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Join Us For Worship!

Join Us For Worship!
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Advent Meditation on Joseph

The reading for Sunday, December 17, 2017: Matthew 1:18-25 This Sunday we read about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. We've no...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Meditation on the Epiphany

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, January 3, 2016:

Matthew 2:1-12

I write these words with the song "We Three Kings of Orient Are" in my head.   The 3 wise men have such a place in our collective imagination that it’s interesting to return to the actual story that only appears in Matthew. What a strange tale!

Notice that it’s not 3 wise men, but a group of wise men from the East. Some have speculated that they were scholars of some sort or astrologers or maybe kings from a distant land. Clearly they are men of power and wealth. They can afford to travel, and they can afford to bring lavish gifts.

It’s no wonder that the wise men from the east would come to one of the population centers of the Roman empire looking for the King of the Jews. It’s an interesting statement that they assume that they’re looking for someone who has political power, and thus, they head for Herod's palace. Those of us who know the rest of the story already know that they couldn’t be more mistaken.

Herod is also a man of power and wealth, but he reacts very differently from the wise men of the east. The wise men come a great distance to be part of the story. Herod, too, could have participated in the Good News and the work of Kingdom building. God wouldn't boycott him, just because he was a tool of the Roman empire. God can use any of us, no matter who we've been or where we are.

But Herod has no interest in hearing God’s invitation. Notice that not only is Herod troubled, but all of Jerusalem. Herod consults not only his own staff, but also the chief priests and scribes of Jerusalem.

Herod’s reaction shouldn’t surprise us. He’s not a Roman emperor, after all. He rules only as long as his Roman overlords say that he can. He’s already feeling threatened, and then wise men from the East appear, searching for a ruler who isn’t Herod. We may say that we’d have reacted differently, that we’d have joined the quest and rejoiced when we found Jesus, but we’re likely kidding ourselves.

What does it mean that the good news of the birth of Jesus comes not only to shepherds (in Luke’s Gospel, not Matthew’s), but also to strangers from a distant, non-Jewish country? From the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, we see the inclusivity of the incarnation of God. And from the beginning, we see the rejection of God’s invitation, from Herod onward through all of Jerusalem.

Jesus escapes death by government hands in this story, but again, those of us who know the whole story know that Jesus can only dodge the authorities for so long. Before Jesus opens his mouth, his trajectory places him in direct conflict with the ruling government. His very birth threatens the establishment, as will the rest of his life.

I think of that simplistic bumpersticker: “Wise men still seek him.” But we shouldn’t forget that the quest of the wise men also puts them at severe risk as they meet with Herod, who might have easily had them killed for their impudence of searching for a King of the Jews that wasn’t sanctioned by the state. Indeed, he likely would have killed them, had he not needed them for intelligence gathering.

Wise men and women do indeed still seek Jesus, but we often underestimate the risk. Jesus doesn’t come to occupy a tidy corner of our lives. Jesus doesn’t come to invite us to lunch once or twice a month.

No, God comes to live with us, in all of our brokenness and messiness. God comes to turn our lives upside down—and to turn us around. God has a very grand plan for creation, and for all of the individuals inside of that creation. A life spent searching for Jesus may well set us on a collision course with everything that our culture tells us we should be searching for.

The world tells us to seek wealth; God tells us that we have more than we need and that we should give it all away. The world tells us to seek education; Jesus comes to give us a very different education, one based on compassion and sharing. The world tells us to seek power that only empires can maintain; Jesus shows us the brutality of that kind of power.

Daily life often works to make us more like Herod than the wise men in this story. We miss the miraculous as it twinkles at us, daring us to see, inviting us on a marvelous journey. Let this be the year that we see the portents and the signs, the year that we say yes to God.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Meditation on the Twelve Days of Christmas and Beyond

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

This week at Trinity, we will linger in the land of Christmas a bit longer for the Sunday after Christmas. 

I would encourage us not to leave Christmas behind too quickly. Many of us have had busy Decembers. We can leave our Christmas trees up for a few more days (twelve, even, until Jan. 6, Epiphany) to enjoy the vision we haven't had a chance to take in during our busy Advent. We can eat one last Christmas cookie, while we reflect on the past year, and plan for the year to come. We can pray for the patience of Simeon, for the wisdom of Anna, for the courage of Mary and Elizabeth and Joseph, who said yes to God's plan. We can pray that we have the boldness of John the Baptist, who declared the Good News.

We can pray for the strength to evolve into people of hope, people who watch and wait, confident in the knowledge that God fulfills all promises.

But let us not rest too long in the land of Christmas.  As Pastor Keith reminded us a few years ago, if we leave Jesus as the baby in the manger, we've missed the point.

I have added to that thought as we moved through the liturgical year.  If we leave the savior on the cross, we've missed the point too.  But even the Easter story is only part of the larger point.

A thread runs through all these Good News stories.  Christmas reminds us that God breaks through into our regular lives in amazing ways.  The rest of the stories in the Gospels show us God doing just that.   God came to be with us, to experience human life in all the ways that we experience it--and that includes rejection and death.

