This Sunday – 2nd Sunday of Easter

This Easter.

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”    –John 20.26-29

  • Do your actions cause your beliefs, or do you beliefs cause your actions?
  • Have you ever wanted to hide yourself from the world? What kept you from doing it?
  • Why do you think Thomas wasn’t with the other disciples on Jesus’ first appearance?
  • Do you see Thomas as an example of what it means to have faith, or an example of someone who has to learn what faith really is?

We’re all aware of how challenging learning can be when things aren’t what we’re used to. Learning new lessons, learning what’s important, is one of the essential things a situation where life is upended can offer us, the trick is are we capable of learning it. We are glad that we can still gather together on Zoom and we hope you’ll join us if you haven’t already. We’ve missed getting to be together so come join us at 6 pm so we can be together, because without you, like without Thomas, our community is incomplete. You can download our bulletin here.

–Thomas

A Prayer for we’re supposed to be happy
(adapted from St. Martin in the Fields, London)

God of today and forever, at Easter you show us love is stronger than death. Inscribe in our lives glimpses of resurrection; bring to the weary heart strains of zestful rejuvenation; breathe into dry bones the limbering pulse of new beginning. Teach us the discipline of joy, that even when all around us seems discouraged, your Spirit may lift our hearts as yeast enlivens dough. In sure and certain hope that, whatever happens, you will be with us always; through Christ our son our risen Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

This Week – 04/13/2020

This week.

Way up in the northwest corner of Manhattan is a small museum, tucked away in a wooded park, called the Cloisters.  It’s one of the museums which make up the Metropolitan Museum of Art, opened in 1938 from five medieval monastic sites across southern France, and largely funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr.  Their collection is medieval art, almost entirely Christian, and it has the feel of walking through a monastery in the countryside; it’s easy to forget you’re in Manhattan.  One of the works that I noticed every time I visited was by the Italian painter Niccolo di Tommaso (1343-76).  This work, Man of Sorrows, was originally a fresco placed, as the Cloisters has it, above a doorway.

The work shows the half-length figure of Jesus, rising from the tomb, displaying his wounds.  It’s believed to have been painted in 1370 in Florence Italy and brought to the Met in New York in 1925.  The idea is that Christ is the suffering servant Isaiah speaks of, the man of sorrows, became a common art form in Europe in the 14thcentury.  It usually always depicted Christ rising from a grave or a tomb, usually only the top half, and always bearing the wounds from the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  This man of sorrows, the man of betrayal, suffering, isolation, and death, rises again to new life, though it’s not a new life disconnected from the old life.

The idea of resurrection is usually presented as ‘living happily ever after,’ but is that really what resurrection life is?  Is that what Jesus shows us?  Resurrection isn’t just another miracle story, like water to wine, but a fundamental definition of our belief. It’s physical; something about the body is transfigured.  But our experience is that dead people stay dead, “when you’re dead, you’re dead” as my Systematic Theology professor in seminary put it.  And yet, all of us experience an ending which isn’t really an ending as well as the invitation for transformation; we can become who we’re intended to be.

This week we’ll begin a new way to explore our life and faith, as well as how we make sense of it all the movies/shows we watch.  Each Thursday from 5-6 pm we’ll get together on Zoom to explore how faith and our understanding of faith play out in reflecting what we believe or don’t believe.  The idea is you watch a suggested show and then we’ll talk about it on Thursday at 5 pm; you don’t have to watch it but it provides a framework for the discussion.

This Thursday, I invite you to watch an episode from Season 2 of The Soprano’s called “From Where to Eternity,” available on Amazon Prime Video.  On our Tuesday hangout time, 6 pm on Zoom, I’ll set up the episode for those of you who aren’t familiar with The Soprano’s and its characters.  As you watch, you might begin to consider these questions:

  • What’s the difference in resurrection and physical reanimation or resuscitation?
  • What connects (establishes) the identity of my physical self with my resurrected self?
  • Given that my body is buried and decomposed (or cremated) what will my resurrected self be made of?
  • What happens to my consciousness in the span between my death and resurrection?
  • Is there any connection between judgment and resurrection?  If so, what?

–Thomas

Gathering Online: https://bit.ly/TCZoom

Tuesday Checkin on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.
Thursday Theology & Pop Culture on Zoom @ 5 pm 
Join us as we explore our faith through movies and TV shows. This week Thomas will lead the discussion, and you are invited to watch “From Where to Eternity” from Season 2 of The Soprano’s available on Amazon Prime. 
Sunday Evening Prayer on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us on Zoom for a service of prayers and scripture.

