In the Sanctuary at 8:30AM and 11AM -
a blended service of traditional and contemporary elements with communion

In the hall at 9:45AM
scripture, prayer, and creative response with communion

Worship each Sunday @ 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

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We have moved the service that was tentatively planned for this Friday July 13th to Friday, September 21st 7PM-8:30PM in commemoration of th...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Meditation on This Week's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, January 2, 2011:

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14

First Reading (Alt.): Sirach 24:1-12

Psalm: Psalm 147:13-21 (Psalm 147:12-20 NRSV)

Psalm (Alt.): Wisdom of Solomon 10:15-21

Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14

Gospel: John 1:[1-9] 10-18

When I was younger, the Gospel of John confounded me. What kind of nativity story did John give us? Does he not know the power of narrative, the importance of a hook in the beginning?

Look at verse 14, which may be familiar: "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." As a child, I'd have screamed, "What does that mean? How does word become flesh?"

And then I became a writer, and I learned how the word becomes flesh. I invented characters who took on lives of their own, who woke me up early in the morning because I wanted to see what happened to them. Yes, I know, I was the God of their universe. But as anyone who has had children will know, you make these creations, and they have their own opinions, and they live their lives in ways you couldn't have known they would.

But lately, I've begun to see this first chapter of John in a less-writerly way. Words become flesh every day. We begin to shape our reality by talking about it. We shape our relationships through our words which then might lead to deeds, which is another way of talking about flesh.

Think about your primary relationships. Perhaps this coming year could be the year when we all treat the primary people in our lives with extra care and kindness. If we treat people with patience and care, if we say please and thank you more, we will shape the flesh of our relationships into something different. Alternately, if we're rude and nasty to people, they will respond with rudeness and cruelty--we've shaped the flesh of the world into a place where we don't want to live.

Our words become flesh in other ways, of course. It's not enough to profess we're Christians. Our words should shape our actions. The world is watching, and the world is tired of people who say one thing and act another way.

How can we enflesh our Christian beliefs incarnate in our own lives? That's the question with which we wrestle year after year. It's easy to say we believe things, but it's much harder to make our actions match our words, to live an authentic life.

The good news: it gets easier. You must practice. Our spiritual ancestors would tell us that daily and weekly practices help to align our words to our actions.

I have an atheist friend who says she envies me my ability to believe. I tell her that there's not a class of people who just have faith. We come to it by our actions. We pray, we pay attention, we meet in church, we study, we read the Bible, we help the poor and outcast, we pray some more--and years later, we realize that we are living a life consistent with our values.

It's time to think about the New Year, and some of us will make resolutions. What can you do to make your words and beliefs take flesh?

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Here’s a newsflash folks: I’m just not with it. There is no bumper sticker on my car. I will not jump on the bandwagon. Write angry letters to the editor. I will not post messages or send emails or tweet my concern. Do not count me among those who have made it their sworn duty to join the Christian version of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, otherwise known as the “Put Christ Back in Christmas” movement. An explanation is in order: You see, I fear something much greater than the secularization of Christmas – something much worse and more significant than whether or not the check out person at Target wishes me a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” or God-forbid “Seasons Greetings.”

What I fear - what pains me – is what Christ we want to put back into Christmas. What Christ: the Christ of scripture or the Christ that has undergone an extreme makeover. One of our own making. You see I have this sneaking suspicion that the Christ that we want back in Christmas is a Christ that the scriptures would hardly recognize. A dumbed down Jesus. A mellow Jesus. A comfortable Jesus. Someone that we could sit next to in a bar and have a drink with Jesus. A Let’s go shopping at the mall and text our friends about this cool new bag” Jesus.

Or as another pastor put it in a recent article in the New York Times: We American Christians have a way of taking the Jesus of the Bible and twisting him into a version of Jesus that we are more comfortable with. A nice middle-class American Jesus. A Jesus who doesn’t mind materialism and would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts. A Jesus who wants us to be balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who for that matter wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings comfort and prosperity to us as we live out our Christian spin on the American Dream.

So, friends, let us ask ourselves what Jesus we wish to put back into Christmas: A safe Jesus or the dangerous one? One that makes no demands upon us or the one who tells us to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow him. The one who lets us live any way we darn well please or the one who calls us to die to ourselves and live for him. The one that tells us prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing or the one that tells us blessed are the poor?

Every year nearly 11 million children living in poverty die before their fifth birthday. 1.02 billion people go to bed hungry every night. It estimates that in 2001, 1.1 billion people had consumption levels below $1 a day and 2.7 billion lived on less than $2 a day."

There are over 100 million street children worldwide. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.

I look at the manger scene – pictured on countless Christmas cards and lit up on millions of front yards – and that child, with or without a halo, stares back at me and scares me to death. That child is God come into the world to suffer and die for the likes of you and me. But not only you and me but for the billions of people of the world who have so much less than we do. The billions of the people who do not know the name of Christ. That cherubic sweet little Jesus boy did not come to unbind us from the power of sin so that we could be comfortable, but faithful.

You see I worry that trying to put the wrong Christ back into Christmas will somehow justify the insanity. If you put Christ back into Christmas and are still not bothered with the idea that our economy needs us to spend billions and billions of dollars between Thanksgiving and Christmas on things we really do not need in order for some talking heads to declare the recession over and our future bright – then why bother.

Putting the real Christ back into Christmas means something quite different than getting hot and bothered about Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas. It means opening ourselves up to the radical change that comes from being a child of God. It means a commitment to allowing the full meaning on what it means to die to ourselves and live for Christ to be made manifest – to be made truly present – in our lives. It means being a bit uncomfortable in our faith so that we do not fall into complacency. That we do not become smug.

When we die to ourselves so that we may truly live for Christ the power of the Holy Spirit accomplishes the impossible in and through us. For one church it meant a phone call. The pastor called the head of the county Children’s Services office and asked the director how many families would be needed to provide foster care or adoption for every single child in the county system. The director laughed. Thought that they were joking. The pastor persisted and the director said “Around 150.” 160 families from that congregation signed up and emptied the foster care system of that county. Why? Because they had challenged themselves to seek after the true Christ, to pick up their cross and follow him.

What might happen if we wrestled with the same truth?

What might happen, if the power of the Holy Spirit was unleashed in new ways in and through this congregation, building upon where we have been, and where we are. What might our future look like as we ask ourselves the hard and challenging question: Which Christ do we want in our manger?


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ray Williams, Dany Vega, Bev Grant,
Sam Newton,
and Pastor Keith
Meditation on This Week's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, December 26, 2010:

First Reading: Isaiah 63:7-9

Psalm: Psalm 148

Second Reading: Hebrews 2:10-18

Gospel: Matthew 2:13-23

After all the joy and wonder of Christmas Eve, this Gospel returns us to post-manger life with a thud. In this Gospel, we see Herod behaving in a way that's historically believable, if perhaps not historically accurate, as he slaughters all the male children in Bethlehem under the age of two. Why would he do such a terrible thing? Partly because he's worried about keeping his power; he's worried about what the wise men have told him, and he doesn't want any challenges. Partly because he can; he has power granted to him by Roman authorities, and that power means that he can slaughter his subjects if he sees fit to do so.

