This Week – 03/02/2020

This week.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
–Exodus 20.17

This Thursday at Trinity Commons, from 5-6 pm, we begin our five-week Lenten series focused on what the Bible has to tell us about money and possessions.  How we understand and order our lives around money and possessions says a lot about who we are as people, as well as where we place our trust.  The starting point for any understanding of money and possessions begins at Sinai, with the covenant Moses makes with God expressed in what we know as the 10th Commandment, against coveting.  To covet refers to an attitude of desire, but it’s a desire with an inability to understand that what we desire is not properly our own.  Faced with the desire to possess, we live as seduced by our desire which skews our life. To covet isn’t just to want but to want AND take.

What underlies the prohibition to covet is an understanding of our neighbor.  The word ‘neighbor’ occurs three times in verse 17, and it’s the first usage in the Decalogue.

The reality that we have a neighbor lies at the heart of the commandment against coveting and lies at the heart of our life together, which is what the Decalogue is fundamentally all about.  Learning how to live with other people, and learning how to live without fear, without shame, without resentment, anger, and hostility isn’t just the challenge of our time, it was the challenge of Israel wandering homeless in the wilderness.

Being in the wilderness can be useful as we sort some things out, examine our values, create some priorities.  You don’t need a lot of money or a lot of possessions in order to want to hear and discuss your relationship with them; ultimately these objects are about the ways we relate to God and one another. Over the course of the next five weeks, we’ll also hear from the Prophets, from the words of Jesus, from Paul, and from the Book of Revelation (a vision of the new Jerusalem).  Join us from 5-6p m at Trinity Commons to listen, examine, enjoy community (as well as some delicious snacks), and come and find your life in God with your neighbor.

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 5:30 pm, Evensong
Join us for a short service of scripture and sung prayers.

Thursday, 5 pm, Money & Possession Lenten Series
Join us as we consider what the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, has to tell us about our money and possessions.

This Week – 02/24/2020

This week.

“We cannot live in a world that is interpreted for us by others.  An interpreted world is not a hope.  Part of the terror is to take back our own listening.  To use our own voice.  To see our own light.”
–Hildegard of Bingen

Being able to see is important; if you’ve ever had to stumble through a dark room, walk to your car on a dimly lit street, or be ‘led’ while blindfolded on one of those trust walks, you know how important seeing can be.  But being able to see clearly doesn’t just refer to our eyesight, it can also reflect our ability to understand and articulate a vision for who we are and what we do.  Jesus, we remember, heals those who have trouble seeing and the church has tried to follow that model, with mixed success.  There are many of us who experienced the church as controlling, judgmental, hypocritical, and fake.   And yet, we make up the church, we are the body of Christ on earth; what happens will happen because we do, or don’t, do it. Where humanity and God meet is encouraged or hindered by what we do.  We gather in worship to participate in Eucharist and in prayer, because it’s where you see yourself in God’s story, see what keeps you distant from God, and see that you are loved, forgiven, and valuable to God.

As we begin Lent this Wednesday, I hope you experience in the ashes placed on your forehead and in the bread and wine you consume an invitation beyond the loneliness we all feel, all the false promises you’ve been told, all your fears about God and about your future.  I hope you experience a welcome beyond isolation, a relief from the emotions of yourself which control you, a need for attachment to another person, an idea, an evaluation.  I hope you find the courage to engage, listen, let go so that all the substitutes we use to cope are seen for exactly what they are, substitutes.  All of these things: ashes, bread, wine, prayers, inclusion, connection, and love are about a vision we find when we stop worrying about whether or not we’re on the right path, and trust in the presence of God and one another to find the way by what sight we have.

The church isn’t perfect, and that’s because you and I who make up the church aren’t perfect.  Lent is about recognizing we don’t have to be perfect, only faithful.  And this week, this Lent, is an opportunity to begin again to use our own voice, and see our own light which points us to God.  God is already there, eager for you to connect your sight and your voice with something more than what you have in a world interpreted by others.

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Then join us at Noon for “Ashes to Go” in Ben Brown Plaze with Patrick Harley and UKirk.
Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 6 pm, is Pasta Night!
Join us for an evening of cooking, eating, and hanging out. We will provide the recipe and ingredients. Just bring yourself (and a friend). This month’s pasta is Creamy Shells with Pancetta and Peas.

Wednesday, 6 pm, Ash Wednesday Service
Join us as we begin our observance of Lent with a service of Imposition of Ashes and Holy Eucharist at 6 pm at Trinity Commons.

