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...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

November 1st 2009

Hear again the vision of John:
He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
4he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.

All Saints Sunday can be so perfunctory sometimes. The list of names of those deceased in the past twelve months within the congregation is solemnly read. Perhaps a chime is rung after each name. There is something true about that. Solemn. Holy.

But my guess is that many of us this day are remembering others who are lost to us except for pictures and memories. Some have lost loved ones this past year – while others may still be grieving loved ones lost many years ago. This day is for them, too. A day to remember. To acknowledge. To thank. To bless. To grieve.

Grandpa Spencer owned a greenhouse – it was attached to his garage, down the driveway past the giant mums the size of Nerf footballs in the blooming season, row after row neatly nestled in their raised beds. One would walk into the garage; breathe deeply the midday sun-warmed plywood and two by fours and special wood for this project or that that settled above one’s head in the attic’s upper reaches, then turn to the left. A glass paneled door led one into the hum of florescent lights and the smell of dark earth and geraniums (if the Methodist church’s rummage and garden sale was coming soon.) If one were tall, one might be wary of the fly tapes, sticky and yellow vines smudged with unhappy visitors, wings buzzing to no avail. If winter had come, a Christmas cactus might be in bloom, pink and red flowers cascading down from a hanging basket. Other things grew here in pots or from the earth, itself. Catalogues from seed companies like Park and Burpee lay strewn about a small table, next to Grandpa’s chair, the one with the cushion, that he sat in when doing his greenhouse work. When we went for a visit, a holiday or even just for Sunday dinner, I would sit in that chair, grab a seed catalogue, and as the fluorescents hummed and flies buzzed and the warmth enfolded me, I would dream of the garden that I would grow someday.

Later, they would send one of my sisters to come fetch me, since the smell of Grandma’s Sunday ham, as good as it was, could not penetrate the greenhouse glass.

Reluctantly, with a catalogue in hand, I would race up the steps, making a pit stop in the kitchen bathroom and grab the bar of Lava soap; running the water with gusto before grandma could see the dirt. Just before dinner, that moment when the rolls came out of the oven wrapped in a terry cloth towel and placed just so in a basket, I almost always could find Grandpa in his easy chair, a soft leather one, big enough to swallow me whole. And in the few moments before Grandma summoned him to his carving duties, a couple of things happened. “Hey, Butch,” he’d say, hand patting the buzz cut I sported for most of my early years, “What do you have there?” And I would show him what I thought could have been the Seven Wonders of the World: pansies every color of the rainbow, and Asters and Cosmos and Daises and Marigolds of every shade of orange and yellow I could imagine. And he would tell me about each of them. How to grow them. What he thought about them. Once he even ordered some seeds for us to plant together. Showing me how to prepare the soil, pouring burning hot water over it to kill anything bad and allowing it to dry a bit, before sowing the seeds. He taught me about the dangers of overwatering and how and when to transplant the seedlings. And when those first seeds began to poke up through the soil, it was miraculous to be, like birth.

Grandpa was 64 years old when I was born.
They sold the house while I was away at college and moved into a retirement community of doublewides. Grandpa didn’t last long there – after 50+ years in the house in Rockville Center and raising those Nerf football-sized mums long into his retirement, after bidding goodbye to the greenhouse and his basement full of tools and his perfect lawn and the giant Maples and Oaks that towered three or four stories into the sky, I guess part of him began to die the day that he handed over the keys.

I walked by the house just a few years ago. The driveway was paved and the sleeping porch closed in and the green house long gone. The house had shrunk, lost its character as well as a bit of its many Azalea bushes. A few shingles needed replacing, too. The huge maple (or was it an oak – I still get confused in my memory) beckoned me to climb its branches one last time, but I just couldn’t. It all seemed terribly wrong.

Was grandpa a saint?
If saints like their butter real, an afternoon drink to unwind, and Lawrence Welk Sunday nights either in black and white or color, than Grandpa was one of the best of them. He was as real as they come. He was flawed to be sure and would much rather spend an afternoon talking baseball then five seconds talking about Jesus, but he passed on a love of creation to me – a joy for gardening – the wonder of a seed becoming a plant – the care of something so fragile that too much water or too much sun could wipe it out. He was a saint in my life for these things and a saint in his life because the Lord had claimed him from the moment of his baptism and wash him clean. Christ’s righteousness became his righteousness just like it did for you and for me and just this morning for little Sarah Suzanne Gray.. As the saying goes: saints aren’t perfect, just forgiven.

I miss Grandpa Spencer because I am old enough now to have many more questions to ask about so many things. I want to show him the gardens that you and I have made and assure him that at least one of his many gifts actually passed on beyond the first generation of his children. I want him to meet the great grandchildren that he never met. I want to thank him for never locking the greenhouse door when I came to visit.
John writes
He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more.

In Christ, we who were no people have become God’s people and God’s people live as people of promise, as people of hope that cannot be taken away. Of a Kingdom in which all of the saint of God will be gathered. In that place the last tear is shed outside of the gates and God wipes it away. Mourning and crying and pain will be no more. A place, as we prayed earlier, to know the inexpressible joys that God has prepared for those who love Him. Some my questions for grandpa will have to wait, but not forever. Whether or not he will still have to cut the corn off the cob so his dentures won’t pose a problem – that remains to be seen.

The saints who have gone on to heaven before us are not lost, but are in fact in Christ and with Christ as they have been since that promise was written in their hearts at their baptism. And so we may grieve our loses, yet be comforted by the very hope born of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, through whom grace pours out like a river to a thirsty land.
Though the burden of grief may be great in our lives, the gift of grace is greater still and always.

The Great Commission
Matthew 28:19-20
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

The New Commandment
John 13:34-35
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Our Mission
To Share Christ, Live by Loving, Care by Serving, and See Christ in All!

This fall, Trinity Lutheran, Pembroke Pines has experienced its highest average worship attendance since 2005 and with five Baptisms coming up over the next month or so it will be an exciting and blessed time indeed!

In a month (on Friday, December 4th) we will hold our quarterly visitor's dinner and just before Christmas (on Sunday December 13th) receive new members.

Keep up the joyous work of inviting, sharing, serving, giving, and telling the glorious story of Jesus in Word and Deed!

