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...

Monday, April 30, 2012

During our service yesterday for autism awareness, the song sung by Janean Baumal and  backed by Barb Gilson on piano and Piper on bass comes from singer-song writer Susan Werner who graciously sent us the chords. Thanks Susan!
Here is Susan's version of her song:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trinity Lutheran described in one word by worshippers sharing their word on their worship slips and the staff accumulating such words this spring and placing the results into a "Wordle"


Sunday's Autism Sermon is now up at http://youtu.be/1uLkDdQFzSI


We read this morning:

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

 Little children from the neighborhood playing out in the yard. They run. Play Tag. The Big Wheel.  One child runs along with the crowd. Trying to keep up. Trying to follow the play. The rules of the game. But can’t.  And kids notice when someone can’t fit in and at best they ignore him or her, in this case him, and when the child will not be ignored they find an adult to whom they can bring their complaint. They want to borrow his toys.  They like the toys. They are even willing to play with his younger brother in order to use the toys, but not him.  Not the different kid. Not the one who struggles with following the rules of their play. Not him.

Their parents are there, too, watching from the comfort of their outdoor folding chairs and drinks, from behind sunglasses that shade their eyes. Watching, but not seeing. Not catching what is going on. How their children are shunning the different kid. Running away from him. Telling him to go away. To go home. But could he please leave his toys. Kids being kids, one supposes and parents being parents, except for those who have eyes to see, to capture in their hearts what is taking place. As the afternoon wore on the parents watched their children play and saw what they chose to see and ignored the rest and would not see the tears that followed from that different child’s father’s aching heart .

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

For families affected by autism, among their greatest needs is love and compassion rather than judgment.  With 1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls diagnosed with autism, it is more prevalent then children diagnosed with diabetes, AIDS, cancer, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or Down syndrome, combined.  Families of autistic children have to face in the eyes and expressions and gestures and words of so many people complete disbelief and the judgment of poor parenting as many children with mild forms of autism such as Aspergers Syndrome can be very high functioning at times.  Such parents in the midst of the chaos of coming to terms with their child’s needs, behaviors, prognosis, therapies, medications, educational possibilities, even suffering the pain of watching their child be declared an outcast by their peers, must deal with constant pubic scrutiny and all too many people ready to suggest: “Can’t you just control your child?”

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

 Imagine an autistic child trying to fit in and play soccer in a league in which everybody plays and there is no score keeping except every other parent wants their child to play longer than your child because their child doesn’t wander off to chase butterflies or pause to catch the moon rising over the horizon. And every other parent keeps score and sometimes silently and sometimes not so silently blames your child for the theoretical loss, if the score was actually kept in some place other than in their own mind.

 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

The Good Shepherd is willing to leave the 99 sheep for the sake of the one.  The one that has wandered off. The Good Shepherd apparently isn’t too concerned with what the 99 think about that. There is no debate, no opinion poll. The Good Shepherd knows the value of the missing sheep. The Good Shepherd is willing to lay down his life for the sake of that one sheep just as he is willing to lay down his life for the others. Certainly families impacted by autism can find themselves just like that one lost sheep in unfamiliar places, alone and fearful.  They are not the only ones – think of all the ways in which we become isolated. Lost. Alone.  Think about the ways in which age and disease and pain and suffering and brokenness and even pride can isolate us and then we become the one that the Good Shepherd will leave the 99 to seek us out.   
And what does the psalmist say? From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord!

But the writer of First John reminds us so eloquently this morning that one of the things that the Lord has done is to embody true self-giving love for us and invites us to do the same. To love in truth and action.  That is love that enfolds from grace. That is love that transforms. That is love that just captures a moment and transforms it.

 What does the Psalmist say?
The Psalmist invites us to allow the Lord to lead us.
To allow the Lord to lead us.

 We’ll never know, unless we ask, if the struggles we see, parent to child, at the grocery store, at the park, outside of school, anywhere, are the struggles of a parent with an autistic child for whom that small slice of life that we have been privileged to see represents their lives 24/7;  A life lived so intentionally in the present because the future more often than not carries with it as much fear as hope, as much anxiety as promise.  And as we seek to embody the good news in truth and action,  and we find ourselves among people here and there who are struggling, the Lord calls us forward to them not for our judgment and not for our fixing as if we can fix such things, but for our compassion and even more so, our love. Because in the end, whether it is autism or illness or hunger or pain or exhaustion or a thousand other reasons, we are called to respond in love, the very love of Jesus, the Good Shepherd who knows us and calls us by name and who willingly lays down his life for the sake of his sheep, for the sake of all.

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

 Those who suffer have experienced enough disdain and judgment, enough loneliness and rejection, enough hard-heartedness and coldness on the part of others. The Good Shepherd teaches us a different way, by his own example, placing himself among the lost, the broken, the outcast, the rejected, and offering them himself. In our own selfless loving, should we do no less? AMEN!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

LAST CALL for photos of those we love with Autism for our "Faces of Autism" display for this Sunday's "Remembering Those With Autism Service." Photos need to be emailed to Ro Mileto ASAP rmileto@yahoo.com

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, April 29, 2012:

Acts 4:5-12

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. (Ps. 23:1)

1 John 3:16-24

John 10:11-18

Here's another familiar set of images in today's Gospel, ones that are so familiar that we neglect to see the strangeness. But read the passage again and notice how many times Jesus says he's the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. At first, knowing the outcome of Jesus' life story as we do, we might find that a comforting thought.

