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The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72nd Ave
Across the street from Broward college South Campus lake
(954) 989-1903
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Join Us For Worship!

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

Featured Post

Obituary for Earline LaCroix

Earline's family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines in her memor...

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Good Samaritan

The reading for Sunday, September 25, 2016:

Luke10:  30-37

This week's Gospel presents one of the stories that even non-Christians are likely to have heard before: the story of the Good Samaritan. Those of us who go to church have heard it so regularly that we may have lost sight of the message. The fact that we hear it so regularly should tell us how important the message is.

We could focus on the fact that it's the lowly Samaritan (a foreigner!) who helps the victim, not the priest and the Levite, who hold high status in the Jewish society. We could focus on the victim, who, after all, invited trouble by traveling alone. In the details of how the Samaritan doctors the victim, binding his wounds with oil and wine, we see the foreshadowings of Christ's crucifixion.

But go back to the story again. Note the first few verses of the Gospel; in many ways, these verses sum up the whole Bible: Love God and love each other more than you love yourself. Most of us, when hearing those commands, say, "Great. I'm on target. Love God--check. Love other people--yup, most of the time." The story of the Good Samaritan is told to demonstrate what Jesus means when he gives us the Great Commandments. And here we see the size of the task that Christ gives us.

Many of us think of Love as an emotion, something that we feel. Here Jesus shows that that kind of emotional love is cheap, and not at all what he has in mind. We show our love by action, what we do for those who need us. It's not enough to see our fellow humans and think about how much we love them. Frankly, many of us can't even do that. Monitor your thoughts and feelings as you drive around town, and be honest. Are you really feeling love? Most of us are lucky if we can pull off feeling benign neglect. Many of us go through our days feeling murderous rage. Many of us go through our lives numbed by depression and pain, and trying desperately not to feel anything.

There's a way out of this pit. We must go through life behaving as if we love each other. We can behave ourselves into love. We don't have to start out by stopping for every crime victim we see. We don't have to start out by giving away our money. Although these are worthy goals, we can start where we are. When someone cuts you off in traffic, offer up a prayer for them. Smile at your snarling comrades at work. When someone wants some sympathy, offer it. Leave the waitstaff a more generous tip. Help out, even when you don't have to. Stop keeping track of who has done what, and you must stop right now, if keeping that list makes you feel aggrieved, because you've done so much more than everyone else. Instead of keeping track of your losses, keep track of gratitude. Share what you have, and it's especially important to share what you have with people who haven't had the lucky breaks that you have had.

In this Gospel, it's easy to see the Good Samaritan as a Christ figure: the outsider who stops to help, who takes charge of the victimized who have been left to bleed to death by the side of the road, the one who finds care for the victim and pays for it. We often lose sight of the fact that we are called to be Good Samaritans to the world. Once you start looking for opportunities to bind the wounds of the world, you'll find it easy to do that task daily. And then you'll fulfill the greatest commandment. God makes it clear that we show our love for God by loving each other.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Parable of the Sower

The reading for Sunday, Sept. 18:  Luke 8:  4-15

Many of us have heard the parable of the sower so many times that we may assume we already know everything there is to know about this story.  Indeed, if you read through the rest of Luke 8, Jesus explains the story in the usual way:  some of us fall into soil and blossom, and the rest fall onto different kinds of ground and fail to flourish ultimately.

Many of us have been had this parable presented to us as a yardstick for measuring ourselves:  what kinds of seeds are we?  And yet, seeds are not a good metaphor for humanity--or are they?  After all, it's not like seeds have any kind of self-determination.  They are more acted upon than acting.  If the sower doesn't toss them onto some sort of soil, they have no chance at all.  They can't go out and get their own water and fertilizer.  If weeds or thorns threaten them, they can't move.  Most humans have more options than seeds.

I'm also thinking of plants that I've had that seem to be dead--and yet, they have somehow rebounded.  I had a plant that had a pest who stripped off all its leaves.  Because I am a lazy gardener, I left the plant alone until I had time to plant something else in the box.  Imagine my surprise to find new leaves sprouting from the stalk that had looked so lifeless just a few weeks earlier.

