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, July 31, 2014

Kristin Berkey-Abbott's Essay At Living Lutheran


Trinity's Kristin Berkey-Abbott is one of the featured bloggers at Living Lutheran -
check out her wonderful essay posted today at :
http://www.elca.org/Living-Lutheran/Blogs/2014/07/140729-Make-church-more-like-camp

Pastor Keith's Article in Living Lutheran


LIVING LUTHERAN ESSAY as it appeared July 31, 2014 
by The Rev. Dr. Keith A. Spencer, Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines, FL

Confession: I have an office full of books, most of which I have never read. I meant to.  Really, I did. For example, there was a period of time when I collected all the hot books on growing your church, the ones that everyone was reading and struggling to put into practice. Congregations held rallies and kickoffs and made banners and rolled up their sleeves and did what Lutherans do best: they got to work. However, the degree of success varied greatly. Part of the problem was the number of these books coming out, one after another, each choc-full of new strategies, more checklists, and a new paradigm. I am sure that I was not the only pastor banging my head against the wall, or the desk, or the copier (which was thankfully under warranty). Too many books. Too many strategies.  Too many book covers filled with pictures of perfect pastors of perfect churches with perfect smiles. And I (and perhaps you) found myself talking to myself (which is in some circles, the first sign of madness) and asking myself, “Does it really take a great smile, a multi-page checklist, and lots of people to be the church?”

And something began to nag at me: nowhere, not in any of the best-selling books on church growth that came across my desk or got kicked around at pericope study or pushed at conferences and inevitably collected dust on a pastor’s bookshelves did involving the congregation more deeply in the work of God’s justice come up.

Micah 6:8 tells us
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

Now there is a checklist that got my heart pumping when I was first introduced to congregation-based community organizing about a decade ago.  For the first forty years of my life I had not heard a lot of talk about justice in the congregations in which I found myself or if I did it was not connected to congregational ministry in any real way, where a congregation actually did justice.

We are, of course, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; gospelizers who share the Good News. And when the Good News is shared in the scriptures, doesn’t the Holy Spirit multiply members by the thousands and thousands? Curse you Book of Acts for giving people the false notion that there was one big mega church running around there in Jerusalem. But shouldn’t we be growing our congregations? Isn’t Average Worship Attendance (AWA) one of the metrics by which we are measured by those who measure?  I am avoiding the whole “Well, what do we mean by growth?” debate: numbers of people or a deeper faith or both, etcetera. Truth be told, most of our congregations would love to see more butts in the pews and more money in the offering plate.  And more children and teens and twenty-somethings and families, and men. We will always live in the tension of wanting to passionately live out the call to be  gospelizers who freely love our neighbor with all of our heart, mind and strength and folks who just want someone else to make up the budget shortfall for a change.

I do not know why so many congregations avoid justice work, but I suspect that the fear of offending members who may speak with their checkbooks or flat-out leave would receive more votes than either confusion (justice work is not synonymous with works of charity)  or ignorance (JUSTICE WORK?) Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, making quilts are all good and necessary things, but are examples of charity; wonderful and necessary charity. But through charity, the root causes of hunger and poverty are not impacted in any meaningful way.  When we talk about works of justice, we leave the world of food pantries and bake sales and quilting bees behind and we begin to move quickly outside of what most of our folks consider their church work. Meaningful works of justice require a certain comfort with power; building it and using it. It means discerning and taking a stand on issues where there may be consensus, but rarely unanimity.  Often it involves confronting racism that still clings to our bones, ligaments left over from another time. And inevitably it requires confronting those in authority who have the power to change the injustice systems.


We live in a world where a number of alternative “gospels” written by those who gain money and fame by enflaming fear are shared daily through a multitude of media. The true Good News embraces the notion that our God stands with those who cry out for justice and that we should, too.  A purely attractional model of church growth would have a hard time embracing congregation-based community organizing because the gospel, whether we like it or not, will offend and divide, which should come as no surprise since it warns us that it will. Some folks will always see justice work as playing politics (or not consistent with their politics) and leave. Across our country, justice network organizations such as the Gamaliel Foundation, the PICO Network, and Direct Action and Research Training (DART) help to gather, equip and connect congregations for this work of justice. While I do not believe that working for God’s justice and growing our congregations are mutually exclusive endeavors, hardly so, avoiding what some might label as “controversy” out of fear of offense and the people and resources which may choose another path in another place, seems an unhealthy way to bear the cross with Jesus. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Luke 6:21


Turning tears into laughter
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/07/luke-621.html

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

(Note:  Pastor Keith is spending the summer preaching on the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer.  I'll continue posting these meditations on the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary through the summer, in the hopes that they'll nourish our spiritual community too).


