WORSHIP WITH US!
8:30AM, 9:45AM in the hall, or 11AM

Location:
7150 Pines Blvd
Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
(954) 989-1903
tlcppines@gmail.com


Join Us For Worship!

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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Meditation on This Sunday's Narrative Lectionary

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, February 3, 2013:


Luke 7:1-17

Psalm 119:105-107 or 119:107

In today's reading, we see two miracles of Jesus, both involving healing. In this post, Mark G. Vitalis Hoffman has created an interesting chart that looks at the two miracles side by side. It's worth a look.

The miracle of the healing of the Roman centurion's slave shows a Roman who knows how the system should work. He makes his appeal for the life of his slave through proper channels. Jesus responds.

The miracle of the healing of the widow's son shows a woman of low social status. Jesus' healing shows that once again he's flouting the purity code when he touches the bed of the dead son.

Both miracles show the compassion of Jesus. We don't have to pray in just the right way to get God's attention. We don't have to go through a certain pattern of behaviors to win the favor of Jesus.

I'm always a bit wary of texts like today's. I worry about the people who have prayed for healing, but haven't gotten the outcome for which they yearned. We can say, "God is the ultimate physician." It's important to remember how rarely God subverts the physical laws of the world that God created--when that happens, as C. S. Lewis tells us (Bishop Gordy cited Lewis in a Bible study at the Create in Me retreat at Lutheridge in 2012; I don't have the direct reference).

And it never happens because we've prayed the right prayer, because we've contributed to the proper social justice funds, because we've behaved the right way as opposed to the wrong way. We can't control God that way, and it's vital that we remember that we cannot.

Luckily, we worship a compassionate God, one who wants to be with us in good times and bad. We worship a compassionate God who will touch us, despite our impurity, and we are healed, often in ways we cannot fully understand.

And if our cells continue to die, as cells do, if our body wears out, as bodies do--the narrative of Jesus tells us the larger story. Death is never the last word. It may be the outcome we wanted to avoid. But resurrection will come.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Justice Ministry Update

We are making strides towards this year's BOLD Justice Nehemiah Action on March 18th.  PLEASE mark your calendars!  It's so important that we show our support at this year's action because we are asking that justice be done in the areas of elementary school reading and unemployment in Broward County. 

Elementary School Reading Issue
Facts about the problem:
  • 72% of Broward County elementary schools are below state standard in reading
  • There are 63 elementary schools in Broward County with less than half of their kids passing with a 3 or better on the FCAT
  • 44% of kids in 3rd grade in Broward County cannot read at grade level
  • Students who cannot read are 4 times more likely to not graduate high school
  • 1 in every 10 young male high school dropouts are in jail or juvenile detention
  • 1 in 4 black male high school drop outs are in prison
The Solution
  • Research has shown Direct Instruction (a reading mastery program), when implemented properly with adequate training and support, to be the most effective educational strategy in under-performing schools
  • Superintendent Runcie agreed to implement Direct Instruction in one school at last year's action.  That one school has been picked and training began this month. 
  • At this year's action we will be asking him to implement Direct Instruction into additional schools
Unemployment Issue
Facts about the problem:
  • During recessionary period, Broward County lost 8.3% of its total jobs
  • There are 77,000 people in Broward County who are unemployed
  • 53% of unemployed workers have been unable to find a job for more than 6 months
  • 29% more families fell below poverty line between 2007 and 2010
  • There was a 59% increase in child poverty last year and 16% of Broward County's total population is food insecure
The Solution
  • Local hiring can help
  • San Francisco's new local hiring ordinance is estimated to create an additional 335 jobs each year
  • Local hiring agreements have been proven to provide high quality, high skill jobs to traditionally hard to hire populations
  • At this year's action we will be asking the county commissioners to sign a local hiring ordinance
We are inviting you to be a part of this important work of justice in our community.  God commands us to do justice in Micah 6:8 (which we say every Sunday during our services) and we owe it to our elementary school children to let them know that we have their backs, that they're not forgotten.  We also owe it to our brothers and sisters who are unemployed and want to work to provide for their families.  Please join us at 12:15pm in Munson Mueller Hall on Sunday, February 3rd for a network meeting to find out more information about the upcoming action and how you can help improve people's lives in Broward County.  Please RSVP so we can plan accordingly. 