Even though we only received our pumpkins last Thursday, we sold out of our regular-sized ones.
That's right - 500 pumpkins in 8 days.
Some small pumpkins and gourds, perfect for that fall or Thanksgiving holiday display, are still available today for a reasonable price and will be available tomorrow (Sunday) first-come first-serve for a donation.
We will be tallying the final profit for our Christian Ed Program next week - all net proceeds go for the purchase of Bibles and other Sunday school material as well as our annual Vacation Bible School.
Again: Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
FYI - Pastor Keith will be participating in the Event at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, FT Lauderdale, which is the closest video conferencing congregation to Trinity. Please leave a message at the office if you desire to carpool with folks
October 30, 2009

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Since our 2009 Churchwide Assembly, there has been much communication shared by individuals and groups across our church and country relative to actions of the assembly. Particular interest is being expressed regarding the decisions related to the Social Statement on Human Sexuality and the ministry policies. Many folks are confused about what decisions were made and wonder how the decisions will affect themselves or their congregations.

Next Thursday evening, November 5, at 7 pm, we invite you to join us for a webcast that we are calling "Being Church Together". The vice president of our synod, Cheryl Stuart, and I will talk about our mission together as God’s people, as well as reflect with you on the actions of the Churchwide Assembly. We'll explore how we live together in Christ Jesus even in the midst of disagreements.

You are invited to attend any one of the 20 webcast locations around our synod. You may visit the synod web page at www.fbsynod.com/webcast to register at the location that is most convenient for you. There will also be opportunity for shared conversation at each of the sites. At the conclusion of our time together, we will share in a brief service of Holy Communion that will be led by local pastors.

It is my hope that by using technology, we will continue to find new ways to connect with the people of our synod on issues of interest and concern. Cheryl and I look forward to being with you through this webcast next Thursday evening. All are welcome!

In Christ and His Love,

Edward R. Benoway, Bishop
Florida-Bahamas Synod, ELCA
to set your Clocks Back One Hour this evening!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

At Trinity All Saints Sunday is a time to remember the faithfully departed saints in our lives, not limited to just in the past year, but of all years. We will also celebrate that in Christ Jesus we have all been declared saints - for his righteousness has become our righteousness.
Bring your photos and knick-knacks for the Remembrance Table that will be located near the chancel
Fill out a remembrance slip as you pick up your bulletin for the departed saints in your life that you desire for us to remember in prayer
We will be lighting candles in the congregation and shining forth the light of promise as we read the names of the faithfully departed during the worship service
As the service concludes, folks will be invited to visit the Memorial Butterfly Gardens to scatter rose petals and place pots of Rosemary in remembrance of departed loved ones.
Rosemary is commonly recognized as a symbol of remembrance - even Shakespeare noted its emblematic qualities in Hamlet . Sprigs of rosemary were used in ancient times and laid at grave sites to demonstrate loyalty. It can be used to mark an event or a person as can rose petals.
Just a friendly reminder of two upcoming events:

This Friday is the annual Halloween Party at Trinity from 7 - 9 PM.
There will be prizes and games for kids of all ages.
All families are asked to bring 1 bag or wrapped candy to be added to a goody bag.

Immediately following late service, Sunday, November 1st, we have pizza and soda available at cost, followed by a trip to the dollar store to kick off our Operation Christmas Child shoe box collection.
Pizza and soda will be sold at cost: $1 per slice and .50 soda.
Even if you aren't able to join us for the trip to the dollar store, you might want to join us for the pizza social.
Filled shoe boxes are all due by November 15th
Meditation on This Week's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, November 1, 2009:

First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-9

First Reading (Alt.): Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm: Psalm 24

Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-6a

Gospel: John 11:32-44

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints', traditionally a time when we remember our dead loved ones and all the saints triumphant. This past year has been such a time of loss for so many of us, so even if we've never lost a loved one, the readings are likely to have meaning for us. Even those of us who haven't experienced bad fortune personally may feel a bit shaken by all the events of the past year, as we've watched various industries implode and seen bad headlines for seasons at a time.

Some commenters wonder if we're all being a bit too passive. In a column in yesterday's The New York Times, Bob Herbert says, "Americans have tended to watch with a remarkable (I think frightening) degree of passivity as crises of all sorts have gripped the country and sent millions of lives into tailspins. Where people once might have deluged their elected representatives with complaints, joined unions, resisted mass firings, confronted their employers with serious demands, marched for social justice and created brand new civic organizations to fight for the things they believed in, the tendency now is to assume that there is little or nothing ordinary individuals can do about the conditions that plague them."

Herbert worries that we've become too passive: "Being an American has become a spectator sport. Most Americans watch the news the way you’d watch a ballgame, or a long-running television series, believing that they have no more control over important real-life events than a viewer would have over a coach’s strategy or a script for 'Law & Order.'" Herbert would call us to social reform in the model of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. Certainly Jesus calls us to social reform as well.

Yet Jesus calls us to more than just social reform. Jesus calls us to a new life.

Jesus constantly reminds us that the glory of God is all around us, if only we had eyes to see. Jesus invites us to a Resurrection Culture. Sometimes, it's a forceful invitation: the cancer that is caught in time, the loss of a relationship or job that leaves us open to something more nourishing, the addiction that loosens its hold, the return of the prodigal loved ones. Other times, we catch sight of God's Kingdom as a fleeting glimpse: the dance of butterflies, the bad mood that lifts, the perfect bottle of wine that we share with friends.

Still we must cope with the ultimate sorrow. As thinking creatures, we go through life aware that if we live long enough, we will lose all that we love. How do we square the Resurrection Culture of Jesus with this knowledge?

Jesus promises us that death is not the final answer. We may not fully understand how Jesus will fulfill that promise. Some will argue that we go directly to Heaven, and some will tell us that we'll wait in a safe place until the final coming of Christ. And in the meantime, Jesus invites us to participate in the creation of the Kingdom, right here, right now. We don't have to wait until we're dead.

Jesus stands at the door of our tombs and calls to us. How will we answer? Will we say, "Go away! I'm comfortable here in my coffin. Leave me alone." Or will we emerge, blinking, into the sunshine of new life? Will we let Jesus unwrap us from our death cloths?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HELP Needed
Patch openings for Thursday afternoon
between the hours of 1PM and 5:30PM - whatever you can work.
Let Pastor Keith know ASAP.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sales are brisk and we are selling nearly 100 pumpkins a day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Each week names are collected for the prayer list from worship slips, emails, and phone calls. People may also indicate the type of prayer desired (healing, safe travels, Military, expecting and so forth). Typically each Sunday we will pray for the entire list and will only print and use the first name of the person being prayed for. Our Women’s Tuesday Morning Bible Study group prays for the entire list each Tuesday morning. Our staff will begin praying for the prayer list on Wednesdays beginning this week. Copies of the prayer list for those who desire a personal copy are available each Sunday from the greeters as you pick up your bulletin. The list is put together brand new each week, so please refrain from asking us to keep names on indefinitely. Rather, just write, call or email the name weekly and it will be placed on the list each time. Thank you for your patience and for praying along with us!