The readings for August 3, 2014:

Isaiah 55:1-5
Psalm 145:8-9, 15-22 (Psalm 145: 8-9, 14-21 NRSV)
You open wide your hand and satisfy the needs of every living creature. (Ps. 145:17)
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:13-21

The story in the Gospel lesson is familiar; indeed, a version appears in each Gospel, which may mean it’s more likely to be a factual reporting, or it may mean that each Gospel writer realized the significance and implications of the story and couldn’t bear to leave it out. Jesus preaches to the multitudes, who grow hungry. Jesus commands the disciples to feed them, and they protest that they only have five loaves and two fish. But miraculously, not only are the thousands of people fed, but the disciples gather basket after basket of leftovers.

Christian approaches to this story are varied, from share your resources to rely on Christ for what you need. But today, I'm interested in the human response to the miraculous.

Look at the behavior of the disciples. Jesus commands them to feed everyone, and they protest that they can’t, that they don’t have enough food. They’ve followed Jesus for some time and they’ve seen him perform many miracles, including making dead people come back to life. But their first response is that they can’t possibly do what Jesus expects.

 This story tells us an important lesson about the human resistance to the miraculous. We limit God, and our fellow humans, by our inability to dream big visions. We assume that we’ll always have hungry people, oppressed nations, and what can we do?  We only have so much and it will only stretch so far. But we forget how much is possible—how much we have already seen with our own eyes.

For example, imagine we could time travel back to the year 1985, not so very long ago. Imagine that we told the people of that time that in a few short years, the Berlin Wall would come down. Not only that, but Nelson Mandela would be released from prison and free elections would follow five years later. Not only that, the Soviet Union would soon be no more.

The people we encountered would not believe us. The people of 1985 would have been convinced that Nelson Mandela would die in his South African prison and that his nation would disintegrate into civil war. The people of 1985 would have been convinced that the Soviet Union would always be a part of the geopolitical landscape, and that there would always be a literal wall that separated east from west.

To talk about how these miracles happened would take a much larger space than I have here, but it’s important to remember that one reason is that ordinary people dreamed of something different. For example, in numerous interviews that I’ve heard, Desmond Tutu, gives credit for the fall of apartheid to the governments, institutions, and individuals who fought for divestment from a corrupt regime. And even when the call for divestment was not successful, those calls started an important conversation.

Desmond Tutu also always gives credit to the believers throughout the world who prayed for a peaceful way out of an insolvable situation. Even if you didn’t own a solid gold, South African Kruggerand, you could participate in the process of mercy and justice.

And don’t let my emphasis on political miracles keep us from remembering the other miracles that surround us: health restored, relationships repaired, the student who suddenly understands an impossible subject, the hungry fed, the homeless who come in from the inhospitable climate.

I know that for every miracle, someone has suffered the pain of loss:the cancer that didn’t go into remission, the job loss that leads to other losses or a weather catastrophe from which we cannot recover.  For every South Africa, there are a dozen Darfurs.

But we are called to keep our eyes towards a different reality. The Kingdom of Heaven is not just after death, Jesus declares. It is among us, here and now. And we can be a part of that glorious creation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Proverbs 15:1


The Value of Softness...
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/07/proverbs-151.html

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Psalm 10:17


The benefit of meekness...
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/07/psalm-1017.html

Saturday, July 26, 2014

WEEKLY NOTES AND UPDATES


TRINITY FRIDGENOTES WEEKLY SUMMARY
From the week of JUNE 29th – JULY 5th                      

 
FROM THE DESK OF PASTOR KEITH
Sermon on The Ten Commandments
Week Four   July 27, 2014
These last few weeks we have been pondering the Ten Commandments.  We have declared over this past month that our God frees us. Liberates us. That our God is a God of deep and abiding relationship. A God who establishes that relationship with us by first choosing us.  In and through Christ Jesus, God chooses to save and redeem, you, me, the children sitting just across our border filling centers and schools and an army barracks. God chooses to save and redeem the homeless, the broken, the business people, the poor, the rich, the in-between, the people who water their lawns under the cover of darkness more than two times a week, the people who wait patiently at bus stops in the rain, grandmothers taking a stroll with their grandchildren through Butterfly World, veterinarians who charge below cost for tests and medications for the sake of a little abandoned sick kitten, even people who sample grapes out of the bag that you had your eye on and then walk away. God chooses in and through Christ Jesus to save them. And us. Before any of us, before any of them could take the first step towards God, God in and through Christ Jesus has already loved us. Claimed us. Embraced us. Before we could even take the first step.