Thank you for your support,
Janean 
 
The ELECTION RESULTS
for the 2013 COUNCIL ELECTIONS 
 
Elected:
 
Kristin Berkey-Abbott
Tina Hines
Eileen Manella
Denise Payne
Ron Mccoy
Kayla Frey
Alex Berger

Continuing to Serve:
Richie Cannezzaro
Reed Talbert
Earline LaCroix
Pastor Keith

THANK YOU to all who were nominated!

THANK YOU to our Nominations Committee:
Earline LaCroix, Janean Baumal, Elizabeth Furey, Pastor Keith, and to those who served during the 2012 Council session:
Harry Furey, President
Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Vice President   
Earline LaCroix, Secretary
Denise Payne
Richie Cannezzaro 
Nadira Fauder/Ron McCoy
Alex Berger 
Elizabeth Furey 
Devika Jeboo
Reed Talbert  
Pastor Keith  
And to our Treasurer, Carl Berkey-Abbott and to our Associate Treasurer, Marilyn Cannezzaro
And to our Financial Secretary, Dottie Cerrone
THANK YOU!
TRINITY 2012: The Movie!
2012 "PHOTO MOVIE" that Pastor Keith presented last Sunday can be viewed at http://youtu.be/Tn2uA1MVIC4
During the month of January we have provided food to 13 families and are running low on a few items.

- mac and cheese
- canned ravioli , spagetti etc.
- canned chicken
- oatmeal
- cereal
- jelly
- canned fruits

THANK YOU so much for your continued support of this ministry

Friday, January 25, 2013

Meditation on This Sunday's Narrative Lectionary Reading

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The Narrative Lectionary Readings for Sunday, January 27, 2013:



Luke 6:1-16

optional reading: Psalm 92 or 92:4


Many people have never met anyone--anyone--who is serious about keeping the Sabbath. Amongst my friends, I'm seen as an oddity for regularly attending church.

Imagine what modern folks would have made of people like my grandmother. My grandmother believed that there should be no work on Sunday. Of course, her idea of what constituted work was curious. My grandfather, a Lutheran pastor, certainly worked for much of Sunday. My grandmother cooked. But there would be no shopping.

I have a lot of memories I'd like to go back through time so that I could do things differently; I remember insisting on washing my car in my grandmother's driveway one gorgeous Sunday afternoon. It upset her more than I realized that it would, and now I regret it.

We tend to see the Pharisees in this story as the bad guys, and indeed, they do seem to be a legalistic bunch. It's important to remember that they thought that by keeping stern adherence to the purity laws they thought they were keeping the people of Israel safe in various ways. Not only that, they thought that the Messiah would not come until the people were pure enough.

It's not their fault that they didn't realize that the Messiah had come already. Many people don't.

When I was young and had a more free-form life, I, too scorned the Pharisees. I'm sure the Gospel writers made them a bit over the top so that we'd be sure to scorn them.

Now I find myself feeling a bit more sympathetic. It's an essential question: what is the Sabbath for?

Some of us would answer that good Christians need to be in church. But that still doesn't answer the question of why we need to be in church. If church is just one more obligation, particularly one we take on because we think we need to be pure, we have a Pharisee mindset more than a Resurrection mindset.

There are many ways to worship God, and I believe God's happy with what makes us happy. There's something to be said for being out in creation, appreciating God's handiwork, for example. Why gather in a building instead of kayaaking in the Atlantic or watching the sun rise across the mountains?

The answers to this question will be as various as the individuals who gather in the building. But we do know, because of the example of Jesus, that our lives will likely work better if we live them in the midst of good community. At it's best, a gathering in a church building is that good community.

In these days when most people I know are living increasingly frantic lives, I find myself thinking about the Sabbath and the best way to keep it. We can dismiss the Pharisees, but it's important to recognize their lessons for us. We don't want to get so rigid that we make our Sabbath one more kind of duty, obligation, and stress.

But we don't want to be so free-form that we forget to insist on the boundaries that a Sabbath observance can give us. God showed us the importance of rest, from the beginning, with the Creation story that ends in rest. Likewise, Jesus retreats periodically to rest.