Jesus, however, escapes. A power greater than Rome protects him. Warned by an angel in a dream, Joseph flees with Mary and Jesus to Egypt, to safety. But still, the earthly power of Herod turns them into refugees.

Early in the Gospel, we see that the coming of Jesus disrupts regular life. Even before Jesus tells us that the life of a disciple is not one of material ease and comfort, we get that message. Even before Jesus warns us that following him may mean that we're on the opposite side of earthly powers, we see with our own eyes, in the story of Herod and the slaughter of the innocents.

This Gospel reminds us of the potency of power. We shouldn't underestimate the power of the State, particularly the power of a global empire. With the story of Herod, we see the limits of worldly power. Yet even within those limits, a dastardly ruler can unleash all sorts of pain and suffering. Those of us lucky enough to live under benign rulers shouldn't forget how badly life can go wrong for those who don't share our good fortune.

The Gospel reminds us of who has the true power in the story--it's God. The Gospel shows us who deserves our loyalty. And the Gospel also reminds us of the hazards of living in a universe where God is not the puppet master. In a universe that God sets free to be governed by free will, it's up to us to protect the vulnerable. And this story of Herod's slaughter reminds us of what happens when despots are allowed to rule. Sadly, it's a story that we still see playing out across the planet.

If we're not in the mood to see this Gospel in its geopolitical implications, we might take a few moments of introspection in these waning days of the year. Where do we see Herod-like behavior in ourselves? What threatens us so much that we might do treacherous deeds? What innocent goodness might we slaughter so that we can allay our fears and insecurities?

I predict that churches across the nation (and the world) will choose to ignore this difficult text on this morning after Christmas. Far better to enjoy Christmas carols one last time than to wrestle with this difficult text. But Jesus reminds us again and again that he didn't come to make us all comfortable. He didn't come to be our warm, fuzzy savior. He came to overturn the regular order, to redeem creation, to restore us to the life that God intends for us--and Herod stands as a potent symbol for what might happen if we take Jesus seriously.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Christmas Tree seller is donating half a dozen trees to Trinity either late Wednesday or early Thursday for us to give away.
They will be in the back parking lot.
Help yourselves or bless someone else with one.
First Come. First Serve.

Monday, December 20, 2010


(Excerpts from Trinity's Weekly Worship Slips)

1. Where have you seen God working this week?
In a social worker making sure her clients were not abandoned or forgotten.
My family and friends being kind to us.
I fell and thanks be to God that I was only mildly hurt.
Under the care of Memorial Pembroke Hospital doctors
In my family!
Seeing R. a little better!

2. Where Did God use someone else to bless you this week (whether they knew it or not)?
God used a dear friend at Trinity to call on me during my recent illness.
In providing me hospitality when I came to their home.
Neighbors came forward and talked to police after a car hit our parked van.
A person at the Senior Center set me up with an exercise program
The nurses at the hospital
God used my family to bless me.

3. Where did God use you to bless someone else this week?
By making someone a priority over my usual work.
Provided shelter to a friend in a time of crisis
Shared food, time and a listening ear with a friend.
Prayer for my daughter.
In E’s Hospital room.
My friend Lisa.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

ADVENT THREE SERMON on Matthew 1:18-25
DECEMBER 19, 2010

To shattered wedding plans,
New dreams are born.
To a confused Joseph,
fearful yet righteous
Emmanuel comes.

Emmanuel comes.
Comes to us -
shatters the image we have
peaceful baby, golden halo glow
smiling parents, angels, cows
in some barn, dry and warm
with a drummer boy drumming.

Emmanuel comes
In quickening contractions
Birth is not peaceful.
Not calm nor pleasant.
Young Mary, no pain meds,
No spinal block,
No sterile anything
No nurses. No midwife mentioned.
Emmanuel comes.

No episiotomy to make more room
pushing, sweating, gritting teeth
Joseph doing something? Nothing?
Blood and cord and afterbirth
crying, clothed and hungry
sleeping in a feeding trough.
Baby Jesus born.
Emmanuel comes.

We want the Christmas card Jesus
The postage stamp Jesus
The shopping mall Jesus.
The easy peace.
The comfort of hymns and carols sung since birth
That never fail to put us in the mood
We want the mood of Christmas, the hymns playing on the radio Christmas. The hot chocolate Christmas.
The tinsel and wrapping paper Christmas.

The rush of the sale Christmas.
With Santa salt shakers and
colored light landing strips.
We want that Christmas.

But Emmanuel comes
Comes even to those who hunger today
And many do
Own but the clothes on their back
suffer their birth, scorn and poverty
suffer in silence a slap, kick or fist
suffer war suffer long suffer life.
Suffer for want of a roof, a meal, a job, a life, safety, hope.

Emmanuel comes
To set the captives free
To preach good news to the poor
Yes the poor

To help and to heal
To sup with outcasts and sinners
Break bread with the broken and
Feed the hungry to put
New wine in new wineskins
declare the in-breaking Kingdom of God

Emmanuel comes
to feed and keep feeding
until all have their fill
and there is more besides -
to discomfort the comfortable
and re-arrange the guest lists
Somewhere, somehow in the middle
of everything else
Emmanuel comes.

Emmanuel comes for the lost and the lonely,
the hurting and the homeless,
those with many questions and few answers,
for the pilgrim and the outcast,
for the saint and for the sinner.
For the young and old without preference
Emmanuel comes
For these most especially
Which wrapping paper should not hide
Nor tinsel make pretty nor carols give false cheer
happiness instead of joy
peace as a full stomach and a tender song
instead of hope fulfilled and incarnation.

Emmanuel comes!
Comes in moments joyful bleak normal odd
real, too real, honest and pure
in the conversations, the long afternoon
the smile at a stranger, the patient ear
the kind nod, gracious words, forgiving heart
open hands, serving hands, gracious hands
generous hands, tender hands, loving hands.

Emmanuel comes and we must prepare!
Mistake after mistake until
An open heart, a centered life, a contrite spirit
A humble way, a borne cross, complete surrender.
Complete surrender.

Emmanuel comes.

Comes soon.
Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel
Emmanuel come.