Remember:  Luther says that if we know the Ten Commandments we know all of Scripture.  Love God. Love Neighbor. And today we conclude our time with the Ten Commandments by focusing on two of them: a pair of commandments from the second table  - from that list of commandments that address our relationship with one another and with the people of the world.

Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's house.

Thou shall not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his cattle, nor anything that is your neighbors.

Why these two? Because the road of covetousness leads us far away from the love of our neighbor.  Covetousness begins so lightly, ever so innocently, and then…well… let’s look at just one of a number of stories that Professor Rolf Jacobsen from Luther Seminary suggests we review in order to understand the dangers of coveting. 

Turning to Samuel chapter 11 and we find this story about King David.

He sends the troops off to war and decides to sit this one out. We read: “In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him; they ravaged the Ammonites, and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.” He was supposed to go out to war – but perhaps he had other things on his mind.
The scriptures continue: It happened, late one afternoon, when David rose from his couch and was walking about on the roof of the king's house, [since he had so much time on his hands] and he saw from the roof a woman bathing; the woman was very beautiful. David sent someone to inquire about the woman. It was reported, "This is Bathsheba daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite." So David sent messengers to take her and bring her to him.

Coveting started with a thought – “That woman is very beautiful” and then the King is committing sin piling upon sin. He gets her pregnant and then the simple thought “She is very beautiful” which has turned into King David using his power to take her forcibly and leave her pregnant becomes a story of reputation protection that quickly falls apart into plots and murder.
6So David sent word to Joab, "Send me Uriah the Hittite." And Joab sent Uriah to David. 7When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab and the people fared, and how the war was going. 8Then David said to Uriah, "Go down to your house, and wash your feet." Uriah went out of the king's house, and there followed him a present from the king. 9But Uriah slept at the entrance of the king's house with all the servants of his lord, and did not go down to his house. 10When they told David, "Uriah did not go down to his house," David said to Uriah, "You have just come from a journey. Why did you not go down to your house?" 11Uriah said to David, "The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing." Uriah proves himself a man of honor, while King David plots on. Then King David tries to get him drunk figuring that finally a drunk soldier who has not seen his wife in a long time will trade his honor for sex. But Uriah proves himself steadfast. So King David takes it up a notch.

14In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. [Can you believe this?] 15In the letter he wrote, "Set Uriah in the forefront of the hardest fighting, and then draw back from him, so that he may be struck down and die." 16As Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew there were valiant warriors. 17The men of the city came out and fought with Joab; and some of the servants of David among the people fell. Uriah the Hittite was killed as well.
King David covetously acted upon his one simple thought “She is very beautiful” and by the time that all the dust had settled, not only was the honorable Uriah the Hittite dead, but also some of David’s own servants as collateral damage. And King David’s reaction?  

'Do not let this matter trouble you, for the sword devours now one and now another; press your attack on the city, and overthrow it.'
King David wanted to have it all – well at least everything that his heart desired - and didn’t worry about what might stand in his way. Coveting starts so simply then everything can quickly fall apart and fall to ruin. Broken relationships often left among those ruins.

Have you ever noticed that they do not make commercials for the things we really need? Like a good manual can opener? Or a pot topper than prevents the water in your pot of spaghetti from boiling over  onto the stove when you are so busy focusing on other things like catching up on your twitter feed or preventing the dog from eating the couch. Can openers and pot toppers are not sexy. They do not typically inspire covetousness in our hearts. But what about those commercials for those expensive Caribbean Resorts or any number of cruise lines in which perfect couples and perfect families have perfect fun and drink lots of perfectly frozen margaritas with perfect little umbrellas in them. Such commercials invite us to look at our life and find holes in it that can only be filled with what they have to offer and so that the seeds of covetousness are planted. “Just imagine” the announcer on a state Lottery commercial declares. “Just imagine boundless possibilities.” And the young man who is sitting on a nice chaise on the beach begins to dream and the clouds become mansions and yachts and such. Just imagine.
Most commercials work this way – trying to plant the seeds of covetousness in our hearts – tell us our life now is incomplete and full of holes we need to fill – to have us dream of More. Bigger. Better. Of Status.

