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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

Featured Post

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 28, 2016

Meditation on Epiphany's Aftermath

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

This Sunday, Trinity Lutheran Church will ponder the Epiphany.  It's worth considering what happens when the wise men leave.  Here's a meditation on the Bible passage of Matthew 2:13-23:


After all the joy and wonder of Christmas Eve, this reading returns us to post-manger life with a thud. In this Gospel, we see Herod behaving in a way that's historically believable, if perhaps not historically accurate, as he slaughters all the male children in Bethlehem under the age of two. Why would he do such a terrible thing? Partly because he's worried about keeping his power; he's worried about what the wise men have told him, and he doesn't want any challenges. Partly because he can; he has power granted to him by Roman authorities, and that power means that he can slaughter his subjects if he sees fit to do so.

Jesus, however, escapes. A power greater than Rome protects him. Warned by an angel in a dream, Joseph flees with Mary and Jesus to Egypt, to safety. But still, the earthly power of Herod turns them into refugees.

Early in the Gospel, we see that the coming of Jesus disrupts regular life. Even before Jesus tells us that the life of a disciple is not one of material ease and comfort, we get that message. Even before Jesus warns us that following him may mean that we're on the opposite side of earthly powers, we see with our own eyes, in the story of Herod and the slaughter of the innocents.

This Gospel reminds us of the potency of power. We shouldn't underestimate the power of the State, particularly the power of a global empire. With the story of Herod, we see the limits of worldly power. Yet even within those limits, a dastardly ruler can unleash all sorts of pain and suffering. Those of us lucky enough to live under benign rulers shouldn't forget how badly life can go wrong for those who don't share our good fortune.

The Gospel reminds us of who has the true power in the story--it's God. The Gospel shows us who deserves our loyalty. And the Gospel also reminds us of the hazards of living in a universe where God is not the puppet master. In a universe that God sets free to be governed by free will, it's up to us to protect the vulnerable. And this story of Herod's slaughter reminds us of what happens when despots are allowed to rule. Sadly, it's a story that we still see playing out across the planet.

If we're not in the mood to see this Gospel in its geopolitical implications, we might take a few moments of introspection in these waning days of the year. Where do we see Herod-like behavior in ourselves? What threatens us so much that we might do treacherous deeds? What innocent goodness might we slaughter so that we can allay our fears and insecurities?

I predict that churches across the nation (and the world) will choose to ignore this difficult text on this morning after Christmas. Far better to enjoy Christmas carols one last time than to wrestle with this difficult text. But Jesus reminds us again and again that he didn't come to make us all comfortable. He didn't come to be our warm, fuzzy savior. He came to overturn the regular order, to redeem creation, to restore us to the life that God intends for us--and Herod stands as a potent symbol for what might happen if we take Jesus seriously.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

+++UPDATED INFORMATION ON THE PAT MCCAFFERTY FUNERAL++

VISITATION for Pat McCafferty will take place at Fred Hunters Funeral Home on Taft Street on Wednesday December 28th from 2PM-4PM.

The FUNERAL SERVICE will take place on THURSDAY December 29th at 10AM at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines, followed by burial at Fred Hunter Funeral Home Cemetery on Taft Street which will be followed by a memorial meal in Trinity's Charter Hall. If you would like to assist with the meal, please let Pastor Keith know what you would like to bring.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to Trinity Lutheran's Memorial Fund c/o Trinity Lutheran Church 8362 Pines Blvd Suite 431 Pembroke Pines FL 33024

The link to the online obituary and virtual guestbook are found here http://www.fredhunters.com/obitu…/170808/Ogalene-McCafferty/

Monday, December 26, 2016

PAT MCCAFFERTY UPDATED

The Funeral Service for Pat McCafferty will take place on THURSDAY December 29th at 10AM at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines, followed by burial at Fred Hunter Funeral Home Cemetery on Taft Street and a memorial meal in Trinity's Charter Hall. If you would like to assist with the meal, please let Pastor Keith know what you would like to bring.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to Trinity Lutheran's Memorial Fund c/o Trinity Lutheran Church 8362 Pines Blvd Suite 431 Pembroke Pines FL 33024

Pat McCafferty

Beloved Trinity member Pat McCafferty passed away peacefully early this morning  at VITAS hospice. Though she had been recovering well from a broken hip, other unexpected health complications had taken their toll. Funeral arrangements are still being finalized and will be shared when available. Please keep Pat's family in your prayers. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Meditation

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The readings for Sunday, December 25, 2016:

Choice 1:

First Reading: Isaiah 62:6-12

Psalm: Psalm 97

Second Reading: Titus 3:4-7

Gospel: Luke 2:[1-7] 8-20

Choice 2:

First Reading: Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm: Psalm 98

Second Reading: Hebrews 1:1-4 [5-12]

Gospel: John 1:1-14

In my younger years, I'd have guessed that the Christmas story would be one of the easiest to preach.  What could go wrong when you had a story this great?  Now that I'm older, I see many pitfalls to preaching the Christmas story.

First of all, there's the fact that many people only go to church around Christmas.  This may be the only story that they hear.  For many of us, Christmas is our favorite holiday.  But it's a sanitized Christmas that we often love.