The story of Jesus reminds us that death doesn't have the final answer.  Some Christians have decided that Jesus came to earth so that we can get a ticket to Heaven.  But that approach misses an important point too.

God wants to walk beside us not so that we'll get a ticket to Heaven.  God wants to walk with us so that we can be part of the redemption of creation.  Artists everywhere know that when we create together, we're likely to go in directions we wouldn't have anticipated.

God knows it too.

Let this be the year that we discover this great joy.  Let us be the people who have lived in a dark valley but who have seen a great light.  Let us live light-filled lives.


Monday, December 21, 2015


CHRISTMAS EVE AT TRINITY LUTHERAN!
5PM, 7:30PM & 11PM
All Services with Candles and Communion!
7150 Pines Blvd Pembroke Pines Florida 33024
The SE corner of Pines Blvd and 72 Ave,
1 mile west of the Turnpike and due east of Broward College
(954) 989-1903
ALL WELCOME!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Meditation for the Fourth Sunday in Advent

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The Gospel for Sunday, December 20, 2015:

Matthew 1:18-25


Another week, another angel--this time, an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream.  Last week it was Mary--soon it will be time for the angelic appearances to shepherds and wise men.

Notice the responses of these people. They give themselves to God's will. They don't protest, the way that some of our spiritual ancestors did--think of Moses, who tried and tried to get God to go away.

It's important to note that God always gives us a choice, although God can be notoriously insistent. Joseph could have gone on with his plans to divorce Mary quietly; notice his unwillingness to shame her publicly, as would have been his right in a patriarchal society. But the angel appears to give Joseph a fuller picture, and Joseph submits to God's will. Likewise, Mary could have said, "Mother of the Messiah? Forget it. I just want a normal kid." But she didn't.

During this time of year, I often wonder how many times I've turned down God. Does God call me to a higher purpose? Am I living my life in a way that is most consistent with what God envisions for me?

The readings for this time of year reminds us to stay alert and watchful. This time of year, when the corporate consumer machine is cranked into high gear, when so many of us sink into depression, when the world has so many demands, it's important to remember that God's plan for the world is very different than your average CEO's vision. It's important to remember that we are people of God, and that allegiance should be first.

What does this have to do with Joseph? Consider the story again, and what it means for us modern people. Maybe you're like Joseph, and you're overly worried about what people will think about you and your actions. The Gospel for this Sunday reminds us that following God may require us to abandon the judgments of the world and accept God's judgment.

Notice that Joseph is the only one in the story who receives an angel visitation in a dream. What is the meaning of this fact? Perhaps this route was the only way that God could reach Joseph. Many of us are so used to having our yearnings mocked or unanswered that they go deep underground, only to bubble up in dreams and visions. Convenient for us, since we can discount things more easily when they appear in our dreams.

God will take many routes to remind us of our role in the divine drama. Many of us won't notice God's efforts; we're too busy being so busy. This time of year reminds us to slow down, to contemplate, to pay attention.

Friday, December 11, 2015

New Information Directory in the Works

Instead of a pictorial membership directory that is obsolete the moment we hand it out, We are creating a Trinity Lutheran "friends and family" information directory that includes the names, addresses, email and phone numbers for those connected with our parish through direct membership, ministry, service, or friendship who would like to be included. From this directory we are rebuilding our mail, email and social ministry contact info  so that we can be more closely connected with one another and more quickly share information in our 24/7 world. If you would like to be a part of our new directory please private  message me the requested info and feel free to let me know if you are also on Twitter.  message me the requested info (don't assume what we have now is up to date)
Much Appreciated
Pastor Keith

Christmas Eve at TRINITY LUTHERAN!



CHRISTMAS EVE WORSHIP AT TRINITY LUTHERAN!
5:00PM Our Indoor/Outdoor Sunset service that uses both the Trinity Butterfly Garden and Sanctuary and features the musical accompaniment of our Christmas Ukulele Band. With Holy Communion and Candle lighting.
Come early at 4:30PM for the Christmas Sing-A-Long with the Band!

7:30PM Our Family Service. Carols, Special Music. The Christmas Story readings. Communion. Silent Night with Candles. Something for everyone!

11PM Our Cantata Service featuring music and narration written and arranged by Trinity's Jim Hawkins and led by the Trinity Cantata Choir. With Candles, Silent Night, and Communion!


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Saying Yes to God

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015:

Luke 1:  39-56

I love this Gospel vision of improbable salvation: two very different women, yet God has need of them both. I love the way this Gospel shows that even the impossible can be made possible with God: barrenness will come to fruit, youthful inexperience will be seen as a blessing.

Take some Advent time and look at the Magnificat again (verses 46-55). Reflect on how Mary's song of praise sums up most of our Scripture. If we want to know what God is up to in this world, here Mary sings it for us. He has raised up a lowly woman (who would have been a member of one of the lowliest of her society). He has fed the hungry and lifted up the oppressed. He has continued to stay with Abraham's descendants, even when they haven't always deserved it. We can count on our strong God, from generation to generation.

