include statements on environment, economics, and health care. How do social statements come into existence?Social statements are developed through a participatory process over a 5-6 year period. In particular, this social statement involved a broad and reflective process of study, discussion, prayer, and dialog engaging the entire church beginning in 2002. It involved three studies and over 30,000 responses to those studies. In 2008, 111 synodical hearings took place. Forty-two synods adopted memorials to the churchwide assembly, some calling for its adoption (37) while others called for its rejection (5).What is in the statement?

The social statement draws upon classic Lutheran themes to address the complex issues of sexuality. These include justification by grace through faith, trust, vocation, the Ten Commandments, and the freedom of the Christian for service to the neighbor. It addresses a broad scope of issues, including marriage, family, children, divorce, sexuality outside marriage, and friendship. It also speaks about social issues, including sexual abuse, global sex-trade exploitation, commodification of the body, professional misconduct, and social structures that support relationships and enhance trust.

What does the social statement say about homosexuality?It states that the ELCA is opposed to all forms of violence or discrimination against homosexuals and is committed to welcoming all people, regardless of sexual orientation, and their families into our congregations. On the matter of whether or how to regard lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships, the social statement describes several broadly representative positions that members in this church hold. It acknowledges that these follow from strongly held different understandings of Scripture and tradition. The statement recognizes that these differing understandings will continue to exist among ELCA members and it affirms the possibility of living together in continued discussion despite our disagreements. We can do this by drawing deeply on the historical Lutheran tradition of respecting the other’s conscience and seeking a caring response to the needs of the neighbor.What is the relation of the social statement to previous statements and messages of our church?Previous documents or statements on this topic, including the 1993 statement of the Conference of Bishops, the action of the Churchwide Assembly in 2005, predecessor church body statements, and previous messages will continue to provide guidance. If there are inconsistencies among these documents, the social statement, as a policy of this church, takes precedence.

What does "bound conscience" mean? The idea of a conscience being "bound" to a particular interpretation of Scripture and confessional understanding is rooted in the Bible (See Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8 for instance.) and the Lutheran heritage. It does not mean that a person simply declares "him or herself" to be bound to a particular interpretation of Scripture and tradition. Rather, it puts the emphasis on how each Christian is called to respect and protect other believers with whom they disagree when those positions are also tied to their faith and to a carefully reasoned, thoughtful interpretation of Scripture and tradition. This is one way that each person can bear the burden of the differences on this matter.Where can I find more information about all of this?Additional information including an executive summary of the social statement is (FAQs) available at www.elca.org/assembly

About the ministry policy resolutions
What happened with regard to the recommendations concerning ministry policies and congregational recognition of publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships? The assembly adopted four resolutions that commit the ELCA to bear one another’s burdens and respect bound consciences in these matters; to allow congregations that choose to do so to find ways to recognize and support lifelong, monogamous, same gender relationships and hold them publicly accountable; and to find a way for people in such relationships to serve as rostered leaders in the ELCA. The fourth resolution points toward a specific way to allow rostering while respecting bound consciences.

What is the content of the first resolution about bearing one another’s burdens and "bound conscience?"The assembly’s first action was to vote by a 78 percent majority to require that, in the implementation of any resolutions on this matter, the ELCA would commit itself "to bear one another’s burdens, love the neighbor and respect the bound consciences" of all. This sets a distinctive commitment for how the ELCA will move forward together, as was exemplified by the discussion at the assembly. As Dr. Ishmael Noko, the general secretary of The Lutheran World Federation observed during his speech, the members of the assembly spoke about these controversial issues with dignity and respect for each other in "a way that brought honor" to the ELCA and its witness to the world.

What about resolution #2 regarding same-gender couples?After a great deal of passionate, but respectful debate, the assembly recorded a 60 percent vote (note: only a majority was needed to adopt any of these resolutions) that the ELCA should commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable couples who wish to have lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.

Does this mean the ELCA has endorsed the blessing of same-gender unions?No, the assembly was not asked to consider and thus took no action concerning a churchwide rite of blessing. The assembly’s action means that a congregation, however, is permitted to find ways to hold publicly accountable same-gender relationships that intend to be lifelong and monogamous and to surround these couples and their families with prayer and support in a variety of ways. The action adopted does not require any congregation to do so. The fourth resolution does require public accountability of anyone in such a relationship who seeks to be an ELCA pastor, deaconess, diaconal minister, or associate in ministry.

What was the meaning of the final two resolutions regarding pastors and other rostered leaders of this church?The assembly again deliberated long and seriously, frequently pausing for prayer, and voted by 56 percent to adopt a resolution that committed the ELCA to a find a way for people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders. Subsequently, the assembly voted by 68 percent to affirm a series of directives indicating ways in which ELCA policies will be changed to create the means necessary to do this. The changes must honor the differences of convictions within the ELCA while maintaining this church’s present approach of having consistent churchwide ministry policies that are applied by synods, congregations, and others according to local ministry needs. This intent was affirmed by the adoption of an amendment to the fourth resolution that "the ELCA make provision in its policies to recognize the conviction of members who believe that this church shall not call or roster people in publicly accountable, lifelong monogamous, same-gender relationships."

What are the policy documents that must be changed?The relevant policies are spelled out in several documents of this church that guide candidacy, call, and discipline. They are "Vision and Expectations" for each of the rosters, "Guidelines and Definitions for Discipline," the "Candidacy Manual," and the "Manual of Policies for Management of the Rosters." These documents will be revised as directed by the Churchwide Assembly and approved as appropriate by the ELCA Church Council. The revisions need to be consistent with the governing documents of this church. In addition, other guidelines may need to be developed.

When will these changes begin?These policy changes will not take place immediately, although work will begin very soon after the assembly with both a sense of urgency and a commitment to care and due diligence. Specific language must be developed by the appropriate churchwide committees and units in consultation with the Conference of Bishops. The Church Council has the responsibility to approve all final language. It next meets in November, although it is not clear if all necessary work can be completed by that time. Existing policies remain in effect until such time as the policy changes are approved by the Church Council.