Think of the parts of the story that are left out (or not emphasized) most years:  the yoke of empire bearing down on this young couple in many ways, from the trip to Bethlehem to the fleeing Herod when the wise men launch Herod's wrath.  Think about this young couple, with so few resources, pulled into this story of God breaking though into this prison of a world.

Many Christmas sermons will focus on that sweet baby, but that approach, too, is fraught with problems.  In a Facebook post, one of my female minister friends reminded us to "please be aware that the imagery of holding a new born is not comforting to those who have not had those dreams fulfilled this year...or worse, by those who carry the great, but silent, grief of fetal loss."  She reminds us that we might not know of these losses, since often they are not discussed.

Many people I know are having trouble believing the good news that the angels sing.  It's a hard world we live in, and this year, many of us have suffered brutal losses.  It may be the intensely personal loss of horrible health news or the death of one we love.  It may be the larger loss, the suffering that drives people from their homes into perilous journeys.  We may see that we live in a world of dangerous dictators, a world where empires afflict people or refuse to act, and we may wonder where, exactly, God is breaking through.

But it is precisely in these times that we must have fortitude.  We can choose to live as people of God. We do not have to weep in the ruins of our cities. Advent has promised us that help is on the way, and Christmas gives us the Good News that the redeemer has come, and in the most unlikely circumstances.

That’s the way redemption works—not in the ways we would expect, but in surprising ways that take us where we could not dream of going, and sometimes faster than we would expect. If we could travel back in time to tell the people of 1985 that the Soviet Union would soon crumble and South Africa would be free of white rule, the people of 1985 would think we were insane. If we could travel back to the first century of the Roman empire to tell of what the followers of Jesus would accomplish, those people would laugh at us—if they even knew who Jesus was.

I'm thinking of the last time that Christmas fell on a Sunday, in December of 2011, when the world lost many great leaders, among them Nelson Mandela and Vaclav Havel.  I'm remembering a celebratory essay in The Washington Post by Madeleine Albright, who said of Havel: “He declared himself neither an optimist (‘because I am not sure everything ends well,’) nor a pessimist (‘because I am not sure everything ends badly’) but, instead, ‘a realist who carries hope, and hope is the belief that freedom and justice have meaning . . . and that liberty is always worth the trouble.’”

Christians, too, believe that freedom and justice have meaning and that liberty is always worth the trouble. And if we believe in the Good News that surrounds us at Christmas, we can be wild-eyed optimists. We know that things will end well; we have a multitude of promises and plenty of evidence that God will keep those promises of liberty for the captives.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Another Awesome Crazy Sunday!

A day of worship with great musical support from our choir and a solo by Sarah Gearhart, of gingerbread decorating, of Belgian Waffle eating, of pizza, of clothes for sheltered youth collecting and delivering, of creches made from scraps and marshmallows and such during our 9:45 Cross+Gen service, of bacon cooked with brown sugar and cracked pepper, of ukuleles doing a hospital visit, and of being the people of God in our own crazy creative and gracious way!











Wednesday, December 14, 2016

This Sunday

From 915-1015am this Sunday in Charter Hall Pastor Keith will be cooking up an Advent Breakfast of Belgian waffles with assorted toppings and back by popular demand bacon with brown sugar and cracked black pepper. Kristin will be leading the 945am service as we reflect upon the birth of Jesus with our creative side through the construction of crèches from miscellaneous items.

After the 830am, 945am, and 11am services there will be gingerbread for decorating (contributions of icing, sprinkles and other design elements welcome).

Pizza after 11am.

Last Sunday to donate gently used teenage clothes and shoes for the youth shelter and also to place a dedication for Christmas poinsettias.

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

by Kristin Berkey-Abbott

The reading for Sunday, December 18, 2016:

Matthew 1:18-25


This Sunday we read about an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream. We've now spent several weeks with people who hear amazing news about God's plan for them and the world.

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.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

We Need You!

Our list of shut-ins is growing - can you spare an hour or so to bring true joy Sunday afternoon to folks who will just light up to hear you participate in our annual Christmas Caroling Event? Pizza at 12:15 and then folks will be divided up into teams and carpools. We could really use you !

Friday, December 09, 2016

Chocolate Chip Pancakes and Stuff

This Sunday, December 11th, we continue our new Advent morning breakfast tradition in Charter Hall prior to our 9:45AM service and choir practice from 9:15AM-10AM with Chocolate Chip pancakes (and optional whipped cream), the return of bacon with brown sugar and cracked pepper, fruit and vanilla yogurt parfaits, and I think there will be some heathy English muffins in there somewhere as well. All welcome.

Following the 11AM service we have pizza for 1$ a slice for folks while we pack up cookies and warm up our voices and some folks hand chime before we Christmas carol for our shut-ins.
We still could use more cookies, more cookie tins, and more singers (or people who are joyous and like to pretend to sing - it's all good).

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Poem for Mid-Advent

The reading for Sunday, December 11, 2016:

Luke 1:  39-56

This Sunday, we continue to hear the story of Mary and Elizabeth.  I've spent some time thinking about the modern connections to Mary and Elizabeth, about where we find the holy, about how God shows up in places we might not expect.

This week, I'm posting something different for your reading pleasure:  a poem I wrote that imagines the angel Gabriel in modern times.  It was published last year in Annunciation, a collection of poems by a variety of poets and illustrations by the editor Elizabeth Adams, published by Phoenicia Publishing.