Thank you to Lisa Miller and her wonderful helpers for coordinating Trinity's SHARE PROGRAM site. The SHARE Board in Tampa has opted to end the SHARE PROGRAM in Florida sfter 20 years as of today due to apparent economic difficulties. Once a month for the past seven years Lisa and her crew have woken up at 4AM and made sure that things ran smoothly for the 30 or do families that they served. As a result of the actions of the SHARE Board, thousands of families throughout the state have been affected - and we pray for them and for all who were blessed by this ministry.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The funeral Service
for Elsie Montalchi
will take place at
Trinity Lutheran Church
7150 Pines Blvd
Pembroke Pines, FL 33023
on Monday December 20th 2010 Viewing at 10AM.
Service at 11AM
with a luncheon to follow
in Charter Hall
Christmas Caroling
Christmas Caroling for our shut-ins,
sick, and local VA Home this Sunday.
Pizza from 12:15PM to 1PM, then off we go!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

ELSIE MONTALCHI During our November 2009 Trinity Miami Metrozoo Trip
Our hearts and prayers are with Lisa, Jose, Nicole, Amanda, and Lyze as dear Elsie enters the Kingdom of Heaven this morning. Funeral Service details to follow

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, December 19, 2010:

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16

Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18 (Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 NRSV)

Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

The Gospel for the Sunday before Christmas Eve gives us an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. It's interesting to think about our lectionary, which moves in 3 year cycles and leaves out part of the story each year. This year we read about Joseph; other years, we see the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary and to Elizabeth before her. This week, on Christmas Eve, we'll hear about angels appearing to shepherds.

Notice the responses of these people. They give themselves to God's will. They don't protest, the way that some of our spiritual ancestors did (think of Moses, who tried and tried to get God to go away).

It's important to note that God always gives us a choice, although God can be notoriously insistent. Joseph could have gone on with his plans to divorce Mary quietly; notice his unwillingness to shame her publicly, as would have been his right in a patriarchal society. But the angel appears to give Joseph a fuller picture, and Joseph submits to God's will. Likewise, Mary could have said, "Mother of the Messiah? Forget it. I just want a normal kid." But she didn't.

During this time of year, I often wonder how many times I've turned down God. Does God call me to a higher purpose? Am I living my life in a way that is most consistent with what God envisions for me?

The readings for this time of year reminds us to stay alert and watchful. This time of year, when the corporate consumer machine is cranked into high gear, when so many of us sink into depression, when the world has so many demands, it's important to remember that God's plan for the world is very different than your average CEO's vision. It's important to remember that we are people of God, and that allegiance should be first.

What does this have to do with Joseph? Consider the story again, and what it means for us modern people. Maybe you're like Joseph, and you're overly worried about what people will think about you and your actions. The Gospel for this Sunday reminds us that following God may require us to abandon the judgments of the world and accept God's judgment.

Notice that Joseph is the only one in the story who receives an angel visitation in a dream. What is the meaning of this fact? Perhaps this route was the only way that God could reach Joseph. Many of us are so used to having our yearnings mocked or unanswered that they go deep underground, only to bubble up in dreams and visions. Convenient for us, since we can discount things more easily when they appear in our dreams.

God will take many routes to remind us of our role in the divine drama. Many of us won't notice God's efforts; we're too busy being so busy. This time of year reminds us to slow down, to contemplate, to pay attention.

Monday, December 13, 2010


1. Where have you seen God working this week?
During our time as a Homeless Shelter
In the gift of a mower for Trinity
Working in our church.
God kept my family happy, healthy, and safe.
Answered my prayers for a special need.
The Second Floor Area of Memorial Regional Hospital
In my mediation – justice prevailed!
Helped me complete necessary work inside and outside of the house.

2. Where Did God use someone else to bless you this week (whether they knew it or not)?
As I served at the homeless shelter
At church.
A friend from church who blessed me and reminded me that God will be there and that I need to keep trusting in him.
I feel blessed every time someone smiles at me.
The Staff members at the Cafeteria at Memorial Pembroke Hospital.
Someone returned my wife’s handbag at SAM’s CLUB to customer service “untouched.”

3. Where did God use you to bless someone else this week?
At church.
Blessing a family during Homeless Shelter Week.
I made a donation to a worthy cause.
At Memorial Pembroke Hospital.
In helping someone to buy their condo.
At our weekly prayer reunion.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


All Services feature communion and candle lighting

5PM Indoor/Outdoor Service (finishes with an outdoor candle lit singing of “Silent Night”)

7:30PM Family Service with the Intergenerational Drama “Peace in Bethlehem” and Trinity’s Young Person’s Choir and Hand Chimes

11PM Cantata Service with Trinity’s Choir
SERMON ON Matthew 11:2-11

December 12 2010

Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?

Margaret lost her husband to a painful disease. They were both in their early 50’s and had a lot of living left to do. And then he was gone. And God had a lot to answer for that day and in the days to follow. In her pain her prayers became a brief litany, a few words repeated over and over again “Why God? Why?” And God did not speak. Prayers were not answered with heavenly sent words of comfort and assurance. She heard nothing and her faith withered. She just could not believe in God anymore. She busied herself in volunteer work which gave her purpose and made her happy.

We know other just like Margaret, don’t we? .

I have some friends, we'll call them Mark and Linda, who are fed up with the church. The Jesus that they had come to know in church wasn't someone with whom they could relate. That Jesus seemed so exclusive they said. So judgmental. How could Jesus claim to be the way, the truth and life – what about all of the other religions in the world? These and other questions bother them a lot. Still, they tried to make a go of the church of their childhood after they got married, but it didn’t work. So after a while they decided to shop around and to see what others had to say. They are on a quest for truth and the end of that quest is not yet in sight.

It is likely that we know others just like Mark and Linda, too.

Disciples came from John to Jesus:
Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?

There are an awful lot of people out there like Margaret who have had their faith overwhelmed by the difficulties of life and choose to find meaning and purpose in things that they do. Good things. Helpful things – things that make them feel alive and have a sense of purpose. My friends, Mark and Linda, who are suspicious of the churches of their parents are hardly unique in today's world, either.

Disciples came from John to Jesus:
Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?

There are many, many people who believe that the jury is still out on whether or not Jesus is the expected one – they way, the truth, and the life.
In this respect, things haven’t changed much in 2,000 years.
Jesus was not the only one running around 1st century Palestine claiming to be the Son of God.
He was not the only man in Judea with followers.
He was not the only one who claimed to be the Messiah.

John, in prison for speaking the blunt truth and soon to be beheaded, had heard of Jesus' marvelous deeds and so he sent his disciples to ask Jesus the most important of questions:

Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?

Think about this: What would you tell all of the Margarets in the world searching for comfort and purpose in the midst of their grief? When you befriend the Mark and Linda's in the world and they share their skepticism, what would you offer them? How would you respond?

While we are asking questions perhaps we should consider: Are you comfortable enough in your own belief to share it with conviction? With honesty? With humility?
Margaret and Mark and Linda: You may not know them, but you know many like them. They may even have been you at some point in your life.
What would you tell them? And how would you tell them?