The Ten Commandments spend extra time on covetousness because God knows that our relationships with one another based upon love will constantly be under assault from covetous desires that birth enmity and jealously. When the seed of covetousness is planted in our hearts we need to help one another to find our way back to our life of love and compassion and humility. To hold one another accountable. To pray and pray and pray and in our brokenness to seek forgiveness from a God all too ready to forgive and renew us and to invite us once again to embrace a life in which God in and through Christ Jesus becomes our all in all. In which God has already freed us to love God with all of our heart, our mind, our soul and our  strength and our neighbor as ourselves.
Amen.

Following the Revised Common Lectionary)
by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, July 27, 2014:
First Reading: 1 Kings 3:5-12
First Reading (Semi-cont.): Genesis 29:15-28
Psalm: Psalm 119:129-136
Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 105:1-11, 45b
Psalm (Alt.): Psalm 128 (Psalm 128 (Semi-continuous) NRSV)
Second Reading: Romans 8:26-39
Gospel: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Today we have a series of interesting parables which Jesus uses to explain the Kingdom of Heaven. I don't think that Jesus is explaining the afterlife, the way that many of us might assume when we hear the word "Heaven." Instead, Matthew uses that word as shorthand for a concept that's closer to "life as God intended." Of course, I'm grossly simplifying, but instead of doing an in-depth exploration of the word "Heaven," let's look at the images Jesus uses.

Note the smallness, the almost invisibility, of the first two images (verses 31-33): mustard seeds and yeast. There are two elements which are interesting. One is that these small grains left alone will transform themselves into something bigger--and in the case of yeast, will transform the surrounding elements too. Leave flour alone, and it won't change much in terms of volume. Even if it gets buggy, the bag won't explode. But add yeast and water and a bit of sweetness and leave the bowl in a warm place for a few hours--when you return to the bowl, the dough might be overflowing. Likewise with a seed. Plant it in the earth, add some water, and leave it alone--if you're lucky, you get a shrub or a tree. If we go out looking for the kingdom to be a big, glorious thing, we might miss the Kingdom.

Many people simply don't register the presence of God because they're looking for the wrong thing. They're looking for something huge and powerful. For example, think about the Jews of Jesus' time. They didn't want spiritual salvation. When they talked about a savior, they wanted someone who would kick the Romans out of their homeland. They missed the miracle of Jesus because they looked for the wrong sign.

The next set of metaphors (verses 44-46) talks about the preciousness of the Kingdom and also a bit about the effort required to find it. The treasure/pearl doesn't just fall into the men's laps--they're out looking.
We live in a culture that doesn't want to put in a lot of work. If you don't believe me, watch the claims that advertisers make: I can lose weight by eating a cookie, I can make by working just 15 minutes a day, I can get a college degree without leaving my house. I love talking to my colleagues and collecting their strange student stories. One of my colleagues had a student stomp out in a huff when she realized she'd have to write essays. Keep in mind, my colleague teaches an English Composition class. Did the student think they'd be creating macaroni collages?

And then I start to wonder why this student imagines that she can go to college and not have to work. Where does she get that message? Of course, the culture in which she lives beams that to her all the time.

Likewise, Kingdom living requires some effort on our part. God wants to meet us, but we have to go forward towards God. We have to look for the right signs, and we have to make some effort. That effort might be regular prayer, spiritual reading, going to church, turning ourselves into caring people, giving more of our money away.

But the end of this week's Gospel assures us that the effort will pay off. We don't want to be in the furnace where men weep and gnash their teeth. For those of you who read the end of the Gospel as a metaphor of Hell after death, you might be right. But I would argue that life is terribly hellish right here and now for people who aren't doing transformational work.