A Girl More Worthy
The angel Gabriel rolls his eyes
at his latest assignment:
a virgin in Miami?
Can such a creature exist?

He goes to the beaches, the design
districts, the glittering buildings
at every boundary.
Just to cover all bases, he checks
the churches but finds no
vessels for the holy inside.

He thinks he’s found her in the developer’s
office, when she offers him coffee, a kind
smile, and a square of cake. But then she instructs
him in how to trick the regulatory
authorities, how to make his income and assets
seem bigger so that he can qualify
for a huge mortgage that he can never repay.

On his way out of town, he thinks he spies
John the Baptist under the Interstate
flyway that takes tourists
to the shore. But so many mutter
about broods of vipers and lost
generations that it’s hard to tell
the prophet from the grump,
the lunatic from the T.V. commentator.

Finally, at the commuter college,
that cradle of the community,
he finds her. He no longer hails
moderns with the standard angel
greetings. Unlike the ancients,
they are not afraid, or perhaps, their fears
are just so different now.

The angel Gabriel says a silent benediction
and then outlines God’s plan.
Mary wonders why Gabriel didn’t go
to Harvard where he might find
a girl more worthy. What has she done
to find God’s favor?

She has submitted
to many a will greater than her own.
Despite a lifetime’s experience
of closed doors and the word no,
she says yes. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

UPDATE ON ROBBERY

Amazing generous response and outpouring of prayer and love to the recent break-in and robbery at Trinity Lutheran. Thank YOU! Thank YOU! Thank YOU! Thank YOU! (I would have to repeat this so many more times that I worry about my typing fingers). Over half of the money needed to replace and repair what was stolen/broken has already been collected. We have two more security/alarm companies coming in tomorrow to give us estimates. The door should be repaired by the end of the week. Replacing the instruments is under way.

Our hearts continue to turn towards the one for whose birth we wait and pray, we hope and anticipate, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.




Sunday, December 04, 2016

Trinity Robbed

Sometime between late last night and early this morning, Trinity Lutheran's main sanctuary was broken into and robbed. Taken items included a number of items used as part of our music ministry including an amp/mixer, keyboard and guitar as well as a partner congregation's mixer. The front door to the sanctuary was shattered with a large brick.





The broken door has been secured and our losses tallied to in the neighborhood of $1750 which will again fall below the threshold of our insurance deductible. As this is the second break-in on our campus in the past year we are contacting alarm/security companies and will be moving forward with increased monitoring of our facilities. Anyone so moved to assist on with replacing stolen items, your donations made out to Trinity Lutheran Church would be most appreciated.
The police did come, but no obtainable fingerprints or other clues as to the perpetrator was found.
Since people have graciously been asking - our address is Trinity Lutheran Church 8362 Pines Blvd suite 431 Pembroke Pines FL 33024. 
Due to a number of requests, we have set up PAYPAL account for online donations to TRINITY. You can either use your PAYPAL account or just a credit card with no PAYPAL account necessary. The button is top of the BLOG on the right side. And thank you for all of the kind thoughts, prayers and messages of support in the wake of the robbery at Trinity. It is such a blessing to be surrounded by such amazing people!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Meditation on Mary and Gabriel

The reading for Sunday, December 4, 2016:

Luke 1:26-38

Today we get the wonderful Gospel story of the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary, and Mary's response. Protestants traditionally don't spend much time thinking about Mary, which is a shame, because she has much to teach us.

I love Mary's measured responses. She ponders. She wonders how the events that Gabriel mentions can be true. Everything that Gabriel says would challenge the brain that tended towards the literal, which frankly, is how I think of the modern brain--if we can't prove it scientifically, don't bother us. Most of us would have jeered at Gabriel and sent him on his way. We'd have told our friends about the stupid angel who thought we'd believe that a post-menopausal woman, like our cousin Elizabeth, could get pregnant.

But Mary has a different response. I like that she's not punished for her questions. Gabriel answers, and she accepts.

I like that God sends Gabriel to prepare the way. Many of our Advent lessons seem to revolve around God preparing the way, whether it be with angels or with prophets or with strange men crying in the wilderness.

And it's important to note that Mary has a choice. We always have a choice. I've had nonbeliever friends who call God a rapist because of how God treated Mary, but that's not the God I know and not the God that the story presents. Gabriel paints a scenario, and Mary submits to God's will. Mary could have said no, but she chose to say yes.

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.

How about you? How is God calling to you?

Most of us aren't visited by angels, and if we are, we know better than to talk about it. But God speaks to us in other ways. There's the traditional way: through the Scriptures. But God also speaks to us through our yearnings and dreams.

God breaks into our world in many wonderful ways, but most of us aren't paying attention. If the angel Gabriel did appear, we might not even notice, because we're so busy, which makes us too exhausted to even dream of a better life.

Winter is a great time to become more introspective. The days are shorter and darker--what better time to stay inside and write in your journal. You could get back to that valuable tool of keeping a gratitude journal--every day, list 5 things for which you're grateful. Or, every day you could list one time when you felt God's presence; once you train yourself to be aware, you'll have more to list. Or you could list the ways you'd like to see the world change to become more aligned with God's vision for the world--and maybe you could list ways that you could help with that transformation. In your journal, you could keep a prayer list, so you remember the people and places that need your prayers--and maybe, in future years, you'd consult the list and be amazed at the way that God answers your prayer. Maybe in your journal, you could practice the ancient art of lectio divina--take a passage of the Bible and meditate on it awhile--write about the passage for 10 minutes and see what happens.