Take some Advent time and think about Mary's call to be greater than she could have ever expected she would be. She could have said no to God--many do. But she said yes. That acceptance didn't mean she would avoid pain and suffering. In fact, by saying yes, she likely exposed herself to more pain and suffering. But in saying yes, she also opened herself up to amazing possibilities.

Think about your own life. Where do you hear God calling your name?

Perhaps I will adopt a different New Year's resolution this year. I usually have resolutions about eating better and exercising more and tending to my writing. Maybe this year, I will resolve to say yes to God.

The very thought makes me a bit terrified. My control freak self doesn't like this idea of saying yes. My control freak self doesn't understand why I would want Mary, mother of Jesus, as a model.

How can we be like Mary? How can we be like Elizabeth, who receives an even more improbable invitation? Where would we be led, if we said yes to God?

God has a greater narrative for us than any we can dream of. Let this be the year that we say yes to God and leave our limited visions behind.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

First Meditation on Mary

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, Dec.6, 2015:

Luke 1:26-38


Can we relate to Mary? Two thousand years of Church tradition tend to paint her in terms that serve whatever purpose society needed at the time. So in some decades we see Mary a perfect woman, sinless and blameless, the kind of woman who transcends humanity and gives birth to the Lord. Some decades write Mary out of the picture once the work in the stable is done, while other decades depict her as an interfering mother—the first helicopter parent!

We’ve heard the story of Mary so many times that we forget how remarkable it really is. We forget how bizarre the story told by the angel Gabriel must seem. A young girl growing God in her womb? A post-menopausal woman conceiving? It’s all too much to fathom.

I always wonder if there were women who sent Gabriel away: "I'm going to be the mother of who? It will happen how? Go away. I don't have time for this nonsense. If God wants to perform a miracle, let God teach my children not to track so much dirt into this house."

We won't ever hear about those women, because they decided that they didn't want to be part of God's glorious vision.

It’s important, too, to notice that God’s glorious vision doesn’t always match the way we would expect God to act. We see a history of God choosing the lowly, the meek, the outcast. Moses the stutterer, David the cheater, Peter the doubter. What business school would endorse this approach to brand building?

But our Scriptures remind us again and again that God works in mystical ways that our rational brains can’t always comprehend. If God can accomplish great things by means of a young woman, a woman beyond child-bearing years, a variety of wandering preachers and prophets, tax collectors and fisherman, just think what God might accomplish with all of our gifts and resources.

Of course, first we have to hear that message, that invitation from God. It’s hard for this message to make its way through all the fear-based messages beamed to us from our culture. The angel tells Mary not to be afraid, and that is a message we need to hear. Don't dance with your dread. Don't keep company with your fears, your worst case scenarios.

 We have much to fear, but we’re not that different from past cultures.   Our culture gives us stories of terrorists and a planet's climate near collapse and refugees who can find no shelter. Our Scriptures tell us of a God that breaks into our normal lives to remind us that God is redeeming creation even if we aren’t aware of that process. Our prophets remind us that ruin doesn’t have to last forever. Gabriel gives the promise that nothing is impossible with God.

Now, that is Good News indeed.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

GINGERBREAD!!!!





It is "that week" again. I usually try to bake something close to 100- 8 inch gingerbread people for church gingerbread day this coming Sunday December 6th after each worship service. Bring yourselves, your kids, your kid's friends, and the neighborhood kids whose names you may or may not know. And your Aunt Bessie, because it isn't a party without her. And if you can please bring some icing (spray  can, squeeze tube or tub) and decorating elements. to share with others. Our services are at 8:30AM, 9:45AM and 11AM.


Blessings,
Pastor Keith

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Meditation for the First Sunday in Advent

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, November 29, 2015:

John 1:  1-14

When I was younger, the Gospel of John confounded me. What kind of nativity story did John give us? Does he not know the power of narrative, the importance of a hook in the beginning?

Look at verse 14, which may be familiar: "And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father." As a child, I'd have screamed, "What does that mean? How does word become flesh?"

And then I became a writer, and I learned how the word becomes flesh. I invented characters who took on lives of their own, who woke me up early in the morning because I wanted to see what happened to them. Yes, I know, I was the God of their universe. But as anyone who has had children will know, you make these creations, and they have their own opinions, and they live their lives in ways you couldn't have known they would.

But lately, I've begun to see this first chapter of John in a less-writerly way. Words become flesh every day. We begin to shape our reality by talking about it. We shape our relationships through our words which then might lead to deeds, which is another way of talking about flesh.

Think about your primary relationships. Perhaps this coming year could be the year when we all treat the primary people in our lives with extra care and kindness. If we treat people with patience and care, if we say please and thank you more, we will shape the flesh of our relationships into something different. Alternately, if we're rude and nasty to people, they will respond with rudeness and cruelty--we've shaped the flesh of the world into a place where we don't want to live.

Our words become flesh in other ways, of course. It's not enough to profess we're Christians. Our words should shape our actions. The world is watching, and the world is tired of people who say one thing and act another way.