__________________________________________________________________
**Trinity’s NEW MAILING ADDRESS***
Trinity Lutheran Church
8362 Pines Blvd Suite 431 Pembroke Pines, FL 33024
 ***TRINITY’S NEW EMAIL ADDRESS***

IMPORTANT NUMBERS
Office (954) 989-1903 Pastor Keith’s Cell (954) 668-6077

TRINITY CONGREGATIONAL COUNCIL 2014-2015
Denise Payne – President                      Reed Talbert – Vice President
Zory Graciani – Secretary                       Ron Mccoy – Treasurer
Kristin Berkey-Abbott                               Richie Cannezzaro
Tina Hines                                                 Eileen Manella                      
Pastor Keith

 Care and Concern Team
(for prayer and visitation for those homebound or in the hospital)
Contact Bev Grant  954-885-0394 or Dora Gressley 954-443-5734 or leave a message with the office

CALENDAR
JUL
30th   WED EVE WORSHIP 6PM
AUG
2nd     Church Yard Day
6th     WED EVE WORSHIP
10th   Blessing of Teachers and Staff
13th   WED EVE WORSHIP
17th   Blessing of Back Packs and CUPCAKE-A-PALOOZA!
20th   WED EVE WORSHIP
22nd Why Is that Old Testament God So Mean and Other Thoughts About the Bible: Our Monthly Bible Study at Crispers 6:30PM
27th   WED EVE WORSHIP
31st   Healing Sunday

SEP
3rd     WED EVE WORSHIP
6th     Church Yard Day
7th     BLESSING OF GRANDPARENTS
7th     BLOODMOBILE
7th     GOD’S WORK – OUR HANDS ACTIVITES
9th     WELCA Potluck and Meeting
12th – 14th GODSPA RETREAT
18th  Bible Study at Crispers

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

WORSHIP!

8:30AM Simple Service of Holy Communion in the Choir Loft

30 minutes. No music.

9:45AM Worship Together, our CROSS+GENERATIONAL blend of Sunday school, family faith formation and inter-generational worship. Faithful. Inter-Active. Relational. Incorporates the arts. With Communion!

11AM Holy Communion Liturgy. Preaching, Choir, Hymns, Instrumentalists, Communion, Prayers.

 

WEDNESDAY EVENING WORSHIP   

Traditional Evening Prayer with Holy Communion

Worship 6PM-6:45PM.

Neighborhood Prayer Walk 6:45PM-7:30PM. 

As we prepare to more deeply embed ourselves in the neighborhood into which God both calls us and sends us, we take the time to walk and pray, to meet and greet, and to listen in love. 

A Simple meal at which we with reflect on our worship, walk and prayer. Beginning at approximately 7:30PM


FOOD PANTRY UPDATE
Summer has been busy for Trinity's food pantry. Lots of families with their children home for the summer are in need of groceries. Here is our current wish list:
TUNA - we are completely out!
CEREAL- we are completely out
CONDENSED SOUPS
CHUNKY SOUPS
RAHMEN NOODLES
VIENNA SAUSAGES
JELLY
MAC & CHEESE

 GODSPA
Trinity women are heading to God Spa at Luther Springs this September 12th-14th. Luther Springs is located just north of Ocala, and God Spa activities include devotions, music, journaling and spa type activities (facials, hand/foot scrubs, mani/pedis).  We will carpool from Trinity. The cost is $143 and includes room, meals, and program. You can register at www.novusway.com  Request Kuehner Center and either a specific roommate or just say "anyone from Trinity Lutheran."  If you need financial assistance, contact Pastor Keith.  All women who are interested should meet with Piper after church in Charter Hall on August 17th.

 GARDEN NEWS
Please bring in your pineapple tops! We will be adding them to our fruit garden as they come in. Help is needed for weeding – any time! If you are worried about being able to recognize a butterfly friendly plant from a weed, Pastor Keith is happy to give a quick lesson.

SUMMER CHOIR/BAND NEWS
A reminder: All are welcome to join the 11AM Summer Choir and Worship Band.  

They rehearse WED 7PM and SUN 10AM or just can just come SUN at 10AM and they will have music ready and waiting for you!

GIFT OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT TRINITY’S MUSIC PROGRAM
Our hand chimes now are over 15 years old and in significant need of refurbishment. The cost of refurbishment, shipping and insurance is approximately $1000. Gifts are welcome to Trinity Lutheran Church memo line “Music Program” to help make this a reality. Our Worship Choir is growing and a blessing each Sunday. Approximately $330 is needed for the purchase of hymnals so that each member can have a complete set. Gifts are welcome to Trinity Lutheran Church memo line “Music Program” to help make this a reality.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Psalm 65:8


Why the gateways of the morning shout for joy...
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/07/psalm-658.html

1 Corinthians 13:!


When speaking in the tongues of angels just isn't enough...
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/07/1-corinthians-131.html

Thursday, July 24, 2014

FOOD PANTRY NEEDS!