What does "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships" mean?Policy documents will be revised to give guidance on how the phrase "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same gender relationships" will be understood in reference to those seeking to serve in rostered ministry. These guiding documents would be revised through thoughtful and prayerful consultation among offices, units, committees of the churchwide organization, the Conference of Bishops, and global and ecumenical ministry partners before consideration by the Church Council.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

FOOD PANTRY RUNNING LOW
Due to the high volume of customers
THE FOOD PANTRY has immediate need of:
CANNED MEAT (Tuna, Chicken, Potted Meat, Spam, Etc)
Medium Sized Jars of Peanut Butter
Medium Sized Jelly
Macaroni and Cheese
All Canned Vegetables
Cereal
Individual Bags of Instant Potatoes
Individual Bags of Rice
Pasta Sauce
Pasta
BUTTERFLY GARDENING
AFFINITY GROUP
MEETING DATES

September 12th
October 24th
November 14th

A time of prayer, Scripture, and caring for creation through the task of Butterfly Gardening.
All welcome, friends encouraged!

Meeting at Trinity at 10AM
Wear comfortable clothes for gardening.
BRIEF SUMMARY
OF ACTIONS
2009 ELCA
CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Eleventh Churchwide Assembly
Aug. 17-23, 2009 • Minneapolis, Minn.

The Eleventh Biennial Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was held Aug. 17-23, 2009, at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,300 people participated, including 1,045 voting members. The theme was “God's work. Our hands."

Full Communion with the United Methodist Church Adopted
By a vote of 958-51, the assembly adopted a full communion agreement with the United Methodist Church (UMC). This is the ELCA’s sixth full-communion relationship and the first for the UMC. The assembly also established a joint commission to oversee the relationship by a vote of 922-15. In 2008 the UMC General Conference adopted the same proposal. Full communion means that the two churches identify in one another a common Christian faith; agree to mutual recognition of Baptism and the sharing of Holy Communion; worship together and recognize each other's ordained ministers for service in either church; express a common commitment to evangelism, witness and service; engage in common decision-making on critical matters; and agree to a mutual lifting of criticisms that may exist between the churches.

Carlos Peña Re-elected Vice President
Vice President Carlos Peña of Galveston, Texas, was elected on the fourth ballot to a second six-year term as vice president with 580 votes, 60.8 percent of the votes cast. Peña was elected over Ryan M. Schwarz, McLean, Va., who received 264 votes, and Norma J. Hirsch, Des Moines, Iowa, who received 110 votes. There were 97 nominees on the first ballot.

HIV and AIDS Funding Proposal Adopted
The assembly voted 884-41 to approve a proposal to raise $10 million over three years to support this church's HIV and AIDS strategy. A $1 million goal encouraged by the 2007 Churchwide Assembly will be included in the $10 million. The ELCA Church Council approved the strategy in March.

Development of Lutheran Malaria Initiative Approved
By a vote of 989-11, the assembly approved continued development of an initiative to fight malaria, particularly in Africa. The Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) is a shared effort with Lutheran World Relief (LWR), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the United Nations Foundation. The assembly authorized continued receipt of gifts designated for the LMI, and asked that a report and recommendations for a possible churchwide LMI campaign be brought to the 2011 assembly.

Social Statement, "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust," Adopted
The assembly adopted by a vote of 676-338 -- precisely two-thirds of those voting -- “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” the ELCA’s 10th social statement, with editorial amendments. It also adopted 15 implementing resolutions by a vote of 695-285. The social statement is a theological and teaching document that builds on the key Lutheran principles of justification by grace and Christian freedom to serve the neighbor. It emphasizes that central to our vocation, in relation to human sexuality, is the building and protection of trust in relationships. It therefore affirms that we are called to be trustworthy in our human sexuality and to build social institutions and practices in which trust and trustworthy relationships can thrive. The social statement addresses, among other topics, marriage, same-gender relationships, families, protecting children, friendships, commitment, social responsibility and moral discernment. Regarding same-gender committed relationships, the social statement recognizes that members of this church are not in agreement and identifies the different perspectives that are present among us.

Ministry Policies Resolutions Adopted
Voting members adopted resolutions proposed by the Church Council based on those contained in a “Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies.” The assembly determined on August 17 that majority votes were required on each resolution for adoption. The actions direct that changes be made to churchwide policy documents to make it possible for people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders in the ELCA. The assembly adopted the resolutions in the following order:

Resolution 3: Adopted by a vote of 771-230 as amended: “Resolved, that in the implementation of any resolutions on ministry policies, the ELCA commit itself to bear one another's burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all."

Resolution 1: Adopted by a vote of 619-402: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”

Resolution 2: Adopted by a vote of 559-451: “Resolved, that the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.”

Resolution 4: Adopted by a vote of 667-307 as amended: This resolution called upon members to respect the bound consciences of those with whom they disagree; declared the intent to allow structured flexibility in decision-making about candidacy and the call process; eliminated the prohibition of rostered service by members in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships; recognized and committed to respect the conviction of members who believe that the ELCA should not call or roster people in committed same-gender relationships; called for development of accountability guidelines; directed that appropriate amendments to ministry policy documents be drafted and approved by the Church Council; and urged that this church continue to trust congregations, bishops, synods and others responsible for determining who should be called into public ministry.

More information about the social statement and the ministry policies resolutions is at http://www.elca.org/faithfuljourney/faq on the Web.

Budget Proposals for 2010, 2011 Adopted
By a vote of 863-71 voting members adopted churchwide budget proposals for 2010 and 2011. For 2010, voting members approved a current fund income proposal of $76.69 million for the churchwide organization and an ELCA World Hunger Appeal income proposal of $18.7 million. For 2011, they approved a current income proposal of $76.78 million and a World Hunger income goal of $19 million.

Social Statement on Justice for Women to be Developed
By a vote of 754-176 the assembly approved development of a social statement on the topic, to be considered by the 2015 Churchwide Assembly.

Assembly Adopts Memorials
+ Immigration: Adopted 873-82. The assembly called for comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policies and processes, called for suspension of immigration raids until reform is enacted, and asked for a message on immigration this year.

+ Lutheran Disaster Response: Adopted 929-20. The assembly acknowledged this collaborative ministry of the ELCA and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and acknowledged that a strategic planning process for LDR is underway. It encouraged the ELCA “to continue to deepen and develop its process for working together with churchwide units, synods and social ministry organizations in times of specific disasters.” The assembly asked for a progress report to be presented to the Church Council in 2010, and amended the proposal to recommend creation of a permanent LDR advisory committee.

+ Israel/Palestine: Adopted 690-125. Voting members resolved to advocate on behalf of a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. They called the ELCA to lift up the voices within both communities, especially those who are victims of violence. The resolution also calls for care for the people of Gaza, and support for U.S. financial assistance that funds “peace and cooperation for all parties to the conflict.” An amendment to the memorial called for the ELCA to “evaluate and refine its peace-making efforts to demonstrate as fully as possible the balanced care for all parties” expressed in the "Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine."