How can we enflesh our Christian beliefs incarnate in our own lives? That's the question with which we wrestle year after year. It's easy to say we believe things, but it's much harder to make our actions match our words, to live an authentic life.

The good news: it gets easier. You must practice. Our spiritual ancestors would tell us that daily and weekly practices help to align our words to our actions.

I have an atheist friend who says she envies me my ability to believe. I tell her that there's not a class of people who just have faith. We come to it by our actions. We pray, we pay attention, we meet in church, we study, we read the Bible, we help the poor and outcast, we pray some more--and years later, we realize that we are living a life consistent with our values.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Romans 6:27

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you
Luke 6:27

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Craft and Bake Sale!


Trinity Lutheran's Holiday Craft Sale will take place this Sat, Nov 21 from 9-2 at 7150 Pines Blvd, Pembroke Pines, 33023. In addition to homemade crafts there will be a Bake Sale. You may purchase the following items for Lunch: chili, hot dogs, chips and sodas. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ruth and the Modern Refugee

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday Nov. 22:

Ruth 1:  1-18, Ruth 4:  13-22


I cannot remember any time I have ever heard the book of Ruth preached from the pulpit.  I've studied this book in many a Bible study class--it's perfect, after all, for a Women of the Bible series.  But preached from the pulpit?  Ruth as a model for how to live our lives?  Ruth as a metaphor for God?  No, I've never been part of a church that went down this road, before I was a member of this church.

Here we have another story that gives us glimpses into how difficult it was to be a woman in the ancient world.  Naomi tries to send her daughters-in-law back to their people because she hopes they have a better chance at a decent future by parting from her.  She will not be able to give them what a woman in an ancient, patriarchal culture most needed:  a husband.

It's certainly not clear that their families of origin could do that either.  The outlook for women in general was quite bleak in ancient times.  The outlook for women isn't that much better now for most countries across the planet.

In the book of Ruth, we see a story about the outsider.  Ruth and Naomi are outsiders, strangers in a strange land.  It's hard not to see this story in our current discussion of how to treat refugees.

I have been quite distressed at how quickly the discourse has moved to angry, spewing vitriol in the wake of the Paris bombings.  I am saddened at how little we have already done for people fleeing from horrors we can't even imagine in our safety.  And now, we want to close the borders.

We are close to Advent and Christmas, a time when we will be hearing the words of the ancient prophets who call upon us to bind up the broken.  The season of Christmas will be bring a story about another set of refugees, about an ancient family forced to travel and then forced to flee.  We will hear about ancient governments who bear more than a passing resemblance to our own.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to be in countries that offer us stability--we have a duty to speak up for those who do not.  A variety of religions are very clear on that point of similarity.

Let us pray for the courage of those convictions.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Today's Sermon Text

Here is the text from which I preached today.
In it I suggest a way that we can appraoch OT Texts that reflect a God who embraces the second class status of women, genocide, murder, rape and death of the innocents among other attributes. Why does this matter? Because pastors today of some stripes still cite such passages as reflective of the heart of God. And people still believe in such a God and act accordingly.

Seeking the Heart of God: A sermon based upon Judges 4
So we have this book of the Bible before us called Judges. So what’s a judge?
A handy definition might be: “a public official appointed to decide cases in a court of law”
Great, well the in the Book of Judges there is only one person who really fits this description and all of the rest of the judges of Israel are really military chieftains and rulers who lead their people into battle. A few chapters earlier in Judges we are told that the people of Israel would abandon God and worship the other gods, the false gods of the people of the land who had not been driven out when the Israelites had arrived, and every time that they worshipped these false gods their enemies would over power them and “Then the LORD raised up judges, who delivered them out of the power of those who plundered them.” There is only one person who hears disputes and renders judgment in the entire Book of Judges and that person is a woman and that woman’s name is Deborah who as we heard this morning “used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment.” Not only that, but she was also a prophetess, who spoke the word of the Lord before the people.

Now today’s story involves this judge of Israel, Deborah, the military commander of Israel, Barak, a Kenite woman named Jael and Sisera, the military leader of the Canaanites under King Jabin. So let’s set the stage: A judge of Israel, Ehud, the left-handed son of Gera, the Benjaminite, who had killed King Eglon of Moab, died. Now remember that according to the formula in Judges when the judge dies, the people fall away from God and worship the false gods of the land and then their enemies press against them and then they cry out to the Lord who sends a deliver who saves them from their enemies. So after Ehud dies, what do you think happens to Israel?
Exactly, the formula holds. And King Jabin sends his troops under their leader Sisera to attack the Israelites. And we heard how “the Israelites cried out to the LORD for help; for he [Sisera] had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the Israelites cruelly twenty years.
Let’s talk about expectations.
When Deborah tells the military leader Barak that the LORD, the God of Israel, commands you, 'Go, take position at Mount Tabor, bringing ten thousand from the tribe of Naphtali and the tribe of Zebulun. I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin's army, to meet you by the Wadi Kishon with his chariots and his troops; and I will give him into your hand.'" What do we expect him to do? To be brave and ruthless and destroy the enemies of God down to the last man? In the Book of Judges that’s what heroes do: they slay their enemies through cunning and bravery. Except in this case, Barak refuses to lead unless Deborah goes with him. If you will go with me, I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go." He says.
And for this response Deborah declares “that the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the LORD will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."