Jesus suggests that John's disciples go and tell John what they see and hear:
The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them.

Tell John, Jesus says, what you see and hear.

And what they will be reporting back to John is not just the miraculous and blessed work of Jesus – In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus has just send out the 12 disciples to preach the good news, to heal the sick, to raise the dead, to cleanse those with leprosy, and to drive out demons. The work of the kingdom is not just the exclusive domain of Jesus – but instead Jesus has given authority to his disciples to continue the work of the kingdom.

What do we see and hear?
Where has Christ been at work in our life or in the life of those we know?
How has Christ changed us? Challenged us? Healed us?
How does our faith in Christ give our life meaning? Hope against all hope? A promise that will not be taken away?
What do we see and hear?
How has Christ been at work in our life and our world?
And in our journey of faith where have the challenges been? Doubts and confusions? The awes and wonders?
Can we go tell the Margarets and Marks and Lindas of this world? Can we put our faith and the experience of our faith into words? Into words, for them?

I might tell them of a woman we'll call Ruth, who was dying of cancer, and knew it. She lay there in the hospital with no hair and sunken eyes, and jaundiced skin, and was bleeding internally day after day. Did she curse God? No. Did she rail against the unfairness that she should die so young with a husband and a house full of children? No. She just held my hand and told me that she knew where she was going. It was in God's hands and she was God's child. God would take care of her. She was at peace.

Her strong faith as she lay there unrecognizable on the hospital bed gave witness to me of a strength of faith that I could not imagine possible – the faith of the martyrs of old – the faith of saints that I had only read about. But here was a saint showing me such faith. And my faith paled by comparison.

I might tell them of the time that the doctors thought one of our children had leukemia - of the numbing car ride to the pediatric oncology unit of Hershey Medical Center. Of how we never thought to pray. Of how powerless we felt before God. Of how it felt to have no power, no control, no ability to do anything to change the circumstances in which we found ourselves. Of how one volunteer became Christ for us, tending to our screaming child while we collapsed into tears during the bone marrow biopsy, never judging us. Not once. When we were weak, she was strong. When we had no faith, she had faith enough for us.

I might tell them that I have few answers to their hardest questions. That I cannot argue them to faith. That I can only tell them of the promise to which I cling and the stories that fill my life in which God has walked. Stories that might help them see what I struggle at times to see, but know in my heart, in faith, to be true.

Will you join with your Christian brothers and sisters in telling Margaret, and Mark and Linda and anyone else that you encounter who are searching for the truth
"what you hear and see?"
Come let us tell them how Christ has been at work in our world!
How we were lost and now are found. How we were blind, but now we see.
How we struggle to believe and will always struggle like them to have faith and keep the faith, but with the certainty that the one who was to come has come, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Will you, could you, tell them that?
Would you, if you knew and you do that their very lives depended upon it?

presented by Trinity Lutheran and Living Faith Lutheran at the PEMBRBROKE PINES SNOWFEST
SATURDAY DEC 11th 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

The times for SNOWFEST (and thus our CHRISTMAS KARAOKE BOOTH) are different this year - sorry for the last minute time adjsutment. The Event runs from 2PM to 6PM and our booth should be near the clock tower (at Pembroke Pines City Center 10300 Pines Blvd.) Set up is at 11:30AM. The event is free, but it costs $4 for access to the snow for residents and $6 for non-residents. Pastor Keith has a limited number of FREE passes - on a first come, first served basis - find him at the booth. 
We need volunteers to greet people and to help people sign in; to help them with karaoke (using the microphones and so forth) and handing out candy canes. PLEASE JOIN US!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, December 12, 2010:

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10

Psalm: Psalm 146:4-9 (Psalm 146:5-10 NRSV)

Psalm (Alt.): Luke 1:47-55 (Luke 1:46b-55 NRSV)

Second Reading: James 5:7-10

Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

Here again, in today's Gospel, Jesus reminds us of the new social order--the first will be last, the last will be first. Since many of us in first world churches would be categorized as "the first," this edict bears some contemplation. What do we do if we find ourselves in positions of power? Are we supposed to walk away from that?

Well, yes, in a sense, we are. Again and again, the Bible reminds us that we find God on the margins of respectable society. Again and again, we see that God lives with the poor and the oppressed. Nowhere is that message more visible to Christians than in the story of the birth of Jesus.

We get so dazzled by the angels and the wise men that we forget some of the basic elements of the story. In the time of great Roman power, God doesn't appear in Rome. No, God chooses to take on human form in a remote Roman outpost. In our current day, it would be as if the baby Jesus was born on Guam or the Maldives. Most of us couldn't locate those islands on a globe; we'd be surprised to hear that the Messiah came again and chose to be born so far away from the most important world capitals, like Washington D.C. and London and Moscow.

God came to live amongst one of the most marginalized groups in the Roman empire--the only people lower on the social totem pole would have been captives of certain wars and slaves. Most Romans would have seen Palestinian Jews as weird and warped, those people who limited themselves to one god. Not sophisticated at all.

God chose marginalized young people to be parents of God. Did God choose to be born in the palace of Herod? No. We don't hear about Joseph as a landowner, which means that his family couldn't have been much lower on the totem pole, unless they were the Palestinian equivalent of sharecroppers.

And finally, there's the part of the story we remember--the manger. God couldn't even get a room at the inn.

That's why, again and again, Jesus tells us to keep watch. God appears in forms that we don't always recognize. God appears in places where we wouldn't expect to find the Divine. Jesus reminds us again and again that there's always hope in a broken world. God might perform the kind of miracles that don't interest us at first. The Palestinian Jews wanted a warrior Messiah to liberate them from Rome. Instead they got someone who healed the sick and told them to be mindful of their spiritual lives so that they didn't lose their souls.

Many of us experience something similar today. We want something different from God. God has different desires for us than our desires for our lives. We ask for signs and miracles, and when we get them, we sigh and say, "That's not what I meant. I wanted them in a different form." We turn away.

The John the Baptists of the world remind us to turn back again. Repent. Turn back. Forswear our foolish ways. Go out to meet God. Your salvation is at hand.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Sunday Jan 16th  - Special congregational meeting after each service for the purpose of voting on Trinity's church council's recommendation to move the budget vote to the June Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting and designate the fall for an annual stewardship campaign. More information will be mailed out shortly along with a financial status update.

Friday January 28th - First Quarterly Trinity Ministry Leader's Dinner and Roundtable for all those at Trinity who lead/coordinate a ministry. Information and Invitations to follow after the New Year.

Sunday Jan 30th - Winter Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting following the second service. With Council Elections on the Agenda.

Saturday Feb 12th - Vow Renewal Dinner at Chez Spencer (The Parsonage)
Sunday Feb 13th - Wedding Vow Renewal during Worship.

