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...

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Songs of Songs 6:3a

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine
Song of Songs 6:3a

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Psalm 108:3-4

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples,
 and I will sing praises to you among the nations.
 For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens,
 and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Psalm 108:3-4

Return from Exile

This week we will consider the first 6 chapters of Ezra:

Ezra 1: 1-4, 4: 1-5, 6: 1-15

We live in a time of exile, a time when more humans are on the move across the globe than any time since the end of World War II.  Our various cultures will be shaped and changed by this movement.  In our country, which is separated by vast oceans from some of the more tumultuous places on the planet, we don't always see the flow of people that places like Europe do--but it is happening.

What does it mean to return home, once the exile is over?  Will humanity wrestle with this question or will these twenty-first century migrations be permanent?

In Ezra, we see a brilliant approach to the end of exile:  give the people a big project.  Let them rebuild the temple.  The people are rebuilding an actual structure, and they're also rebuilding community as they do so.

Of course, the temple itself is soaked with meaning.  At one point, the temple has defined the ancient Hebrew people:  how they worship and relate to God and how they relate to each other, how they move through the week and how they structure their priorities.

Many people have declared that we live in a post-Christian world, a post-religious world, and in modernized countries, that may seem to be the case.  So what will give our lives meaning?

I could argue that we live in a world that seems more chaotic every day because so many are searching for some larger meaning--and without some moorings, it's easy to make choices that unravel our society, rather than knit us together.  We see many worship at the altar of violence of all sorts.  We see many decide that accumulating wealth can give our lives meaning.  We see so many turn inward, which leaves the poor and the destitute to their own devices.

I yearn for a leader who could come and give us a big, positive project to unify our society.  And yet, Ezra also shows us the danger of that:  the unification to rebuild the temple attracts the ire of the neighbors. 

Perhaps my yearning for unity is a false idol too.  We live in a time when many of us feel exiled, even if we're not physically unable to return home.  We live in a time when many of us need our metaphorical temples to remind us of what God calls us to be.  The words of the ancient prophets call us back to our truest selves.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Psalm 130:6a

My soul waits for the LORD
 more than those who watch for the morning
Psalm 130:6a

Monday, June 27, 2016

Matthew 23:11-12

The greatest among you will be your servant. 
All who exalt themselves will be humbled, 
and all who humble themselves will be exalted.
Matthew 23:11-12

Trinity Lutheran is now on Amazon.com's Operation Smile!

Do you shop at Amazon.com?
Do you want to support Trinity Lutheran Church, Pembroke Pines?
Choose Trinity Lutheran Church Pembroke Pines as your "Operation Smile" recipient.
It doesn't cost your anything - Amazon gives back to the community a percentage of the cost of everything you buy.
That's right - an easy way to help our ministry help our community!
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Here is the link!

Sunday, June 26, 2016


O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
 for his steadfast love endures forever.
 For he satisfies the thirsty,
 and the hungry he fills with good things.
Psalm 107:1, 9

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ruth 1:!6

Do not press me to leave you
 or to turn back from following you!
 Where you go, I will go;
 where you lodge, I will lodge,
 your people shall be my people,
 and your God my God.
Ruth 1:16

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mark 10:15

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.
Mark 10:15

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Psalm 113:3

From the rising of the sun to its setting
 the name of the LORD is to be praised
Psalm 113:3

Esther's Moral Choice and Ours

The reading for Sunday, June 26, 2016:

Esther 7 and 8

As I think of the story of Esther, I find myself thinking about how humans act when the stakes are high.  Sociologists have been studying human behavior in the face of great catastrophe, and they tell us that most humans will help when people are in terrible trouble.  We've heard stories of the teacher who tries to shield students from bullets, of those during the September 11 attacks who helped the less able-bodied navigate the stairs.  We hear stories of heroes who rush into burning buildings--or in the case of Esther, approach the king unbidden--and we wonder if we could do that.

The danger of the story of Esther is that we read the story, and we say, "Of course, if life is on the line, I, too, would be brave and go before the king."  After all, what choice does Esther have?  If the king has her killed for disobeying the rules and coming to him of her own volition, it will be no worse a fate than waiting to be killed as a Jew.

We assume that we would be brave, if our lives were on the line.  But what if the stakes are not that high?