You might start with these words of Gabriel: "For with God nothing will be impossible" (Luke 1, verse 37).

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Dinner at Trinity

WHERE ARE YOU EATING FOR THANKSGIVING?

Please join us in the Trinity Fellowship Hall at 3PM on Thursday November 24th (thanksgiving Day) for a potluck Thanksgiving meal. There will be Turkey, Ham, Stuffing and sides and I've baked five loaves of Oatmeal Wheat Bread and there will be so many desserts. Sweeter still is the time we spend together in fellowship and thankfulness. All Welcome!

Amazon Smile As You Shop!

If you are going to be doing shopping through amazon.com in the coming season (or any season) and have not already designated a recipient for Operation Smile, please consider Trinity Lutheran church. Help us better feed the hungry, clothe the needy, fight for justice and share the Good News of Jesus!

You can support Trinity with each purchase that you make through Amazon.com with NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU!
By registering and using the smile.amazon.com link, a small percentage of what you spend at Amazon will be returned as a gift to Trinity.
This is the link:
https://smile.amazon.com/ch/59-1159569

Thanksgiving Eve

Interfaith Prayer, Reflection and Conversation on Thankfulness and Generosity Tonight, Thanksgiving Eve,  in the Trinity Fellowship Hall at 7:30PM. Desserts and Coffee provided. All welcome!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Words Becoming Flesh

The reading for Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016:

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.

Many of us know the truth that John gives us in a different 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.

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.

Here we are, at the beginning of Advent, a season that for many of us is a time of frenzy and exhaustion.  Let us plan now.  How can we create a more a contemplative corner for Advent?  Let these words of commitment become flesh and live in us.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Parable of the Tenants

The reading for Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016:

Luke 20:  9-16

Today's reading contains a parable that clearly tells the story of Christ, in the vineyard owner's son, who is killed by the tenants.   What else should we take away from this story?

I suspect that when modern readers, many of whom own property, read this lesson, they identify with the vineyard owner far more than they do with the tenants. But what would happen if we thought about ourselves as the tenants?

What is it the tenants hope to gain by this behavior?  If we take this parable on one level, we have to wonder what we're being taught.  The system is set up against the tenants.  They do not own the land.  They will not be able to own the land, given the approach they are taking.  But as with every parable, there's more, if we dive below the surface.

Let's return to the parable again.  Let's look at that landowner, who goes away and then tries to claim what is his.  Are we seeing the same lesson from a different angle?  The landowner, too, cannot change approach.  The landowner tries to settle a problem by the using the same approach, time after time after time.

Notice how all of the characters are so stuck in their self-destructive ways that they can't change. Now, as we settle into the season of autumn, as we race towards the end of the year, it might be useful to do some self-evaluation. What are our habits that get in the way of us living as the people of God? By now, you might despair to realize that these are the same patterns you've wrestled with before. But take heart. As you continue to attempt to make changes and go astray, each time you try to get back to a more wholesome way of living, it should take less time to make the necessary adjustments.

All this talk of going astray may not be the most useful image for us. Many of us have grown up in churches that berated us with talk of sin and tried to make us change by making us feel ashamed. We live in a toxic culture that tells us that we're not doing enough, not earning enough, not buying the right stuff. Many of us spend our days with voices in our head telling us those same messages. Who wants to come to church to hear the same thing? We've tried, we've failed, we know, we get it.

The danger is that we might quit trying to live the life that God envisions for us. God doesn't want us to live the way we've been living. Many of us might agree--we don't want to be living these lives.

So take a different approach. What would a healthier life look like? What would a God-centered life look like?  The answers will be different for all of us. How would a God-centered life feel?

When you go astray, take heart. Remember that God promises that no matter how far away you are from that vision of a God-centered life, God will meet you more than half-way. If you're feeling like a rejected stone, remember that God has great plans for you. You can become the cornerstone that supports a building that you weren't even able to envision at an earlier point in your life.


Wednesday, November 09, 2016

What Do We Do Now?

What do we do now?

Some folks are happy. Some sad.
Some fearful. Some expectant.
Some anxious. some relieved.

So what do we do now?

Well, I pastor a congregation of disciples who seek to walk in the Way of Jesus. A faith community that seeks to share Christ, live by loving, care by serving and see Christ in all. And by all we mean ALL. We're weird that way. And we screw it up sometimes. But every time we dust ourselves off, turn from our way to God's way, and try again. Grace is cool that way. It gives us an everlasting hope.

We are a faith community that is Reconciled in Christ (RIC) and is welcoming to all. We seek to be a community that embodies radical hospitality. So If you are Native American, Asian, Hispanic, Black, White, Bi-Racial or Multi-Racial...If you are three days old, 30 years old, or 103 years old...If you’ve never stepped foot in a church; or if you are Catholic or Protestant, Buddhist or Jain, Jewish or Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, atheist, agnostic, or Christian, a seeker or spiritual or not quite sure...If you are single, married, divorced, separated, or partnered...If you are male or female, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer...If you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Socialist, Libertarian or of any or no political persuasion...If you have, or had, addictions, phobias, regrets, or a criminal record...If you own your home, rent, live with your parents, or with your children or with your friends, or are homeless...If you are fully-abled, disabled or a person of differing abilities...
You are welcome here at TLC!