That is not meant as a complement, is it?  What will learn about the value of women before the Book of Judges is finished? Jephthah’s daughter will be sacrificed as a burnt offering because her father makes a vow to Lord to sacrifice the first person who greets him if the Lord grants him victory over the enemies of Israel.  As the Book of Judges progresses to its conclusion, women are prostitutes, deceivers, objects of rape, whose bodies could be cut into pieces and sent special delivery as a sign and warning. They are to be taken as prisoners of war and made to be wives of their enemies. They are available for the taking, to be stolen away as wives when they come out to dance at Shiloh.
Does the narrator register God’s anger at such actions? No.
Does the narrator register God’s condemnation at such actions? No.
Does the narrator give evidence that God cares at all for these nameless women subjected to rape and murder, whose value us only measured in their ability to produce babies or serve as sacrifice? Sadly, no.

We might argue that was a long time ago in a culture much different from ours. 
Women would never be devalued today, would they? Have they?

We might argue that most, but not all of these women in the Book of Judges were non-Israelites therefore enemies of God’s chosen people and got what they deserved.
Women belonging to a different ethnic group and considered enemies would never be subject to systemic rape and murder today, would they? Have they?

We might lay it all on God – it was God’s way, God’s plan – that God knew what God was doing and by defending that notion that we are being faithful. It is scripture, we might say. It must be true. Well, it must be true to someone anyway. Someone who took pen to paper or papyrus or whatever and wrote it down. Their understanding of events.
If we are going to confront some of the more difficult passages of scripture we better go in prepared or we are going to get lost.  If we are going to dive into passages that extol violence as a central attribute of God, the murder of innocents as part of God’s plan, the treating of women as lesser objects unless they fit the warrior model as Jael does in Judges 4, cunning and murderous, then we better be prepared or we are going to get lost.
And we need to confront such passages or else we open ourselves to both a false understanding and false witness to the God we worship and love that came to us in and through Christ Jesus.  We need to confront the narrators and narrative arcs of the stories of scripture when such promote an ethic that is not centered in Christ Jesus as revealed to us. Even today the scriptures when left unconfronted by the way of Jesus, the way of love and compassion, even and perhaps especially for the most unlikely of people, then they become a license to objectify, to erase the image of God in the other, to ignore, to hate, even to kill, though Jesus says those two are the same thing.
Our Savior and his ethic that caring for and loving people is more important than fidelity to the right understanding of God’s law. He proves this over and over again by his healings on the Sabbath, by his eating with sinners, by his touching the untouchable, by his love for the outcast. In fact, his embodiment of God’s love fulfills the law, he says. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets,” Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” And let’s be clear: How does Jesus fulfill the law? By humbling giving himself away in an act of pure love for the sake of the world. 
The Apostle Paul seizes on this in Romans:
“Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law….Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”

Here in the Book of Judges if we dare to buy unexamined and unquestioned what the narrator of these passages of hate, death and destruction is trying to sell us about the heart of God then in our quiet acceptance of them, do we not become guilty by association?
What we need for our confrontation of Scripture is a solid hermeneutic, which is a very fancy church word for our method of interpretation.  What is the lens through which we will read the scriptures? What will shed light for us so that we do not get lost? What can help us to understand how we can best love God and neighbor? So here’s my proposition as we begin this journey from Joshua to Job over the next year or so: Let us proceed with a simple hermeneutic and see where it takes us. Along the way, if we find it lacking, we will make adjustments.
That which draws us deeper into our love of God and neighbor reflects most clearly the heart of God in and through Christ Jesus and our thus our Christian faith.
If a passage or story does not lead us into such love, then it is worthwhile for us to explore why and not merely accept a passage on face value as reflecting the true heart of God.
And in a world where pastors spurred on ethnic Hutus to slaughter nearly a million ethnic Tutsi in a mere 100 days back in the 1990’s shouting scripture from their pulpits; and in a nation where political leaders just last week accepted invitations to a conference led by a pastor who believes that homosexuality ought to be punishable in this nation by the death penalty; at a time when so many seek to claim to know the heart of God, we will journey together in faith and in love.
Amen.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

David Frey Update


Many people have asked what they can do for young David who is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. As of now he has been released from the hospital and returns weekly for more chemotherapy. He is isolated in his home and may not have visitors.

1. Please uphold him and his family in your prayers

2. Take the opportunity to write a note of encouragement either this Sunday (note cards and such will be available during all coffee hours) or on your own. If you are mailing your own:
David Frey
6431 SW 2 Street
Pembroke Pines, FL 33023

3. We are taking up a special offering tomorrow at worship to purchase a gift for him.

Ever in Christ
+Pastor Keith

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Deborah and Jael and Modern Women

The reading for Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015:

Judges 4:  1-24

I have always been on the lookout for women in the Bible--it seems we get so few stories of women.  And here, in today's reading, we get two.  Why am I so deeply uneasy?