We can probably do a better job of rest and retreat. Many of us desperately need to do a better job of rest and retreat. Now might be a good time to adopt an additional spiritual practice that allows us to do that. Maybe we want to declare one day each week to be free of Internet distractions. Maybe we want to reserve Sundays only for church and relaxing with friends and family. Maybe we only want to watch wholesome things on our Sabbath day.

It's good to have boundaries. The Sabbath gives us those boundaries.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WEDDING VOW RENEWAL SUNDAY
FEB 10, 2013 at 8AM and 11AM
As a pastor, Wedding Vow Renewal Sunday is always one of the highlights of my year. This year renewals will take place Sunday morning FEB 10th at the 8AM and 11AM services. All are welcome to attend and participate - we just ask that if you will be participating that you let me know by Sunday FEB 3rd. It always amazes me when couples re-commit to their vows - having lived into them for a time - whether it has been a few months or 65+ years. In sickness and in health for richer, for poorer - life has a way of making these words something that binds us and bonds us as husbands and wives. Oh, and good food following the service with a toast to many more years of wedded bliss!
Ever in Christ
Pastor Keith
BEIGNETFEST-A-PALOOZA!

At Trinity Lutheran, "Fat Tuesday" or Mardi Gras will take place a few days early - join us on Sunday February 10th at 9AM or 12:15PM (following the 8AM and 11AM worship services) for freshly made beignets (and coffee, of course!)! We'll throw in a Mardi Gras bead necklace just for fun! Bring friends, appetitites, and a jolly joyous spirit!
ASH WEDNESDAY SERVICES
Wednesday February 13, 2013

7AM Brief Service of Imposition of Ashes
Noon Imposition of Ashes with Holy Communion
6PM-7:30PM Pancecake Supper $3.50 per person/MAX $12 per family
7PM Pre-Service Music by the Trinity Worship Choir
7:30PM Imposition of Ashes with Holy Communion, Readings, Choir, Strings, and Soloists

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Meditation on This Week's Narrative Lectionary

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott


The readings for Sunday, January 20, 2013:


Luke 5:1-11

optional reading: Psalm 90:14-17 or 90:17b


If you were setting up your new ministry--or any other kind of venture--would you choose the men that Jesus chose?

In hindsight, it's easy to say "Of course." But take a minute and consider the story for today.

We see fisherman, and unsuccessful fisherman. In the Palestine of Christ's time, these men wouldn't have been at the bottom of the social ladder, but they'd have been close, viewed as solidly working class or lower. It's hard, heavy work to do this kind of fishing--and dirty work, as there are fish and nets to clean.

These are not men who own land, the kind of men that would have had status. These are not men who have been trained by religious authorities, as we might have expected Jesus to choose for his ministry.

Jesus chooses regular, ordinary people. These are not men with gifts of oratory, not first. These are not the best and the brightest, at least not at first. But Jesus chooses them. In similar ways, Christ still calls us, if we can hear.

There are several powerful messages for us here in this Gospel. We, too, have been offered this invitation. And what are we to make of this invitation? How do we respond? Do we tell others? Do our lives change? Can other people tell that we've been changed?

One of the tasks that God calls us to do is to transform the world we live in, to make the Kingdom of God manifest here on earth. No small task. But God has given us an example of how to do this: Christ's experiences on earth show us the way.

At this point, perhaps you echo John the Baptist, "I am not the Messiah." Perhaps this knowledge that God still invites us to be part of Kingdom building makes you feel tired, instead of excited. You think of the chores you have to do each day, your family responsibilities, the work tasks.

The men in Luke's Gospel were no different. In the previous chapter, Jesus has healed Simon's mother-in-law. These are not young, single men, fishing on a boat to pay for college. Just like you, these men had families and work and lots to accomplish in a day.

But Christ calls, and they respond. Perhaps it's because of the nets that are so full to bursting that they almost sink the boats. Perhaps they realize that on their own, they have empty nets, while with Christ in the boat, they're successful in ways they didn't think they could be.

It's a potent metaphor. Christ wants to join you on the boat. Will you give him a place to teach the world. Christ wants you to try again, when you're convinced that only failure can come from casting down your nets again. Will you follow Christ? Will your nets be empty or full to bursting?