As I think about this metaphor, I'm also thinking of my tomato plants, some of whom have sprouted in the most unlikely places.  I have a front flower box that I'd assume wouldn't be good for a tomato plant, since it's shady and doesn't get as much rainwater as other parts of the yard--plus the soil isn't deep.  And yet, last year, we got more tomatoes from the tomato plant that grew from reused potting soil that we put in the box than we did from other plants that had been placed more purposefully.

Perhaps we should be thinking about the soil of our lives.  We all have ears to hear and hearts that have the possibility of being open.  What can we do to ensure good soil for God's word?  For each of us the answers will be different:  some will require solitude, some time in nature; some will need some nourishing reading, while others will need creative outlets.

Whatever we need for the seeds of God's word to become sturdy sprouts that grow into strong plants--let us do it now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Justice Ministry

Justice Sunday last Sunday kicked off our House Meeting season!
Our goal this year is for everyone to come to one of the house meetings and learning more about why we as a congregation practice both charity and justice and how each of us can grow in our discipleship through this important work. Folks will get to share, if they wish, their experiences on important issues in their lives and community as well as hear updates on the work of Trinity's Justice Ministry as part of BOLD Justice.

Trinity’s Justice Ministry House Meeting Schedule
SEPTEMBER 18th @8AM Pat Messmer (in the sanctuary) (754) 816-5630
SEPTEMBER 20th @10AM Ron McCoy (in Charter Hall) (954) 790-3106
SEPTEMBER 23rd @7PM Lisa Montalchi (at her home) (954) 297-1325
SEPTEMBER 25th @12:15PM Denise Payne (in Charter Hall) (954) 495-1075
SEPTEMBER 25th @4:30PM Piper Spencer (at the Parsonage) (954) 668-1620

Saturday, September 10, 2016

this Sunday

One combined service on Sunday September 11th at Trinity at 10am then pizza and service for Gods Work - Our Hands Sunday! I'm baking cookies for college kids and our military as I type this. Quilts making for refugees. Prayer shawl making. Notes of encouragement writing. Food Pantry organizing. Blood donating. Memorial butterfly garden gardening. Lots of choices ! Plus birthday cake for anyone attending whose birthday falls in September. Please join us!
Ever in Christ
Pastor Keith

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

God's Work, Our Hands

On this Sunday, September 11, at Trinity Lutheran Church, we will celebrate a Justice Sunday.  First we will gather for worship, where we will consider this text from an ancient prophet:

Isaiah 58:  6-12

Then we will do our annual God's Work, Our Hands Sunday.  Some of our works will be works of charity, like boxing up cookies for college kids or working on quilts for Lutheran World Relief.  Our church has begun its work with BOLD Justice, where we will have house meetings to determine the justice needs of our community.

There's a difference between justice and charity, and we believe we must do both.  In a book I cannot recommend highly enough, The Heart of Christianity, Marcus Borg explains the difference this way: "Charity means helping the victims. Justice asks, 'Why are there so many victims?' and then seeks to change the causes of victimization, that is, the way the system is structured. Justice is not about Caesar increasing his charitable giving or Pilate increasing his tithe. Justice is about social transformation. Taking the political vision of the Bible seriously means the practice of social transformation" (page 201).

Will we see this social transformation in our lifetimes?  We will certainly see some justice.  Just think about how much transformation you have seen in your own lifetime.  As short a time as 10 years ago, I had students assure me that our nation could never elect an African-American or a woman for president, that those candidates would never be taken seriously.  Now, that's changed.  It wasn't too long ago that same sex couples were denied the right to legalize their bond.  Now, that's changed.

The work we will do on Sunday is important too.  We may pray to God for change, and we should then expect God to equip us to make the change.  Gathering together is a way to strengthen our efforts.  It builds community too.

And it's just more fun.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

College Cookie Packages

Our college cookie list is up to 16 boxes to be mailed/delivered.
I may be up late baking Saturday night after a two day meeting near Daytona. If anyone wants to lend a hand and provide cookies for these cherished cookie packages - please consider baking a few dozen and bringing them in on Sunday!