Are we willing to speak up when a colleague tells an offensive joke?  Are we willing to think about where we spend our hard-earned money and only support those companies that match our values?

I had an interesting series of conversations the other day when my company decided to let a local Chick-Fil-A come to campus to bring box lunches to those who wanted to buy them.  One of my colleagues thought that they shouldn't be allowed on campus at all--the school has an anti-discrimination policy, and Chick-Fil-A has supported some causes that are discriminatory.  One colleague thought that if we didn't want to support the company, that no one was being forced to buy the food.  One colleague wanted us to support more non-chain restaurants, while another thought that supporting a local franchisee was fine.  Some of us thought we should just provide our own lunches.  One colleague wondered why we were having so much conversation about the topic at all.

I said, "One day you're buying from a company that supports causes you don't believe in, and then you're buying clothes made by sweatshop child slaves, and where does it end?  Before you know it, your mortal soul is in danger."

Our choice between ruin and salvation may come in a big challenge like Esther's, one where we recognize the stakes.  But for most of us, the moral choices that we face will have much smaller stakes, and it may be easy to shrug off the seriousness of the choice--or perhaps we won't recognize that we're even making a choice.  But we are.  And once we get off trajectory, it can be very hard to get back on track.

Each day, we should ask ourselves and each other:  "In what ways am I moving the world towards justice and peace?  In what ways am I cohabitating with evil?"

God calls us to a grand vision of a redeemed creation--in what ways are we making that vision a reality?

Psalm 139

Where can I go from your spirit?
 Or where can I flee from your presence?
 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
 if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
 If I take the wings of the morning
 and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
 even there your hand shall lead me
Psalm 139:7-10a

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Matthew 4:16

the people who sat in darkness
 have seen a great light,
 and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
 light has dawned.
Matthew 4:16

Monday, June 20, 2016

Romans 1:20a

Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. 
Romans 1:20a

Friday, June 17, 2016

Galatians 3:27-28

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 
Galatians 3:27-28

Thursday, June 16, 2016

John 17:11

And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. 
John 17:11

Psalm 38

O LORD, all my longing is known to you;
 my sighing is not hidden from you.
Do not forsake me, O LORD;
 O my God, do not be far from me;
Psalm 38:9, 21

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Esther and Security

The reading for Sunday, June 19, 2016:

Esther 3 and 4

This week, we return to the story of Esther.  Last week, I pointed out that Esther lives a perilous existence:  she's a female, she's an orphan, she's a Jew, and she's an exile, the ultimate outsider.  Any one of these categories would make her life less secure, but all of them?

Esther has youth and beauty on her side, and she makes the most of those advantages.  But even youth and beauty can take her so far.  In the reading for this Sunday, we see that the king hasn't summoned Esther in 30 days--has she lost favor with the king?

It's interesting to read Esther in light of the events in our nation and our state in the last month.  In the news coverage of the horrific shooting in Orlando, I was struck by stories of families who had no idea that their young family member was gay until they had to claim the body.  I understand the pressure to stay closeted, to not reveal our deepest identity.

The story of Esther is one of many stories that reminds us that we likely cannot stay hidden forever.  Our safety will be limited.

But it's a confusing message--after all, Esther would not be in place to help her people had she been open about her identity from the beginning.  Would the king have chosen an openly Jewish woman and promoted her the way he did Esther?  In the ancient world of Esther, it's extremely unlikely.

But what about those of us who feel that we have no advantages?  Like Esther, we have more resources than we think we do.  We should remember her story when we feel too disadvantaged to be effectual.  We all have advantages of one sort or another.  God calls on us to use these advantages to bend the arc of history towards justice.

Recent events have reminded me of a duality.  We see such a pouring out of sorrow and outrage in the wake of the massacre in Orlando.  Not too long ago, we wouldn't have seen this anguish expressed so publicly.  In a story on NPR this morning, a reporter (who wrote this story on Slate) reminds us about a 1973 fire in New Orleans, a crime left unsolved, with 30 deaths, which inspired ugly comments about "fruits" on right wing radio.  The fact that so many have responded with dignity, compassion, and grief in the face of this horror--I'm finding that a hopeful sign that our society is changing for the better.

And yet, we live in a society where yet again, an angry man chooses a violent path towards those whom he hates.  We live in a society that tends towards violence to control others, a society where we tolerate family violence and all sorts of behaviors that undercut our sense of security.  We accept guns that quickly kill large numbers of humans in the hands of those who hate.  We accept the oppression of the disadvantaged, the minorities, the weaker, and the outcast.