Friday, January 18, 2013

2013 CONGREGATIONAL COUNCIL ELECTIONS

Trinity Congregational Council Elections 2013

This year’s ballot includes five regular council members and two designated youth members (designated youth members serve one year terms). Those names with an asterisk “*”  have been nominated for a second term, while the others have been nominated for their first term. Council members are permitted to serve two consecutive terms only before being required to step away from council for at least one year. All of the regular member terms are three year terms with the exception of Ron McCoy who has been nominated to complete the remaining two years of an unfinished term created when a council member resigned early.

The congregational council appointed a nominating committee consisting of Pastor Keith, Earline LaCroix, Janean Baumal and Elizabeth Furey who met and prayerfully produced a ballot with one name for each available position as has been our practice since 2000. That ballot was approved by Trinity’s congregational council and will be before you on Sunday January 27th.   If there are any nominations from the floor at the 10AM or 11AM service such action would make this a nominating meeting with elections taking place at each service on SUN FEB 3rd instead. Any nominations from the floor at the 8AM service will not impact the date of the elections as the name(s) would be available at later services that morning. By constitutional mandate, there is no absentee or proxy voting permitted. 

 If there are any nominations from the floor it should be noted that nominees from the floor must be (1) present (2) seconded (3) willing to serve and (4) a regular voting member (those “not yet” confirmed youth, associate members and non members are not eligible.)

 
The 2013 Trinity Congregational Council Nominee Ballot And Biographies

Each person was asked to answer the following three questions:

1. How long have you been a part of Trinity and what attracted you to make Trinity your church home?

2. What has brought you the most joy in serving at or through Trinity and/or in the world beyond Trinity?

3. What’s one thing that you would like to share about yourself that most people do not know?

*Alex Berger (youth member)
 I have been a part of Trinity since the day I was born. The reason I stay at Trinity is because of the memory of my grandfather and that he helped but make the church what it is today. I stay so that I can help maintain the church that my grandfather helped make. One of the ministries that brought me great joy at Trinity was the feeding of the hungry program at First Lutheran that was led by my grandmother where I regularly served. One thing most people do not know about me is that I believe that I have a very weak faith and my faith is constantly tested.
 
*Kristin Berkey-Abbott
Carl and I joined Trinity in Dec. 2008, and attended regularly starting in June 2008; I was attracted to the diversity of the congregation and to Trinity's vibrant ministries. I have loved the chance to work for social justice through Trinity programs: the food pantry, dinners at First Lutheran, BOLD Justice. But I've also loved the ability to participate in worship planning and to be part of planning how the worship space should look.

I love apocalyptic literature: let the world as we know it come to a whimpering finish or a smashing end, and I'm in reading/viewing heaven. I've begun to suspect that John the Baptist appeals to me more than I feel he should for this very reason.

Kayla Frey (youth member)
I’ve been a member of Trinity Lutheran Church since 2004 and what attracted me was how it is a small church and we are all like a family. I have had the most joy singing at Trinity and mentoring Apollo Middle School 8th grade students to get ready for High School. Most people don't know that I enjoy to help people and community service.

Tina Hines
I have been part of Trinity since August 2010. Melody and I were looking for a church that we both liked and after a few weeks, we felt like we "belonged" here. It feels like a family. What has brought me the most joy? First, it was the singing (love to sing), but then I found more things. For example, I really love being a big part of our worship together service! I have never attended a church where I wanted to get so involved like I am here - I was content to be anonymous. What don’t people know about me? There's a reason that most people don't know. :-) I attended a performing arts high school, I was going to be a professional ballerina.

 Eileen Manella
Ryan and I joined Trinity in January of 2008. I was looking for a Lutheran church where my child and I could feel accepted without judgment and share the love of God in a positive faith community that supported one another. I knew I was in the right place after a few visits to Trinity. I feel at home at Trinity and that I can join in to serve when my schedule allows and then be forgiven when I can't. The services resonate with me throughout the week helping me and in turn others, through me, out in the world. Most people do not know that I have a dry sense of humor and joke a lot.

