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...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday's sermon may be found in the sermon box at the top of theis BLOG or at this youtube address

Saturday, July 28, 2012

 Ephesians 3:14–21 July 29 2012

Twelve years ago this coming week we began our work together in Christ. On my first Sunday, at my first Adult education class held in the August heat under the tree in the square in front of Charter Hall I asked this single question: What is the church?

What is the church?

I think, if we are willing to admit it, most people have a picture of the ideal church in their minds, the way we want our church to be. What it is supposed to be about; how it acts or doesn’t act. What it considers most important and the things it doesn’t. The ideal church, we picture it, and we may build that church in our mind’s eye with the programs and ministries that we care most deeply about; the type of music; the flow and particulars of the service; and the type of pastor and the particulars of his or her sermons and how the pastor chooses to spend their time and what type of leader they should be. We build in our mind a church; we may all have our own ideas about what it looks like, feels like, this thing that the Apostle Paul calls the Body of Christ, the church.

So what is the church?

As I confront my own thoughts about what a church should look like, feel like, live like, being the Body of the Christ, I cannot help but to be drawn to this passage from Ephesians and to be humbled, cut to the heart, not as a pastor or just as a pastor, but as a Christian, as a person of faith. Simultaneously amazed, astounded, joyful, yet guilty, naggingly guilty and called to repentance, humbly finding myself once again where I always should be, but am not, clinging ever more tightly to Jesus, casting off my will to submerge myself into his will, to stop pretending that my will is his will, pretending that our thoughts are of one mind in most things, which they are certainly not.

What is the church?
Do we come to worship and live and work as the body of Christ, the church based upon our own image of what church should be or what God intends. Our thoughts or God’s thoughts? Our will or God’s will? The answer to that question will always live in the tension between trust and doubt seeking the path of humility.

And for a Christian doubt is not a weakness, but a strength and humility is not a weakness but a strength and the struggle between our will and God’s will is a way of life. And so my life and your life and the life of all Christians is one, as Luther puts it, is one of daily repentance, of turning from our ways, to God’s ways. Of seeking forgiveness and receiving the assurance of grace.

Do you struggle as I struggle?
To rely not upon our own understanding but seeking in humility what God is calling us to be, calling us to do.

So what is the church?
A place of struggle and conversation about struggle: Our will and God’s will. Confession, Repentance, forgiveness, and grace. These are churchy words, but they are also life and death and life for us and for all.
For God meets us here and so it must always be about life and death and life.
Trust and hope. Dwelling in the promise.

God meets us and God acts.
God meets us and God gives.
God, in and through Christ Jesus, longs to give to us and give to us and give to us so that through the Holy Spirit we may in fullness “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God.

So we all come as we are, broken, yet blessed, with histories and mysteries, with needs and thanksgivings, certain and uncertain about life, the universe and everything. We come with expectations born of our image of what the church should be, should do and then God meets us here and our expectations look rather small, wouldn’t you say? Our expectations look flat-out bewildering! Consider all of the expectations that you brought with you to church this morning and then hear Paul’s prayer for us, the prayer that Paul prays believing, trusting that God can answer it for the Ephesians, for us. Paul doesn’t wish it was possible, rather he expects that God can and will answer it: “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.”

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.

That love, its height, its depth, its breadth, is so huge, so amazing, so unexpected, some complete, so different than we imagine it to be that it, that as Paul tells us, it surpasses knowledge, itself. Our brains cannot conceive of it in its fullness.

What is the church?
The Body of Christ, the people.
But also a place.
A place of struggle and conversation about struggle
Where God meets us and acts and meets us and gives.
A place where we may be filled with all the fullness of God, where we may be rooted and grounded in love.

A place where we may be filled with all the fullness of God, where we may be rooted and grounded in love.
And if we find ourselves as so many do of bringing a different set of expectations with us to church, of low expectations for church, the cure is amazingly simple, isn’t it?

We need to raise them, our expectations. We need to raise our expectations, tenfold, a hundred fold. For our God is not a God of low expectations but of power. Of immeasurable love, of daring to dwell in our hearts, of longing to fill us with all the fullness of God. May we conclude as the Apostle Paul has that God is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, July 29, 2012:

2 Kings 4:42-44

Psalm 145:10-19 (Psalm 145:10-18 NRSV)

You open wide your hand and satisfy the needs of every living creature. (Ps. 145:17)

Ephesians 3:14-21

John 6:1-21

In today's Gospel, we see Jesus feed the multitude from a tiny offering of two fish and five barley loaves. It's important to remember where this story comes chronologically in Jesus' ministry. He's already gotten quite a reputation as a worker of miracles. Indeed, that's why the crowds won't leave him alone; they can tell that Jesus is something special. And the disciples have witnessed the power of Jesus time and time again.