8AM and 10:45AM
Bring photos and mementos of loved ones who have gone ahead of us into the Kingdom for our Remembrance Table.

Congregational Candle Lighting

Prayers of Remembrance

Scattering of Rose Petals

Placing of Rosemary

At 10:45AM Only

Baptism of Sarah Suzanne Gray

Saturday, October 24, 2009

There is only a single service on OCT 25th at 10Am
(No coffee hour due to the anniversary OCTOBERFEST Luncheon)

The Regular 8AM and 10:45AM schedule resumes next Sunday for ALL SAINTS SUNDAY

John 8:31-36 REFORMATION SERMON 2009

So the Israelites were free. Moses through the mighty power of God had led them out of Egypt and everything was cool. The sweet taste of freedom. We imagine that the air was sweeter and the food was sweeter - that’s what freedom does, doesn’t? Makes everything sweeter, even the sunrise so beautiful you can taste it.

But it didn’t take long for the food to run out and the water to run out.
And the people’s taste buds began to suffer from some sort of flavor amnesia.
In Egypt, they would say, we ate our fill of sweet food and now we are hungry.
Egypt wasn’t so bad some said.
Looking better all of the time others added.
And some began to consider the idea of going back to Egypt.
Back to slavery. Give up the sweet taste of freedom because their fear had confused their taste buds and everything began to taste bitter, like some strange vegetable that your mother always tried to get you to eat when you were a kid.
Except this isn’t about okra or collard greens – this is about freedom or slavery – without any middle ground left to stand on.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered him, "We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, 'You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

You and I have been given that gift of freedom. In Holy Baptism we declare that we die to sin and rise to newness of life. That we who were once a people with no hope have become a people of promise. God’s people. A people freed from the power of sin and death.

Now sin, of course, is still around. And you and I are sinners, that is true. We still fall into sin and we always will this side of heaven. The Holy Spirit helps us – opens up to us God’s intention, God’s will. But knowing the truth and doing the truth are not the same thing. The Apostle Paul talks about this struggle – he says in Romans: “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” He says in his mind he wants to do the will of God, but in his humanness he does the very opposite.

There’s this interesting story in the Scriptures – this woman has been caught in adultery and the law demands that she be stoned and here is Jesus, his opinion asked for.
What should we do with her they all want to know, stones in each hand, ready for some righteousness punishment and mob justice. Wanting Jesus to give them the go ahead to murder her in the name of God. But Jesus looks them over – “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” And they know, they know that none of them are without sin, and they all drop their stones and walk away. Stunned, disappointed, perhaps, maybe even a little sheepish, being reminded of their sin and all. But walk away they did.

Sin is a part of our human condition – sometimes we choose our way instead of God’s way. Or we think our way is God’s way, because that makes things easier, doesn’t it?

But by God’s grace, the power of sin and death has been broken, because through Christ’s death and resurrection we can obtain forgiveness.
Sin once meant death. The End. Nothingness. Silence. Dust.
But now, you and I, as people of God have a different future and because we have a different future our present has been infused with new possibilities. Grace has been poured out for us. Sin and death no longer has dominion over us.

Christ has with his own obedient life and atoning death, bought our freedom.
The Son has made us free, so we are free indeed? Right?

So if we are free, why do we in our freedom choose slavery again and again?
We do this every time we fail to embody Christ in our words and actions.
In failing to be Christ for our neighbor, we trade our freedom for slavery.
Do we gossip? Complain about others just to complain? Talk about others behind their back? Always interpret their actions with suspicion, doubt, or grave concern? Do we judge rather than graciously befriend and support?

We trade our freedom for slavery with each and every ungracious unkindness.
Jesus says: "Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

At Easter you can smell the men cooking bacon and sausage. It begins early and with a light breeze I bet you can smell their cooking a mile away. A homeless person wandered in to our Easter breakfast years ago. No ticket of course and couldn’t pay. Folks all dressed up in their Easter clothes and this guy sticking out pretty clearly. Like he didn’t belong. Lost and needing directions.

One of the cooks comes up to me and asks me if it was OK to give him something to eat and he hopes it was because he already had given him a plate. And he hopes it was OK to give him a Bible because the man asked for one and he had already given it to him. And would it be alright if he sat with awhile so he would be alone. And I nodded that that sounded like an excellent plan already put into action. He didn’t need me to give him permission – he already knew in his heart – a heart set free by the grace of God to love a neighbor, even if that neighbor happened to be homeless and perhaps a bit scruffy. He didn’t judge the man. He didn’t interpret his motives or question them. He fed the man, gave him a Bible and sat with him throughout his meal. The Son had made him free and he gloriously embraced that freedom!
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
That Easter there was some serious freedom being embodied in this church! Proclaimed in word and deed.
Pastor I fed a hungry man. I gave him a Bible. I’m going to hang out with him for awhile.

In explaining the 8th commandment Martin Luther had this to say: To refresh our memory, the 8th commandment is “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
Luther says: What does this mean?--Answer. “We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, think and speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”
Now, I am going to confess that I struggle here - struggle in trying to put the best construction on things that people say and do. It is so easy to see the bad motive, the selfish purpose in what folks are up to in what they say to others about this person or that sometimes even me. Sometimes even I want to go back to Egypt and be a salve again.
But our Lord and Savior purposed us for freedom. Empowered us to be his voice, his hands. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
And friends we are free.
And if we are empowered by God than we have power through the Holy Spirit over our own tongues, our own thoughts, our own actions.
And there is one thing more than we have, you and I.
When we choose slavery over freedom there is grace enough to cover our sin and set us free again. There is always grace enough to set us free.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

grandson of SAM, our beloved office administrator,
and her husband , Dan,
and son to Daniel and Tabitha,
entered the world today at 2:05PM
at 8lbs 9oz

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Meditation on This Week's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, October 25, 2009:

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm: Psalm 46

Second Reading: Romans 3:19-28

Gospel: John 8:31-36

I find it hard to believe that we are back to Reformation Sunday. Perhaps it's because of the weather and the record-breaking heat we've had down here in South Florida; only recently has it felt autumnal enough to contemplate the Reformation, Halloween, All Saints', All Souls'--those holidays that come as October turns into November.

Perhaps you feel like we've been living Reformation for the past year as the Lutheran church has wrestled with sexuality issues. Perhaps you are not happy with the changes that have been wrought. Maybe you find yourself feeling very sympathetic to the Catholic church of Luther's day, the Church that found itself torn asunder by many movements of reform.