This Easter.

This Easter.

Now on that same day, the first day of the week, two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. –Luke 24.13

  • Do you find yourself sad right now, or is it anger you feel?  What are you sad or angry about most?
  • Can you remember an unexpected conversation with someone who helped you get past your sadness or anger?  What was it that helped you?
  • What is most in need of resurrection in your life?
  • What does resurrection life mean for you?

Easter, it’s still here even though we’re not at Trinity Commons. Lent is over, though it may not feel like it right now, but living in Eastertide means looking at life differently, and seeing clearly sometimes means letting go of those things in us and in our perspective that have died and are gone.

It’s a new opportunity to look for new life, and we’ll find it together, not at Trinity Commons but online and on Zoom.

We will begin our Easter celebration tonight with an online Easter Vigil at 7 pm. You can join our worship from our Facebook page or on YouTube. You can download the bulletin here.

We will continue our celebration Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom. You can download the bulletin here.

If you’re ready to let go of what’s dead and see what can be then join us.

–Thomas

The Easter Vigil begins tonight at 7 pm.

This Week – 04/06/2020

This week.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self‑examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self‑denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.    –The Book of Common Prayer, Ash Wednesday service

This week, those of you on Facebook are likely to see your feed filled up with churches attempting to ‘do’ Holy Week services in a variety of ways.  Some will be, like we will, pre-recorded and from our homes; some will be as close to ‘normal’ as they can get while observing social distancing.  Some will endeavor to recreate what you would see if these weren’t the times they are as churches, big and little, near and far, do Holy Week.

But what if the invitation to Lent, to Holy Week, this year isn’t about doing anything?  What if the invitation is to stop worrying about questions like ‘how do we do it right?’ or ‘how can we make what’s supposed to happen, happen?’  What if, we’re just supposed to read the story, hear the story, and then find where we are in the story?  What if all we’re supposed to do is cease trying to make everything fun, or exciting, or entertaining, or a spectacle, and just hear the story?

Old habits are hard to break and the church has been hearing and liturgically engaging with the last week of Jesus’ earthly life ever since the end of the 4thcentury.  Doing church, by which most people mean offering a liturgical worship service, is a hard habit to break.  But notice in that invitation to a holy Lent what we’re invited into is all about finding a way to connect that part of our lives which is so caught up in doing, achieving, performing, that we miss the real power comes in what we do inside ourselves: praying, examining our lives, learning to make do with less and by loving more.  This is what Jesus came to show us by his whole life, not just one week in Jerusalem; my hope for you this week is to read and listen to the story in a different way this year.  If that’s by watching one of our videos or another church then great; but I hope, if nothing else, you’ll just sit and read Exodus 12.1-14 and John 13.1-17, 31b-35 on Thursday.  That you’ll read Isaiah 52.13-53.12 and John 18.1-19.42 on Friday.  That you’ll read Exodus 14.10-31,15.20-21; Ezekiel 37.1-14 and Matthew 28.1-10 on Saturday evening.  And if you can’t join us Easter Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom then I hope you’ll read Isaiah 25.6-9 and Luke 24.13-49 Sunday evening.

What I hope you hear is the story of God with us, and that, this year, while not doing anything, you’ll hear the ‘with us’ part a little more clearly and distinctly.

–Thomas

Gathering Online

Tuesday Checkin on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello. https://bit.ly/TCZoom
Maundy Thursday on Facebook @ 6 pm
Join us on our Facebook page (fb.com/trinitycommonsepiscopal) as we begin our Triduum worship with a service of prayers and scripture for Maundy Thursday. You can get the bulletin here.
Good Friday on Facebook @ 12 pm
Join us on our Facebook page (fb.com/trinitycommonsepiscopal) as we continue our Triduum worship with a service of prayers and scripture for Good Friday. You can get the bulletin here.
Stations of the Cross on Facebook @ 3 pm
Join us on our Facebook page (fb.com/trinitycommonsepiscopal) as we join in the Stations of the Cross across the diocese. You can get the bulletin here.
Easter Vigil on Facebook @ 7 pm
Join us on our Facebook page (fb.com/trinitycommonsepiscopal) as we conclude our Triduum worship and offer the first celebration of Easter with a service of prayers and scripture for the Easter Vigil. You can get the bulletin here.
Easter Sunday on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us on Zoom for a service of prayers and scripture as we celebrate Easter. You can get the bulletin herehttps://bit.ly/TCZoom

This Sunday – Palm Sunday

This Sunday

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”     –Matthew 21.6-10

  • Can you remember a time when you felt like a success, and you were ready to celebrate?  What made you feel successful?
  • Who is someone you look up to or admire?  What is it about them that inspires you?
  • Do you ever think that maybe God is closer to the folks who weren’t able to enter into Jerusalem, than with those happy ones who were already in?
  • What is the message of Palm Sunday?