+ Worship, liturgical materials in Braille: Adopted 926-10. This memorial called for affirmed and celebrated materials being provided to people with impaired vision, acknowledged funding challenges and limits for this work, and asked for a report to the Church Council in 2010.

+ Project Connect: Adopted 919-19. The memorial recognized "the immense contribution of communities of color within and beyond this church," encouraged those involved with Project Connect to share learnings with the wider church, renewed the ELCA's commitment to confront racism, and encouraged review of factors that inhibit people of color from "the fullness of leadership in this church."

+ Human disability message: Adopted 785-88. The assembly declined to authorize development of a social statement on human disability, but requested that the Church in Society program unit instead consider development of a message on human disability.

In addition, the assembly en bloc referred other memorials to the Church Council or churchwide units for response.

Assembly Adopts, Refers Resolutions
+ Health care reform: Adopted 799-126. The resolution provides that “each person should have ready access to basic health care services that include preventive, acute and chronic physical and mental health care at an affordable cost." The assembly requested that the urgency and sense of the resolution be communicated to Congress and the White House.

+ Batak Special Interest Conference: Adopted 845-15. The action strikes from the ELCA's bylaws reference to the "Batak Special Interest Conference of North America," a move supported by Batak members of the Indonesian ministries of the ELCA.

+ Thanks: The assembly also adopted resolutions expressing appreciation ELCA churchwide leaders and staff, plus local hosts and the people of the Twin Cities. Other resolutions regarding mission funding, wills and living trusts, and a study on "bound conscience" were referred to the Church Council or churchwide units for response.

Twelfth Biennial Assembly
AUGUST 14-20, 2011
Orlando, Fla.


Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Communication Services
8765 W. Higgins Rd., Chicago, IL 60631
800/638-3522www.elca.org
LUTHER SEMINARY OFFERS FREE
ONLINE BIBLE STUDY
http://www.enterthebible.org
Here you’ll find a wealth of resources to help you grow in your faith, add depth to your Bible studies and truly discover the people, places and events of the Bible. Think of Enter the Bible as your guide, a helpful reference tool to accompany you in your reading of the Bible.
MUSIC AND WORSHIP
SPECIAL CONFERENCE-WIDE
EVENT
FOR CHILDREN, YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS
Sat September 19th from 10AM to 2PM
Lunch included
hosted by ST JOHN'S LUTHERAN CHURCH
HOLLYWOOD, FL

One of the workshops will be making musical instruments.
To support this endeavor we will be collecting
baby food jars, empty butter tubs with lids, empty water or soda bottles (one serving size) and oatmeal boxes. If you are able to provide any of these items please bring them to church and leave them on the narthex table .

To participate in this conference-wide Lutheran event, please sign up on your worship slip.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MORE THAN
MONEY MATTERS
COMING TO TRINITY
THIS FALL!

For our first Adult Sunday School class this fall, we are excited to be offering More Than Money Matters(SM), an interactive, values-based money management workshop developed by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in response to requests from congregations such as ours.

More Than Money Matters starts with a foundation of stewardship. You’ll learn how to:

Identify what’s most important in your life and set goals.
Make sharing, saving and spending decisions in line with your values.
Achieve your goals by using basic money management tools to help you budget, reduce debt and find money to save.

The six-session workshop series includes:
• Stewardship and Values
• Communicating About Money
• Setting Goals
• Credit and Debt
• Finding Money to Save
• Budget and Net Worth

The sessions will be held Sunday mornings beginning on September 20th from 9:30 to 10:30 in Munson Mueller Hall (The east side of Charter Hall). Friends are, of course, welcome!

To register, just check the block on your worship slip.
In these sessions, you’ll learn how to set goals and get practical, hands-on advice and tools to help you make sharing, saving and spending decisions in ways that align with your values.

For more information about More Than Money Matters, contact Steve Cochell, our local Thrivent Financial representative, who will be leading the class, at 954-434-5084 or steve.cochell@thrivent.com
TWO NEW VERSIONS
OF THE
LUTHERAN STUDY BIBLE
Hey fans,Big things are on the horizon for Lutheran Study Bible and we want you to be the first to know about them! Many of you have expressed interest in an LSB with larger print. Others have told us they'd like to see LSB in a gift edition. We think you'll be happy to know that we are making both editions available this fall! Right now you can pre-order your enlarged print edition or your deluxe edition (or both) at augsburgfortress.org! To find out about the enlarged print edition, please visit this link: http://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/item.jsp?clsid=199031&productgroupid=0&isbn=0806697431.To find out about the deluxe edition, please visit this link: http://www.augsburgfortress.org/store/item.jsp?clsid=199032&productgroupid=0&isbn=0806697423.
The Role of the Bible
How does the Bible help us in moral decision-making? Christians give different answers to this question. Some think of the Bible as a kind of moral code book, a complete source of instructions about living. These people often see the Bible as "inerrant," perfect in every detail because it is God’s book. They give little or no attention to the human side of Scripture and how it is rooted in ancient history. These Christians read the Bible without asking about what lies behind the text or the historical situation in which the text originated. Lutherans disagree with this approach to Scripture because it remains on the surface level. We draw upon a long tradition of biblical scholarship that takes seriously the original setting and meaning of the text.

The Lutheran understanding of the Bible as the written form of God’s Word appreciates its historical character. The Bible has not been dropped from heaven apart from an historical setting. Therefore, to read the Bible responsibly, we need to interpret its contents for our own time. This does not mean that only scholars can understand or apply the Word, nor does it mean we must insist on finding the one and only perfect interpretation for each biblical passage. But it does mean that the Bible deserves serious study. We must first understand what the words of Paul or Jesus meant to the people of their day before we can appreciate what they are saying to us. Another reason why the Bible does not function well as a moral handbook is because it contains such a variety of ethical material. This variety includes moral codes for the people of Israel, stories from Israel’s history that often contain a moral truth, moral wisdom adopted from other cultures (most notably the Proverbs), and the teachings of Jesus and Saint Paul. With this diversity, there is no easy formula for applying the moral commands one finds in Scripture. For example, some Christians claim they know what the Bible says about the death penalty. They cite verses like Exodus 21:22-25 (the law of retribution) and Romans 13:1-4 (the right of the government to "bear the sword" in punishment). But other Christians appeal to different verses, including John 8:3-11 (where Jesus refuses to condemn the woman subject to execution for adultery), and come to the exact opposite conclusion. Throughout history, Christians have taken opposing positions on many issues, all of them claiming support from Scripture.