1. Where have you seen God working this week?
At Feeding the homeless
At Gingerbread Night
At Workday
At the Salvation Army
In the goose bumps appearing while watching a video about people in a food court singing Hallelujah.
In God’s overflowing blessings.
In the glory of the early morning fog & sunlight
In making me well –thank you God!
Within my family!
With the extremely pleasant South Florida weather and the airplane writing in the sky” God Loves U!”
Our gingerbread gathering!

2. Where Did God use someone else to bless you this week (whether they knew it or not)?
We had a loving church family to decorate gingerbread cookies and gather with one another
Friends ready to provide transportation
Feeding the homeless in Ft Lauderdale.
At church.
By providing a ride.
In answered prayers.
At the gingerbread event – the smiles on everyone’s face showed then felt the same way then produced double helping of blessings for me.
God used my church family to bless me – fellowship during the gingerbread function is what I needed.
Went to brother-in-law’s church for a Christmas Cantata where he, wife, and one daughter participated.

3. Where did God use you to bless someone else this week?
It was the first time that I became comfortable enough in feeding the homeless that I was able to have a conversation and connect with guests.
At coffee hour after worship.
In meeting a need.
I am watching a neighbor’s house while they are away.
My family and friends.
Cooked for my mother-in-law and sister-in-law at our home.
Bringing gingerbread cookies to friends.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The eight dozen gingerbread men are well in progress - hope you plan on joining us Friday night at 6:30PM for the potluck or 7PM for the start of activities and bring a friend or two!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Dough is setting - soon the BAKING BEGINS!

Potluck at 6:30PM Decorating at 7PM
We will be working in two shifts - there will be an optional class on how to make Applesauce Walnut Bread led by Pastor Keith while you are waiting to decorate gingerbread (free samples!)

And lease take the time to sign the Christmas cards for our shut-ins and the Veteran's Home.
**please bring cans or tubs of icing to share and a decorating element (sprinkles, candies, etc)**

All Welcome! Bring your Friends!
Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Second Reading: Romans 15:4-13

Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

Today's Gospel continues with the theme of watching, waiting, and listening for the call. Today it's John the Baptist who tells us of what's to come.

The real, living Jesus was not who John's listeners expected. Many of them probably thought that John was talking about himself; after all, first century Palestine was full of self-proclaimed Messiahs, and I expect many of them spoke of themselves in the third person telling (or warning) of the deeds they would do. Many of John's listeners probably had no idea what he was talking about; humans seem incapable of thinking in terms of metaphor and symbol for very long. Many of them probably expected a Messiah that would come in a form they'd recognize: a warrior to save them from the Romans, a temple reformer to get rid of corrupt priests, or maybe someone who would lead them into the wilderness to set up a new community.

Are we not the same way? How many of us read the Bible literally, expecting specific answers to social or political issues that would have been unheard of thousands of years ago when the Scriptures were written? How many of us expect our salvation to come in the tired old ways? We go to church, we sit in our pews, we wait for God to appear, and we go home to take a nap and gear up for our secular week ahead. We scurry through the rat race of our lives, substituting other things for God. We worship at the churches of Capitalism, buying things at the mall or on the Internet, which means we have to work overtime to pay for those things. We wonder why we feel unfulfilled. We overeat or drink or have sex or flick through Internet porn sites, and we wonder why we feel so empty. To try to fill that hole, we do more of the activities that leave us with gaping holes in our Spirit. We hear that voice--maybe it cries or maybe it whispers. It scares us, so we eat some more or flip through ever more cable stations or go to bed early--because we can't deal with the implications.

John warns what happens to those of us who don't listen: "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (verse 12). Some of us don't like this vision of a God with a winnowing fork in hand. How does this mesh with a God of grace and love?

But I'm reminded of the situation I find myself in, when I teach in my English classes. I often have students who have hated English classes in the past, so they don't come to class, they don't do the work, they make no attempt, and so, they fail. Maybe they tell the stories in a familiar narrative that blames me, the teacher. But truth be told, they didn't fail the class because of me. On the contrary, I would have worked with them, I would have helped them, I would have led them out of the valley of failure and despair. But I can only do so much, without a student working with me.

Likewise, God doesn't have to do much winnowing. Our lifestyles are already punishing us. Many of us are already feeling that unquenchable fire.

The good news is that there is time to change our ways. There is still time to "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (verse 3). Advent, traditionally a time for getting ready, is a good time to think ahead. How could we make the next year to be our best spiritual year ever?

Make your goals small and attainable. In horse training language, set your jumps low. Plan for actions that will be ridiculously early. You could start every day with a prayer that God would help you be the light of the world, that God would help you be your best self. You could end the day by thanking God for all the blessings that came your way. Or maybe you want to start each day with a Bible reading. Maybe, when you surf the Internet at work because you are so bored, you could visit some spiritual websites that feed your soul. Maybe you could bring a granola bar to the homeless guy who begs for money at the street corner. Maybe you could make crafts for the craft fair that raises money for charity. Maybe you could write a weekly letter or e-mail to someone you know who is lonely.

Don't try to do all of these things. Just choose one or two. Do your activity for a few months, until it becomes habit, and then adopt another. If you find yourself feeling like you can't meet your spiritual goals, simplify.

In this way, you will be in a much stronger spiritual place a year from now. God will call, and you will hear. God won't have to go to such great lengths to get your attention. Your deepest yearnings, the ones you didn't even know you had, will be filled, as you move towards God--and God moves towards you.

Monday, November 29, 2010


1. Where have you seen God working this week?
In my family.
Our family enjoying Thanksgiving together
My neighbor took my son to school for me.
God reminded me of His many blessings this Thanksgiving
My daughter being such a good sister
Met someone through a friend who is fast becoming a blessing in my life.
From something that I saw on TV
At Memorial Regional Hospital
In the hands of those who prepared Thanksgiving Baskets and who decorated the sanctuary for Advent
By answered prayer
By people praying to Almighty God.
A shoot of new life in a tree where it shouldn’t have been.
At Black Friday sales as people were sharing information about open registers amongst the chaos.
People taking time out of their busy schedules to help others.

2. Where Did God use someone else to bless you this week (whether they knew it or not)?
My Great Nephew
Brother-in-Law helped in the house
A stranger helped me with my car.
The BRACE Advisor took the time to send my daughter a message of encouragement.
My Realtor always being the for me.
D’s parents being such good examples for their son.
Thanksgiving Dinner
I received a rise.
At the Hospital
Our Young Person’s Choir who blessed us with a beautiful song and smiling faces on Sunday.
Providing a free turkey
The unshakeable faith that J. had that God would heal him.
My mother being here to help out with my son.