Thanks and blessings!
Pastor Keith

Friday, September 02, 2016

COOKIES!

COLLEGE COOKIE PACKAGES AND NOTES OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Trinity Lutheran, as part of God's Work, Our Hands Day SEPT 11th is preparing cookie packages that will include handwritten notes of encouragement. If you have someone to add to our list, please msg me their name and address (they can be away at college or live at home, no difference). They can be someone we know or complete strangers, but if we don't have their name and address we can't cookie them up.

Donations of homemade cookies or contributions towards mailing costs are also welcome.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Parable of the Two Debtors

This week's reading:  Luke 7:  36-50

We have so much to think about in this reading, and the parable takes up a very tiny part of it.  It seems one of the more straightforward parables:  two men, two debts, one of which is bigger than the other, and which one is more grateful for debt relief?

The parable is embedded in a larger story about how the contemporaries of Jesus treat him.  We have a woman who lives a sinful life, but she's the one who treats Jesus with the most hospitality, washing his feet (presumably filthy from weeks of walking through the muck that would have been the highway system) with her tears and anointing him with perfume.

A woman who lives a sinful life is even lower in status than a regular woman--and all women would have been low on the status list in this ancient patriarchal culture.  But she's the one who treats Jesus best.

Simon hasn't offered Jesus the simplest hospitality of water to wash his feet.  The names can be confusing.  At first, I thought we were talking about Simon Peter.  But I think that this Simon is actually the name of the Pharisee who invited Jesus to dinner.

Given the history of Jesus and the Pharisees, we can assume that it wasn't a simple dinner invitation.  I assume that this Pharisee was looking for ways to indict Jesus.  And when Jesus lets a sinful woman touch him, the Pharisee thinks he's found the evidence he seeks.

Jesus takes this opportunity to remind Simon--and us--of the larger reality, how religious people can be so blind to the sacred as it appears in our midst. We religious people forget that the God of our Judaic-Christian scripture is most often found in communities of the poor, destitute, and outcast. We prefer to stay in our sanitary structures, to not let the poor and destitute trespass in our hearts. In doing so, we're likely to miss out on a deeper relationship with God.

People who are part of institutionalized religious structure face dangers that we often forget to understand. We lose ourselves in rules and regulations; we create a rigid hierarchy to help us determine who is holy and who is a sinner. It's so easy to forget that our central task is to love deeply and widely. Jesus comes to tell us strange parables so that we'll remember. Jesus comes to show us a way to live that will be a way of love and far-flung community. Jesus comes to give his life, to show us that the way of love is such a threat to the larger culture of empire and conquest that we can expect the same. But God incarnate in Jesus comes to show us that the risks are worth the reward.

Jesus also comes to remind us that we're all debtors.  Some of us have a heavier load, and the relief of our burdens is greater.  But in the admonishment to the Pharisee, some of us might hear the relevant message that we've all got a burden.  And Jesus comes to lift that burden.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

This coming Sunday...

Sunday at worship at Trinity Lutheran, our year-long journey from Joshua to Job will come to an end. 
We have wrestled with genocide, rape, the de-valuing of women, murder, why bad things happen, and the role of God in the midst of the human condition in every way imaginable. We have met strong women and wise women; wise kings, foolish kings, rapist kings, murdering kings, weak kings, faithless kings, selfish kings, warrior-kings, and exiled kings. We have heard from the prophets the voice of God crying out for justice for the oppressed. We have witnessed cities and nations born, torn asunder, destroyed and re-built. 

We have listened through the lens of our own experience (because we cannot help that) and through the lens of that which draws us more deeply into the heart and ways of Jesus who declares that our very best is to love God and neighbor; to love one another as he loves us. We read the scriptures through this lens because it keeps us from falling into the temptation to use the scriptures, particularly the Old Testament passages we encountered this past year, to justify our own thoughts, our own prejudices, our own limited world view, our own hates and judgments. 