What does all this mean for the use of the Bible as a help in making moral choices?
Because we Lutherans believe the Bible is the Word of God, we approach it expectantly and with reverence. We want to listen to what God says to us in Scripture, but what we hear will always involve our interpretation of the text. This means that we can and do come up with differing conclusions on what the Bible is saying to us. Rather than to see the Bible as a book of answers to difficult moral questions, Lutherans. along with many other Christians, tend to see the Bible as a book through which the Spirit brings nurture and growth in the life of faith.12 As the church seeks to equip its members for Christian living, it uses the Bible as an important teaching tool. It gives us the Ten Commandments, stories of moral heroism (Joseph and Potiphar’s wife), of moral accountability (the prophet Nathan and King David), of loyalty under pressure (Ruth and Naomi), and parables that judge self-righteousness (the Pharisee and the tax collector) and exalt love and reconciliation (the prodigal son). We hear and learn these stories from childhood. They all are part of the church’s message that inspires and directs our life toward Gospel-motivated works of love and a sense of responsibility toward the neighbor.
From LIVING THE FAITH: A LUTHERAN PERSPECTIVE ON ETHICS
Copyright © September 1999 Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Produced by the Division for Church in Society and the Division for Congregational Ministries, 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois, 60631-4190.
Meditation on This Week's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, August 30, 2009:

First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-9

First Reading (Semi-cont.): Song of Solomon 2:8-13

Psalm: Psalm 15

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 45:1-2, 6-10 (Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 NRSV)

Second Reading: James 1:17-27

Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

You don't need me to tell you that humans are a rule-bound people. I've often wondered why this would be. I suspect people get to Heaven and try to create new rules. Many of us are committed to rules that make us unhappy. I have a friend who irons rather obsessively, for example. She complains bitterly about her family's ironing expectations. Why doesn't she just buy clothes that don't need such care? Why doesn't she pull clothes out of the dryer after about 10 minutes and hang them up? Why doesn't she accept wrinkles?

My favorite science fiction writer, Octavia Butler, had a theory that humans are both excessively intelligent and excessively hierarchical, and these two traits are often in opposition. It is our tendency towards hierarchy that so often gets us into trouble. We divide the world into the pressed and the wrinkled, between the vegetarians and the meat eaters, the drinkers and the A.A. folks: essentially between the people who live right (which means according to the rules we accept) and those who don't.

We often think that the Pharisees in Jesus' time were rule-bound people who couldn't see that God walked among them, even as Jesus was right there before them. While that is true, it's also important to realize that the Pharisees thought that following the rules to the letter was the trait that would save the Jews. We must not forget that the Jews of Jesus' time were under threat from many sides. We forget that Rome was a brutal dictatorship in so many ways, and that the peace that the Jews had found could have been (and eventually was) easily overturned.

We fail to realize how similar we are to the Pharisees. How much time do we consume wondering why people live the lives they do? I'm driven to mad frustration by the actions (and inactions) of some of my colleagues. What I'm really saying is "Why won't they act right? If they'd just act the way we all should act, life would be so much easier!" Of course, they probably say the same thing about me.

We look back to past periods of humanity, and we shake our heads over the things with which they were obsessed. We can't imagine the ritual purity laws that were in place in Jesus' time. We can't imagine the rigidly stratified societies that most humans have created. We can't imagine a time when women couldn't get credit in their own name or a time when blacks and whites had separate bathrooms, but those days aren't that far away from our own.

What will future generations think when they look at our time period? Will they shake their heads over our obsession with people's sexuality? Will they wonder why we devoted so much time at our national assemblies to the issue of homosexuality, while the gap between rich and poor got ever wider? Will they wonder why we tore ourselves into tiny pieces over homosexual clergy in committed relationships, while the continent of Africa suffered so much from malaria, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and brutal military regimes who condone rape of anyone who can't run fast enough to escape?

Jesus reminds us that so many of our rules come from humans, not from God. We think that God ordained the rules that we embrace, rules which so often tell us what not to do, but Jesus reminds us that there's one essential rule: love each other. God will judge us on the quality of our relationships. I've seen all sorts of relationships. I suspect that God would prefer the lesbian couple who still genuinely loves each other to the heterosexual relationship where the couple is cold and condescending to each other.

But more to the point, I suspect God is baffled by our constant desire to rank these things. God probably wonders why we can't just get it together and help each other to become more loving people. God probably wonders why we are so judgmental, even as we engage in all sorts of harmful behaviors.

God probably wakes up at 3 a.m. saying, "After all this time, after the example of Jesus, my cherished humans still don't understand how to behave; they still engage in toxic behaviors, thinking that will please me, and they can't even manage the most basic, loving behavior."

It's been a tough week for many Lutherans as we've watched our church vote on various issues. It's been a tough few years for Episcopalians, as various churches decide to align themselves with churches in Africa. We're people who long to be in communion with each other, even as we have trouble reconciling ourselves with the decisions that other humans make.

Jesus reminds us again and again that love is our highest nature and that the actions that move us towards being loving humans are the ones that we should take. We can operate from a place of love or we can act from a place of fear. As we act out of love, we will find ourselves in company with God.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

STEWARDSHIP
WEBINAR
AUG 25th
Jon, Ron, DPK and Kristin
"Moving the money conversation from membership to Discipleship!"







Sunday, August 23, 2009

OUR
COMMUNION BREAD
RECIPE
OATMEAL WHEAT BREAD
Makes Two Loaves
Combine in a large bowl:
1 cup oats (regular or quick cooking) ½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup brown sugar 1 Tablespoon salt
2 Tablespoons Butter or regular Margarine

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over mixture
Let cool to room temp.

Dissolve
1 packet of active dry yeast and ½ cup of warm (not hot!) water (90 -110 degrees) into the room temperature mixture and wait about 10 minutes or so until frothy and yeasty smelling

Stir in 5 cups of flour (bread flour or unbleached all purpose)

When dough is stiff enough to handle turned onto floured board and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Dough should be tacky and smooth, not sticky. If too sticky knead in more flour.

Place into a bowl greased with cooking spray. Spray top of dough lightly with the spray then cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled (about 2 hours).

After the dough doubles, remove it from the container and Divide dough into two pieces. Shape into two loaves by flattening each into a rectangle and rolling it up into a tight cylinder using the short side than sealing the edge by pinching the seams with your fingers and folding the ends under. Place into two greased (with cooking spray) 9x5x3in bread pans. After placing into the greased bread pans, spray the top of the loaf lightly with cooking spray and Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise until they crest the top of bread pan by one inch. Meanwhile pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. When dough has crested pans carefully remove plastic wrap and place pans in center of oven.