But imagine that you're a little lamb with a scary wolf nearby. Maybe the good shepherd kills the wolf while laying down his life for you. But does that leave you protected from the other wolves that are out there? No. A dead shepherd is no use for further protection. We don't raise much in the way of livestock these days (most of us), so we forget how strange this metaphor would have seemed to an audience of people who knew shepherds (and thanks to Pastor Jan Setzler, who led Bible Study at the excellent Lutheridge Create in Me retreat several years ago, who pointed out the oddness in this metaphor--the first time I'd ever thought about that angle).

The people of Jesus’ time who heard him speak in this mystical way would have been more puzzled than comforted. I suspect that would have been their usual reaction to him. His parables are familiar to us, so we’ve lost sight of their strangeness. Two thousand years ago, people would have said, “What good is a dead shepherd?”

They might have been more like me. I want a shepherd who will remind me to come out of the rain. I want a shepherd who will tilt my head back down so that I don’t drown in the rain because I’m too stupid not to inhale the rain. I want a shepherd who will gather the flock together and kill the predators with a skillful shot from a sling. I want a shepherd who leads us to safe pastures.

And the good news of the Gospels is that we have such a shepherd.

These verses serve to remind us that the world we live in is a scary one. You may think you can make it on your own, but you can't. Notice that Jesus doesn't compare us to cats or horses--no, we're sheep, some of the dumbest animals ever domesticated. You may be able to make it on your own up to a point--but where will that point be?

No, we need the safety of the flock, the safety of a shepherd. We need someone who will train us to recognize his voice. Now if we could only slow down and quiet our minds enough to hear our shepherd’s voice.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

SUNDAY APRIL 29th at our 8AM and 10:45AM worship services. 

Why will we explore the intersection of faith and Autism?
Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys. Chances are someone you know has autism or is the parent of an autistic child. Our Sunday worship, for what is known as Good Shepherd Sunday, help guide us as we or those we love face such challenges.

Consider the opening words of confession for this coming Sunday:
Faithful and just God,
we confess that we are captive to doubt and fear,
bound by the ways that lead to death.
We have not loved our sisters and brothers
as you have first loved us.
Forgive us, God of mercy.
Let your Holy Spirit work in us
to change our lives and make us new,
that we may know the abundant life
given in Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.

It is not uncommon for the parents of autistic children to experience doubt and fear, loneliness and isolation. Are we equipped as people of faith to offer in words and deeds the hope and strength we claim as people of God?

Consider the words of our Prayer of the Day:
God of all power, you called from death our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep. Send us as shepherds to rescue the lost, to heal the injured, and to feed one another with knowledge and understanding; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

And let us all say "AMEN!"

For more information on Autism please seehttp://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html
or visit Autism Speaks

Last Sunday we held a Justice Service which gave us an opportunity to hear about faith and justice in song (thanks Trinity Worship Choir for leading!), through Scripture, and from some personal sharing. A shout-out in gratitude to Ron and Megan for sharing a bit of their own struggles and experiences with justice!

Some people asked for a bit more detail on what BOLD Justice, a community-based grassroots justice organization of which Trinity is an active participant, will be asking county officials for on Thursday Evening (you have that date on for calendar, right?)

So here's what BOLD Justice is seeking:

There is an instructional method called direct instruction (reading mastery) that has been proven to show significant improvement in reading levels and overall student performance in schools using this method.  This has been demonstrated in other urban school districts such as Houston and Baltimore.  In Baltimore, first graders went from a mean national percentile in reading of 54.5 to an 82.  In Houston, where the method has been used for over 20 years, 86 percent of all third grade kids were meeting or exceeding the state standards in reading in 2010, and this is in a school where more than 90 percent of kids qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Direct instruction had been used in some Broward Schools many years ago, and it reportedly raised student performance significantly, but the methods were discarded when a new administration took charge of the schools.

Trinity's Justice leadership saw a 60 Minutes segment that portrayed the use of direct instruction in Houston, and it was quite compelling.  In addition, a 2009 synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement found that direct instruction was the only method of instruction that consistently showed strong positive effects with students of different ability levels and ages and with different subject matter.  This was one of a number of studies cited that found direct instruction to be an effective teaching method.

72 percent of Broward County elementary schools are not meeting state standards.  Of these, there are 28 at the lowest end of the scale in which less than 55 percent of their third graders are reading at grade level.

So here is the proposed solution to ensure that all students are reading at grad level by the time they leave third grade:

Since research has shown that the direct instruction (reading mastery) program, when implemented properly with adequate training and support for teachers, is the most effedctive educational strategy in underperforming schools, BOLD Justice is asking Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie to implement a direct instruction pilot project in 5 of the 28 lowest performing elementary schools.  Superintendent Runcie has met at least twice with representatives from BOLD Justice and has agreed to attend on Thursday to respond to the BOLD Justice request.