Once again, it's hard to relate to this story, to the roles in the story.  On the one hand, it's a tale of brutal war, so there are plenty of military commanders.  There's an older prophet, one of few (the only?) female judges in the book of Judges.  There's Jael, who kills the opposition military leader by inviting him into her tent and driving a tent stake through his head while he slept.

As a female, I'm uncomfortable with these women being held up as models of behavior for modern women.  These stories do not provide balance or help me argue that our religion is gender neutral.

On the contrary--and yet, it's important always to keep in mind that the cultures that gave birth to both Judaism and Christianity were deeply patriarchal.  In some ways, it's astonishing that women have any place in these stories at all.

We could read these stories as God making a way out of no way.  That's a fairly standard interpretation.

I also want to take a minute to reflect on the miracle of the ministry of Jesus.  When I think about the Gospels, I'm amazed at how many women are there.  Of course, by the time of the Gospels, we are centuries further along than the time of Deborah and Jael.  But throughout the Gospels, we see women looking out for their families, women asking questions, women providing food, women in even more central roles.

Throughout these texts it's clear that we all have a role to play.  God has a vision, and God invites us to be part of it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Meditation on the Story of Joshua's Trumpet and the Walls that Tumble Down

The reading for Sunday, Nov. 8, 2015:

Joshua 6:  1-16, 22-23

How do we interpret this story of the walls that tumble down?  Do we see it as a sign of Joshua's faithfulness?

That's how I was taught the story as a child.  Joshua had great success, like Moses and Aaron before him, because he followed God's commands and went to improbable places and had victories that no one would have predicted.  As children, we were encouraged to put our trust in God and believe that we, too, would be able to make walls come down.

As a grown up, I think about the metaphorical walls that might be standing in my way.  Some days there are moods and mindsets that act as a wall.  I have no trumpet, but I do have other powers.  I can pray or I can practice looking for the good in my life or I can make lists of all that's going well.  I can get out of my own head and go hand out food at the food pantry.  I can work on a quilt for refugees--the sewing of a seam eases my anxious brain.

We all have walls that are standing in our way.  Do we need a different job?  Do we have relationships that need repair?  Do we have old patterns of behavior that inflict pain?

That's the easy interpretation of the Bible reading for Sunday.  As a grown up, however, I'm also interested in the other side of the story.  As I read the story of Joshua, I think of those people under siege in that walled city.  And the story doesn't give us an easy ending for those people.  The walls come down, and they're slaughtered, every last one of them, except for Rahab and her family who sheltered the Israelite spies.

The Israelites get a homeland, but at an enormous price to the people who are already there, inhabiting the land.  And we will see this dynamic over and over again throughout human history.

Traditionalists will say that the people are slaughtered by Joshua's army because they believed in the wrong gods and the wrong ideas.  But I know that's the story that the winners always tell:  the winners always think they have God on their side.

I'm enough of a student of history to know that we should be careful before we find comfort in that success story.  The winning side can all too easily become the losing side.  Many of the refugees who are flooding Europe's shores once were living middle class lives in a peaceful land.

I think of the different story that Jesus came to tell us.  Jesus calls us to always--always--help the poor, the destitute, and the outcast. But that is not enough. Jesus also calls us to participate in Kingdom building. We are to work to transform the world so that nobody will be poor and outcast. We are to work towards a world where everyone has enough, where no one has to be displaced or slaughtered for the success of a different group.

Friday, October 30, 2015

All Saints Sunday and Trinity's 55th Anniversary

About 48.5 hours for now (not counting the extra hour when we "fall back" Saturday night) Trinity Lutheran will begin its All Saints Service and 55th Anniversary commemoration. Thank you to everyone who has helped ni ways great and small to prepare the Trinity Memorial Butterfly Garden (which has had an almost complete makeover the past few weeks - all 3000+ square feet). A few more hours today and we will call "complete" though in truth as a living space it is always in progress. And than you to everyone bringing some food to share (please do!) for the Anniversary brunch Sunday following worship (Worship at 10AM and brunch arounf 11:15AMish). There will be a slideshow of photos from Trinity's 55 years (just completed with 2,000+ photos) playing continuously in the background during our brunch on the projection screen.

We will give thank this year for 10 long-time servant-saints and recognizer them for their hard work, faithfullness, and perserveance for the sake of the gospel. John Ray Williams, Earline LaCroix, AJ and Lila Brinkley, Bev Grant, Bill Manrodt, Ingeborg Slingsby, Don and Virginia Allen, Mickey Hall, Shirley Grigas, and Al & Shirley Gearhart. To honor them we have planted several fruit trees in the Butterfly garden and placed a stone with the following verse from John 15:8 "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples." A special bookley with brief interviews of those being honored will be handed out at the brunch.