Ron McCoy
The McCoy family has been a part of Trinity since the summer of 2006, when we moved here from Ohio. We had looked at churches during the moving process and were drawn to Trinity by its openness to all people and to their inclusion and participation in worship. We especially liked it when the children introduced the Lord’s Prayer. Serving at Trinity and at my work with caregivers and seniors in the community has allowed me to see God at work on a daily basis in the lives of others, in spite of often difficult circumstances and situations. It is a privilege to witness that work and try to be a part of it. One thing that most people don’t know about me: I’m NOT directly related to the McCoys in the Hatfield-McCoy feud, so don’t worry about approaching me. Just don’t steal my pig or try to marry my daughter!

 *Denise Payne
The family and I have been members of Trinity Lutheran since August 8, 1999, and like Trinity we are a close knit family that loves to laugh and have fun. Serving as a Trinity council member has given me the opportunity to be more involved with the church, and it has allow me to learn the logistics of the church, which I call my extended family. My immediate family knows we have to pray together, which helps us stay together and at Trinity, I feel those same connection. What don’t people know about me? I guess it would be without the support of my extended family, being (Trinity Lutheran Church) well; I wouldn’t be as loving and or as caring as I would need to be as a Lutheran. TLC keeps me grounded. In addition, this is my favor bible verse…..Philippines 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens Me...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Meditation on This Sunday's Reading

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The Narrative Lectionary readings for Sunday, January 13, 2013:


Luke 4:14-30

optional reading: Psalm 146 or 146:7b-8


Today we see Jesus beginning his career by reading from Isaiah 61, the text that we had as our primary reading a month ago. This text from Isaiah tells us what the people of God should be doing. If God had a business plan, we could find it here. If God had a mission statement, we could use one of these verses.

The verbs should not be a surprise to the faithful: bring, proclaim, grant, give. The populations that concern God should be familiar too: the afflicted, the captives, the mourners.

Here, in this chapter that Jesus reads, once again we hear God's promise: repair, resurrection, and new life.

So far, so good. But then Jesus goes further and reminds the people that God's promise extends to more than God's chosen people. This message infuriates, and the people rise up against him. It won't be the last time.

We might say this is an inasupicious beginning for the Messiah, but it sets the stage for the ministry of Jesus. God incarnate isn't going to spend time courting favor with the rulers of the land. The focus of Christ's ministry will be the poorest of the poor, the outcast amongst the outcast: the bleeding women, the sick, the tax collectors, and the prostitutes.

Jesus won't announce his presence with a show of weapons and firepower, no matter how much people would prefer that kind of Messiah. Again and again, Jesus will remind us of the true power of the Good News, the liberation of the oppressed.

Think of all the ways you've been feeling oppressed. Think of all the prisons from which you've yearned to be free. Jesus invites us to liberation.

Jesus will also be inviting us to liberate others. There are so many facets of society which conspire to hold us all in chains. How can we be part of the Jubilee time that Jesus proclaims?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

RUMMAGE SALE UPDATE
The RUMMAGE SALE has been moved to Saturday March 2nd 2013 with donations being accepted beginning Sunday FEBRUARY 3rd (left side of the hall  in the designated area please)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

For donations to the Fund to help SAM and DAN. Make the checks payable to "Trinity Lutheran" and write "Sam's fund " in the Memo line and put them in an envelope and mail to Trinity Lutheran Church 7150 Pines Blvd Pembroke Pines FL 33023 and Attention: Marilyn Cannezzaro

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

With SAM been given more flexible time due to the house fire, we are in need of some volunteers to take on the following tasks:
1. To take home the completed worship slips and from them prepare a prayer list (which is emailed out to some people) and summarize the sign ups for the various event/ministries listed (which is then emailed out to some people)

2. Take charge of the worship helper list for 11AM - making sure folks sign up and contacting people to fill in for the openings

3. Help stamp/stuff envelopes with information about the upcoming fundraiser (everything provided)

Please respond here if interested
SAVE THE DATE!
The HELPING SAM AND DAN FUNDRAISER DINNER AND MORE!
Friday February 22nd 2013 At the Elks Lodge #2365 7190 Davie Road Extention
Much More info to follow!
At Elks Lodge #2365
7190 Davie Road Extention


Tickets $15 On sale soon...