We are also a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (not of America) and as such we take the work of justice and holding people and governments accountable for their actions seriously. Our justice ministry is our largest ministry. And we also seek to be a community of mercy who feeds and clothes the hungry and the outcast.

We worship and we pray. We praise and we encourage. We equip and send one another out for the work of the gospel. And gospel means good news. And in all of this that good news is not diminished one bit.

Jesus is our Lord.
We are in the world and not of it.
We pray for our leaders, but are under no illusion that they will  embody God's concerns for the hungry, the voiceless, the outcast, the imprisoned, the widow and the orphan, the immigrant and the marginalized.

And so we pray and will seek to hold them accountable.
We will stand with the poor.
We will stand for the immigrant.
We will stand with the LGBTQ community
We stand with all women who have been and continued to suffer from a society at large that will not see and treat them as equals. That talks over their stories of harassment, objectification, and pain.
We stand with #blacklivesmatter because in this country all lives are not equal.
We will stand for peace and justice.
And we will stand for the marginalized and the suffering because that is what people who seek to walk in the Way of Jesus do. It is what all Christians are call to do. The election did not change this, but perhaps it has brought our work more clearly into focus and with renewed urgency. As we all catch our breath and breath our prayers there is great love and goodness all around us if we have eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts soft enough to embrace it. God invites us to enter that love, God's love, the peace that passes all understanding.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Lazarus and the Rich Man

The reading for Sunday, November 13, 2016:

Luke 16:19-31


This Sunday, we return to familiar themes with the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus is so poor that he hopes for crumbs from the rich man's table and has to tolerate the dogs licking his sores. Lazarus has nothing, and the rich man has everything. When Lazarus dies, he goes to be with Abraham, where he is rewarded. When the rich man dies, he is tormented by all the hosts of Hades. He pleads for mercy, or just a drop of water, and he's reminded of all the times that he didn't take care of the poor. He asks for a chance to go back to warn his family, and he's told, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead."

To hear the Christians who are most prominently in the media, you'd think that the Bible concerned itself with homosexuality.  Yet many Bible scholars would remind us that economic injustice is one of the most common themes in the Bible.

In his book, God's Politics, Jim Wallis tells of tabulating Bible verses when he was in seminary: "We found several thousand (emphasis his) verses in the Bible on the poor and Gods' response to injustice. We found it to be the second most prominent theme in the Hebrew Scriptures Old Testament--the first was idolatry, and the two often were related. One of every sixteen verses in the New Testament is about the poor or the subject of money (mammon, as the gospels call it). In the first three (Synoptic) gospels it is one out of ten verses, and in the book of Luke, it is one in seven" (page 212).

And how often does the Bible mention homosexuality? That depends on how you translate the Greek and how you interpret words that have meanings that cover a wide range of sexual activity--but at the most, the whole Bible mentions homosexuality about twelve times.

If we take the Bible as the primary text of Christianity, and most of us do, the message is clear. God's place is with the poor and oppressed. The behavior that most offends God is treating people without love and concern for their well being--this interpretation covers a wide range of human activity: using people's bodies sexually with no concern for their humanity, cheating people, leaving all of society's destitute and despicable to fend for themselves, not sharing our wealth, and the list would be huge, if we made an all-encompassing list.

It might leave us in despair, thinking of all the ways we hurt each other, all the ways that we betray God. But again and again, the Bible reminds us that we are redeemable and worthy of salvation. Again and again, we see the Biblical main motif of a God who wants so desperately to see us be our best selves that God goes crashing throughout creation in an effort to remind us of all we can be.

Some prosperity gospel preachers interpret this motif of a God who wants us to be rich. In a way, they're right--God does want us to be rich. But God doesn't care about us being rich in worldly goods. Anyone who has studied history--or just opened their eyes in recent years--knows how quickly worldly goods can be taken away. But those of us who have dedicated our lives to forging whole human relationships and helping to usher in the Kingdom now and not later--those of us rich in love are rich indeed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A Meditation for All Saints Sunday

This Sunday, we will celebrate All Saints Sunday. Traditionally, this day celebrates the saints who have gone on before us. Traditionalists would only celebrate the lives of the truly beatified and the lives of those martyred for the faith.  Many modern churches have expanded this feast day to become a day when we remember our dead. 

Could we approach this day differently?  Could we use this day to remind us of the saints we are called to become?

Certainly we can begin with the lives of our lost loved ones.  What aspects should we invite into our lives?  Maybe it's the charitable giving of our grandparents or our mother-in-law's hospitality.  Maybe we would like to do more for the church, like sing in the choir.  Maybe there are some spiritual practices, like daily devotions that our parents used to have with us as children, that could enrich us even now.