3. Where did God use you to bless someone else this week?
My son.
In helping someone.
Spending time with my mom and grandma!
Gave extra money at Publix so an elderly lady could buy the rest of her groceries because she was waiting for her end of the month social security check.
I gave a co-worker good advice and encouragement.
Help with preparations for Thanksgiving Dinner
Invited international students over for Thanksgiving Dinner
At home.
I cleaned my mom’s kitchen on Sunday so she could rest.
In helping my 95 year old neighbor
Sharing my turkey with others who were in need.
Allowing me to be able to assist our young people to share their gifts of song with the congregation.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Matthew 24:36–44

We have entered new season in the church year.
Not of Black Fridays and cyber Mondays and Salvation Army Santas and Christmas trees – but for us it is a time of “already but not yet.”
Already, but not yet. We prepare for the coming of the Christ child at Christmas even as we live into the expectation that Christ has come and has promised to come again.

In Advent the texts of our worship cycle reflect these two themes:
Texts of the “already-ness” of Christ – often using the powerful and metaphoric style of the apocalyptic. Of the end times: bold images of cosmic upheaval, war, chaos and judgment. And texts of “not yet” foretelling and preparing us for the birth of Christ. Familiar and cherished tales of prophetic angels and promises of children, of Gabriel and Mary and Joseph and Elizabeth.

Already, but not yet - Are you with me so far?
Attending to the “already-ness” of Christ in which you and I live, Jesus speaks out to us today through the words of Mathew’s gospel and wants to help us navigate through these challenging times. And it seems what Christ wants us to know more than anything else is that we as Christians need to live our lives:

Awake, but not afraid.
Ready, but not fearful.

Fear is the currency of this age - it is everywhere subtle and seeping, bold and brash – invisible like the wind, yet in our faces and holding our very lives ransom for the price of our faith. Fear is the currency of this age, manipulating the way we see the world and not just the way we see the world, but how we even choose to live our life.

And to the moneychangers who turn faith into fear, Jesus out-shouts them in a whisper still small voice:
Be awake, but not afraid
Be ready, but not fearful.

It is an unconventional notion, this lack of fearfulness.
Unconventional, but ancient.
Bold, but so biblical that King David himself wrote psalms about it.
Listen to just a few verses:

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;

Did you catch that good news - the kind of news that never grows old, that never makes the front page, but has its happy home in our hearts forever?
The Lord is with us.

We say that all the time – “The Lord be with you….And also with you”
But I wonder if we grasp the full significance of the meaning of the “with-us-ness” of God.
The Lord is with us.
Even death, itself, no longer can claim victory.
There in the silence of death, the grave, the grief, the mourning, the heart rending sadness, there when hope seems farther away, farthest away, there in the silence the power of death finds itself broken. The cross of Jesus claims the victory – and its silence becomes our strength and its silence becomes our voice – a lifetime of alleluias.

And so we proclaim with boldness:
Be awake, but not afraid
Be ready, but not fearful.

To explain Jesus takes us back to the time of Noah
Jesus says that the people in Noah’s day were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage – rather ordinary activities - they knew nothing he said, until the flood came.
For a people with extraordinary good news to share, we can just as easily fall prey to the “People in the Days of Noah Syndrome,” can’t we? For a people with extraordinary good news to share, we, too, can let the routine of life hold sway. Eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage – we do these things, too, all good, even better than good - Personally, I love weddings. But Jesus’ call to be awake and to be ready means that we are called to infuse the ordinary of our lives with the extraordinary hope and promise that we share in him and through him.

Let us recall the words of promise given in our baptism symbolized by a simple lit candle:
“Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven.”
Eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage. Taking the bus, sitting down with your children or grandchildren or neighbors or friends. Over a cup of coffee or café au lait or a piece of pie or Facebook - In the lunchroom or boardroom or classroom or living room - where is our light shining?

I love spending Monday mornings going through the worship slips and reading how folks have experienced God in the past week. How people have either shined the light before others or had that light warm them, cheer them, bless them.

Be awake, but not afraid
Be ready, but not fearful.

To be awake and ready is simply for us to live our lives as children of the light – who have been entrusted with extraordinary good news to share and shine in word and deed before the world.
The Lord be with you…and also with you…amen!

Friday, November 26, 2010

This makes a crisp cookie perfect to hold up under the rigors of decorating.
From an old King Arthur's Flour recipe

This recipe produces a hard, crisp gingerbread, perfect for decorated cookies. To use them as hanging ornaments, use a straw to poke a hole in the top of the cookie before baking and later, after it cools, add a hanging loop.

5 cups unbleached, all purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons cinnamon

2 Tablespoons ginger

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup vegetable shortening

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup molasses (or light or dark corn syrup)

2 eggs

In a large bowl stir together the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and baking soda. Set mixture aside.

In a small sauce pan , melt the shortening, then stir in the sugar and molasses. Pour the tepid mixture over the flour mixture and begin beating. Mix in eggs, beating until everything is thoroughly combined. Divide the dough in half and refrigerate it for at least two hours (or overnight), to mellow the dough. The dough is easier to work with if given a long rest. The cooled dough needs to be taken out of the fridge and allowed to warm at room temperature for a while before attempting to work with it (trust me on this).

Sprinkle a work surface with flour and roll the dough to approx. 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick. Use cutters to cut as many cookies as you can, then gather the scraps together, re-roll them, and cut out more cookies until the dough is gone. Transfer cookies to a parchment lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Always try to maximize the number of cookies you cut at one time because it will get harder and harder to work with the dough each time you re-roll it.

Bake the cookies in a preheated 350 degree oven for approx 15 minutes or until they begin to darken around the edge (more art than science). Your finger should still leave an impression if you press down on them. If you are making them strictly for use as ornaments, longer baking is better – makes them stronger.

Remove cookies from oven and cool them completely on a wire rack before storing them in an air tight container.
6:30PM Potluck
followed by gingerbread decorating
and an optional class on how to make Applesauce Walnut Bread with samples!
**please bring cans or tubs of icing to share and a decorating element (sprinkles, candies, etc)**

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Matthew 5: 13-24

21You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, 'You shall not murder'; and 'whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.' 22But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, 'You fool,' you will be liable to the hell of fire. 23So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

You have two minutes to turn to the person next to you and tell them what Thanksgiving is about for you. Consider completing this sentence. “For me, Thanksgiving is about…” I will call you back when your time is up.

I imagine that some of you suggested to your pew neighbor that at its simplest Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. Thanksgiving = Giving + Thanks.” The pilgrims arrived during the long cold winter of 1620. Half of them died of disease and starvation before the warmth of spring brought new hope in the person of a Native American and escaped slave named Squanto. It was this Native American who introduced them to the local tribe, the Wampanoag, and taught them how to fish, grow corn, extract sap from maple trees, and avoid poisonous plants. The pilgrim’s relationship with Squanto and the Wampanoag saved their lives and without them I would not be here today since an ancestor of mine was one of those Pilgrim survivors. In November of 1621, after a successful corn harvest, Governor Bradford called for a three day banquet of celebration. With sugar supplies low and a lack of ovens, it is doubtful that it featured any pies, which I suppose is why we have been making up for their early absence ever since.