We did not let the God expressed in these stories from Joshua through Job off the hook. We asked hard questions. We read them through all that God expressed through Jesus. We read them through the Lutheran traditions of Law and Gospel, of letting scripture interpret scripture, of salvation by grace through faith, of the scriptures as the cradle in which the Christ-child is laid. We were not satisfied to leave the ways of God as unfathomable, when the ethics we encountered ran counter to the teachings of Jesus. No. We took the harder road and our faith is more robust for it. 

 We discovered that these Old Testament stories could still speak  powerful truth to the events in the world in which we live. And we drew upon the life of Jesus as expressed in the Gospels, the letters of Paul, the Psalms, and more to help us.   

So Sunday we will review the journey and reflect upon how it has challenged us and enlivened our faith . Please join us!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Job's Happy Ending

On Sunday, Aug. 28, we finish our reading of Job with this passage:  Job 42:7-17.  In this passage we seem to see Job enjoying a classic happy ending:  new wife, new children, fortunes restored.  How do we interpret this ending?

One standard--but troubling!--way to interpret this ending is to see it as Job's reward for being faithful.  One way this approach troubles modern theologians is the interpretation of faithfulness: is he faithful because he talks to God and listens when God responds?  Is he faithful because he stays true to God, even in the midst of suffering?  How much are we expected to endure?

As a 21st century reader, I'm troubled because I know that Christianity has a history of holding up examples like the one we see in Job as a way to encourage people to put up with difficult situations without trying to change the structures that make the difficulty possible.  I'm thinking of generations of women encouraged to stay with their abusive husbands.  I'm thinking of Civil Rights workers being told to suffer and wait for society to catch up with them.

I'm also troubled because Job seems to leave his old family behind and move on to the replacement family, but that probably says more about me.  I'm trying to see this ending as a presentation of Job embracing life and learning to live and love again.

Here's a more radical interpretation:  theologian  Kathryn M. Schifferdecker says, "Job's fortunes are restored. He (and presumably Mrs. Job) have more children, and he gives his daughters names befitting their great beauty and an inheritance along with their brothers (an unheard-of act in that patriarchal culture). In other words, Job learns to govern his world the way God governs God's world: with great delight in his children's beauty and freedom. Like God, Job gives his children the freedom to be who they were created to be."

I wonder how my relationships would change if I, too, could be more like Job at the end and God--if I could give those around me the freedom to be who they were created to be.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Job's God in a Time of Climate Change

The readings for Sunday, August 21, 2016:

Job 38:25-27; 41:1-8; 42:1-6

In these passages, God continues to give Job a tour of creation.  When I first read it, it was hard for me to shake the tone of God saying to Job, "Who are you to question me?"  But my response still shows a human-centered approach to God, God as being defensive.

Why is it so hard for us to come to Job's realization?  Why is it hard to see God as expansive?

For some of us, it's hard because we have to admit our puniness.  Humans are not the center of the universe.  Creation was not made for humans.  We are not the largest element or the smallest--and that means contemplating the idea that we are not the most important.

I will be interested to see how theologians wrestle with these ancient views during our own time of extreme climate change.  Is it different to read the texts for this week as we create new records for hottest month and hottest year on record?

I find this vision in Job a comfort in our own times of mass extinction.  Creation will continue, even as various species expire.  God will continue to delight in creation, in all of its varieties.

God seems to invite Job to join in this wonder and exaltation.  I'd like to see other translations of Job's response.  My text uses words like despise, dust, and ashes.  Job's response seems extreme, but maybe it's just more ancient, and thus, harder for me to understand.

Like Job, I need to return to this vision that God offers.  I despair in what seems like planetary depletion, but God reminds us that the Creator works in wondrous ways.  I need to be reacquainted with this rain bearing God, the one who makes grass spring out of the desolation.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Marc Chagall on Love



In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.
- Marc Chagall

Blessing of Teachers and School Staffs and CHOCOLATE!!!