If those family members are still living, we should write them a note or a card. Some day, you'll remember them on this feast day. Write them a note of appreciation now, while they are alive to appreciate your gratitude.
And then, let us expand our meditations to others who have gone before, those whom we may have never met.  That's the good news about All Saints Day and Reformation Day. We tend to forget that all the saints that came before us were flesh and blood humans (including Jesus). We think of people like Martin Luther as perfect people who had no faults who launched a revolution. In fact, you could make the argument that many revolutions are launched precisely because of people's faults: they're bullheaded, so they're not likely to make nice and be quiet and ignore injustice. They're hopelessly naive and idealistic, so they stick to their views of how people of faith should live--and they expect the rest of us to conform to their visions. They refuse to bow to authority because they answer to a higher power--and so, they translate the Bible into native languages, fund colleges, rescue people in danger, insist on soup kitchens, write poems, and build affordable housing.

The world changes (for the better and the worse) because of the visions of perfectly ordinary people--and because their faith moves them into actions that support that vision. If we're lucky, those people are working towards the same vision of the inclusive Kingdom that Jesus came to show us.

Soon we will be skating down the corridor which takes us to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It's a time of breathless pace for many of us.  Let us take another day to remember the souls of those gone before us.  Let us think of our own mortal souls which will not be on this earth for a very long time.  Let us resolve to strengthen our spiritual lives, so that we serve as living lanterns for those coming after us.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Meditation for Reformation Sunday

Here we are, back at Reformation Sunday.  Each year, as this Sunday of celebration approaches, I find myself thinking about what needs to be reformed and what should be preserved.

Perhaps you feel like we've been living Reformation for the past few years as the Lutheran church has wrestled with the fallout from the various sexuality decisions of the Churchwide Assembly in 2009. Perhaps you are not happy with the changes that have been wrought. Or perhaps you are unhappy with the more recent election of a female bishop to head the ELCA—or maybe you’re unhappy because there are so few synodical bishops. Maybe you find yourself feeling very sympathetic to the Catholic church of Luther's day, the Church that found itself torn asunder by many movements of reform.

Regardless of the side on which we sit with these recent struggles, we might find ourselves feeling a bit fearful. We might worry about schism. We probably worry that there won't be a place for us in the church that emerges from all of this.

We should take heart 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 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. It may be painful, but any of these processes may lead us to soil where we can bloom more fruitfully.

We may think of that metaphor and feel despair, as if we will never be truly rooted, flowering plants. But rootlessness can be its own spiritual gift. The spiritual wanderers have often been those who most revitalized the Church, or on a smaller level, their spiritual communities. The spiritual wanderers are often the ones who keep all of us true to God's purpose.

If you have been feeling despair, take heart. Jesus promises that we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. You might not be feeling like you know what the truth is at this current point; you may feel tossed around by the tempests of our current times. But Jesus promises that we will know the truth. We will be set free. We don't have a specific date at which we'll know the truth. But we will.

Rest in God's promise that we are all redeemable; indeed, we are redeemed. Rest in the historic knowledge that the Church has survived times of greater turbulence than our own. Rest in Luther's idea that we are saved by grace alone. Rest.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

PUMPKIN PATCH OPENINGS

The pumpkin patch is underway! Thanks to all volunteers who helped with offload and manning the patch for the 1st week. We have the following shifts available for week 2 and kindly ask that you consider taking a shift (or a portion of a shift). No heavy lifting required-just a friendly face to greet the community!
Please contact Kathy at
954-478-4395 or by email at kathryn4301@att.net if you can take a shift or if you have any questions.

**Unless otherwise noted, we need 2 volunteers for each shift**
Monday, Oct. 24
12:00-2:30
2:30-4:00 1 person needed6:00-8:00

Tuesday, Oct. 25
12:00-2:00
2:00-4:00
6:00-8:00

Wednesday, Oct. 26
2:00-4:00
4:00-6:00 1 person needed6:00-8:00

Thursday, Oct. 27
12:00-2:00
2:00-4:00
6:00-8:00

Friday. Oct. 28
2:00-4:00
4:00-6:00 1 person needed
Saturday, Oct. 29
10:00-12:30
3:00-5:30
5:30-8:00

Saturday, October 22, 2016

REFUGEE SUNDAY

This Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church we will be Commemorating REFUGEE SUNDAY lifting up especially the work of the Lutheran Immigration and Resettlement Service http://lirs.org

While politicians demonize the refugees who come to us seeking asylum from war and persecution, groups like LIRS have resettled half a million people some 1939.

I will be preaching on Matthew 25:
Lord when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are
members of my family, you did it to me.'
See You Sunday!
Pastor Keith

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hurricane Matthew Relief for the Bahamas

Collecting for the people of the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Matthew for distribution through Our Savior Lutheran Church, Freeport. Items may be left in the box in the narthex. All items to be donated must be received by Sunday November 6th.

CEREALS (assorted)
CARNATION CREAM
BABY DIAPERS
RICE
GRITS
CAN TUNA
CAN CORNER BEEF
VEGETABLE SOUP
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
ASSORTED RAMEN NOODLES
TOLIET PAPER
BLEACH (gal or 1/2 gal)
Pine sol (24 or 48 ounces)
Detergent
Dish washing liquid
Bath soaps
Tooth paste
Tooth brushes

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Unjust Managers

The reading for Sunday, October 19:

Luke 16:1-13


Ah, the parable of the unjust steward, the dishonest manager. This parable may be one of the toughest to understand. Are we to understand this parable as a pro-cheating text? It seems that this tale is one of several types of unjustness, and it's hard to sort it all out. Let's try.