Bake for 35-40 minutes - the loaves should read 185-190 degrees internally with an instant read thermometer placed into the loaf.

Remove loaves carefully fro the bread pans and Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Resist the temptation to cut into them early, it will ruin the bread. They are still cooking as they cool.

Then Enjoy!
Sunday August 23rd
Sermon on John 6:56-59
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever." 59He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum.60When many of his disciples heard it, they said, "This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?" 61But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, "Does this offend you? 62Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But among you there are some who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. 65And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father."66Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" 68Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
+++
This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?"
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."

As a kid I read the Bible with a voracious appetite. I consumed its books, Old Testament and New. And it scared the bejeesus out of me. There were so many rules. So many things that made God angry. And if you learned one thing, especially in the Old Testament, it was that making God angry was not a good idea. Snakes and earthquakes, darkness and famine, Assyrians and Babylonians all could come calling and put a hurting on you; and sometimes people just dropped dead. And it is not just in the Old Testament either. In the Book of Acts, Ananias and Sapphira – they lied to one of the Apostles and then they died. Just…like… that.

So then I spent a lot of time reading all of the rules and they confused me. There might be Ten Commandments, but there were so many more rules that God gave to Moses to share with God’s people. What to eat and what not to eat. What to wear and not to wear. How to treat people and animals. When to work and when to rest and so on and so on. And then Jesus added more rules and one more commandment and changed some of the old ones and seemed to throw out others.

Then things got really tough: we learn that Jesus made all things new and told us to put new wine in new wineskins. Of course I wasn’t drinking wine at the time, just root beer, but our Sunday school teacher told us that in Christ Jesus God was doing something brand new, something never done before. He probably tossed around the word grace – it’s been a few years. But I am sure that grace was a part of that conversation.

Now as a fourth grader my regular school teacher, Mr Grosvenor, had a lot of rules, too. And if you broke those rules and were really bad you earned a trip to the copy room. Now we all knew that Mr. Grosvenor would carry a ping-pong paddle with him on such occasions. And you did not want to play ping-pong with Mr. Grosvenor, if you know what I mean. You might have trouble sitting for awhile. Now somehow I managed to figure out Mr. Grosvenor’s rules and actually follow them, but the Bible had a lot more rules and punishments much worse than a trip to the copy room! And God didn’t bother with a ping pong paddle.

Well, in the 35 years that have passed I have learned a bit more about God and the Holy Scriptures. Luther called the Scriptures the cradle in which the Christ child was laid. For a lot of people those sixty-six books that together form our Bible can become a stumbling block instead of that cradle. A dividing line. A wall.

In our Gospel today, Christ’s teaching was too hard for many of the people to buy into. Jesus said that he was the Bread of Life and that if they ate of him that they would live forever. We look at each other and say – right – Holy Communion. They looked at each other and said or more like thought – this guy Jesus had lost his mind. Oh, and he claimed to have come down from heaven and that God was his Father. So a whole lot of them basically said: “I’m out of here.” It just did not square with the Holy Scriptures, which were for them what we call the Old Testament. And now, even with the benefit of the New Testament, we Christians, even we Lutherans, have a hard time agreeing in our understanding of this collection of Law and Gospel, this cradle, this living Word that we call the Bible.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America of which we are a part, has some things to say about the Authority of Scripture and the most productive ways in which we can engage them. Individually we may disagree, but as the people of this congregation, part of that body, this is what we as the ELCA declare:
“ELCA Lutherans confidently proclaim with all Christians that the authority of the Bible rests in God. We believe that God inspired the Bible’s many writers, editors and compilers. As they heard God speaking and discerned God’s activity in events around them in their own times and places, the Bible’s content took shape. Among other things, the literature they produced includes history, legal code, parables, letters of instruction, persuasion and encouragement, tales of heroism, love poetry and hymns of praise. The varying types and styles of literature found here all testify to faith in a God who acts by personally engaging men and women in human history.”
We believe that the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God.

Not inerrant, but inspired. Those two terms are not equivalent.

To say that the Holy Scriptures are the inspired Word of God makes them no less authoritative for us as Lutherans.

As Diane Jacobson, one of the authors of the book “Opening the Book of Faith” puts it: “The Bible is authoritative because God speaks there.” “The Bible is authoritative,” she goes on to say, “because it communicates the grace of God in Jesus Christ.”
We as Lutherans begin with what the Bible does.

To say that the Bible is inspired means that the words we find there are as the ELCA teaches, are full of “human emotion, testimony, opinion, cultural limitation and bias. ELCA Lutherans recognize that human testimony and writing are related to and often limited by culture, customs and world view. Today we know that the earth is not flat and that rabbits do not chew their cud (Leviticus 11:6 ). These are examples of time-bound cultural understandings or practices. Christians do not follow biblically prescribed dietary laws such as eliminating pork from one’s diet (Leviticus 11:7) because the new covenant we have with God has replaced the Old Testament covenant God had with his people. Because Biblical writers, editors and compilers were limited by their times and world views, even as we are, the Bible contains material wedded to those times and places. It also means that writers sometimes provide differing and even contradictory views of God’s word, ways and will.”

The authors of “Opening the Book of Faith” may have foreseen what happened this last week at the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly when they wrote: “We see disagreements about Scripture between individuals, within congregations, in denominations, and across global Christianity. Disagreement is not new. Disagreements have been a part of faith’s experience since the very beginning. The Bible, itself, reports disputes among God’s people about God’s Word. Nevertheless, seeing such disagreements, ancient or modern, can make us uncomfortable and threaten our confidence in God’s speaking.”

They continue: “The Lutheran conviction that God speaks in Scriptures as demand and promise does not support the notion of a Bible that will answer every question and problem that we bring to it. We do not say to God or the Bible, “Solve this! Resolve this!” However we may prayerfully say, “We and our sisters and brothers are in perplexity, and we seek to listen intentionally to your Word. Guide us by your Spirit.

Our anchor in facing the challenges of conflicting interpretations is the same foundational belief: God in Christ Jesus speaks through the Bible….The Word interprets us, so we stand before it with hope, with our varied understandings….[and] We listen in confidence.”

The greatest trait, I think, in approaching the Holy Scriptures is humility.
There is a bumper sticker I used to see a lot: “God said, I believe it, that settles it.” Or something like that. On one hand we could say that is bold faith and on the other that it expresses a distinct lack of humility. Slave owners of a time went to scriptures to find their authority to subjugate other human beings. Whites used Scripture to justify many sinful actions against people of color. Jews were murdered. Wars were fought. Woman were left as second class citizens.