At its simplest, perhaps, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks, but our Gospel text for today suggests that there is nothing simple about giving thanks. Nothing simple at all.

We read:
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.

So, what Jesus is saying is that if you are bringing your gift to the Lord, your thanksgiving for all that God has so graciously entrusted to you: your offering of yourself, your relationships, your time, your resources, your prayer, your praise, your life – just stop. Stop right there. Stop and think. Stop and reflect. Stop and consider:

Where is brokenness manifested in relationships in my life right now?
Who has offended me? Who has broken fellowship with me?
Where is brokenness manifested in relationships in my life right now?

The word for the work of mending broken relationships is reconciliation.
And God thinks that this work of reconciliation is so important that after God says STOP and think about the brokenness found in our relationships, God then says “GO!” Go and do the holy work of reconciliation. GO and come back when it is done.

Mathew 18 acknowledges that we are not called to whitewash the sin against us, not ignore the sin against us done by others, but rather to work for reconciliation in those broken relationships. It calls us to work at it; to give it every opportunity through our efforts. It does not guarantee that effort broken relationship will be mended despite our best efforts.

So how important is this work of reconciliation for our life and ministry as Christians?
Paul explains it in the 5th Chapter of Second Corinthians this way:

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.

We see that God reconciled the world – all of creation – and obviously that includes people like you and me – to Himself in and through Jesus Christ. So we are a new creation – and given the sacred and holy task by God to continue that work of reconciliation in the world through the words and deeds that make up our everyday lives. In Christ, God has radically altered our relationships with one another. For us it is no longer about friends and enemies and “frenemies” and haters and supporters, rather it is about something wonderful, extraordinary, radical, unbelievable:

Listen again to Jesus – this time in John 13: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

So how is it even possible? How can we as new creations called in love to be ambassadors of reconciliation do this holy work when so often our strongest impulse is to dismiss from our lives those who have broken relationship with us? We must acknowledge that there are circumstances where the work of reconciliation must take into account issues such as personal safety and the possibility for further abuse physically, emotionally, or spiritually. However, there is a real fear that the FACEBOOK notion of just unfriending someone and moving on might just be seeping into our way of thinking about all broken relationships in our lives. Where do we find the strength, the patience, the wisdom, the wherewithal to act faithfully in this? To be followers of Jesus in this? To be reconcilers and not haters?

We must constantly remind ourselves that being new creations unleashes the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit to work in and through our lives. The power of the Holy Spirit is the power of creation and salvation – that power will accomplish God’s purposes in the world and so there is no “impossible” to hold us back anymore. Gone is the line of thinking that says “I do not need them I have God,” because here is Jesus saying if we want to put Jesus first in our life and honor Jesus then we need to be about this work of reconciliation. It is a call from Jesus to us for us to build a community of love and reconciliation - The very community that Jesus embodied for us through his life, death, and resurrection.

In the vows of my ordination I am called to lead you in building that community of love and reconciliation here at Trinity. We hold ourselves mutually accountable in this shared work of faith. It is time to place the building of such a community at the core of our purpose and the center of our work together.

Monday, November 22, 2010

At First Lutheran, Fort Lauderdale
Contact Nancy Berger for more information

Begins DECEMBER 8th
Contact Lisa Miller for more information
Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines
Following the service we will share pie and coffee in the fellowship hall.
A special "Thanks" to everyone who contributed a shoe box to help a child this Christmas somewhere in the world! Over 20 boxes were collected and delivered from Trinity!
Special Event
Read the info below -
if interested please inform
Pastor Keith ASAP!!!!!

November 22, 2010

Greetings from ELCA World Hunger!
We are sponsoring a free leadership training, "Ethics of Eating," for ELCA Region 9 ((Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Southeastern Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean). Please share this invitation with your congregation and network.

The event takes place Thursday, January 27 through Sunday, January 30, 2011, in Ft. Myers Beach, Fla. We will lodge at the Christian Retreat Center of Ft. Myers Beach (www.christianretreatcenter.org/) and engage these issues at a variety of locations, including ECHO Farms (www.echonet.org/). It is open to congregational and campus leaders from Region 9. At this event, we’ll gather a diverse group of 15 – 20 people to discuss the justice and lifestyle issues that arise from the interconnections between what we eat and the food distribution and production system in this country. Additional information is attached (please see below) and on the Web at www.elca.org/hunger/ethicsofeating.

Applications will be approved on a rolling basis starting on December 1, 2010, until openings are filled. If you have any questions about the event itself or would like an application, please contact Mary Delasin, coordinator of the event (mzdelasin@yahoo.com, 727-479-2914).
ELCA World Hunger “Ethics of Eating” Region 9 Leadership Training, Ft. Myers Beach, Florida

What: ELCA World Hunger “Ethics of Eating” Region 9 Leadership Training. ELCA World Hunger is underwriting the cost of participation. More information and the application available at www.elca.org/hunger/ethicsofeating.

When: Thursday, January 27 through Sunday, January 30, 2011, in Ft. Myers Beach, Florida

Who: Open to ELCA Members in Region 9: Virginia (9A), North Carolina (9B), South Carolina (9C), Southeastern -- Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee (9D), Florida-Bahamas (9E), Caribbean -- Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands (9F).

To Apply: For an application, please contact Mary Delasin, coordinator of the event (mzdelasin@yahoo.com, 727-479-2914).

Due Date: Applications will be approved on a rolling basis beginning on December 1, 2010, until all the openings are filled.

Are you concerned about the way what you eat and the way we produce food in this country impact the environment, those who are hungry and those who work in food production? Do you want to explore these issues through workshops and conversations with farmers and activists? Then you may be interested in the upcoming January 27-30, 2011, leadership training on the ethics of eating sponsored by ELCA World Hunger. This event is for those who want to explore these issues and to share what they learn with their congregation, campus, community or synod.

The issues surrounding ethics and eating will be explored from a theological perspective: how should we eat such that it is just and healthy for human beings and the environment? We will ask this question with respect to urban, local, organic and conventional farming, and their relation to hunger, food worker rights and the environment. We will brainstorm about how what we learn should inform the work of the church, particularly with respect to organizing, fundraising, education and the lifestyle of members of the church. Afterward, each participant is expected to host an event of their choice in their local area.

We hope each participant will:
Have increased capacity to advocate for a just and sustainable food system.
Implement a project, action or activity as a follow up to this event.
Subsequently participate in the Hunger Leaders Network and potentially, our online community.