Much like the parable of the Prodigal Son, which sends up wails of protests about unfair treatment of undeserving children, this text makes one want to wail at first reading. There's the master, who believes the charges brought up against his steward, who seems prepared to dismiss him, based on those charges--let us remember that the charges may be false.

But the behavior of the steward seems slimy too; accused of unethical behavior, he seems to behave unethically, dismissing debt in an attempt to curry favor for a later time when he is dispossessed.

And then there's the surprise twist--the master approves of the steward's shrewdness.

There are several different approaches to this parable. The easiest approach is to look at the final lines of the Gospel, those familiar lines that so many of us would like to ignore, that we cannot serve God and money. This parable seems to suggest that it's hard to have dealings with money that don't leave us looking slimy.

We might ask ourselves how a stranger would view us if they looked at our budgets. On a personal level, the way we spend money shows our values. So if I say I'd like to wipe out childhood poverty, but I spend all of my extra money on wine, a stranger would question that. If I say that I value a Christ-centered economy, but I only give money to my retirement accounts, what would that stranger say? I will be the first to admit that I want to hoard my money, that it's hard for me to trust that God will provide.

We could ask similar questions about our institutional budgets. What does our church budget say about us? If we give more money to the upkeep of our buildings than to the poor, are we living the life that Christ commands us to live? These are tough questions, and I will honestly say that I haven't met many institutions, sacred or secular, that achieve balance very gracefully--especially not when hard times come, as they always do.

Christ commands us not to lose sight of the true riches, the riches that our society doesn't comprehend fully (or at all). We are not our paychecks. There's so much more to us than our job titles. We have been entrusted with so much. We will be judged by how well we show stewardship of those resources.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Parable of the Prodigal Son (or the Two Lost Boys)

The reading for Sunday, October 16, 2016:

Luke 15:  11-32

Ah, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We've heard it so many times that we may have forgotten pertinent details. We remember clearly the younger son, the one who squanders his fortune in a foreign land and becomes so hungry and desperate that he yearns for swine food. We understand this part of the parable. Even if we haven't been the wastrel child, who among us has not occasionally envied the ease with which some of our society just do their own thing and give themselves to riotous living. We assume the younger son represents us as our worst sinner selves.

We forget that this story has two lost sons.

Yes, the older son is just as lost as the younger. Perhaps more so.

Look at his behavior and see if you recognize yourself. He has to find out from the servants what is going on. He hasn't been invited to the party. He has done all the right things, been steadfast, honored his father and society, and what does he get? Does he get a party? No!

Which child is more lost? The one who gives into his animal nature, who indulges in carnal pleasures? Or the one who shows himself to have all sorts of repressed anger, a well of resentment that erupts all over his poor father?

In his book, The Return of the Prodigal Son, Henri Nouwen explains that this parable as being about love and how we're loved and how we're afraid that we won't be loved. We spend a lot of time looking for the approval of others. Nouwen says, "As long as I keep running about asking: 'Do you love me? Do you really love me?' I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with 'ifs.' The world says: 'Yes I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much, and buy much'" (42). Obviously, we can't win this game.

Luckily, we don't have to win. God loves us regardless. Of course, learning this lesson of love may take us a lifetime. We have to force ourselves to the disciplines that will thaw our frozen hearts. Nouwen suggests, "Although we are incapable of liberating ourselves from our frozen anger, we can allow ourselves to be found by God and healed by his love through the concrete and daily practice of trust and gratitude" (84).

He goes on to say, "There is a very strong, dark voice in me that says the opposite: 'God isn't really interested in me, he prefers the repentant sinner who comes home after his wild escapades. He doesn't pay attention to me who has never left the house. He takes me for granted. I am not his favorite son. I don't expect him to give me what I really want" (84).

Yes, trust and gratitude can be difficult moods to sustain. But we're called to do that. And then we're called to work on a deeper transformation. We must become as full of love as the father in the parable.

The traditional approach to this parable is to see the Father character representing God, which is certainly true. But many of us assume we cannot love the way God can. Maybe not. But we have to try. Nouwen says, "Perhaps the most radical statement Jesus ever made is: 'Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate.' . . . "what I am called to make true is that whether I am the younger or the elder son, I am the son of my compassionate Father. I am an heir. . . . The return to the Father is ultimately the challenge to become the Father" (123).

How on earth can we accomplish this? Nouwen suggests that we cultivate these three traits: "grief, forgiveness, and generosity" (128). To those I would add that we should commit ourselves to believing in resurrection. Believe in the possibility of second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Believe that the lost will be found. Believe that the Prodigal will return. Throw a fabulous party. And when you notice that someone is missing from the party, someone is standing in the shadows, stewing in resentment, anger, grief, envy--go get that person and invite them to the party. Remember that we are children of a God whose love we cannot begin to comprehend.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

THE PUMPKIN PATCH!


THE PUMPKIN PATCH IS COMING!
Our offload is THIS SATURDAY OCT 15th @ 8AM!
We will have breakfast for you!
For the offload we will need many hands - student service hours are available - your friends and neighbors and relatives are most welcome!