Because we bring the totality of who we are – our gender, our upbringing, our life experiences, our social-economic status, and so much more – the totality of who we are – each time we open the Bible – we should come not looking for answers, but for the One whom we know will find us there – Christ Jesus. That’s humility. Diane Jacobson reminds her students and us: “I hope you love the Bible, but remember, the Bible will never love you back. Jesus will. It is Jesus who loves you, not the Bible. You cannot have a relationship with the Bible. You can have a relationship with Jesus.” Amen.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

TRINITY
HIGH SCHOOL
YOUTH


BIBLE STUDY, PRAYER...AND BOWLING!







NOTE FROM BISHOP HANSON,
PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE ELCA

August 22, 2009
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. -- Colossians 3:14-15I write to you from the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis with official information about the actions of this assembly related to human sexuality. I am grateful for the manner in which this church has engaged in this conversation. The way this assembly has discussed these questions is a continuation of the way this church has deliberated: with deep and heartfelt respect for each other, engaging with Scripture, listening to the faith stories and experiences of one another, and through worship and prayer seeking the discernment of the Spirit.In my response to the voting members on Friday, August 21, I made this request: we need one another. We need time. We need the voices of those who lament and those who rejoice over these actions, for together we have been called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and engage in God’s mission for the life of the world.
The assembly adopted 676-338 -- precisely two-thirds of those voting -- “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” the ELCA’s 10th social statement, with minor editorial amendments. It also adopted a series of implementing resolutions with amendments. This theological and teaching document builds on the key Lutheran principles of justification by grace and Christian freedom to serve the neighbor. It emphasizes that central to our vocation, in relation to human sexuality, is the building and protection of trust in relationships. It therefore affirms that we are called to be trustworthy in our human sexuality and to build social institutions and practices where trust and trustworthy relationships can thrive. The social statement addresses marriage, same-gender relationships, families, protecting children, friendships, commitment, social responsibility and moral discernment. Regarding same-gender committed relationships, the social statement says that this church is not in agreement and recognizes the different perspectives which are present among us.

Our assembly also adopted resolutions proposed by the Church Council based on those contained in a “Report and Recommendation on Ministry Policies.” The actions direct that changes be made to churchwide policy documents to make it possible for those in committed same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders in the ELCA. There were amendments to two of the proposals. The assembly adopted the resolutions in the following order, beginning with a strong statement about how we will live together in the face of our disagreements:
Resolution 3: “RESOLVED, that in the implementation of any resolutions on ministry policies, the ELCA commit itself to bear one another's burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all." (Adopted 771-230 as amended)Resolution 1: “RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding ways to allow congregations that choose to do so to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.” (Adopted 619-402)Resolution 2: “RESOLVED, that the ELCA commit itself to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.” (Adopted 559-451)Resolution 4: This resolution called upon members to respect the bound consciences of those with whom they disagree; declared intent to allow structured flexibility in decision-making about candidacy and the call process; eliminated the prohibition of rostered service by members in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships; recognized and committed to respect the conviction of members who believe that the ELCA should not call or roster people in committed same-gender relationships; called for development of accountability guidelines; directed that amendments to ministry policy documents be drafted and approved; and stated that this church continue to trust congregations, bishops, synods and others responsible for determining who should be called into public ministry. (Adopted 667-307 as amended)

I invite you into important, thoughtful, prayerful conversation about what all of this means for our life in mission together. What is absolutely important for me is that we have this conversation together.

We meet one another finally -- not in our agreements or our disagreements -- but at the foot of the cross, where God is faithful, where Christ is present with us, and where, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are one in Christ.

In Christ, The Rev. Mark S. HansonELCA Presiding BishopComments of Bishop Hanson to the assembly at the conclusion of the decisions on human sexuality are at http://www.elca.org/assembly on the Web.
ELCA ASSEMBLY ACTION

Several people have asked more about the actions at the ELCA churchwide Assembly being reported today on the Internet and news outlets.

Below is the Press Release and a message from Bishop Hanson.

On Sunday August 30th from 8:30AM to 9:30AM I will be in the sanctuary to summarize the actions and answer any questions that you may have as best as I can.

What I will not do is to answer questions through email on this subject.

I encourage people to come to the gathering on the 30th or set up a time to meet with me should they desire to discuss the actions taken this week.
What the ELCA needs now is prayer, both for those who finally see the light of justice and welcome dawning for them and for those who are struggling and coming to terms with a church that perhaps seems different and more difficult than they once thought.

Both those relieved by the actions taken today and those saddened by them cling to the Holy Scriptures and the cross of Christ with humility and grace. May it ever be so for all.

Pastor Keith



ELCA NEWS SERVICE

August 21, 2009
ELCA Assembly Opens Ministry

to Partnered Gay and Lesbian Lutherans
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) - The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted today to open the ministry of the church to gay and lesbian pastors and other professional workers living in committed relationships. The action came by a vote of 559-451 at the highest legislative body of the 4.6 million member denomination. Earlier the assembly also approved a resolution committing the church to find ways for congregations that choose to do so to "recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships," though the resolution did not use the word "marriage."


The actions here change the church's policy, which previously allowed gays and lesbians into the ordained ministry only if they remained celibate. Throughout the assembly, which opened Aug. 17, the more than 1,000 voting members have debated issues of human sexuality. On Wednesday they adopted a social statement on the subject as a teaching tool and policy guide for the denomination. The churchwide assembly of the ELCA is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is "God's work. Our hands." Before discussing the thornier issues of same-gender unions in the ordained ministry, the assembly approved, by a vote of 771-230, a resolution committing the church to respect the differences of opinions on the matter and honor the "bound consciences" of those who disagree.


During the hours of discussion, led by ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, the delegates paused several times each hour for prayer, sometimes as a whole assembly, sometimes in small groups around the tables where the voting members of the assembly sat, debated and cast their votes. Discussion here proved that matters of sexuality will be contentious throughout the church. A resolution that would have reasserted the church's current policy drew 344 votes, but failed because it was rejected by 670 of the voting members. Pastor Richard Mahan of the ELCA West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod was among several speakers contending that the proposed changes are contrary to biblical teaching. "I cannot see how the church that I have known for 40 years can condone what God has condemned," Mahan said, "Nowhere does it say in scripture that homosexuality and same sex marriage is acceptable of God."