Regardless of the side on which we sit with these recent struggles, we might find ourselves feeling a bit fearful. We might worry about schism. We probably worry that there won't be a place for us in the church that emerges from all of this.

We should take heart that the Church has always been in the process of Reformation. There are great Reformations, like the one we'll celebrate this Sunday, or the Pentecostal revolution that's only 100 years old, but has transformed the developing world (third worlds and those slightly more advanced) in ways that Capitalism never could. There are smaller ones throughout the ages as well. Movements which seemed earth-shattering at the time (monastic movements of all kinds, liberation theology, ordination of women, lay leadership) may in time come to be seen as something that enriches the larger church. Even gross theological missteps, like the Inquisition, can be survived. The Church learns from past mistakes as it moves forward.

Times of Reformation can enrich us all. Even those of us who reject reform can find our spiritual lives enriched as we take stock and measure what's important to us, what compromises we can make and what we can't. It's good to have these times where we return to the Scriptures as we try to hear what God calls us to do. Some ELCA churches may decide to break away and join the Missouri Synod. Some Lutheran churches may create a brand new type of Lutheranism. Some of us may call on our ELCA to become even more radical in our approach to hospitality and acceptance. Some of us may do some soul searching and discover that the churches of Luther are not our true spiritual homes after all. It may be painful, but any of these processes may lead us to soil where we can bloom more fruitfully.

We may think of that metaphor and feel despair, as if we will never be truly rooted, flowering plants. But rootlessness can be its own spiritual gift. The spiritual wanderers have often been those who most revitalized the Church, or on a smaller level, their spiritual communities. The spiritual wanderers are the ones who keep the rest of us true to God's purpose.

If you have been feeling despair, take heart. Jesus promises that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. You might not be feeling like you know what the truth is at this current point; you may feel tossed around by the tempests of our current times. But Jesus promises that we will know the truth. We will be set free. We don't have a specific date at which we'll know the truth. But we will.

Rest in God's promise that we are redeemable. Rest in the historic knowledge that the Church has survived times of greater turbulence than our own. Rest in Luther's idea that we are saved by grace alone. Rest.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This Saturday OCT 24th
at 10AM
All Welcome!
Thursday OCT 22nd 6:30PM
A fresh batch from a new truck.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Apparently, second driver was not lost with our load, but has stolen the truck.
With a tough growing seasons this year they are apparently in demand
Since we sell on a consignment basis for the company that grows them on an Indian reservation out west, we are not responsible for anything, merely disappointed.
It is hoped that a fresh load will be sent by a faithful and trustworthy driver by the end of the week. Stay tuned as the saga continues.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sermon on Isaiah 53:4-12

For National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Commemoration Service

The phone rings and the voice says “It’s cancer.”
Quiet, controlled, simply: “It’s cancer.”
In this case, breast cancer. I knew the test was being run.
Then the dam breaks. The control is lost. The will to fight the tears ebbs.
The voice floods the receiver: “He’ll leave me now. That’s it. The last straw. “
The weeping begins.
She is not worried about her life. The chemo. The possibility of radiation. The surgery. The medication. The follow up appointments wondering if they got it all. If it will come back. If it will kill her like it killed friends of hers. Young friends of hers. Friends in their prime with husbands and children. No.
She is worried about the impact a mastectomy will have on her husband’s ability to love her. To stay with her. To keep the vows made on their wedding day – To love, honor and cherish in sickness and in health. And now the sickness has come in the form most insidious. Most personal. Breast Cancer.
What does one say to the one weeping?
What words of comfort shall one speak?

Another woman. Another time. Addie’s breast cancer came back and had metastasized which is a fancy medical term for spread to places it had not formerly been. More chemo. More radiation. But the stubborn cancer would not let go. She began to bleed. Blood was donated in her name. She went through two sometimes three pints a day. Day after day. There in the hospital she no longer worried for herself. She knew what was coming. She had made peace with that, with the end, trusting that the end was not in fact the end at all, but a tough stop on a longer journey. But she feared for her family. Leaving three kids and a husband. And so she hung on for them. She hung on needing to experience some peace. That they would be OK. That she had done everything that she could even as the cancer had left her unrecognizable from the woman in the photos next to her bed. She hung on as her family wept.
What does one say to the weeping?
What words of comfort shall one speak?

“Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases,” declares Isaiah.
And because he has, there is promise that remains. Promise that can stand up to chemo and radiation. Reconstructive surgery and years of Tamoxifen. There are words of promise that cannot be silenced, even by death.

I do not say such things lightly, but out of a wounded life that has seen the power of hope stand up against the ravages of breast cancer in people that I love; my own mother a survivor these past three years. I have also held the hands of others for whom the disease has come calling more than once and powerfully and sometimes fatality.

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases,” declares Isaiah.

And then in Romans Chapter 8, Paul picks up this very thought:
Paul says that we are more than conquerors who him who loved us. Loved us enough to take on the same frail flesh. The flesh of lumps and biopsies and scars. Marked by ports and blood test pricks and IV’s. The same flesh that feels the pain, that remembers long after. We are more than conquerors. Not just victors. Not just triumphant. No we are more.We are more.We are more why? Because Christ’s love for us knows no limits, no boundaries.Christ himself crossed the boundary into death. Destroyed the power of death for you and for me, for those with Breast cancer and bone cancer and lung cancer and ever disease that has a name and even those that do not. Did so in order that whether we live or whether we die we are the Lord’s. Safe in his love, his peace, his strength, his embrace.

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases,” declares Isaiah.

So we do not bear them alone as lonely as our diseases may be to us. As isolating as they may seem to us. As dark and numbing. No. We do not bear them alone and they do not get the last word for us. That word was spoken from the cross in a cry of Good News that echoes loudly still in my life and your life and the lives of those we love and the lives of all. And that word is a word of life strong enough to conquer death. To show death a vision of an inbreaking future in which has no more sway, no pause, no place. That future has broken into our world, our lives, our present.

Addie looks up at me, tired and worn and , yet strong enough to hold on for her family even as she held my hand. I try to look into her eyes and see the person that I had known for four years, yet I struggled and my heart kept breaking. “Will they be OK?” she said.
And I told her that they would.
She told me that the Kingdom was waiting for her.
And I nodded.
And Christ was not long in coming, bearing away her infirmity and carrying away her disease.