I mention this fact because I'm always surprised when the disciples act the way that humans do--the way that you and I do. Jesus tests them, by asking how they will buy enough bread for everyone.

Of course, there's not enough money in their communal pockets to buy bread. Jesus knows this. One of the persistent messages that Christ gives us is that to rely on money to solve problems is to put our faith in the wrong system.

Notice that the disciples don't come up with any grand plan. They've watched Jesus work miracle after miracle--they've seen this with their own eyes!--and it never occurs to them to dream big. No, they still live in a world where it takes money to feed people.

Some theologians accuse the disciples of having a scarcity consciousness--a state of mind that's all too familiar to people of our time. It's the fear of running out of what we need, and so we don't share. We don't share, and our hearts become shriveled and tiny, as opposed to the way they would blossom if we trusted God more and shared our stuff. Who amongst us doesn't have more than enough stuff to share? We're drowning in possessions.

Perhaps they are stunted in this way. But again, I think they're just not used to the power that has come to dwell with them. They're rooted in the world and they forget what they're capable of.

Jesus has a different vision. He takes that small offering and feeds the throng of people. He takes something that seems so insignificant and this act grows into one of his most famous miracles.

Our rational brains can't accept this. Most of us could eat two fishes and five loaves all by ourselves--how could Jesus feed everyone?

Not only does Jesus feed everyone, but they have leftovers, 12 baskets full! It’s one of the many times that Jesus shows everyone that the world is full of abundance. Jesus offers us more wine than we can drink (John 2, the first miracle in this Gospel), more bread than we can eat.

It’s so easy to forget what God is capable of. We don't dare to dream big dreams, for fear that we'll be disappointed. We worry that if we share our resources, we won’t have enough for ourselves and our families. We don’t dare imagine that there’s enough for everyone.

We also forget how much God desires to be an active part of our lives--and we forget how active God is in the world. All our scriptures remind us of how God yearns for communion with us--and what wondrous transformations happen when humans go to meet God. Not just personal transformations. It's very well and good if you become a better person, more compassionate and more generous. But God has a much grander vision, one that doesn't stop with our individual lives.

How can you be part of that Kingdom? Christ didn't come to get us ready for Heaven, although many church traditions focus on that part of his mission. Christ came to show us how the Kingdom can be right here, among us, here and now. We can begin by sharing our basic resources and trusting that God will multiply our generosity.

Are we people who believe in miracles or not?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

the BLOOD MOBILE will be here!

Give the Gift of Life! Each visit you can save 3-4 lives!!!
What an awesome gift to give and it only takes about 15 minutes. They will be here from 8:30-1:00pm with t-shirts as thank you gift!
For all children, youth (and adults, too!) returning to school this fall - join Trinity Lutheran for worship on Sunday, August 19th and start your new academic year or semester off with a prayer of blessing! It will take place at our 10AM "Worship Together" service in Charter Hall and our 11AM worship service in the sanctuary. Cupcake-a-palooza during coffee hour after each service to "sweeten" the deal!
SUNDAY AUGUST 12th. 10AM Worship Together service and 11AM worship service
Each summer before the beginning of a new academic year, Trinity Lutheran offers a time of prayer and blessing for teachers and school support staff from the surrounding community preparing to return to classrooms, offices and cafferterias. We hope to see you all on the 12th! We do ask that you let us know that you are planning to attend as we like to send you home with a small goody bag and hey, everyone needs a little more chocolate in their lives : )

A little help for a friend....
Mark your calendars for SUN, AUG 5th at 12:15pm. Our Chili Cook-off is going to be a fundraiser for own Ferdi, who does so much for so many... now it is our turn to help him. We need people to bring CHILI, CORNBREAD AND DESSERTS! We will have celebrity judges!!! Ribbons for Best Chili - first, second and third place; Ribbons for best cornbread and best dessert! Suggested donation of $5 for adults and $3 for children. Bring friends!
JULY 29th 11AM Trinity will offer its monthly healing service during worship followed by healthy coffee hour!
This Sunday will mark the 6th week of our brand new "Worship Together" service! Join us Sundays at 10AM in Charter Hall with a blend of worship, song, large group and small group, American Sign Language, Bible time and prayer time, interactive Bible skits, the occasional puppet, and food!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Medititation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, July 22, 2012:

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

The Gospel for this Sunday bookmarks two of Jesus' most famous miracles (but they're left out of the Gospel reading; we've already done them, or we'll do them later): the feeding of the great throng with just five loaves and two fishes, and Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm. As we ponder the Gospel for this week, it's good to remember that Jesus has been busy.