FOOD PANTRY UPDATE
Summer has been busy for Trinity's food pantry. Lots of families with their children home for the summer are in need of groceries. Here is ou
r current wish list:
TUNA - we are completely out!
CEREAL- we are completely out
CONDENSED SOUPS
CHUNKY SOUPS
RAHMEN NOODLES
VIENNA SAUSAGES
JELLY
MAC & CHEESE

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

TOUGH QUESTIONS AND BIBLICAL ANSWERS

Public Service Announcement:
"EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON, DOESN'T IT?"
This Bible Study season we will be tackling the tough questions that everyone assumes Jesus or the Bible has answered for us. Perhaps the real answers will surprise us all!
Bring friends!


Join us as we kick off our monthly Bible Study at Crisper's Restaurant. for the 2014-2015 Bible Study season at 6:30PM this Friday July 25th. At the corner of University and Stirling Road in the shops next to Target. We have reserved the back room. 

2 Corinthians 5:17


New. 
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/07/2-corinthians-517.html

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

By Kristin Berkey-Abbott

(Note:  Pastor Keith is spending the summer preaching on the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer.  I'll continue posting these meditations on the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary through the summer, in the hopes that they'll nourish our spiritual community too).
The readings for Sunday, July 27, 2014:

First Reading: 1 Kings 3:5-12

First Reading (Semi-cont.): Genesis 29:15-28

Psalm: Psalm 119:129-136

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 105:1-11, 45b

Psalm (Alt.): Psalm 128 (Psalm 128 (Semi-continuous) NRSV)

Second Reading: Romans 8:26-39

Gospel: Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

Today we have a series of interesting parables which Jesus uses to explain the Kingdom of Heaven. I don't think that Jesus is explaining the afterlife, the way that many of us might assume when we hear the word "Heaven." Instead, Matthew uses that word as shorthand for a concept that's closer to "life as God intended." Of course, I'm grossly simplifying, but instead of doing an in-depth exploration of the word "Heaven," let's look at the images Jesus uses.

Note the smallness, the almost invisibility, of the first two images (verses 31-33): mustard seeds and yeast. There are two elements which are interesting. One is that these small grains left alone will transform themselves into something bigger--and in the case of yeast, will transform the surrounding elements too. Leave flour alone, and it won't change much in terms of volume. Even if it gets buggy, the bag won't explode. But add yeast and water and a bit of sweetness and leave the bowl in a warm place for a few hours--when you return to the bowl, the dough might be overflowing. Likewise with a seed. Plant it in the earth, add some water, and leave it alone--if you're lucky, you get a shrub or a tree. If we go out looking for the kingdom to be a big, glorious thing, we might miss the Kingdom.

Many people simply don't register the presence of God because they're looking for the wrong thing. They're looking for something huge and powerful. For example, think about the Jews of Jesus' time. They didn't want spiritual salvation. When they talked about a savior, they wanted someone who would kick the Romans out of their homeland. They missed the miracle of Jesus because they looked for the wrong sign.

The next set of metaphors (verses 44-46) talks about the preciousness of the Kingdom and also a bit about the effort required to find it. The treasure/pearl doesn't just fall into the men's laps--they're out looking.

We live in a culture that doesn't want to put in a lot of work. If you don't believe me, watch the claims that advertisers make: I can lose weight by eating a cookie, I can make by working just 15 minutes a day, I can get a college degree without leaving my house. I love talking to my colleagues and collecting their strange student stories. One of my colleagues had a student stomp out in a huff when she realized she'd have to write essays. Keep in mind, my colleague teaches an English Composition class. Did the student think they'd be creating macaroni collages?

And then I start to wonder why this student imagines that she can go to college and not have to work. Where does she get that message? Of course, the culture in which she lives beams that to her all the time.

Likewise, Kingdom living requires some effort on our part. God wants to meet us, but we have to go forward towards God. We have to look for the right signs, and we have to make some effort. That effort might be regular prayer, spiritual reading, going to church, turning ourselves into caring people, giving more of our money away.