When I was a kid, I thought that my mother was indestructible. Oh, I am sure that she got sick from time to time, but I took no notice. Nothing slowed her down, nothing crushed her spirit. And I am sure that many nights she took her concerns for my and for my sisters to God in prayer. She cooked, she cleaned, she folded clothes like nobody’s business. And she still does, though we wish that she would slow down a bit and sometimes her body makes her take a breather. Three years have now passed since the phone rang and the woman who once prayed for me and likely still does, asked me to return the favor; her son, the pastor, her rock.We think rocks are strong. But they crack and splinter. They wear and turn to dust in time. Big rocks become smaller ones and then turn to dust. And so it would always be except that God could not stand for us to be dust again.

We return to Paul: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For 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 our Lord.”

We are not dust, but through Christ we are more than conquerors. We are children of God and inheritors of God’s Kingdom. We who were no people, have become God’s people. And God will not suffer to let us go. And in that love is a strength that knows no bounds. No limits. A strength in which we now share. A strength through which we now live triumphant even in the most difficult times.Thanks be to God! Amen.

at 4PM
As per usual, bring gloves, garden rakes, wheel barrels, and a hopeful attitude!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The truck repairs are taking longer than expected. Unlikely offload will be today - We will contact everyone as soon as we get a firm date/time.
Thank you for your patience!
Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, October 18, 2009:

Isaiah 53:4-12

Psalm 91:9-16You have made the LORD your refuge, and the Most High your habitation. (Ps. 91:9)

Hebrews 5:1-10

Mark 10:35-45

In this Gospel, again we see the disciples jockeying for position and favor. I like these humanizing details about the disciples: the fact that it takes them awhile to understand things, the fact that they routinely fail (after trying again and again, and often failing miserably), the fact that they want to be the favorite ones.

I also like that Jesus never wavers. He knows that he could be preaching a more popular Gospel, but he sticks to his message. Jesus must know that many humans will not see his Good News as very good at all: you mean, we should stay married? You mean, we have to sell all that we own and give it to the poor--and then we'll be ready to follow you? You're really serious about that getting rid of possessions clause? Hmm. Many of us will say, "Never mind." We'll pray the Prayer of Jabez, and hope that translates into big cash.

Again and again, Jesus tells us that the last will be first. Again and again, Jesus stresses that we're here to serve. Following Jesus isn't about self-empowerment. We don't follow Jesus because we hope to become rich (other religions, like Capitalism, might make that promise, but not Christianity). Christianity is NOT just a big self-improvement program.

Sure, we might become better people, but not by the route that the larger world offers us. Christ tells us that we fulfill our destiny by serving others. It goes against most everything else we've ever learned. We're not supposed to look out for number one? We're not supposed to be most concerned about ourselves and our families? No, we're not.

We've had an opportunity over the past several decades to watch our leaders--religious, political, all types of leaders--dance around these passages, to try to let us wiggle-worm away from the life that Jesus calls us to. We don't have to give away everything, as long as we tithe. As long as our possessions don't own us. As long as we keep in mind what's really important.

But what if Jesus was speaking literally? What if he really meant what he said? Go back and read the Gospels (go ahead--they're short--it won't take you long). Jesus is remarkably consistent. If you want to boil down his message into short bites, here's one: serve others. Don't think about your needs and wants--focus on others (and not just people that you like anyway).

For some of us, if we really start to live a Gospel life, it will take practice and undoing of a past life of bad habits. Start small. Do good deeds for people that you like. Practice radical patience. Be on the lookout for all the people who need your smile or a kind word. Let other people take the credit for your ideas. Give away more money. Add some more prayer time to your day to focus on the needs of others. Ask God to show you how to have a servant's heart.

Maybe God will call you to heal others, like St. Luke, whose feast day we celebrate this week. Maybe we will have a different apostle as a role model. There are many ways to serve, and a vast world in need of our service.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Due to Truck problems
THURSDAY OCT 15th at 6:30PM
The Patch will run from OCT 16th until Oct 31st
Monday-Friday: 9:30am to 7:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am to 8:00pm
Sunday: 12:30pm to 7:00pm

Service in Commemoration of National Breast Cancer
Awareness Month
October 18, 2009 ●10:45AM

Surely he has borne our infirmitiesand carried our diseases
Isaiah 53:4

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Award Winning Folk Duo "ALATHEA" to return to Trinity Lutheran!
SAT DEC 19th at 7:30PM
in the Sanctuary
SUN DEC 20th at 10:45AM
in the Sanctuary
Tickets information for the concert and other promotional materials will be forthcoming in early November.
Men's Ministry and WELCA meet at 7:30PM in Charter Hall

Set up Tables for Rummage 6PM
Pumpkins Arrive at 6:30PM!
Many hands needed for offload
Choir Rehearsal at 7:30PM

Pumpkin Sales begin!
Patch Hours:
Monday-Friday: 9:30am to 7:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am to 8:00pm
Sunday: 12:30pm to 7:00pm

SET UP for Rummage Sale Continues throughout the day

will not meet this week, but will meet Thursday evenings OCT 22nd and 29th

SET UP for Rummage Sale continues throughout the day

Rummage and Bake Sale 8AM to 2PM

Healing Service at 8AM and 10:45AM
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Service at 10:45AM
Blood Drive 7:30AM to 1PM

Reformation Sunday and our Anniversary Octoberfest Luncheon!
Kid-Friendly Food and a waterslide are planned to keep the younger ones busy.
Music by Jacob Smitter during the luncheon
***A single Service at 10AM ***
***No Sunday School***
Luncheon at noon. Tickets required and are on sale now ($10 adults and $5 for kids) and will also be available at the door, but if you think you are going please RSVP with Earline or the OFFICE ASAP.

7PM Sunday School Halloween Party!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Amos 5:6–7, 10–15 October 11, 2009

Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate.
Here Amos presents God’s three point plan for how to live in the world.
Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate.

The problem begins almost immediately, doesn’t it?
We might think that what is evil is obvious and we might think that what is good is obvious and we might think that we know what justice looks like, and what it takes to enact, but do we?
Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate.

I was raised to hate evil, love what is good and on the notion of charity. Justice, which many people confuse with charity, was not a word that we heard all that often.