Funny thing (well, not really so funny at all), but we’re not going to process or parade around together to remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem this year.  And frankly, maybe that’s for the best; I’m not sure Jesus really wanted this spectacle.  There’s something which connects with me this year as I hear that question at the end of this passage: ‘who is this?’  Who is this, indeed, and what are we doing, now and this week?

Join us Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom for Evening Prayer (download the bulletin) and to reflect on Palm Sunday by asking ourselves that question, ‘who is this’ and in asking that question we may find an answer to the question ‘who are we?’

–Thomas

This Week – 03/30/2020

This week.

The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
he who vindicates me is near.
–Isaiah 50.7

I’ve been thinking a lot about this passage from Isaiah which we’re going to hear this Sunday, Palm Sunday.  Flint was rock, basically, easily crafted into use as a knife or sharp tool. Flint was something central for individuals and society to survive.  While the survival of our society isn’t ultimately in danger, there is something important about what it ultimately means to survive.

COVID-19 has, I suspect, made us all a little more aware of what we need to survive, what we can do without, and what we can’t do without.  As Palm Sunday approaches, I’d like you to consider that this liturgical celebration is meant to do just that as well; focus our attention. This isn’t going to be the usual Palm Sunday and Holy Week, but I suspect it’ll be one that, if only for the week, takes on a new significance for us.

If you haven’t joined us yet on Sunday night at 6 pm for Evening Prayer I hope you will.  We can, following Isaiah’s example, all be set like flint, to be a useful and important means for the prosperity of someone else, maybe even ourselves.  While we all need reminders, the reminder of Holy Week is to become what you are capable of being, and to live into your nature as the holy people of God.   We do that best when we do it together.

–Thomas

 

This Week on Zoom at https://bit.ly/TCZoom

Tuesday at 6 pm – Check-in
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.
Thursday at 5 pm – Lenten Series  
We will gather via Zoom to continue our discussion of Money and Possessions by taking a look at the Book of Revelation.
Sunday at 6 pm – Palm Sunday Evening Prayer
Join us for Evening Prayer and time to check-in.

This Sunday – Fifth Sunday in Lent

This Sunday

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”    –John 11.17-27

  • What loss do you experience in your life now and you mourn its loss?
  • Who is someone close to you that shares the pain of loss?
  • What do you think Jesus is asking of Martha?  What is he asking of you?
  • Do you ever wish God would ‘fix’ the things that are wrong in our world?  Why do you think God doesn’t?

This passage begins with us being told “Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany.” Illness is something we’re all too familiar with these days; but we’re also told who Lazarus’ family was, about his sisters Mary and Martha.  We’re told where he came from, Bethany.  We’re told why all these details are important, because they’re about human life.  While we remain separated, we’re still people with lives who find relationships important and sustaining in the midst of loss and fear.

Join us Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom (http://bit.ly/TCZoom) to gather with others who know loss and fear but also look to Jesus to be with us as we’re with one another. Download the bulletin here.

–Thomas

This Week – 03/23/2020

This week.

“What we do in a particular liturgy must come from within—not some decorative element that we apply from outside.  The heart of authentic liturgy is always the inner reality of faith embodied, using fragile human forms that are our stewardship of the gifts of grace.”  –Louis Weil

Often, when I’m asked what is an Episcopalian, I find myself referring to the Book of Common Prayer.  There’s no getting away from how foundational worship is to the identity of Episcopalians as a part of the Anglican heritage.  Where our theology is most apparent, where our hearts and minds are directed, where beauty and joy are to be found, is most deeply expressed in the liturgies of the Book of Common Prayer.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this book, and these liturgies, as we clergy types find ourselves struggling, burdened, frantic, with ways to connect the people together without the use of our buildings.

It is as if we are the blind man in the gospel we heard on the 4th Sunday in Lent (John 9.1-41).  We’re grieving what we no longer have, we’re trapped by an experience in which there’s no clearly defined end, and we’re unable to see a way forward.  Lent can be like that; life can be like that.  Jesus heals that blind man by the simple gesture of a loving gesture and the invitation to trust in what God will do.  Our Eucharist, our evening prayer, our compline, all of our worship together is a recognition that God can help us to see too, and what we see is that we belong, that we have a way forward, and that we can help each other.