But the end of this week's Gospel assures us that the effort will pay off. We don't want to be in the furnace where men weep and gnash their teeth. For those of you who read the end of the Gospel as a metaphor of Hell after death, you might be right. But I would argue that life is terribly hellish right here and now for people who aren't doing transformational work.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Acts 26:28-29


A Christian minus the chains
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/07/acts-2628-29.html

Monday, July 21, 2014

WHERE HAVE YOU SEEN GOD?


Allowing me to see a specialist that insurance won’t cover but now that I am on medicare the Dr. will accept that.
At church, Helping with Vacation Bible School,

In my family’s life, in my neighbor’s life

Healing of my shoulder through a great doctor

In Friends and their loving-kindness
A friend helping me renovate my condo

At my new home

The nurse who comes to dress Jose’s leg

Perfect Fit job for Katrina

In my church
In my job
 
At the Hospital with the nurses and doctors

On my grandma being to celebrate her 95th birthday

To see Pastor Bedenbaugh among us for worship!

Helping My Neighbor when she called for help

At the doctor’s Office

GODSPA!



Trinity women are heading to God Spa at Luther Springs this September 12th-14th. Luther Springs is located just north of Ocala, and God Spa activities include devotions, music, journaling and spa type activities (facials, hand/foot scrubs, mani/pedis).  We will carpool from Trinity. The cost is $143 and includes room, meals, and program. You can register at www.novusway.com
 

. Request Kuehner Center and either a specific roommate or just say "anyone from Trinity Lutheran."  If you need financial assistance, contact Pastor Keith.  All women who are interested should meet with Piper after church in Charter Hall on August 17th.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

2 Corinthians 4:16


Not losing heart amidst the tension of wasting away and being renewed
http://thelivinggospel.blogspot.com/2014/07/2-corinthians-416.html

Bishop Schaefer to visit Trinity!

The Florida-Bahamas Synod Bishop, Robert Schaefer, will be visiting our congregation this Sunday and presiding at worship with Pastor Keith preaching - what a joy and blessings for us!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

By Kristin Berkey-Abbott

(Note:  Pastor Keith is spending the summer preaching on the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer.  I'll continue posting these meditations on the readings from the Revised Common Lectionary through the summer, in the hopes that they'll nourish our spiritual community too).

The lessons for Sunday, July 20, 2014:

First Reading: Isaiah 44:6-8

First Reading (Semi-cont.): Genesis 28:10-19a

First Reading (Alt.): Wisdom of Solomon 12:13, 16-19

Psalm: Psalm 86:11-17

Psalm (Semi-cont.): Psalm 139: 1-11, 22-23 (Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24 NRSV)

Second Reading: Romans 8:12-25

Gospel: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Again this week we have agricultural metaphors--what an intriguing scenario, to have an enemy that sneaks into your fields to sow weeds, instead of just destroying the field outright. And what an interesting response of the owner: to let the wheat and the weeds grow, to separate the useful from the useless later, once the growing is done and the reaping finished.

The traditional response to this Gospel sees this story as a metaphor about Judgement Day. My problem with that metaphor is that weeds don't turn into wheat, and I don't like the implications of that. The parable comes much too close to advocating predestination for my Lutheran sensibilities to be happy with this interpretation.

Luckily, humans aren't solely weeds or wheat. I know that there are some weeks where I'm more of a weed than anything that is of agricultural use. And I'm the pesky kind of weed; I'm not the kind of weed that grows quietly alone; I impede the spiritual progress of others, strangling and choking and making life miserable. I console myself by telling myself that we all have those days or weeks or seasons where our weedy natures take over.

But I can’t take too much consolation. These summer Gospel readings remind us that we don’t get to sleep in the soil forever. We don't get to loll around in our wheatfield, hoping that we're one of the chosen ones and not one of the weeds. At some point, the wheat will be separated from the weeds.

Let us return to the idea of sowing and seeds, a useful metaphor in so many ways. How can we sow seeds now that will blossom into good gardens later? There are as many ways to do this as there are vegetables in the garden right now in many parts of the country.

Maybe we could pray more. Maybe we could resolve to be cheerful, no matter what the day brings. Maybe we could give one or two percent more of our income away. Maybe we could remember to say “please” and “thank you.”

Our basic task is to reflect God's light into a world that dims each day. How can you best do that?

If you feel disheartened, like your weedy self is too firmly rooted, remember those who have gone before you. One of Christianity's most successful evangelists, Paul, was killing Christians before he converted. If God found a use for Paul, God can use your seedling talents too.