Coming Soon!

a24fe9c6-1c32-49ff-9617-429d3abbd1be

This Sunday – The Last Sunday after the Epiphany

This Sunday

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
–Matthew 17.1-3

  • Can you remember a particular story you were told as a child that is still important to you? How often do you think about it? Why is it a story that stays with you?
  • What about your life would you change today if you could?  Why would you make that change?
  • Do you imagine yourself connected to the story of God, unfolding today as it did long ago?
  • When you think about Jesus, what reveals itself to you?

This is the last Sunday in the season of Epiphany, Transfiguration Sunday.  It’s the day we remember Jesus going to a high mountain where he meets Moses and Elijah, and his face and clothes become dazzling white.  But why?  What’s that supposed to mean?  If you’ve always been interested in this story, or if you’ve never really thought about it, come join us at Trinity Commons Sunday night at 6 pm for Eucharist.  Then plan to stay for a delicious dinner thanks to our friends in EfM from St. Andrew’s (Gerald Wildes and Phyllis Bennington).  It’s sure to be a great night; I hope you can be there too.

–Thomas

This Week – 02/17/2020

This week.

“My mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.”  To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
–Fred Rogers

I remember when I was in high school I watched my dad put together a storage shed in the backyard.  It was one of those sheds you pretty much had to put together everything yourself and the booklet of instructions seemed to rival a Russian novel in length.  My dad was struggling, finding it difficult to find the right part, the right bolt, not drop the tool, to find the right page in the manual.  Seeing him struggle I helped to get us on the right page in the directions and hold things while he put it together; together, we were able to get it done.  Even with just a small bit of help from me it was a job that was a whole lot easier with two people than just one person trying to do it all by themselves.

Thank you to those of you who were there to help us provide support and refreshments to the runners of the marathon on Sunday.  I am grateful for your help and the runners certainly were.  Helping people is good for everyone, for the person needing our help and in allowing us to feel good for seeing someone else succeed.  For those of you who weren’t able to join us there’s another opportunity this week to provide help for those who’re looking to you for your expertise.

On Tuesday, we’ll meet and leave from Trinity Commons at 4 pm and carpool over to Episcopal Place; Episcopal Place provides safe and affordable housing to low income and disabled seniors. Once there, we’ll help the residents with learning how to use their phones and tablets.  While these devices are second nature to us, learning how to use them and set them up can be frustrating for them.  Your expertise will not only make life easier for someone else, but you’ll be surprised by what you can learn from each other as you talk about something as simple as a phone.

If you need to meet us at Episcopal Place that’s fine, and you’re welcome to leave whenever you need to.  Episcopal Place isn’t too far from Trinity Commons (it’s located at 112 26th Street South 35205).

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 4 pm, Technology Help at Episcopal Place!
We will meet and leave from Trinity Commons at 4 pm and carpool to Episcopal Place. While there we will help the residents with learning how to use their phones and tablets. If you need to meet us at Episcopal Place, that’s fine. The address is 112 26th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35205.

Vocare 20 @ Camp McDowell, March 6-8
Join college students and young adults for a free weekend at Camp McDowell to explore faith and where God is calling you. If you have questions, ask Thomas or Kelley. Sign up here!

This Sunday – Marathon Sunday & the 6th Sunday after the Epiphany

This Sunday

Can you remember the last time you asked someone for help?  What was the last situation in which you had to make a difficult choice?  When we face tough choices we often need help and none of us get where we want to go in life without the help of someone else.  This Sunday we’ll hear a lot from Jesus about how we can best live together by the choices we make, and it takes asking for help.  We know other people need our help and this is a Sunday where I need your help.

It’s Mercedes Marathon Sunday and we need your help at Trinity Commons at 7am (!).  I know it’s early but this is a fun and important event where we provide hospitality (gummi bears, Gatorade, water) to those running in the marathon who come right in front of our student center.  It’s a lot of fun to cheer them on, help them as they run the race, and be a part of an important event in the life of Birmingham.  We’ll have coffee and bagels for you to get you going, but we need a lot of hands to help because there are a lot of runners to support.  I promise you you’ll enjoy it by all the people who’ll tell you ‘thank you.’  So set your alarms, get a friend to come with you, and please make plans to come help serve those who need our support and encouragement.