The truth is all times in our lives are uncertain; none of us know what the next day will bring and moments like this remind us of how little control we ultimately have over the things that we’d like to have control over.  But it’s an invitation to see clearly what does matter, who does matter, and why they matter.  You matter to God, and in times of physical distancing, we can still gather together on Zoom to remember those prayers create us and form us to be people who see clearly.  I hope to see you with us this week as we gather together on Zoom.

–Thomas

 

This Week on Zoom at https://bit.ly/TCZoom

Tuesday at 6 pm – Check-in
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.
Thursday at 5 pm – Lenten Series 
We will gather via Zoom to continue our discussion of Money and Possessions by taking a look at the Gospels.
Sunday at 6 pm – Evening Prayer
Join us for Evening Prayer and time to check-in.

This Sunday – Fourth Sunday in Lent

This Sunday

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”     –John 9.1-5

  • Have you ever spent time with someone you thought you knew, only to find out something which helped you see and understand them in a new way?  What changed for you
  • How do you think others see you?  How do you see yourself?
  • What might God be choosing you to do or accomplish today?  What might God be asking you to see differently today?
  • Does God still perform miracles?

What do you see around you in our world right now?  Are you afraid, anxious, confident, determined?  What do you see in those around you; how are they doing?  Jesus invites us to see with different eyes, or to awaken to some things we thought we knew and understood which need adjustment.  We live in a time of a lot of adjustments, don’t we?

Join us via Zoom (bit.ly/TCZoom) on Sunday at 6 pm for Evening Prayer, a reflection on what Jesus invites us to see, and some check-in time to see how you’re doing. You can download our bulletin here. We’re all seeing things a little differently and are uncertain as to how long this will last, but we can still get together to hear, share, and hopefully see things anew.

–Thomas

This Week – 03/16/2020

This week.

Well, this wasn’t the way this was supposed to go.  I’m not sure what you expected from this semester but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t this.  As with any disruption, I wonder what you’re feeling, what you’re dealing with, and what you need right now.  We can still stay connected, you may always call, text, email, message us for anything you need, or if you just want to talk.  Using Zoom, we’ll continue to gather on Sundays at 6 pm and say Evening Prayer (BCP, page 115); we’ll have time each Tuesday at 6 pm for check-in, a chance, just like we do on campus, to come if you want to and share what’s going on with you.  We’ll continue our Lenten series ‘Money and Possessions’ each Thursday at 5 pm.  This isn’t the way it was supposed to go; but we can continue to connect, share, and be a community of faith with one another. Links are listed at the end of this email.

Social distancing doesn’t mean isolation but staying connected is requiring a new way of life.  Uncertainty is hard, and when we don’t know when or how life will get back to normal we begin to grieve what we’ve lost.  In one of the more important lines from our service of burial the priest (or bishop) says, “for to your faithful people, O Lord, life is changed, not ended.”  Life is indeed changed and it’s not ended.  We still need to carry on with life but in new ways, in ways that demand creativity, in ways that inspire conversation.  We need a human touch and a human voice to remind us we’re not alone; and we need to remember that God hasn’t forgotten us or abandoned us when our lives get turned upside down.

A friend recently joked to me saying, of all the congregations yours is the best suited to this new way of communication.  While you are far more tech-savvy than older generations, in the days to come I suspect you’ll miss gathering together on campus, in dorms, apartments, at your jobs, even in class.  You’ll miss the rituals of college life, and for those of you graduating, a chance to be recognized for your hard work and achievement.  This is a hard time and Jesus teaches us that in hard times we do best when we remember God is with us and we should be with one another.

I hope to see you on Tuesday, thanks to Zoom; and I hope you’ll let us know what you need, how we can help, if a prayer needs to be said, or if you just want to talk about a show you’ve seen or a book you’ve read.  Life is changed, not ended; and together, as God’s people have always done, we can move forward in trust and hope knowing we’re not alone.

–Thomas

This Week On Zoom

Tuesday at 6 pm – Check-in
Thomas and Kelley will be on Zoom beginning at 6 pm. Drop-in and say hello: https://zoom.us/j/821152763.
Thursday at 5 pm – Lenten Series
We will gather via Zoom to continue our discussion on Money and Possessions by taking a look at the letters of Paul. We will post this link soon!
Sunday 6 pm – Evening Prayer
Join us for Evening Prayer and a time to check-in via Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/554598167.