When a family known to my parents experienced an oil burner fire on their home, smoke and water running practically everything they owned, my sisters and I with help and encouragement from mom, went into our own dressers and found them clothing to wear. This is what Scripture calls charity – taking care of someone’s immediate needs. The hungry are fed, the naked are clothed, the homeless are given shelter – these are all acts of charity. We encourage and practice charity here – using what God has entrusted to us to care for the immediate needs of one another, our neighbors, and those most vulnerable in our community. Feeding the Hungry at First Lutheran once a month, The Trinity Food Pantry, our semiannual participation in the Coalition to End Homelessness’’ Church-Based shelter program, Thanksgiving and Easter baskets, collecting money for world hunger, participation in the Souper Bowl of Caring, WELCA’s donations to local social service organizations, our summer Vacation Bible School’s donations to needy projects all over the world, Church Women United’s Travelling Bassinet to help mother’s in need, walks for MS, Alzheimer’s, Breast Cancer, Autism, and more, the Bloodmobile, folks who give their hair for wigs for those who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy, the list goes on and on. Charity we know. We drop the change in the plate, write the checks, donate the food, bake the dinners, collect the clothing and cell phones, walk the miles. We give; we give and by and large our giving impacts immediate and particular needs.

When one of our member’s homes caught fire we raised money to help them out. When one of our members needed assistance to continue his fight against bone cancer, we gave generously. When one of our members needed a lot of blood due to their illness, we bled and banked blood for them. We give; we give and by and large our giving impacts immediate and particular needs.

Justice and charity are not the same thing, yet we confuse them all too easily.
To work for justice at the gate is to take on the root causes of injustice, to take on the powers that exploit the vulnerable, the poor, the marginalized. To declare systems in violation of God’s very plan for creation - for God’s intention for God’s people. To hold those systems accountable, To expose them and demand the justice that they have been withholding. To act and act decisively. To act boldly for justice.

Listen to Amos’ description of the injustice in his day:
11Therefore because you trample on the poor and take from them levies of grain, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not live in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins — you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate.

The images from Amos before and after our passage paint this picture even more fully:
The righteous being sold for silver; the needy being sold for a pair of sandals; the heads of the poor being trampled into the dust of the earth - all the while those who considered themselves righteous feast on good food and drink good wine and push the poor out of the way at the gate, the very place where justice was supposed to be asked for and given.

In a Baptist church near Atlanta, I and a few classmates from the Doctor of Ministry program at Columbia Seminary took our seats. We were immediately recognized as visitors and a member of the congregation came over and began to tell us a story. They began by pointing out three ladies in the front row, the first row of pews, dressed up for church and chatting amiably amongst themselves in the minutes before the prelude began. The three ladies sat in the front pew of First Baptist as they had nearly all of their adult lives. They were in their seventies now and decades before they had fought to integrate the railroad near Atlanta. These women, these church ladies, these women of the south, had gone to the tracks one day and lay down in front of a locomotive and refused to move. Could you imagine these three young ladies, housewives, neighbors to some, friends to many, in their Sunday best laying down on dirty tracks in front of a diesel locomotive? They were arrested, of course, but the point was made. There would demand through their actions that justice be done at the gate. They would not talk about justice as an idea, but embody it – make it deliberate, as natural as breathing. For them, God’s justice would not dwell alone as words that they heard Sunday mornings in worship or Wednesday evenings in Bible study, but there on the tracks in front of a segregated train as well.
Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate.

Trinity is not about to pour itself into works of charity and forget God’s call to be doer’s of justice. Charity and Justice must work together: compassionately tending to immediate needs with one hand and demanding justice from the powers of this world that defy God by denying that justice to God’s people with the other. We do justice because in Christ Jesus, the very Kingdom of God has broken into the world and that Kingdom has God’s radical justice at its very heart.

One of the key opportunities that we share here at Trinity for the cause of justice is our participation in BOLD Justice, a community-based justice organization here in Broward County. Trinity is one of its founding congregations and our folks are some of its key leaders. In just two years BOLD Justice has won funding for low cost dental care for those in need, fought for affordable housing in Broward county, and won the addition of personnel at Workforce One to help people fix flags on their unemployment applications that were preventing them from receiving their desperately needed benefits. In all of those efforts, members of Trinity joined with folks from 28 other congregations and synagogues to take stands for justice, to deliver wake up calls to powers that had been deaf to the cries of the poor and needy, the most vulnerable in our society. - those who cried at the gate for justice and were not being heard.

Today at 12:15PM and in the next week or two there will be house meetings held by justice leaders at Trinity to ask you what issues BOLD Justice should tackle next. Please spare an hour or so and learn about what we have accomplished so far and share your concerns to help shape our future. Our rummage sale this Saturday will help fund Trinity’s Justice Ministry network, our primary ministry of doing justice in and for our community. Please help out by volunteering your time, donating your gently used treasures, or purchasing someone else’s.

Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate.

Once this would have been impossible. But Christ by going to the cross has broken the power of sin and has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us – the spirit of wisdom and might; to teach us charity and demand from us the work of justice. Friends, Jesus invites us to meet him at the gate. Will we meet him there with hearts burning, ready to do this work?


Friday, October 09, 2009

On this day in 1960, Our Lord and Savior Called us into being and filled us with the Holy Spirit and sent us out into the mission field of South Florida.
And our Lord continues to send us out today to embody in word and deed the Holy Gospel, the Good News that in Christ God has reconciled the world unto God, poured out the fullness of God's grace, declared us forgiven, righteous, and holy in and through God's Son.
As we SHARE CHRIST, LIVE by LOVING, CARE by SERVING, and SEE CHRIST IN ALL let us boldly seek to ever more deeply be the church: humble, gracious, faithful, and passionate.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

This Sunday
BOLD Justice "House Meeting " at noon - led by our own Janean Baumal in Charter Hall.
What are the issues in Broward County that you want addressed?
Crime? Transportation? Healthcare? Schools? Others?
This is the meeting to bring them up!

Tickets go on Sale
for Trinity's 49th Birthday and Octoberfest.
Sunday OCT 25th (noon) at Trinity
Adults $10.00 - Children 3yrs to 11yrs $5.00
See Earline LaCroix for tickets.
Food catered by Old Heidelberg
Music by Jacob Smitter

Third Wednesday of the month Feeding of Homeless people at 1st Lutheran
Choir Rehearsals
Hand Chimes
Operation Christmas Child boxes
Thanksgiving Basket monetary donations
Food Pantry food donations
Sunday school
More than Money Matters Adult Sunday school class
Affinity Teams
Tuesday Morning Ladies Crafts and Bible Study

WELCA and MENS MINISTRY Monthly Meeting at 7:30PM

PUMPKINS ARRIVE - Off-Load at 6:30PM
Set Up Tables for Rummage Sale
Choir Rehearsal

Monday-Friday: 9:30am to 7:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am to 8:00pm
Sunday: 12:30pm to 7:00pm

SET UP for Rummage Sale Continues

Walking Affinity Group Continues

Rummage Sale Set Up Continues

Rummage and Bake Sale!

