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Join Us For Worship!

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meditation for All Saints Sunday

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The All Saints Sunday readings for Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014:

First Reading: Revelation 7:9-17

Psalm: Psalm 34:1-10, 22

Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-3

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

This Sunday we celebrate All Saints Day. Most churches focus on loved ones of the congregation who have died; some churches give special emphasis to members who have died since the last All Saints Day. Some churches will be thinking about the larger collection of saints.

The Gospel reading for today at first seems jarringly out of place. Why are we back to the Sermon on the Mount? But after reading it, we see the connections. These are the behaviors of those whom we traditionally consider saints, people like Mother Theresa. They should be the behaviors of those of us still on earth who consider ourselves to be part of that saintly pantheon.

It's even more interesting to read this Gospel in the light of worldly events. These behaviors are not the ones endorsed by most of the world. Spend a night watching television and contemplate what it says about our culture. We don't see many messages that remind us to be meek, to hunger for justice, to work for peace, to be pure in heart. No, we're supposed to dance with stars, or sing for a panel of harsh judges, or watch dramas about ghastly criminals.

The Lectionary Gospel reading uses bridesmaids and lamps to tell us about the kingdom of God. Half of the bridesmaids keep their lamps ready, while half are careless and bring no oil with them. Here we have another story that reminds us to stay alert and prepared and warns us of the consequences if we don’t.

When we read Gospels like these, many of us might think that we do these things as our admission ticket for Heaven. But some of the more interesting books of theology that I've read lately remind us that Christ didn't come to take us to Heaven. In fact, the concept of Heaven with all our loved ones waiting for us there is relatively new to Christian thought. Christ came to announce that God's plan for redeeming the world had begun. That plan involves our pre-death world, which is not just a place where we wait around until it's our turn to go to Heaven. No, this world is the one that God wants to redeem. Christ comes to invite us to be part of the redemptive plan (if you want to read a book-length treatment of this idea, make N.T.Wright's Surprised by Hope your November reading).

Jesus comes to show us what a God-drenched life would look like. I recently rediscovered this quote by Marcus Borg (from a lecture in Miami that he gave almost 10 years ago) in my notebook: "Jesus is the epiphany of God. He shows us what can be seen of God in a human life. There's much of God that can't be shown in a human life, but Jesus shows what can be seen."

Jesus also comes to give us instructions for how we can join together in the redemption of the world. Think of the Sermon on the Mount as a behavior manual. As you move through your days, view your actions and your thoughts through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount. Do your thoughts and actions support this vision of peace, justice, mercy, and comfort? If not, how can you change to be more in alignment with God's vision of redemption?

We could use this All Saints Day as a reminder that we need to jump start our efforts to act as saints in this world. If that behavior means that we also get to be saints in the next world, swell. But the good news of Jesus is that we don't have to wait until we die to experience redemption. We're already saints. We just need to remember to be about the business of sainthood, and to avoid the behaviors that distract us from our mission.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Theology of the Pumpkin Patch

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

I wrote a blog post about my experience with the pumpkin offload and what that experience shows me about God and God's communities.  Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:

"And then I thought of all those agricultural metaphors, where Jesus says, 'The kingdom of heaven is like ... .' That parable of the seeds and the different types of ground – do we really understand that parable if we’ve never planted anything?"

"Unloading the pumpkins also reminds me of something else that I cherish about church communities: At their best, there is room for everyone. The littlest ones can carry pumpkins, if they want to help that way. Those of us without the strength to carry pumpkins can help sell them."

"As I cradled those pumpkins, which so resemble human heads, I felt a strange tenderness toward them, the tenderness that I imagine God feels toward us all. In some ways, pumpkins are so sturdy and yet so fragile. All it takes is one slip and the pumpkin is rendered useless, a pulpy mess of slime and gunk. And yet, even from that accident could come new life, if one planted the pumpkin seeds. From that one pumpkin, we could grow a whole new patch, life out of death."

Go here to read the complete article:

http://www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Blogs/2014/10/141028-Theology-of-the-pumpkin-patch

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jeremiah 29:13


Search and finding and being found
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/10/jeremiah-2911.html

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

IMMEDIATE PUMPKIN PATCH NEEDS

IMMEDIATE NEED FOR PUMPKIN PATCH HELPERS: Tomorrow (Thursday) 12-2; 2-4; 4-6
Also
(Saturday) 5:30PM - 8PM
Please call Kathy Velez ASAP (954) 478-4395

Thoughts on Reformation Sunday

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

I find it hard to believe that we are back to Reformation Sunday. Perhaps it's because of the weather down here in South Florida: not quite autumnal enough to contemplate the Reformation, Halloween, All Saints', All Souls'--those holidays that come as October turns into November.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Psalm 80:14a, 19


The God who turns and looks and sees...
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/10/psalm-80-14a-19.html

Saturday, October 18, 2014

GOD'S WORK - OUR HANDS PART TWO!




















God's Work - Our Hands PART II
Christus Victor Lutheran Church, Naples Florida choose Trinity Lutheran to be the recipient of their annual Day of Service. Over 30 people (and one dog) drove the 100 miles each way to spent 6 hours working in the gardens, painting doors, accomplish numerous electrical projects, fixing everything from a bad safety light at the parsonage to broken accordion doors in the nursery. A new fountain was installed, electrical light timers adjusted, a half dead, but huge ficus that was leaning dangerously was cut down, several pews were removed from the sanctuary to offer more space to those walkers and wheelchairs, external doors were painted, grass was mowed, a new door lock in the office was installed, old file boxes were sorted, and much more. THANK YOU Pastor Tom Slater and the people of Christus Victor for your service and THAN YOU to Pastor Eduardo and members of his parish who came out to assist with yard work and THANK YOU to all who donated food and water. And THANK YOU to Dany, Vince and Leanna Vega and Earline and Lila and Claire and Ron and Denise and Kymora and everyone else who lent a hand!