Sunday night we’ll join our friends next door at St. Andrew’s for a combined Eucharist with supper afterwards.  The service is still at 6 pm but join us in the church at St. Andrew’s to say thank you to God.

–Thomas

This Week – 02/10/2020

This week.

Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
–Isaiah 58.2-3

‘How do you know?’  Is that a question that constantly goes through your mind when someone tells you something; is your first thought ‘how do you know?’  Taking the time to wonder why things are the way they are, and do they have to be that way, can be helpful as we assess where we are and where we want to go.  Don’t just take my word for it, test it for yourself by listening to what others think, then spend some time asking questions and reflecting; thinking and asking questions is how we learn.

‘What do you believe?’  Asking questions of God, even challenging God, is something the Old Testament takes seriously.  The prophet Isaiah questions why the predictions of the restoration of Israel haven’t come true?  For Isaiah, the exiles have returned but where is God?  Isaiah wonders if the problem is we’re doing what we’re doing for us, not for God?  Asking where is God and what does our life in God mean, is central to our faith. Faith is a dialogue with God and we engage one another in that dialogue too.

This week, as we continue to explore different ways of gathering for Trinity Commons Tuesdays, and this Tuesday at 4:30 pm we’ll start ‘Good People, Good Book,’ an informal Bible study at Good People Brewing Company. You don’t have to be 21 to come but you do have to be 21 to buy yourself a beer, but everyone is welcome whether you drink beer or not. The point of this time together is to hear what God has to say, ask each other what we believe about God and discuss the question: How can we determine what is or isn’t part of the Christian faith?

If you’ve wanted to ask some questions, hear what others think, and try and figure out what you believe then come join us and feel free to bring a friend.

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 4:30 pm, “Good People, Good Book”!
Join us for an informal Bible study at Good People Brewing Company. You don’t have to be 21 to come but you do have to be 21 to buy yourself a beer, but everyone is welcome whether you drink beer or not. The point of this time together is to hear what God has to say, ask each other what we believe about God and discuss the question: How can we determine what is or isn’t part of the Christian faith?
Sunday, 7 am, Mercedes Marathon!
Yes we know it’s early, but come help us support the runners in the Mercedes Marathon by passing out water and Gummi bears. We will provide breakfast and coffee.

Sunday, 6 pm, Joint service with St. Andrew’s
We will have a joint service with our neighbors at St. Andrew’s. So join us next door for Eucharist.

Vocare 20 @ Camp McDowell, March 6-8
Join college students and young adults for a free weekend at Camp McDowell to explore faith and where God is calling you. If you have questions, ask Thomas or Kelley. Sign up here!

This Sunday – Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

This Sunday

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
–Matthew 5.13-16

  • What is wisdom? How do you get wisdom?
  • Can you recall a moment when you faced a decision in having to do the ‘right’ thing? How did you decide?
  • Do you think God calls us into a life of requirements or way of life together? Is there a difference between them?
  • Do you believe that you are a light of the world? What holds you back from letting others see it?

Seeing clearly is important, but seeing clearly and not acting or moving or living isn’t really seeing at all.  Words and deeds are important, and tonight at Trinity Commons you can join us at 6 pm to hear why we need both words and deeds to live out our faith with one another.  Both are important, as are the gifts and light you have to share with others.  This week will be about sharing what we have, seeing and doing, so join us tonight to reflect and stay for dinner thanks to our good friend Martha Bains.

–Thomas

This Week – 02/02/2020

This week.

One who sings prays twice.
–St. Augustine

Do you like to sing?  Do you sing when no one else is around, in the shower, in the car, in your room with the music loud enough so no one else can hear and you can’t hear yourself?  Or is singing out loud, anywhere, just natural; you feel like breaking into song when you’re happy and feeling good, or find yourself attached to a slow and moving song when you’re down?

What about prayer?  Do you pray when you’re along and by yourself, when you can remember to do it?  Or is prayer a regular part of your day; is it something that begins your day, something said on the way to class or at a meal, or do you finish the day taking stock over what happened and what it means as you say a few prayers?

The church, long, long ago established an order to the day which included set times for praying.  From our earliest Jewish roots, prayer and music went together and prayers were sung, or chanted, rather than said.  In the middle ages when monasticism was at its height, those set hours of the day marked the passage of time by prayer.  Today we mostly are just familiar with compline, which ends the day, but our Prayer Book includes Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.