The words of Mordecai still seem prophetic in our day:  “'Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?'”

No one is truly safe until we are all safe.  And God calls us to do the work that must be done to transform our society to one where the weakest members are as protected as the strongest.

Psalm 46:1-5

God is our refuge and strength,
 a very present help in trouble.
 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
 though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
 though its waters roar and foam,
 though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
 the holy habitation of the Most High.
 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
 God will help it when the morning dawns.
Psalm 46:1-5

Monday, June 13, 2016

Psalm 88

My eye grows dim through sorrow.
 Every day I call on you, O LORD;
 I spread out my hands to you.
 Is your steadfast love declared in the grave,
 Are your wonders known in the darkness?
 But I, O LORD, cry out to you;
 in the morning my prayer comes before you.
- Excerpts from Psalm 88, a Psalm of Lament.


One way we act is by standing in solidarity as a community and saying "No" to hatred, violence, homophobia, Islamophobia and fear. Please join us Tuesday June 14th (tomorrow night) on the steps of City Hall for the City of Pembroke Pines Candlelight Prayer Vigil. Those who desire to carpool - please meet at Trinity at 7:30PM

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Jeremiah 31.5b

A voice is heard in Ramah,
 lamentation and bitter weeping.
 Rachel is weeping for her children;
 she refuses to be comforted for her children,
 because they are no more.
Jeremiah 31:15b

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

3 John 1:11a

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. 
3 John 1:11a

Luke 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
 because he has anointed me
 to bring good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
 and recovery of sight to the blind,
 to let the oppressed go free
Luke 4:18

Monday, June 06, 2016

John 15:13

No one has greater love than this, 
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
John 15:13

Saturday, June 04, 2016

1 Corinthians 16:13

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. 
Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Deuteronomy 18

You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul....Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
Deuteronomy 11:18a, 19

All Our Lions' Dens

The reading for Sunday, June 5, 2016:

Daniel 6:  1-28

Today we get to the famous story about Daniel in the Lion's Den.  Through the decades, I've seen this story in the same way that I saw it as a child, as a story of Daniel's faithfulness.  This morning, I saw it through another lens, that of power.

Daniel is the perfect employee, and he has so distinguished himself that the king will set him up over all the other administrators.  The other administrators might be expected to breathe a sigh of relief at the thought of such a capable person being in charge.  But no, they look for ways to get him in trouble.

I have seen similar dynamics, and chances are good that you have too.  I assume that this all-too-human trait is rooted in the wishing to be chosen above all others, and in the jealousy that often comes when someone else is chosen.  We see it in the relationships that children have, and sadly, many humans never grow up.

The king, whom we might expect to be all-powerful, shows that he, too, is trapped by power structures.  He's tricked by his fawning administrators, and once trapped, he cannot break out of the structure that he's set up.

Daniel, too, is trapped, and we often forget that, as we see how the story unfolds.  His exemplary behavior traps him into a trajectory that will bring him on a collision course with his fellow administrators; we can imagine that if he was just a bit sloppier in some areas, the other administrators would not look for ways to get him in trouble. Daniel is trapped in other ways too.He's an exile in a land of strangers, and he's trying to stay true to himself while in a foreign land.  And then, because of that, he's trapped in the lion's den.

The story of Daniel is often presented as one that reminds us of the importance of our religious practices.  But I also see it as a story about the problems of law and strict adherence to the law.  Because of the interpretation of the law, the king had no choice but to condemn Daniel.  The main focus of the story is that God rewards faithfulness, but an important undergirding of the story is the message that the law, with all its strictures, will not lead us to freedom.

Many of us may feel like Daniel, strangers in a strange land, an alien empire, full of practices that we don't fully understand.  Many of us find ourselves in workplaces and other cultures where we don't find many other Christians, if we find any at all.  We may find ourselves struggling to stay true to our Christian values in a world that doesn't reward us for that and may in fact actively punish us.

The stories in the book of Daniel are designed to comfort those of us who labor under an alien empire.  These stories remind us that although the larger culture may not reward us, God watches and God is the one who is ultimately in charge.

We may not escape from all of our lions' dens, but we can be sure that God will reward our faithfulness.