But others said a greater acceptance of people who are gay and lesbian in the church was consistent with the Bible. Bishop Gary Wollersheim of the ELCA Northern Illinois Synod said, "It's a matter of justice, a matter of hospitality, it's what Jesus would have us do." Wollersheim said he had been strongly influenced by meetings with youth at youth leadership events in his synod, a regional unit of the ELCA. Some speakers contend that the actions taken here will alienate ELCA members and cause a drop in membership. But Allison Guttu of the ELCA Metropolitan New York Synod said, "I have seen congregations flourish while engaging these issues; I have seen congregations grow recognizing the gifts of gay and lesbian pastors." During discussion of resolutions on implementation of the proposals, Bishop Kurt Kusserow of the ELCA Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod asked that the church make clear provision in its policies to recognize the conviction of members who believe that this church cannot call or roster people in a publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship. A resolution that the denomination consider a proposal for how it will exercise flexibility within its existing structure and practices to allow Lutherans in same gender relationship to be approved for professional service in the church. That resolution passed by a vote of 667-307.-----

***
After the ministry policies vote on Friday evening, Bishop Hanson delivered the following message:
I want more time to think about words from one you have called to serve as pastor of this church. I have been standing here thinking about my 23 years as a parish pastor and how differently I would go into a context if I was gathering with a family or a group of people that had just experienced loss, or perhaps were wondering if they still belonged, or in fact felt deeply that ones to whom they belong had been severed from them. That would be a very different pastoral conversation. And I would probably turn to words such as Romans 8:

“Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who was at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.”

But then I thought, “What if I were going into a family or a group, a community that had always wondered if they belonged and suddenly had now received a clear affirmation that they belonged?” All of the wondering about the dividing walls, the feelings of separation seem to have dropped away. That would be a very different conversation. I would probably read to them out of Ephesians [chapter 2]:

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.”

But then I thought, what if those two groups were together, but also in their midst were those who had not experienced loss or the feeling of the dividing wall of separation coming down, but were wondering and worried if all that had occurred might sever the unity that is ours in Christ and might wonder if their actions might have contributed to reconciliation or separation? If all those people were together in a room, I would read from Colossians [chapter 3]:

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

That passage gives invitation and expectation that those deeply disappointed today will have in this church the expectation and the freedom to continue to admonish and to teach. And so, too, those that have experienced reconciliation today, you are called to humility. You are called to clothe yourselves with love. But we’re all called to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, remembering again and again that we are called in the one body. I will invite you tomorrow afternoon into important, thoughtful, prayerful conversations about what all of this means for our life together. But what is absolutely important for me is that that’s a conversation we have together.

I ended my oral report with these words: “We meet one another finally, not in our agreements or our disagreements, but at the foot of the cross — where God is faithful, where Christ is present with us, and where, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are one in Christ.”
Let us pray. O God, gracious and holy, mysterious and merciful, we meet this day at the foot of the cross and there we kneel in gratitude and awe that you have loved us so much that you would give the life of your Son so that we might have life in his name. Send your spirit this night, the spirit of the Risen Christ that has been breathed into us. May it calm us. May your Spirit unite us. May it continue to gather us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Information about the 2009 Churchwide Assembly is at http://www.elca.org/assembly on the ELCA Web site.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ELCA Assembly
Endorses Immigration Reform
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) -- Voting members at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Aug. 19, to urge reform in the nation’s current immigration policy. By a vote of 870 to 67, voters agreed to urge comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration policies and processes, and to call for suspension of immigration raids until such reform is enacted. The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.” Former director of Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Rallie Deffenbaugh, told voters that the nation’s immigration system is broken. He argued championing reform “is just and welcomes the newcomers among us.” Jennifer DeLeon, a voting member from the ELCA Metropolitan Chicago Synod, declared, “We are an undocumented church. We have congregations and pastors who cannot serve their members because they are being harassed by the federal immigration service.” Voting members also approved, all by wide margins, memorials (resolutions brought from individuals and synods) that would advocate for justice for women; encourage providing worship and education materials for blind and visually impaired church members; and enable recruitment of people of color as clergy candidates.
ELCA Assembly
Adopts Full Communion
with the United Methodist Church
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) – By a vote of 958-51, the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) adopted a full communion agreement with the United Methodist Church (UMC). The agreement is the ELCA’s sixth full communion relationship. In 2008 the UMC General Conference adopted the same agreement. The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.” The assembly also adopted an implementing resolution by a vote of 922-15. Full communion makes possible a variety of joint ministries, sharing of resources and interchangeability of clergy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

MALARIA INITIATIVE APPROVED
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) -- Voting members at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Aug. 18 to support a program that seeks to eliminate malaria in south-Saharan Africa by 2015. The Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI), with a fund-raising goal of $75 million, was endorsed by a vote of 989 to 11. It would create a shared effort in concert with the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), Lutheran World Relief (LWR), and the United Nations Foundation. The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,045 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is “God’s work. Our hands.” A significant element of LMI will be the purchase of $10 malaria nets to be distributed in Africa. The Rev. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl, director for the LMI and the ELCA HIV and AIDS strategy, said “this program is God’s work.” She said the United Nations approached LWR, inviting the faith-based non-profit to embrace the project. LWR is jointly supported by ELCA and LCMS. Elizabeth Gore, executive director for the United Nations’ Partnership Alliances, told voters that malaria affects much of Africa, spread by mosquitoes. Children are the most vulnerable. A child dies from it every 30 seconds. “This is a monumental partnership,” said the Rev. John Nunes, president and CEO, LWR. He pointed to the link between poverty and malaria. “When you’re sick, you can’t work. When you can’t work, you can’t provide for your family.” Prior to the vote, moving testimony came from voting members speaking in support of the initiative. Said the Rev. Jan Ruud, of the ELCA Southwestern Washington Synod, “I served a one-month pastorate in the African nation of Cameroon. During that month, I had funerals for four small children, all victims of malaria.” He reminded voters the disease is preventable. The Rev. Richard T. Wintersteen, of the ELCA Southwestern Minnesota Synod, said, “It’s critical we provide rural clinics for those infected. If you get the [anti-malaria] medicine, you get well. If you don’t get it, you die.” Joseph Roberts, a voting member from the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod, said he supported the initiative because his relatives in Africa had been malaria victims. “I was inflicted with it myself,” he reported. DeGroot-Nesdahl said six ELCA synods, yet to be identified, will be invited to serve as pilot synods as the initiative gets underway.
NEWS FROM THE CHURCHWIDE ASSEMBLY
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - The ELCA Churchwide Assembly, meeting in plenary, passed the ELCA Social Statement "Human Sexuality: Gift & Trust" by vote of 676-338 (66.67%-33.33%) today at 6:55 PM (EST). All social statements require a 2/3rd majority vote by the assembly to pass per the governing documents of the ELCA. The plenary time expired prior to the assembly officially taking on the implementing resolutions of the social statement. The Recommendations on Ministry Policies are a different matter that the assembly will work on later in the week. Visit www.elca.org/assembly for more information, to view live video streaming, and to follow the assembly.