Questions guiding the event planning:
What are a few theological frames for thinking about eating in a way that is just and healthy for human beings and the environment?
How is food produced and distributed in this country? What is the role of urban, local, organic and conventional farming in this system?
What are some local & regional issues for farmers and farm workers?
How do these different ways of distributing food locally, nationally and globally impact: a) hunger in urban and rural areas; b) the environment and climate change; and c) worker justice?
How should we eat such that it is just, healthy and sustainable for humanity and the environment?
What are facets of individual, synodical and congregational advocacy for policies that would enable everyone to eat this way?
We in ELCA World Hunger are excited about this event. The event will include local farmers, farm workers, food production workers, consumers, and actors in food, hunger and environmental justice networks. We will visit farms and urban agriculture programs.

1. Where have you seen God working this week?
My Family.
By helping me to be calm and lean on Him during a crisis.
In the amazing care of nurses in the ICU.
In the unbelievable faith that J. had that God would heal him.
In discussion Group

2. Where Did God use someone else to bless you this week (whether they knew it or not?)
Through a loving and always welcoming congregation that offers me comfort and joy under many circumstances
In Blessing a friend and her son and blessing me this week
He placed an angel to help me when the Canadian Police responded to me call when I thought my sister who lives alone was dead.
B. blessed me with a special meal

3. Where did God use you to bless someone else this week?
In blessing my children.
Reaching out to others who needed someone to talk to.
In praying with other families of patients in critical condition in ICU sharing words of hope and encouragement.
I prayed for a friend who is now doing better
Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, November 28, 2010:

First Reading: Isaiah 2:1-5

Psalm: Psalm 122

Second Reading: Romans 13:11-14

Gospel: Matthew 24:36-44

So, here we are preparing for Christmas, and we get this apocalyptic Gospel. You might have been expecting a passage about the angel Gabriel visiting Mary. You might have thought you'd hear some prophecy about the coming of the Messiah. You would have even settled for those strange passages from John which talk about the word becoming flesh and moving into the neighborhood (as Eugene Patterson paraphrases it in his The Message paraphrase).

But no, we get these verses that have inspired any number of end of the world scenarios, the most recent being the Left Behind series. Two men working in a field, one taken and one left behind. Two women grinding grain, one taken and one left behind. Jesus refers to earlier times when people should have been more alert: imagine if you had been one of Noah's colleagues, eating and drinking and making merry, having no idea of what's about to fall on your head.

Again and again, our holy scriptures remind us that we need to stay alert and watchful. Again and again, our holy scriptures warn us that God is coming and that God won't always take on the shape we expect. Sometimes, our spiritual ancestors are lucky, as Abraham was, when he invited the strangers into his tent, and found out he was having dinner with God. Sometimes our ancestors aren't as lucky. Think of all those contemporaries of Jesus, many of them good, observant Jews, who were on the lookout for a different kind of Messiah. They wanted someone to deliver them from oppressive Roman rule. What did they get? A baby in a manger.

We think that we wouldn't have been so stupid. We would have recognized the Divine, as Christ moved among us.

But think of our own lives. Many of us are so busy that we can't even adopt traditional practices that move us closer to God, practices like fixed-hour prayer or tithing. Would we really recognize God in our lives, especially if God took on an unexpected form?

We might adopt another ancient spiritual practice for our Advent discipline. We usually think of Lent as the season of discipline and denial, but Advent cries out for a similar rigor, especially in our culture that goes into hyper-consumer-overdrive this time of year. This year, practice seeing the Divine in difficult people. It's easy to look at a little baby and to see God looking back out of that face. But for a few weeks, practice treating difficult people as if they are the embodiment of God. Your evil boss? Your difficult teenager? The homeless guy at the corner who won't take no for an answer when he asks for money? Your sad mother-in-law? How might things change if we treat these difficult people as the embodiment of God, as Christ incarnate?

Our changed approach might change their difficult behavior. However, let's be realistic. It probably won't change their behavior permanently. But hopefully, if we approach everyone as God moving in the world, our attitudes will change. But even if they don't, this adjustment in perspective is good training. Again and again, Christ warns us to stay alert and aware. We live in a culture that wants us numbed (from too much TV, too much spending, too much drinking, too much working, too much, too much, too much). We need to adopt practices that train us towards a different way.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


It's not too late to share the good news and make a child in need of hope, smile.

This Sunday, November 21st, after Sunday School, we will be driving to the drop off center to donate our filled shoeboxes.
Please place any donations on the yellow desk in Charter Hall.
For additional information, please visit Samaritan's Purse-Operation Christmas Child at
http://www.samaritanspurse.org/ or Nancy Berger at (954) 473-5484.
Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The Readings for Sunday, November 21, 2010:

First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6

First Reading (Semi-cont.): Jeremiah 23:1-6

Psalm: Psalm 46

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Luke 1:68-79

Second Reading: Colossians 1:11-20

Gospel: Luke 23:33-43

Today we celebrate Christ the King Sunday, which is the last day of our liturgical calendar. The readings are familiar: we're back in the land of Good Friday, with our king crucified on a cross. Perhaps not the image we'd expect for Christ the King Sunday, but those of us who have been reading through this cycle (either for the first time or for the umpteenth time) will be familiar with these strange twists of imagery, with the upheaval of all our expectations.

I have always loved the cyclical nature of the lectionary, with its readings that loop around and remind us that all of life is cyclical. When I'm having a bad day (or week or month), it's important to remember that everything can change. When I'm having a good day (or week or month), it's important to express profound gratitude and to try not to dread the next downturn too much. With every downturn comes an upturn. The life of Christ shows us this.

Christ's life shows us that being king requires something different for a believer. It's not the worldly experience of kings, who are venerated and obeyed. Being a Christian king requires humbling ourselves and thinking of others before we think of ourselves. But our rewards are great. If we could emulate Christ's behavior, we'd have a wonderful community here on earth, and whatever we might experience in the afterlife would just be icing on the cake. We'd have already had a taste of heaven right here on earth.

Maybe we feel grumpy as the holiday season approaches. Maybe we've had a season of sorrow, and we can't quite manage to feel festive. Maybe we're tired of humbling ourselves and we'd like someone to humble themselves for us.

Well, here's some good news. Someone already has. Maybe in this season of thankfulness, we can concentrate on our good fortune, even if we don't feel it. We're alive to see the sunrise and the sunset, some of the best shows on earth, and they're free! Even if we don't have as much money as we'd like, there's always someone who is in worse shape (and if we give some of our money away, we won't feel as constricted about money. Trust me. If you're feeling tight and pinched, now is the time to return to tithing). If we are having trouble keeping everything in perspective, maybe it's time to volunteer at a food bank or an animal shelter--or if we're not into organizational activities, we could do our part to pick up litter. We could smile at the janitorial staff. We could thank them for cleaning the communal bathrooms.

If we start working on our spirit of gratitude, the gift of generosity often follows. If we pray for those who need our prayers, our hearts start to open. If we work on forgiveness, our spirit soars. And soon we realize what it means to celebrate Christ the King Sunday.