This week we begin an opportunity to see, do, and experience new ways of relating to God and one another by sung prayer.  We’re going to offer Evensong (sung Evening Prayer) for anyone who’d like to come join us; it’ll take place in the chapel on the second floor of Trinity Commons at 5:30 pm on Tuesday (and every first Tuesday of each month).

Maybe you’ve been looking forward to this, a chance to sing and connect your prayers to the ancient practice of chanting. Maybe you’re a little unsure, intimidated by singing in public.  Maybe you’re curious about it, and you’re not sure that you want to sing but you’d like to come be a part of it. All of those are invitations for you to join us, give it a try, let your prayer be matched to other prayers for the good of the world and for the good of us all.

No matter if you’re good at singing or reluctant to lift up your voice, I bet you’re willing to say some prayers, and I bet you have some prayers you’d like to say. Come match your song to prayer, experience God in a new way (actually, in quite an old way) and find your voice in unison with others willing to help you find that voice so that you hear the voice of God.

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
Diocesan Convention is this week, so we won’t be in the Hill Center.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 5:30 pm, is Evensong!
Join us for an evening of prayers, scripture, and singing!

Vocare 20 @ Camp McDowell, March 6-8
Join college students and young adults for a free weekend at Camp McDowell to explore faith and where God is calling you. If you have questions, ask Thomas or Kelley. Sign up here!

This Sunday – Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

This Sunday

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”

–Luke 2.25-32

  • Do you still have objects, pictures, from your childhood you can’t bear to part with but you don’t leave out for others to see?  Why do you still keep them?  What keeps you from displaying them?
  • Can you remember a promise someone made to you that they didn’t keep?  Do you still feel disappointment about it?
  • What does salvation look like? Who gets to enjoy it?
  • What are some ways you can assist God in allowing people without a voice to speak up, be heard, and feel included?

This Sunday at Trinity Commons we remember what it means to be part of a community that understands who we are and what we do by a promise from God.  I know promises are sometimes hard to believe, but that’s why we hear reminders and find encouragement in one another.  Join us at 6 pm to remember this promise and find your place in God’s community with Eucharist and supper.  We’re grateful for our friend Martha Bains and look forward to seeing you as we celebrate life together and enjoy delicious food.

–Thomas

This Week – 01/27/2020

This week.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness–
on them light has shined.
–Isaiah 9.1

Adversity, we all go through it.  For each of us there comes a day or a period where we just struggle, and no matter how hard you try or how good you are, you just have a hard time.  What helps us in times of adversity is our willingness to invite or accept help.  None of us get where we want to go in life on our own efforts only; we need others to help us see what we can’t see or be companions along the way, because companionship is good.  This new year at Trinity Commons we’re going to use our Tuesday afternoons and evenings a little differently this year as we engage with our community. and engage differently with God and one another.

Starting this week, Pasta Night will return at 6 pm.  Each month, the last Tuesday of the month, will be our community meal, Pasta Night, followed by Compline in the chapel upstairs.  Come and join us for what you can; if you come late that’s fine, if you need to leave early that’s fine too.  The first Tuesday of each month will be Evensong at 5:30 pm in the chapel at Trinity Commons.  Evensong is a chanted version of Evening Prayer designed to give thanks to God by nurturing our own faith in an ancient way.  I imagine many of you aren’t used to chanting but like all things you’re unfamiliar with, come give it a try, you’ll soon get the hang of it.

The second and third Tuesdays of the month will involve a Bible study or an opportunity to engage with an organization helping people in our community.  The idea is that we open ourselves up to God to learn more about what our faith is, what it means, and talk about how we can best live it out.  Then we go out into the world to live it out by helping people who need help, listening to their story, and sharing our life as Jesus models it.  The faith we learn becomes the faith we put into action.

I’m excited about this change and I look forward to having you with us as we engage God, engage our knowledge of what we believe and why, and engage our neighbor.  May this new season of change invigorate you too, and may you, in whatever darkness you’re walking in, be courageous enough to come find the light which shines for you so that you may be a light to others.

–Thomas

On Campus

Wednesdays at Samford 
We’re back on campus this Wednesday. We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.

Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 6 pm, is Pasta Night! 
Join us for an evening of cooking, eating, and hanging out. We will provide the recipe and ingredients. Just bring yourself (and a friend). This week’s pasta is penne with four cheese.

Vocare 20 @ Camp McDowell, March 6-8
Join college students and young adults for a free weekend at Camp McDowell to explore faith and where God is calling you. If you have questions, ask Thomas or Kelley. Sign up here!