Healing Services
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Service at 10:45AM
Blood Drive (7:30AM to 1PM)

Reformation Sunday and our Anniversary Octoberfest Luncheon!
***A single Service at 10AM ***
***No Sunday School***
Luncheon at noon. Tickets required.

7PM Sunday School Halloween Party!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The lessons for Sunday, October 11, 2009:

First Reading: Amos 5:6-7, 10-15

First Reading (Semi-cont.): Job 23:1-9, 16-17

Psalm: Psalm 90:12-17

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 22:1-15

Second Reading: Hebrews 4:12-16

Gospel: Mark 10:17-31

So, far, this month is proving to be Tough Text month. I suspect most Americans will have more problems with this text than with the divorce text of last week.

We've spent centuries rationalizing our way around the demands of this text. We talk about how the needle's eye is really a gate in Jerusalem (something that scholars doubt), so that we can convince ourselves that one could be both rich and righteous, even if that might be rare. We return to our stewardship messages, reminding each other that Jesus calls us to be generous. We consider a tough stewardship message one that asks people to give away 10% of their income.

No, Jesus has the tough stewardship message: sell what you have and give the money to the poor.


I've had this argument with believer and non-believer alike, who say, "You can't really believe that Jesus means that literally."

Yes, in fact, I do. And of course, the next question: "Why aren't you doing that then?" Well, sadly, I'm as attached to my possessions--and their symbolic security--as the next person.

The last year has taught us much about the danger of counting on our possessions for security. We've seen how quickly wealth can be liquidated--and for what. As I look at my decimated retirement account, I often think of how much happier I might be had I given that money to the poor instead of hoarding it for my future. Now it's vanished, gone, like steam. No one has benefited--except, perhaps, for the people who made a profit off my money before it vanished. And I'm fairly certain the poor didn't see the benefit of that.

Jesus returns to this message again and again: our attachment to money is spiritually dangerous, the biggest spiritual danger that most of us face. Comparatively speaking, he doesn't spend much time at all on other sins. He never talks directly about homosexuality, the issue that's splitting so many churches. But he returns again and again to the message that the rich must share with the poor.

Jesus calls us to radical generosity. We are to do more than just follow a set of laws, like the young man was so capable of doing. We are to jettison our stuff, so that we're more able to follow Christ. Jesus calls us to give away our wealth, so that our grasping hands can be open for the blessings that God wants to give us. We are to unclench our hands, release our money (and fear), and trust in God.

But the good news of this Gospel is that Jesus loves us where we are. So you're not radically generous right now. Start where you are. Increase your giving by 1%. Pick up the check more often when you go out with friends. You've got a lot of possessions gathering dust, and you probably know some young people just starting out who could use them. Leave larger tips. Quit complaining about your taxes.

Like every other spiritual trait, we grow stronger as we practice. Unclench those greedy, grasping hands.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

6:30PM until 8:30PM

Attend one or attend them all!
All welcome!

FRI NOV 6th What does it Mean to Be Lutheran?
FRI JAN 15th Lutherans Interpreting Scripture
FRI MAR 5th The Sweep of the Biblical Narrative:
Creation to the Second Coming, with Important Stops along the Way.
FRI MAY 14th Sex and Sexuality: Lutheran Perspectives
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Service
SUNDAY OCTOBER 18th 2009 10:45AM

Breast Cancer in the United States
􀂃 One in eight women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
􀂃 Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S. ages 40-59.
􀂃 Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths among women in the U.S.
􀂃 The five-year survival rate for breast cancer, when caught early before it spreads beyond the breast, is now 98 percent (compared to 74 percent in 1982).
􀂃 An estimated 192,370 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the U.S. in 2009.
􀂃 An estimated 1,910 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in the U.S. in 2009.
􀂃 An estimated 40,170 women and 440 men will die from breast cancer in the U.S. in 2009.
􀂃 A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes, and a woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the U.S.
􀂃 There are about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors alive in the U.S. today, the largest group of cancer survivors in the country.
􀂃 Approximately 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers in the U.S. are due to inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer genes (less than 1 percent of the general population).
􀂃 Approximately 95 percent of all breast cancers in the U.S. occur in women 40 years of age and older.
􀂃 Recent studies suggest that many women are not following recommended guidelines for mammography screening by having their first screening later than recommended, not having one at recommended intervals or not receiving follow-up of positive screening results. This may lead to more advanced tumor size and stage at diagnosis.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Mark 10:2-16
Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" 3He answered them, "What did Moses command you?" 4They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her." 5But Jesus said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 7'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." 10Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." 13People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it." 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.

A couple comes into my office for pre-marital counseling.
"What is going to be different the day after the wedding," I ask them.
The groom-to-be looks at the bride-to-be with concerned and quizzical expressions.
Their glances silently communicate a dozen questions and declarations all at once:
What is the right answer?
What does he want to hear?
Why didn't you tell me that there was going to be a quiz?
You wanted this guy to do our wedding?
I told you this was a bad idea.

And so on.

What is going to be different the day after your wedding?
The question just seems to hang in the air. An awkward silence.

After what seems an eternity, or perhaps just a moment:
"Everything!" the bride blurts out.
A pause. All eyes turn to the groom-to-be.
"Nothing," he suggests.
They look to me for an indication of approval or disappointment.
Surely, it must be one or the other.
I usually just smile.

Weighing their answers, grooms often feel the need to explain themselves further, lest the bride-to-be misunderstand: “Nothing,” the groom repeats. “I loved her yesterday. I love her today and I’ll love her forever.”
At this point, most brides smile approvingly. We would expect nothing less.

At that moment, I have always wanted to look the prospective groom straight in the eye and tell him that if his marriage is based only upon love that it is in for a lot of trouble.
And I mean that sincerely. A marriage that is based only upon love is going to have a hard time once the honeymoon is over. The Beatles may have once suggested that all we need is love, but without commitment, love will struggle to grow deep. To grow trust. To become more Christ-like rather than fodder for the next reality-TV show. Without commitment, sin stalks a marriage closely and divorce lurks in the shadows. Without commitment - true love, Christian love, sacrificial love, is simply reduced to how I feel about you today. It is a hard-hearted love at best.

I knew a man whose wife had a brain tumor. The operation that followed saved her life, but also changed their life in substantial ways. She could no longer work. Simple tasks and even communicating thoughts or needs, became difficult. She needed him home to care for her. He left his job and did what he could to pay the bills. It was financially, emotionally, and physically draining. I imagine their life was not what they had dreamed it would be the day that they had exchanged their vows. I imagine on the cusp of their empty-nester years, letting go of their dreams for those years, must have been very difficult. And so together they dreamed new dreams. Of spending each day together appreciating the gift of life with one another.