We will also be honoring our long-time organist Barbara Gilson for her many year of dedicated and faithful service, another servant-saint who has done all asked of her and more for the sake of the gospel. In the butterfly garden there is a new tree (a star apple for our star organist!) along with a nearby wind chime so that everytime the Spirit blows (wind and spirit are the same word in scripture) we will hear its music and remember how blessed we are by her devotion and gifts. Thank you to Eileen Soler for interviewing Barbara Gilson for our anniversary booklet.

The booklet also includes a brief history of Trinity Lutheran and a summary of its pastors to date and those ordained there, among them Mark Cerniglia, a son of the parish! The booklet also includes some traditional hymns requested as part of the hymn sing that celebrates beloved hymns from our history.

We are honored to have with us to share in this special day the Rev. Jaime Dubón, the Assistant to the Bishop & Director of Evangelical Mission for South Region of the Florida-Bahamas Synod, who will be bringing greetings from our bishop, Robert G. Schaefer as well as preaching and assisting with communion.

During our All Saints Worship we will be receiving five new members, who will be presented to the congregation by some of our congregational leaders. Welcome Dolores Moon, Bernadette Hammond, Betty Harvey, Howard Brown and Casey Jones!

There will be a table set up in front of the first set of pews for people to place photos and momentos of dearly departed loved ones - we call it our "Table of Remembrance." You may place objects any time prior to the start of the worship service. On this table you will find a prayer book in which you may write the names of anyone who has gone ahead of us into the Kingdom and during worship we will lift them up in prayer as we light candles to remind one another of the promise into which we were all baptized and claimed by Christ.

Thank you in advance to our worship helpers, our Hand Chimers led by Piper Spencer, solist Janean Becker Baumal, our Worship Choir and musicians led by Barbara Gilson, and DaniyCaco Vega for preparing our worship space and fellowship hall for these events. And most of all thank you to God, who in Christ Jesus has blest Trinity with a Spirit of love lived out so boldly through justice, service, compassion, and joy for the past 55 years.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Meditation on All Saints Sunday

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, November 1, 2015:

First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-9

First Reading (Alt.): Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9

Psalm: Psalm 24

Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-6a

Gospel: John 11:32-44

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints', traditionally a time when we remember our dead loved ones and all the saints triumphant.   Some of us are lucky--we have come through the past year without death coming close to us or those whom we love.  Some of us have spent the past year grieving, and we can't imagine how we will ever leave the tomb of grief ourselves.

And along comes Jesus, who calls us to a new life.

Jesus constantly reminds us that the glory of God is all around us, if only we had eyes to see. Jesus invites us to a Resurrection Culture. Sometimes, it's a forceful invitation: the cancer that is caught in time, the loss of a relationship or job that leaves us open to something more nourishing, the addiction that loosens its hold, the return of the prodigal loved ones. Other times, we catch sight of God's Kingdom as a fleeting glimpse: the dance of butterflies, the bad mood that lifts, the perfect bottle of wine that we share with friends.

Still we must cope with the ultimate sorrow. As thinking creatures, we go through life aware that if we live long enough, we will lose all that we love. How do we square the Resurrection Culture of Jesus with this knowledge?

Jesus promises us that death is not the final answer. We may not fully understand how Jesus will fulfill that promise. Some will argue that we go directly to Heaven, and some will tell us that we'll wait in a safe place until the final coming of Christ. And in the meantime, Jesus invites us to participate in the creation of the Kingdom, right here, right now. We don't have to wait until we're dead.

Jesus stands at the door of our tombs and calls to us. How will we answer? Will we say, "Go away! I'm comfortable here in my coffin. Leave me alone." Or will we emerge, blinking, into the sunshine of new life? Will we let Jesus unwrap us from our death cloths?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Meditation for Reformation Sunday

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott


 Here we are at another Reformation Sunday. As we celebrate the actions of Martin Luther centuries ago, you may be wondering what we’re experiencing right here.

Maybe you’re in an angry space; maybe you’re saying, “Hey, I have some theses of my own that I’d like to nail to a nearby church door.” It’s been a tough few years for many of us, as we’ve watched our denominations wrestle with various issues.

Maybe you feel that the Church should move more quickly towards fully embracing the idea of same-sex marriage. Or maybe you feel it’s all moving too quickly. Maybe you despair and imagine God asking, “So, enough of these sexuality issues. What are you doing as a church to eliminate childhood hunger?”

Maybe you feel a bit of despair this Reformation Sunday as you think about the Reformations you thought you were witnessing. Maybe you’re wondering what happened to all that reform. Not too long ago, we might have thought that technology would transform us—or maybe we were ancient-future folks, hoping for more contemplative elements in our services, more praying of the liturgy of the hours, more pre-Reformation elements.

Maybe you’re feeling irritated as you wish we could just go back to being the church that we were in the 1950’s, before so many denominations lost their way. Maybe you’re tired of being the only one at work who’s living a liturgical life.

Or maybe you’re feeling joy. Maybe you’re delighting in hearing about different kinds of intentional communities. Maybe you’re seeing a different way to do Christian education which inspires hope for the next generation of believers. Maybe you’re feeling your creativity enhanced by your spiritual practices, or maybe it’s your spiritual life that’s enhanced by your artistic practices.

