Dear Trinity Family,
Our Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton has called for a Day of Mourning for those who have died from the coronavirus, as well the unrest around the world that has followed the death of George Floyd.
Please join me via Zoom, tomorrow evening, June 1, at 7:30 pm by using the link below, for a brief time of prayer, remembrance, and meditation.
And at the end of this email, please see invitation for my new series, Here We Stand, beginning on Wednesday, June 3rd.
Pastor Kern

A Time of Prayer for a Day of Mourning
Monday, June 1, 7:30 pm
Time: Jun 1, 2020 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86955558742
Meeting ID: 869 5555 8742
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Here We Stand – an invitation to conversation on the edge
Beginning Wednesday, June 3, 2020 7:30 pm
Gene Kern is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Time: Jun 3, 2020 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)       
Every week on Wed, until Jul 15, 2020.
Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZMtce6hrj0jGtRNmx9X9pZwcKbvBjJvWSdR/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGvrj0tE9STuRmHRpwEAo_oKPPziCFEjbdvshL9WhgKcjnhNclAJJB1Os7n
Join Zoom Meeting
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Meeting ID: 870 6790 6900 Password: 212002
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Forty days after Easter, always a Thursday,  the festival of Ascension greets us.  Once a major festival of church life, the Day has become largely absent from our worship calendars.  But in this year of pandemic it seems like an appropriate, opportune time to gather (virtually) to celebrate and be spiritually fed by this day of promise, hope, and expectation.
Join the Trinity Family this Thursday at 8 pm (note the time) via zoom from the link below to remember the Ascension of our Lord.

Topic: Trinity Ascension Day Worship
Time: May 21, 2020 08:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84975953535
Meeting ID: 849 7595 3535
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Dial by your location       
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)       
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)       
Meeting ID: 849 7595 3535
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kpiym0z2L

Dear Trinity Family,
Do you remember Martin Luther’s catechetical question?  What does this mean?  He states an article of faith (a commandment, part of the Creed, etc.) and before he offers an explanation he asks, What does this mean?

As an interim pastor, I never work with congregation’s when things are “normal.”  When I enter a community I have to work quickly to try and understand the history, the connections, and the behaviors I see.  I often ask myself, What does this mean?  I look for patterns, influencers, the marginalized, and always with an eye toward what the Spirit might be doing in this place.

In these days of pandemic, I find myself asking the question a lot.  In a season when we might expect turmoil and disintegration, we see just the opposite.  The number of “clicks” we see for the weekly worship videos seems to be outpacing prior, actual worship attendance.  What does this mean?  Giving, so far, is strong.  What does this mean?  Participation in the Sunday adult forum is strong.  The Wednesday story class is equally strong.  What does this mean?  Staff creativity in generating content has blossomed.  What does this mean?  Members are checking in with other members on a regular basis on a wide variety of platforms.  What does this mean?

It seems to me that these things mean that God is lifting up the ministry of Trinity, offering reassurances that the pandemic will not undo the emerging next chapter of congregation life.  You might have noticed a theme I have adopted during this time: Stay connected, Be Encouraging, Remember the Future.  Lately it occurs to me this is exactly what God is doing in our midst.  Our God has stayed close to us, connected to us.  The Holy Spirit has infused our life together with encouragement and hope.  And God has not lost sight of the future that continues to unfold for Trinity, albeit through a time none of us expected.

What do you think?
Blessings,
Pr Kern

Here is the message from Pastor Kern for the Monday of Holy Week, 2020.

Message from Pastor Kern for the Monday of Holy Week, 2020

Thank you for your offering. Your gifts make the ministry of Trinity possible. Electronic giving may be available through your bank or financial institution. Offerings mailed to the church office will be promptly deposited.

Dear Trinity Family,
I hope this Sunday brought you some lightness and joy.  I found the sunshine late today just felt hopeful.
Every day I become more and more aware of just how connected the members of Trinity are to each other, and their neighbors.  It’s such a basic way of being church and it’s encouraging at the same time.
Carol, Angela, and Anita and I are having a good time generating the worship videos and daily contact for you.  We are learning as we go!  But oh how we look forward to the day when the church is filled and we can all be together again.
Remember in your prayers those in the front lines of this pandemic – physicians, nurses, aides, therapists, first responders – may God protect and sustain them.  Remember the sick and suffering among us – those undergoing treatment and those awaiting care.  Remember teachers and school staff about to embark on new ways of teaching and learning.  Remember those who are not able to work and are even now lack the funds to eat, pay rent, etc.  May God bless each and every one.
Pr Kern

The Reformation began 500 years ago as a simple and faithful call for the Church to return to her solid foundation: faith (our only salvation) and the gift of God (grace). This undeserved gift of faith was given to Abraham and Sarah, and it was the gift God extended to all nations in Jesus Christ. But, there are always those, in every age, who want to add conditions to God’s grace.