So this Sunday AUG 14th is Blessing of the Teachers and Staff for all of those folks heading back to schools in our community. We have some prayers for them and goody bags and I will be making Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothies during all coffee hours. Whipped Cream and Chocolate chip topping optional. So calling all teachers and school staff people: We want to chocolate you up! All Welcome!

God Speaks to Job

The readings for Sunday, August 14, 2016:

Job 31:  35-37 and Job 38:  1-11


In the readings for this Sunday, we see Job wanting God to speak to him--and then God does.  On the face of it, on the first read, we might see this as God saying to Job, "Who the heck are you to question me?"  But upon additional readings, we see a creator who takes the questions of Job seriously.

Job gets a tour of all of creation, perhaps as a reminder that humans aren't the reason why creation exists and humans aren't the reason that God exists.  In many ways, the God that we see in Job seems very modern.  This God that we see this week is a God with much to do, but not too busy to attend to Job's request.  This God is a God of the entire universe, not just a wish granter/magician for humans.

We see a vision of God in control, but not a God who is controlling.  There are boundaries that God has established, but all of creation has enormous freedom within these boundaries.  Luther Seminary professor Kathryn M. Schifferdecker explains in this essay, "God gives his creatures the freedom to be who they were created to be, and that freedom is a great gift to human and animal alike. In this vision of creation, the world is not an entirely safe place for human beings, but it is a world of order and of beauty, and its Creator delights in it."

Many of us may find this vision of God to be very different from the God we might have thought we were worshipping.  We may have been told that if our faith is great enough or if we pray hard enough, all of our prayers and wishes will be granted.  But that's crummy theology--it doesn't take into account free will or the problem of evil in the world or countless other factors that will undermine our faith in the world of that theology.

Job shows us a more mature vision of God--a God that has created the universe with certain laws and boundaries, a God who allows freedom, even though that freedom may bring heartbreak.

For many of us, it's not a comforting vision.  It means that the cancer cells may win, regardless of how hard I pray.  I might prefer the Santa Claus God of my childhood Sunday School classes.  But the Santa Claus God is not the true God, although it may be the more comforting God.

These passages in Job show us a God who has not deserted us, but at the same time, will not necessarily rescue us.  For many of us it's a tough vision.

But throughout the Bible, we see God's promise:  that God will be with us and that God delights in us--and in all creation.  God will be there, not as the magical easy fix, but as a much larger force, one not controlled by humans.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Sunset with Gandhi



When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. 
- Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Psalm 16:11



You show me the path of life.
 In your presence there is fullness of joy
Psalm 16:11
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com

The Hope of Job

Our off-lectionary study of Job continues with these passages for Sunday, August 7, 2016:

Job 14:  7-15 and Job 19:  23-24

In these passages we see that Job still wrestles with how to handle his suffering and where to find God in this suffering.  In these passages, we see similar themes that careful readers see throughout the Bible.

Job finds hope--strange, inexplicable hope--in the middle of his extreme suffering.  He doesn't have the same kind of hope in an afterlife that twenty-first century readers might have.  He senses that other parts of nature might have more hope of an immediate redemption, new sprouts, and that humans die and dry up as a lake might.

Yet he also professes belief that he will see God, and Job yearns for this time, even as he admits to not understanding how it will happen.  Job's response feels familiar to me.

I think of the Easters that I have celebrated when the Easter message rang hollow to me, when death felt more victorious than God.  I felt surrounded by happy people who felt more reassurance than I did in that Easter message.  In these times, I like the message of Job, the message of the Psalms--I like these texts that show us the human response to God and to suffering.

I know that the disadvantage to a free will world is that God cannot just sweep in and make everything OK.

But I also know that the message of that weaves its way through our Bible, with the Easter culmination, the promise that Death will not be the final answer.  We do not know how and when Death will be defeated--at least, I'm not going to try to engineer God that way.  We know the how of the beginning of the defeat of the Death culture:  we have spent days hearing that part of the story.  But we don't know the future part.

But we do have God's promise that Death doesn't have the final word.  We see it as a constant theme in our texts, and we see that announcement throughout all of creation.  And even when we feel the despair of Job, even when we doubt this promise, God will not abandon us.