No matter where you are this Reformation Sunday, take comfort from the knowledge 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 (third worlds and those slightly more advanced) 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.

Once the dust settles, each of the previous time periods of Reformation has left the Church enriched, but enriched in ways that no one could have predicted--that's what makes it scary, after all. As we approach Reformation Sunday, I'd encourage each of us to tap our own inner Martin Luther. What is the Church doing well? What could be changed for the better? What part can we play?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Meditation for Breast Cancer Sunday

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, October 18, 2015:

Hebrews 5:  1-10; Mark 10:  35-45

In the spirit of full confession, let me admit to feeling queasiness about our annual breast cancer Sunday.  I feel a bit nervous by just confessing my queasiness.  I am not opposed to healing services.  But this particular Sunday with its focus on this particular disease makes me uneasy.

We could argue that we need to make people aware.  But surely anyone who's been conscious for any amount of time understands how to screen for this disease and the importance of early detection.

In fact, I would argue that the focus on breast cancer obscures other health issues.  Did you know that breast cancer is not the cancer that kills the most women?  No.  It's lung cancer.

And if we want to focus on the biggest killer of women, we'd have Heart Disease Sunday.

I know plenty of people who have suffered from breast cancer.  It's not that I don't have a face to go with the disease.  There are far too many faces in my memory.

Happily, most of those faces are still attached to living bodies.  I know of more people who have died of other cancers.

I will confess to theological thoughts that seem almost heretical in this past two years of many cancers.  I don't usually spend much time thinking of cancer, but in these past two years, a colleague has died of pancreatic cancer, a friend died because of a cancerous brain tumor that returned, a colleague has battled colon cancer that travelled to his liver, and my best friend from high school died of cancer of the esophagus.  The thought of cancer is never far from my consciousness.

I have found myself wondering about where cancer fits into God's plan.  I don't believe that our lives are set on a predetermined path, but I do believe that God has created everything with meticulous attention to detail.  How do I square that belief with a cancer cell?  The cancer cell undoes such a beautiful creation, the human body.  It looks like a design flaw to me. 

But here's the heretical thought:  maybe it looks like a design flaw, but it's not.  Maybe I think of it as a design flaw because I am human-centered.  Do we believe in a God who loves every element of creation equally?  I say that I do, but my belief falters in the face of cancer cells.

I think of those Bible verses that has God caring for a sparrow and knowing every hair on the human head.  Does God care equally for the cancer cell?

If I was a good theologian, I'd have an answer.  I don't.  I don't even have a Bible reference that helps me make sense of my quandary.

My creative practices help me with my theological quandary about God and cancer cells.  My creative processes have helped me to be comfortable with long periods of not knowing a clear direction.  I begin to write a novel, for example, in a place of uncertainty.  Do I have characters who are worthy of a book?  What will happen to them?  What's the purpose of this novel?  I don't have to know for sure, but I have to keep going.

I don't know for sure how cancer fits into the plan for creation.  Is it evidence of a fallen aspect of creation?  Or perhaps the cancer cell fits a larger purpose that I can't even conceive of--because, after all, I'm not God.

But I have trust in the Easter message that death does not have the final answer.  I have trust in a Creator and a creation that commits to resurrection on a daily basis.  With that faith, I can continue.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

PUMPKIN PATCH UPDATE


JUST A FRIENDLY REMINDER THAT PUMPKIN OFFLOAD IS THIS WED AT 4:00PM.  Come whenever you can.  Bring your gloves!  Pizza will be served!
If you are unable to help during offload, there are many times during the week when we still need volunteers to work the patch.  Fortunately, the pumpkins sell themselves, however...one cannot do it alone.  The only requirement is that you enjoy meeting new people in the community and within the Trinity Family.  Also, the pumpkins that are not placed on pallets, and there will be many, will need to be turned every night.  We are looking for youth volunteers to do this - another great way to earn service hours.  If you are able to work any of the shifts (or part of a shift), or to sign up for pumpkin turning, please email Kathy Velez at  kathryn4301@att.net or call her at 954-478-4395.  Thanks to those who have already signed up to volunteer.  

The following shifts are available:
  
Friday, Oct. 16th
4:00-6:00     2 volunteers needed
6:00-8:00     2 volunteers needed

Saturday, Oct. 17th
12:30-3:00   2 volunteers needed
5:30-8:00     2 volunteers needed

Sunday, Oct. 18th
3:00-5:30     2 volunteers needed
  
Monday, Oct. 19th
2:00-4:00     1 volunteer needed
6:00-8:00     2 volunteers needed

Tuesday, Oct. 20th
6:00-8:00     2 volunteers needed

Wednesday, Oct. 21st
6:00-8:00     2 volunteers needed

Thursday, Oct. 22nd
6:00-8:00     2 volunteers needed

Friday, Oct. 23rd
4:00-6:00     1 volunteer needed
6:00-8:00     2 volunteers needed

Saturday, Oct. 24th
12:30-3:00   2 volunteers needed