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Join Us For Worship!

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

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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.