In the days after the resurrection of Jesus to today, there are those who claimed that God’s gift of faith was not quite free or that it was not for all. In the first years of the Church, St. Paul had a struggle with those who claimed that Gentiles needed to follow all of the rules of Mosaic law to be included in the family of faith. Martin Luther rejected the idea that we could purchase an “indulgence” to receive God’s grace. Søren Kierkegaard challenged Danish Lutherans who thought membership in the state church was their salvation, as did Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Nazi Germany. In our day we challenge those who trust in their own wealth, power, intellect, or decisions to earn God’s grace.

In my younger days, I didn’t believe that there would ever be a resolution to the struggle between the grace/faith alone Lutherans and the grace/works Roman Catholics. In the 1980s I remember being surprised that an old conservative professor of mine was an official Lutheran observer at the 2nd Vatican Council and that he became friends there with a Roman Catholic cardinal. I was surprised that the Roman Catholic cathedral in St. Paul, MN invited the Lutheran St. Olaf Choir to sing the dedicatory concert for the renovation of the building. Then in 1999, I was really surprised that Lutherans and Roman Catholics came to an agreement on Justification by Grace through Faith. Through shared prayer, dialog, and service Lutherans and Roman Catholics have come to understand that faith is God’s free and undeserved gift, which will necessarily result in Christian service (works).

In my years in Pittsburgh I was surprised to become friends with the neighboring Irish Catholic priest. His counsel and comfort extended after my father died will always be cherished. In Maryland I have also been blessed by the shared faith, hope and love that I have enjoyed with the neighboring Roman Catholic and Protestant parishes, priests/pastors, and the leaders of our area Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Fran Kleinhenz and Joe Weiss. Last year, I was again amazed that Pope Francis accepted the invitation to share in the leadership of a Prayer Service with the leaders of the Lutheran World Federation. And, guess who called me to ask if they could come to Trinity to watch it together on TV – Fran and Joe!

So, when anger, fear, hatred lead to condemnations and even war – do not despair, even if it goes on for 500 years! God has been working in and through us to learn and change. Sometimes it takes 500 years for us to catch on, but we are now walking together in faith that is full and free, and well as in Christian service that is the result of God’s grace.

Soli Deo Gloria! To God be the Glory!

— Roger Berner, Pastor

Jesus, When Did I See YOU A Stranger, and Welcomed YOU?

For more than seven decades, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) has been a champion for migrants and refugees from around the globe. It is a story of courageous and compassionate service for hundreds of thousands of people who have sought safety and hope in America’s communities.

In 1939 the National Lutheran Council (NLC) set up a Welfare Department with an office for the “rehabilitation and placement of Lutheran refugees.” It helped 522 refugees in the first year. At the end of WWII (1945), refugee camps spring up in Germany, Austria and Italy for displaced persons (DPs) from Eastern Europe, one-third of whom are Lutherans. [Two Trinity members, one in Sweden and from Norway, helped settle refugees during and after the war.]

In 1946, a trickle of refugees of refugees came to the United States, including a group of 21 teenage boys, most of whom are Estonian Lutherans. In 1947 the U.S. Congress authorized the admission of 205,000 eligible Dps and the constituting convention of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), made helping refugees a priority. In that year Howard Hong (a St. Olaf College philosophy professor) became the director of the Lutheran Resettlement and Emigration program for refugees in Germany and Austria. In 1948 the first Lutheran DPs arrive in the United States on 30. October.

Today LIRS continues this work with migrants and refugees, U.S. Lutheran congregations, and many Lutheran social service partners. One of the greatest needs now is settlement of people driven from their homes by the wars in Syria and children being separated from their parents from many nations. A Trinity member recently sent a link from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, as source material for understanding immigration to the USA today (see links below). This report from CSSP cites a report a from Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS).

Yes, Lutherans in America have been leaders for decades in helping, supporting and sponsoring immigrants and refugees. LIRS helps us to learn more about the emerging immigrant and refugee crises around the world and the policies of our elected leaders. To learn more about Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, go to: http://lirs.org/

— Roger Berner, Pastor