A powerful turnout will send an important message to Superintendent Runcie and other county leaders that we want this pilot project implemented! That we are tired of failure. That we want students who read to learn, succeed, and graduate and who do not fail to graduate high school because early reading struggles could not be overcome.

In turn, students will graduate rather than drop out.  And they will continue on to further education or training or be ready to perform well in first-time jobs.

And that brings me to the second thing that BOLD Justice is seeking on Thursday.  There are about 84,000 people in Broward County looking for jobs, and there are some major county contracts projected to create new jobs, many of them permanent.  These include county courthouse expansion, possible expansion of Port Everglades, and numerous other projects.  One of the things the county considers in determining who gets these contracts is to make sure that small businesses get their fair share of the contracts.  The county aims to give 25 percent of all contracts to small businesses.  However, in 2011, less than 11 percent of county contracts went to small businesses.  In addition, the county didn't track the amount of jobs that were created by these projects, nor did they make job creation a major consideration when awarding contracts.

BOLD Justice met with leaders and experts on economic development in Broward County, and determined that greater emphasis needs to be placed on considering small businesses and job creation when awarding county contracts.  We believe that what BOLD Justice is pushing county leaders to do is to reach their own goal of awarding 25 percent of all contracts to small business, to emphasize job creation, and to make sure that a significant percentage of those new jobs created go to Broward County residents.  I'm not sure what Broward County officials may be on hand to hear and respond to these requests on Thursday.

So, again, if people wish to walk together humbly with our God in pursuit of justice for those who are going without good educational and job opportunities, they should join us at the BOLD Justice Nehemiah Action this Thursday, April 26, at the War Memorial Auditorium.  Registration begins at 6:45 p.m., and the call to order is at 7:30 p.m.

War Memorial Auditorium is located at 800 Northeast 8th St. in Fort Lauderdale.  From Sunrise Blvd., go south on US 1/Federal Highway, then it is a short distance to NE 8th Street.  Turn east on NE 8th St. and it will lead straight to the site.  If coming from the south on US 1, cross Broward Blvd. and continue about 9 blocks to NE 8th St., where you will turn east (right) and go straight ahead to War Memorial Auditorium.  Parking is free, but please try to arrive early.

Please encourage fellow members of Trinity, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to attend.  The more who are there, the more likely we are to see progress toward greater opportunity for Broward County citizens.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, April 22, 2012:

First Reading: Acts 3:12-19

Psalm: Psalm 4

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-7

Gospel: Luke 24:36b-48

In this week's Gospel, we have another appearance story, and what an odd story it is. In the post-Resurrection stories, Jesus has taken on supernatural capacities that, with the exception of some of his accomplishments with his miracles, he didn't really demonstrate before his crucifixion. Here, he suddenly appears; a few verses earlier, he has vanished after eating.

The disciples, rooted in the rational world, can't make sense of what they're seeing and hearing. Those of us who spend our secular lives surrounded by people who are disdainful of the mystical might find ourselves more sympathetic to their plight.

I find myself coming back to verse 41, the disciples who “disbelieved for joy.” In Eugene Peterson’s words, it seems too good to be true (The Message version of the Bible).

So many things get in our way of believing in good news: despair, fear of hurt, joy, our commitment to what our senses tell us. Even as the disciples see Jesus standing in front of them, even as they touch him, even as they share a meal together, they can’t believe how lucky they are. They literally will not believe.

How much we are like the disciples, buffeted by bad news, unable to see the Divine standing right there in front of us. How nice it would be to have Jesus there to help us understand all these mysteries: “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures” (Luke 24: 45). So many weeks we have minds that have snapped shut. I find myself envious of these disciples who are there at the beginning, with open minds and joyful hearts and a soul that finally understands.

I remind myself that I have an advantage that these disciples didn’t have. I know that this Good News will be spread far and wide. I know how the world has received it at various times. I have seen regular humans who are able to transform their corners of the world with an ability that seems almost superhuman—but it is a power that comes from Christ.

I want to be part of that community. I want to be a resurrection human, one of those lights who doesn’t let the drumbeat of bad news drown out the Good News of Jesus.

Jesus is still here, reminding us of his scars and of the capacity to overcome those things that scar us. Jesus is still here, waiting to share a meal with us. Jesus is still here, reminding us that we are witnesses and co-creators of the Kingdom, that we are called to a far greater destiny than our tiny imaginations can envision.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Trinity Yoga
with Diane - 9:30AM - 11AM Thursdays beginning April 19th in the Trinity Sanctuary. Wear comfy clothes and bring a towel
Sermon audio from the April 15, 2012 sermon is now posted at the top of the BLOG as well as on the Trinity FB page and on youtube at http://youtu.be/cGF0iHIMJNE
A "Wordle" based upon the accumlated one-word descriptions of Trinity collected from our worship slips through April 15, 2012
Leading the singing of the HALLELUJAH CHORUS!