In the Sanctuary at 8:30AM and 11AM -
a blended service of traditional and contemporary elements with communion

In the hall at 9:45AM
scripture, prayer, and creative response with communion

Worship each Sunday @ 8:30AM, 9:45AM, and 11AM

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We have moved the service that was tentatively planned for this Friday July 13th to Friday, September 21st 7PM-8:30PM in commemoration of th...

Sunday, November 29, 2015


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.

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.

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.