When couples face the reality of what it means to vow to be together “in sickness and in health” it can draw them closer and deeper in their commitment and love for one another or it can leave the marriage on a collision course for divorce. Lots of other things can leave a couple at risk for divorce as well: immaturity, infidelity, emotional, physically, and verbal abuse, a lack of relational skills, failed expectations that run the gamut. The list goes on.

Today’s Gospel may be uncomfortable for a society in which divorce is all too common. Yet even as we hear what we Lutherans call “The Law” that convicts us in our hearts, we also hear the good news of the Gospel offering us hope.

We read:
2Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”

Jesus provides a somewhat intriguing answer that is much more than it seems. The ELCA’s “Daily Discipleship” tackled this some time ago and aptly points out that “Jesus simply reminds the Pharisees of the teachings of Moses allowing a man to dismiss his wife with a certificate. The key aspect of the response lies is what comes next. Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of heart, so that wives and children might be protected. It was a way to offset cruel and inhumane treatment of husbands towards their wives when they were finished with them. No longer were husbands to put out a wife like garbage, ostracized from the community and society. Minimally, a certificate would allow a woman options for her future.”

Jesus says that Moses allowed for divorce because people in a failed marriage could be so darn cruel to one another. Before divorce was permitted, men would just abandon their wives leaving them to their fate.

We also note that in Jesus’ day, it was only the man who could initiate divorce. And there was some controversy over this. One school of rabbinic thinking said that the only valid reason for divorce was infidelity while the other said that of the wife does anything that displeases the husband he could write a certificate of divorce and send her on her way. Did she burn the toast? Fail to iron out the last wrinkle in that morning’s tunic? Couldn’t cook mom’s meatloaf just like mom? We wouldn’t have to push our collective imaginations to come up with a list of excuses men might use to send a wife away. Interestingly enough, both schools were interpreting the same passage of scripture. So in either case, divorce was legal. That was not the real question they were asking Jesus. But rather, for which side would Jesus declare himself?

As it turns out, in this case, neither.
Jesus in his answer takes them and us back to the order of creation. One flesh - a man joined to a woman and the woman joined to a man. Not a man over a woman, but the two becoming one flesh. Of the same stuff. That's how Jesus tells us to read Genesis. Those who use the Bible as the means to allow men to dominate women in relationships, marriage or otherwise, fail right here. Christ, himself, elevates women into an equal partnership with men. One flesh means one flesh. This isn’t about sex or only about sex, this “one fleshness” of scripture, but an understanding of creation. It is a misreading of scripture to use the writings of the Apostle Paul on the role of women in first century society to interpret Jesus’ radical vision of what God intended in creation, itself.

Jesus reminds them of God’s intention, not the exceptions of what happens when those intentions fall to be realized. As Christians we should not be shy about lifting up God’s intention that marriage is a life-long equal partnership based upon commitment and a depth of love declared in our vows and best exemplified by Christ’s love for us. And I think that we as the church need to more boldly live out our role as a faith community in supporting married couples in their journey. Few couples enter marriage with a full tool box of the skills needed to face every challenge that life might bring and that is where the church and trained professionals can be of great assistance.

However, when that partnership fails or fails to be established, when harm replaces love and the spiral of further sins and manifest brokenness takes root, when help and attempts at reconciliation bring no relief, then sober judgment and reflection may suggest that the alternative of divorce is the lesser of two sins. For Jesus, divorce is the tearing of flesh, wounding and painful. Yet Christ , we read, did not come into the world to condemn, but to save. Not to harm, but to heal. To bring life-giving grace into a broken world and broken people. When God’s intention for marriage is not realized and flesh is torn, and lives are broken, the cross remains our promise, our hope, our all.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Sat Oct 3rd 9AM to Noon
Mowing and general yard work
Contact Steve Hocke if any questions.
September 24, 2009
Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists
Mark 10th Anniversary of
Joint Declaration
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) will join Catholics and Methodists here Oct. 1 in a 10th anniversary celebration of a historic agreement, the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ). Leaders of the LWF and the Catholic Church signed the Joint Declaration on Oct. 31, 1999, in Augsburg, Germany, after years of theological dialogue. It was affirmed in 2006 by the World Methodist Council. "The 10th anniversary of the signing of the Joint Declaration provides a joyful occasion for thanking God for our level of agreement on this central doctrine of our Christian faith. The JDDJ is a powerful testimony to what can be achieved when churches remain in dialogue addressing questions that have separated us for centuries," said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and LWF president. The JDDJ declared that the LWF and the Catholic Church had reached a common understanding on justification, agreeing that believers are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works. The churches declared that certain 16th century condemnations of each other no longer applied. Interpretations of justification caused disagreement in the church nearly 500 years earlier, which led to the Protestant Reformation. The JDDJ also said that "by the action of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, (sinners) are granted the gift of salvation, which lays the basis for the whole Christian life." "While the JDDJ does not cover everything that Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists teach about justification, and does not resolve all differences, this consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification marks the most significant agreement since the days of the Reformation," said the Rev. Donald J. McCoid, executive, ELCA Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations. "Remaining differences are not sufficiently substantial for the 16th century condemnations to continue in force." The Oct. 1 celebration will be held here at Old St. Patrick's Church. A second international observance is to be held Oct. 31 in Germany. The Chicago celebration will include a service of evening prayer followed by a reception for guests. Hanson and Cardinal Francis George, who leads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, are hosting the event. The Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop of Atlanta, will deliver the homily. The Rev. Ishmael Noko, LWF general secretary, will also address the celebration. Among Methodist leaders present and participating in prayers will be Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, president, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church. Members of the ELCA Conference of Bishops plan to attend the celebration as part of the conference's regular fall meeting Oct. 1-6. The JDDJ is a part of seminary education and is often cited as a significant achievement in religious history, McCoid said. Promoting education and sharing among members "is a renewed hope for greater understanding among members of our faith traditions," he said. Hanson added that he hopes the celebration is a time "for renewing our commitment to continue to resolve the issues that still divide us," and he encouraged congregations and members to reach out to each other in faith and in service to others.--- Information about the Oct. 1 Chicago JDDJ celebration is at http://www.ELCA.org/ecumenical on the ELCA Web site.
This month our oldest member, Blanche Myers, turns 102. We invite you to share your congratulations and blessings through birthday cards that our care team will deliver later this month. All cards may be dropped off in the office between now and SUN OCT 11th.