For the offload we need wheelbarrows - if you have one you can loan us for the offload we would be most appreciative.
Contact Kathy Velez 954-478-4395 / kathryn4301@att.net

For the patch we need wood pallets, preferably by the offload and lots of them! Again, if you have some please contact Kathy 954-478-4395 / kathryn4301@att.net

We also need volunteers to work the patch for daily operating hours for October 15th - 31st. Sign up on Sundays during worship and coffee hour or again, contact Kathy.

As a side note - we are fully capable this year  to process credit cards either swipe or chip towards the purchase of pumpkins!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

Touched down... Home soon. Back early from conference and getting oriented. Everyone be safe. If you do not feel safe in your home please let us know. Will be keeping all in prayer as we keep the people in Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and all in Hurricane Matthew's path in our prayer. If you need anything call me on my cell 9546686077, not at the church.

Assume regular services for  Sunday at regular times, but as always BE SAFE and monitor channels of information and heed advisories.
Ever in Christ
Pastor Keith

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Lost Coins and Lost Sheep

The reading for Sunday, October 9, 2016:

Luke 15:1-10

For Sunday's Gospel, we have the parables of lost things:  lost sheep (1 of 99) and a lost coin (1 of 10).  Let's consider what Christ is trying to teach us about the quality of being lost and the quality of being found. 

Some will look at the last sentence and see this Gospel as being about repentance, but when we look at it as part of a series of parables, it's less clear that repentance is the point.  After all, the coin doesn't have to do anything to be found; it just sits there.  The sheep might repent, but if you've ever tried to wrangle sheep, you know that repentance is not a sheeply quality.  And if we kept reading in Luke, we'd get to the parable of that Prodigal Son:  is he really sorrowful about his actions?  If he hadn't descended to such a state of poverty, would he have had his epiphany?

We could look at these parables as tales of precious resources lost and then found.  These two parables revolve around an economic resource:  a sheep and a coin.  In some ways, the metaphor might be lost on modern readers.  I've heard more than one reader talk about how ridiculous it is to get so excited over a lost coin.

But imagine a modern spin:  the person who loses 1/3 of a retirement portfolio, but it is restored before the golden years descend.  Or perhaps the person who was facing foreclosure, but home values rebound and the mortgage can be refinanced.  Rescued from desperate economic circumstances, would we not rejoice?

We know that God rejoices when we return, even as God must know that we will disappoint again.  We know that if we're lost, God will look under every shadow for us.  We know that God will go to great lengths to find us, even taking on human form and suffering crucifixion.

We worship a God who will not rest until we’re all present and accounted for. That’s Good News indeed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Parable of the Fig Tree

The reading for Sunday, October 2, 2016:

Luke 13:  6-10

In this week's Gospel, we get the parable of the fig tree, that poor fig tree who still hasn't produced fruit even though it's been 3 years. This Gospel gives us a space to consider our view of God and our view of ourselves.

Which vision of God is the one in your head? We could see God as the man who says, "Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?" If we see God that way, and if we see ourselves as the fig tree, that's a scary proposition; we've got a few years to produce before God gives up on us.

A traditional approach to this parable might see God as the impatient one, and Jesus as the vinedresser who pleads the case for the poor little fig tree. I know that Trinitarian theology might lead us this direction, but I'm still uncomfortable with the idea of a God who gives up on humanity. Everything in Scripture (and the experiences of those who walked this path before us) shows us a God that pursues us, going so far as to take on human flesh and walk amongst us. This doesn't sound like a God that gives up after 3 years.

But what if God is the gardener who pleads for the tree? What if we’re the owners of the fig tree, the ones who grow impatient with the lack of progress on the part of the tree?

But what if it’s your own spiritual life that’s the fig tree that’s refusing to bear fruit? Maybe you've felt yourself in a fallow place spiritually. Or worse, maybe you've felt yourself sliding backwards. Maybe once you had a fire in your heart, and you've burned out early. Maybe you've spent years thinking about church development, wondering what the Pentecostals have that you don't. Maybe you haven't been good at transforming yourself into a peace-loving person.

Look at that parable again. The fig tree doesn't just sit there while everyone gathers around, waiting for something to happen. Action is needed. The vine dresser gives it extra attention. The vine dresser digs around it and gives it extra manure (ah, the magic of fertilizer). We, too, can be the vinedresser to our spiritual lives. And we don't have to resort to heroic measures. We don't have to start off by running away to a religious commune and devoting ourselves to God. Just a little spiritual manure is all it takes.

You've got a wide variety of spiritual tools in your toolchest. Pick up your Bible. Read a little bit each day. Find some time to pray more. Find something that irritates you, and make that be your call to prayer; for example, every time I hear someone's thumping car stereo, I could see that as a tolling bell, calling me to pray. If you can do nothing else, slow down and breathe three deep breaths. Do that at least once a day. Turn your anxieties over to God. When you're surfing the web, go to a site or a blog that makes you feel enriched as a Christian, as opposed to all those sites that make you angry or anxious. Give some spare change to those people who stand in the medians of the roadways. Smile more--you are the light of the world, after all. Time to start acting like it.

God is not the harsh gardener who will chop us down and throw us into the fire, but this reading does remind us that we won’t be here in our current physical form forever. Choose your spiritual manure and get to work bearing good fruit.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Good Samaritan

The reading for Sunday, September 25, 2016:

Luke10:  30-37

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

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

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

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

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

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