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT
Kathy and James Velez
announce the birth of their son,
Noah James Velez
as of 5:11PM this afternoon.
Noah weighs in at 7lbs 4oz
Proud sister Amanda is quite pleased!
Grandma and Grandpa Donna and Ed Edlund, too!


WE REJOICE!

We rejoice with Christina and Daniel Gray
on the July 30th birth of Sarah Suzanne Gray
who came into this world at 8lbs 10oz.
Brother Nate is very excited!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Sermon on John 6:51–58
AUGUST 16, 2009

Why do you want to participate in Holy Communion?

Really, why do you want to participate in Holy Communion?

A half dozen children and parents and grandparents sat in the pews right in front of me. We had spent the last forty five minutes together in one of the First Communion classes that I teach throughout the year. They had watched and listened and at various stopping points tried to remember what I had said. Which can be amazing in and of itself when you think about it since they had already been through worship and Sunday school and were missing coffee hour. But they were troopers: They had jumped up on their feet and went along with me as I taught them the gifts of Holy Communion as a series of gestures that I call “Holy Communion Aerobics.” And now we were at the end. We had practiced kneeling and holding our hands out to receive the bread. We had discussed the choices involved. Wine or grape juice; kneeling or standing; praying at the rail or at your seat; what it means when we say “Amen,” and so on. The clipboard was being passed around for folks to write down their full names for the First Communion Certificates. But one or two adults hesitated. “We don’t think that our child is ready,” they said.

This is where it always gets complicated. A lot of us were brought up that to receive First Communion you had to be a certain age or academic school grade and then you went to class or a series of classes in which you had to demonstrate readiness by being able to parrot back on a test what the teacher told you that Holy Communion meant – what it was all about. Some of us even had to wait for 8th grade and confirmation in order to receive the sacrament - Our catholic neighbors having received it years earlier. “What’s our problem?” we thought. Why do we have to wait until 8th grade and our Catholic friends receive it in first grade? It just wasn’t fair we would moan and complain to our parents. Who would respond with a “There, there” sort of look like the one that they use when they tell you that medicine is supposed to taste bad, that’s how you know that it is working. But in this case they might say: “Well, we’re Lutheran, honey, and that is just how we do it. Holy Communion is special, so you have to wait until you are ready.” “But I’m ready now, a child might say.” And then there’s that look that suggestions that the conversation is over.

Readiness for Holy Communion – that’s always been the sticking point for many folks. When is my child or grandchild, ready? And that’s the question that a couple of folks had on their mind that Sunday afternoon some years ago.

I stood there and sensed their doubt building throughout the class. Some kids just seem to have a hard time paying attention. So when the clipboard was being passed around it stopped with them. “Pastor, I’m not sure that my child is ready.”

I hear them say it as I have heard others say it over the years and all of a sudden this question pops into my mind and without a moment’s hesitation I look at the children and just blurt it out: “Why do you want to receive Holy Communion?“

Why do we want to receive Holy Communion?
Now that’s a good question, don’t you think?
Think hard a second on that – why do you want to receive Holy Communion?
Listen to what Jesus says this morning:

Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

Did you hear that?
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

And interestingly enough that is pretty much what one of the children said, it just took him a second to get there:

The questioned lingered in the air: “Why do you want to receive Holy Communion?
One young man was thoughtful for a moment, chewing over my question, then answered: “Because I want the bread and wine.”

And I’m thinking as I watched the faces of the adults present dropping fasting then the price of houses in South Florida over the past year, “Why oh why did I ask that question?”

But, I am addicted to “Why” questions so I asked one more or it was the Holy Spirit or both. You never know with the Holy Spirit – it blows why it wants stirring things up – “So why,” I began, “do you want the bread and the wine?”

“So I will have Jesus with me always,” he said.
So I will have Jesus with me always!

We Lutherans believe, teach, and profess that Christ is present in with and under the bread and wine. How Jesus is present we have no earthly idea – to us it is a mystery – and our faith tradition has room for such mystery. We do not have to have it all figured out. What we do know is that in Holy Communion we receive Christ or as Jesus, himself, puts it in today’s gospel:
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
When we participate in Holy Communion we abide.
We abide in Christ and Christ abides in us.

We may live in our home. We may live in this state. This country. This world. But we abide in Christ and Christ abides in us. Let the intimacy of that notion roll over you a moment. Christ is within you - not as a passenger on the bus that is your life – but abiding within you – in your heart, your soul – your very being.

We receive Holy Communion because we need it – it is our sustenance, our pasture as Luther calls it, our soul food, our nourishment so we may face what we shall and must in this life. That’s why what that young man said that Sunday morning was so profound.
Like him, we want Christ within us always because we need Christ there, whether we are 2 or 100; whether we can explain it or allow the very notion to silence us.

When I was attending seminary and when one of our children was small, four or five, and had by then already begun communing, we attended a nearby church as a family. With a toddler in our hands needing to be rescued from the nursery we arrived nearly late and last at the altar rail. The assisting minister for that day had missed our son’s outstretched hand and instead of bread had placed his hand upon our son’s head for a brief blessing. The man moved on and our son was livid. Before we could get someone’s attention communion was over and the final hymn was bring sung. Right then and there our son marched right up to the pastor and looked him in the eye and demanded communion. Now the line of people stretched on and on, people waiting to greet the pastor and get in their cars and head out for brunch or home or a nice drive on a beautiful afternoon. But here is this kid grabbing the pastor, getting looks from the crowd, and what did the pastor do? He takes that kid by the hand and walks him back into the church, into the sacristy and communes him, the crowd waiting for his return.

He wanted Christ, too, inside of him. Maybe he couldn’t explain it, but he knew it as well as he knew his own name. If only everyone was as hungry for Christ, as he was that day! That is why we surround ourselves with children in this congregation. That’s why they are there kneeling next to you with their tiny hands outstretched waiting for their bread. Because they have something to teach us, if we have hearts willing to learn.

Jesus said: Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
Come hungry and expectant to the Lord’s Table today. Seek and see the children, see how eager they are to be filled with Christ – to have him abiding in their hearts and souls and very being. Pray for them and give thanks to God for them as you, yourself are nourished Allow them to witness to you even as by your welcome and encouragement and prayer you witness to them.
Amen.