Sunday, January 06, 2013

An Update on SAM and DAN
1. Please don't tell SAM to call you if she needs anything. It is thoughtful, but not helpful. We will post needs here - or keep in touch with Earline LaCroix or Ron McCoy. Find a need and take care of it as your heart calls you to.
2. They are working through a lot of damaged stuff at home - but stopping by is just fine (and appreciated) - just call first.
3. Lists of ...needs for the February fundraiser will be posted here and passed around at worship this coming week.
4. Thank you for the outpouring of clothes and shoes for DAN - he is restocked and fine now - you all are awesome!
5. Gift certificates/cards for some restaurants continue to be helpful such as Umbertos Restaurant 1320 N University Dr, Pembroke Pines · (954) 432-5056 or RANCH HOUSE IN HIALEAH 305-821-8200 OR JIMMY'S 305-892-1633 - Jimmy's in North Miami down the street from their house. Or Waffle House.

Friday, January 04, 2013

A quick update on Sam and Dan Newton
First of all thank you to everyone who has reached out to them during this Christmas season. As members of what Martin Luther called the "Priesthood of All Believers" we share in this privilege and responsibility together as one family of faith.

They are currently going through the debris of what was their second story and planning for their future with the options currently available to them as the damage is more substantial than it first appeared.

There will be envelopes in the bulletins the next two Sundays to give folks an opportunity to add to the special account that has been set up to assist them. In addition we are putting together a mailing to go out to our extended Trinity Family and other folks who know Sam and Dan to alert them of the need and provide information on the upcoming Fundraiser currently being planned for February. More information on this event will be forthcoming as the details are available. Funds from these envelopes and the fundraiser will also be added the fund whose sole purpose to assist SAM and DAN.

As a reminder the checks should be made out to "Trinity Lutheran Church" with "SAM'S FUND" in the notes section. Marilyn has printed up special envelopes to assist in this. To avoid confusion, it would be better to hand these envelopes directly to Marilyn rather than placing them with the regular offering or you can also place them in the wicker basket up at the hand chime table With the "SAM'S Fund" sign.

With the holidays there has also been some confusion and misinformation. From this point forward we will be providing more frequent updates as to needs and on the upcoming fundraiser. If you have a question on the status of things please do not hesitate to contact Earline LaCroix or Ron McCoy.

If anyone wants to bring a smile to their faces, a gift card to Umbertos or their favorite restaurant "Jimmy's" could help.

As you might expect, SAM has been given significant flexibility with regards to her hours in the office so please be patient and understanding.

Prayers, a visit, and hugs are also appreciated.
Ever in Christ
Pastor Keith

Meditation on This Sunday's Reading

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, January 6, 2013:


Luke 3:1-22

optional texts: Psalm 51:6-17 or 51:13


John the Baptist often shows up during Advent, either as the baby in Elizabeth's womb who moves when Mary arrives, or as his prophet self in the wilderness who tells people that he's not the Messiah. It's a mantra we would all do well to adapt: "I am not the Messiah. The redemption of the world does not rest on my shoulders."

Of course, if I did go around saying that, John the Baptist might accuse me of being part of the brood of vipers that he castigates in today's reading. It's much too easy to say, "I am not responsible," and then to sit back and do nothing. Today's reading makes clear that doing nothing is not an option.

Here's the good news contained in today's reading: what we must do is not really that hard. Look at verses 10-15 and remember again our task: to share what we have with those who have nothing, to not take more than our share, to deal with people fairly, and to be content. On its surface, it seems so simple--why are these goals so hard for so many people?

Perhaps, as with so many New Year's resolutions, we try to do too much all at once. Maybe we should start small. Here are some possibilities: once a week, buy 10 cans of food for your local food pantry. Once a week, sort through your possessions and give away one thing. Tip 1 or 2% more than you do right now. Eat a meatless meal once a week--and give what you save to an organization like Lutheran World Relief that gives money to people who struggle in developing nations. Put 5 more dollars in the offering plate each week. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

John makes clear what the penalty will be if we do not adjust our trajectory to be more generous people. He talks of axes taken to trees that do not bear good fruit, he talks of winnowing forks, and he talks of chaff being thrown into the fire. We may feel despairing as John assails us again and again with our unworthiness.

The end of the reading gives us more hope. Note that Jesus has God's approval, even before his ministry starts. God does not withhold favor until the job is done. Like John the Baptist, we're often much more harsh with ourselves than God is.

God delights in us, the way that God delights in Jesus at the baptism scene. You already have God's favor--now go out and live like you believe that fact.