Notice that not even Jesus can stay busy all the time. The first part of the Gospel has Jesus trying to get away to a lonely place, and the last part of the Gospel shows the amazing things that Jesus accomplishes after he prays. These passages give us insight into our own care. Like Jesus and the disciples, many of us are living such busy lives that we don't even have time to eat.

The work of building God's Kingdom in our fallen world will wear us to a husk; it’s true of Christ, and it’s true for us. Notice that in these passages, Jesus doesn't find renewal in the Synagogue--he finds renewal in retreating and praying.

Most of us live such busy lives that we have built no time for retreats. Even on vacation, many of us are still working. We're still plugged in by way of our cell phones and laptops. And most of us don't take vacations with the aim of spiritual renewal, which is a shame. Instead, we spend obscene amounts of money going to theme parks or once-in-a-lifetime destinations--and then we complain that we can't afford a week-end retreat. We don't take working vacations, where we help the poor or clean up the environment. Instead we take vacations that leave us frazzled and exhausted--we come home needing a vacation to recover from our vacation.

Luckily, this Gospel also shows us a simpler way to recharge. It's one that you can do anywhere, at any time. Notice that Jesus prays. I find this interesting, because Jesus is one person we might expect not to pray. After all, isn't he part of a triune God? Is he praying to himself? Why would he need to pray? Isn't God even more intimately connected to him, and therefore more tuned in to what he needs?

Let's leave the Trinitarian questions aside for now. Look again at our objections to Jesus praying and consider your own prayer life, or lack of it. Aren't those the same objections we're most likely to use? Why pray? After all, God should know what we need, so why do we need to check in?

Prayer serves many purposes, but the main purpose is to give us an intimacy with God. Our friendships don't survive long silences. Likewise, our relationship with God thrives when we make time to talk to God.

Some of us aren't good at talking. Some of us feel a bit cowed at the idea of talking to God (some of us can't even talk to our loved ones, so it shouldn't surprise us that we can't talk to God). But you know what to do. Even if you can't use your own words, Jesus has foreseen that possibility and given you words to say: we know these words as the Lord's Prayer.

One reason Jesus came to us was to model the life we're to emulate. And if Jesus prays, we should take our cue from him. Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus praying perhaps more than any other spiritual practice we'll called upon to do. We don’t see Jesus tithe, and we rarely see him going to weekly services. Instead, his prayers undergird his spiritual life and make it possible for him to do the works of charity and healing that he does.

The ministry of Jesus has much to teach us, and one of the most important lessons is that we can't take care of others when we're not taking care of ourselves. Jesus prays, Jesus takes retreats, Jesus shares meals with friends--these are the activities that leave him ready to care for the masses.

Our mission is the same as Christ's. Like Jesus, we're surrounded by hordes of hungry people. Broken people need us (and perhaps we feel pursued by them).

Yet we will not be able to complete our mission if we don't practice basic self-care. The message of today's Gospel is that it's O.K. to take time to pray. It's O.K. to retreat. It's O.K. to eat a slow meal with friends.

Not only is it O.K., it's essential. Christ, the incarnation of God on earth, needed to take a break. So do we all.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Alathea's Kickstarter Campaign: You Can Help

Many of us have loved the music of the folk music duo Alathea.  They've been at our church several times.  Perhaps you even bought a CD or two.

Now the group is taking advantage of modern technology.  They've launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their new CD.  It's a much quicker way of raising the needed funds.

You'll find many incentives beyond the CD when you pledge.  Maybe you'd like a jar of blueberry jam?  Maybe you'd like a basket of goodies--there are plenty to choose from.  For the right pledge amount, you could even be part of recording the CD.

Go here to explore your options. But you've only got until 11:22 a.m. on August 16 to pledge.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, July 15, 2012:

Amos 7:7-15

Psalm 85:8-13

Ephesians 1:3-14

Mark 6:14-29

The Gospel lessons of both last week and this week should dispel any aspirations of glory and fame that we have as Christians. It's an idea that's almost antithetical in our society.

Our society has become one that worships fame and publicity. Now young people don't want to just earn a lot of money--they want to do it in a way that brings them fame. In her fascinating book, Generation Me, Jean M. Twenge recounts interviewing hundreds of adolescents, each one of whom was convinced that they had brilliant careers ahead of them in major league sports or entertainment.

The Gospel for last Sunday and this one define success differently than modern people would. In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out two by two. They're sent out with no supplies, no money, and no real plan. And the Gospel for this Sunday paints an even starker truth. John the Baptist, someone who has remained true to his mission, is killed by King Herod. And why? A mix of motives, but the Gospel mentions King Herod wanting to impress a young woman and Herod's unwillingness to hear the truth and to admit the truth.

So, John the Baptist loses his head. Literally. Not a comforting vision for those of us who struggle to live our faith day by day. This reward is what we can expect?

Jesus never promises us an easy time, at least not the kind of easy time the world dangles in front of us when it attempts to seduce us. We see this even in Christian communities. We feel like failures when our churches aren't megachurches, when we're not the Rick Warrens of our communities. We feel like we're not a success when we have to struggle to find the money to pay our church’s bills (or worse, when we have to cut staff and programs).

But if we look at the portrait of the earliest church, we'll see that it wasn't the megachurch model. The early church builds on an idea of cells, tiny little house churches of committed Christians. Some days I shake my head in awe at what a small group of people can accomplish.

And then I laugh at my own lack of memory. My History and Sociology classes years ago taught me the exact same thing: the most fascinating change is often created by small, committed bands of people. And the most successful changes are often made by people who are grounded and rooted in some kind of larger faith vision.

Yet the Gospel for this Sunday reminds us that success may not be at the end of our individual stories. We could commit ourselves to Christ’s mission only to find ourselves wasting away in prison, a victim of a corrupt society.

It’s a risk worth taking. We know how sustaining our faith can be and how important it is to build a faith community. We know how larger faith communities can change the world for the better.

We know how to do this community building. We meet on a regular basis. We share a meal. We look out for each other and pray for each other. We take care of the less fortunate. We invite and welcome the help of the Holy Spirit. And if we're lucky, our efforts transform the larger society, which is always in need of our kind of transforming.

The larger society needs our gifts. It might not always welcome them, but it needs them.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, July 8, 2012:

First Reading: Ezekiel 2:1-5

First Reading (Semi-cont.): 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10

Psalm: Psalm 123

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 48

Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:2-10

Gospel: Mark 6:1-13

What an intriguing Gospel reading for this Sunday: Jesus rejected by people who had known him since he was little and who knew his family. Perhaps you can relate.

The first part of this Gospel (in the reaction of the people of Christ’s own country) gives us a clear warning about the risks we face when we have expectations of God that might be a bit too firm. We're not really open to God or God's hopes and plans for us when we think we know what God should be up to in the world. The society of Jesus' time had very definite expectations of what the Messiah would look like and what he would do--and Jesus was not that person. How many people ignored God, right there in their midst, because they were looking for someone or something else?

This Gospel also warns us about fame and acclaim. If you've been alive any length of time, you know that the world grants fame to an interesting variety of people. But once again, if we expect God to act like a star, we're setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Much of the Bible shows us God appearing as a stranger, as a baby in a manger, as an itinerant preacher, as a crucified prisoner. We hear God speaking in dreams, in a burning bush, a whisper here, a glimmering there. If we’re waiting for angel choirs in the sky to give us a clear message from the Divine, we may wait a very long time. We need to learn to listen for God in other settings.

And the end of the Gospel has a warning for us, as well. If we become believers because we think we'll be famous or we'll make lots of money or we'll have political influence--well, we're likely to be disappointed. The Gospel of Jesus is not about those things that the world considers important--no matter what those Prosperity Gospel folks would have you believe.

If we think of Jesus as building a church, the model that we see in a Gospel might point us in a different direction than the path that many of us have been treading

Jesus sends out his disciples two by two, with no possessions and not much of a plan. Notice what he does not do--he doesn't make them create a mission statement or a business plan. He doesn't have them raise money for buildings and programs. And he doesn't expect them to work fruitlessly--they are allowed to shake the dust off of their feet and move on if a community rejects them.

What would our lives look like, if we followed this model? What would our lives look like if we trusted God more than our retirement plans? Where are we stuck, needing to shake dust off of our feet and move on? Where might God lead us, if we can just learn to trust and learn to move?