And they called Rebekah, and said to her, “Will you go with this man?” She said, “I will.” So they sent away their sister Rebekah and her nurse along with Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “May you, our sister, become thousands of myriads; may your offspring gain possession of the gates of their foes.” Then Rebekah and her maids rose up, mounted the camels, and followed the man; thus the servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
- Do you ever imagine what your future will look like? What do you expect this fall to be like? What do you expect the next year to look like? Where do you expect to be in five years?
- Would you like to be married some day? Why or why not?
- I wonder what made Rebekah decide to go with Abraham’s servant in order to marry Isaac. What is involved in a decision to get married?
- If you were to write or offer a blessing for someone you love, what would you tell them?
Some stories feel and seem similar to the past, and yet they present us with new people who bring new characteristics and a fresh approach to values we aspire to. Rebekah has always been, in my opinion, an overlooked or at least underappreciated Biblical figure. Join us on Zoom (Download Bulletin) Sunday night at 6 pm as we hear the story of Rebekah, and how she might not just be a wife of Isaac but the person to continue the future promised to Abraham.
God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him.
- Have you ever had to let go of something or someone you love? What made it difficult for you?
- Do you trust God?
- Why does God test Abraham in this way? Does this story trouble you?
- I wonder if Sarah knew about this? I wonder if it’s important that she is absent in this story?
The Akedah, or binding. That’s how this story is referred to in Jewish biblical literature. It’s the binding; it’s a story that is equally celebrated for it’s narrative while also being deeply troubling for the idea that God would test Abraham in such a cruel way. I think it’s a story meant to confront us with more questions than there are answers, and wrestling with questions is important for our growth and development.
Come join us Sunday night at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin) as we wrestle with this story together and in the shock and fear of a story that makes us want to look away perhaps find the hope we expect to continue on for this week.
When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.
- Whom do you look to for hope when you have trouble finding it? What provides comfort for you when you’re sad or depressed?
- I wonder what your future will look like? Do you imagine what your life will be in ten years?
- Is it Hagar’s weeping or the boy’s weeping that God hears? Does it matter?
- Ishmael means “God will hear;” what would you like God to know?
We’re often tempted to think we don’t matter or no one cares. This story of Hagar and Ishmael cast out of their home and left to an uncertain fate in the wilderness challenges that notion. We form relationships and create community so that when we have trouble finding hope, finding our way, finding a place to belong we can count on others hearing us and responding.
Join us Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin) to find a community that embraces uncertainty in life and yet looks to one another for companionship and belonging in the hope of God who hears our cries.
The three men said to Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.” –Genesis 18.9-15
- Have you ever been promised something you just couldn’t believe? Did it happen the way they told you it would?
- What do you understand about your life now that’s different from what you would’ve understood five years ago? Ten years ago?
- Why do you think Sarah repeats the physical limitations of her body to herself?
- Why do you think Sarah denies her laughter at the idea of having children at her age?
For change to happen you have to believe some promises. None of us always get the assurance we hope for when life brings us to a crossroads; there are no guarantees. But who are the voices we listen to? What are the promises that ultimately matter? How do we know and understand ourselves in order for a promise to be a possibility? Join us Sunday night at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin) as we wrestle with these questions while listening for the promise and the possibility that laughter may be joyful.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
- Can you name a time when you wished you could begin a day, a relationship, an experience again, hoping for a different result?
- What do you find as the ‘darkness or void’ in your life right now? What would shed some light on your darkness
- Another way to translate the wind from God is that it ‘hovers’ not ‘swept’ over the face of the waters. Would that make a difference in how you understand this passage and what God is doing?
- I wonder what a new beginning as a society might look like.
If we could only go back to the beginning; if only we could start over; if only we could use what we know now to when we started then things might have turned out better. Maybe this is a week you’ve thought that; if only we could have a do-over. While we can’t erase the past and press reset, we can begin again. If we understand God as creator and God as active in the world through events and people, then we can always take what has happened and try again.
You have an opportunity to join us again or for the first time this Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin) to go back to the beginning and to find God calling us from the beginning into new places.
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” –John 20.19-23
- Are you a confident person, or is finding your voice to speak or power to act difficult for you?
- What would you like to do or accomplish if you only had the power?
- What exactly does the Holy Spirit empower disciples to do?
- I wonder what it would look like if we could gather together in a common mission.
The day of Pentecost; wind, fire, speaking in other languages. It sounds hard to imagine and yet the gift of the Spirit is what connects the past to the future. If the Ascension, Jesus’ leaving earth to go to be with God, is an ending then what keeps the story going; what keeps us going? The Spirit is the power of God, the presence of God, and the strength for us to flourish in the absence of Jesus. That’s why we gather as a people of God, to remember that God hasn’t left us, to remember the stories of God’s saving acts of the past, and to remember the power is in us as we go to love and serve the Lord. That’s for today and tomorrow; we’re meant for today and tomorrow.
But also Sunday; join us Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin) to remember the power we have when we work together. We’ve missed being together and this is the best we can do for now. But it’s all we need to connect, laugh, pray, sing, and share in the power of God given to us and for us to name that power we have to be the change for today and tomorrow the world needs.
Jesus said, “I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them.” –John 17.6-10
- Do you miss being hugged, held, touched by others?
- Who do you most miss, and wish you could spend time hanging out with right now?
- Why does God go to such lengths to redeem the world?
- Do you struggle to say prayers? What would you like to pray for? What would you ask someone else to pray for on your behalf?
Now that classes are over with do you find yourself missing something that was lost? We’ve missed seeing you and having you a part of life at Trinity Commons. While we can’t gather in person, we can still be together to share in prayer and laughter. If you haven’t joined us for Evening Prayer on Sundays at 6 pm (bit.ly/TCZoom) (Download Bulletin) then we’d love for you to join us this Sunday because we’ve missed seeing you and sharing in life together.
Jesus said, “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” –John 14.18-20
- What is a fear you experience right now? Do you feel like you’re constantly having to fight it? What would diminish that fear?
- I wonder what it feels like to be orphaned. Why do you think Jesus uses this expression?
- I wonder what Jesus means when he says “because I live, you also will live.”
- Would it make a difference to your faith and life if you got to visually experience Jesus?
Are you living your best life now? I think most of us would probably say “no, not really but we’re making do.” Sometimes that’s the best we can do while we wait and hope for something better to come along. Classes may be over and done with, but our Episcopal community continues to meet to remember that God offers us life unlike anything else. We say prayers, we listen to scripture being read, and we hope for God.
Join us Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom (bit.ly/TCZoom) (Download Bulletin) to participate in that life, whatever it may look or feel like for you. We see this life best when we stay connected with one another and stay connected with God.
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” –John 14.1-7
- What is more important, to be right in what you believe, or to understand some else’s perspective?
- What legacies have you inherited from people now dead or no longer known to you?
- What legacy have you generated?
- Who would you like to support in becoming less fearful? How might you help with this task?
A legacy is something we leave behind in the world, for good or ill. Jesus leaves us knowing where he’s going, to be with God. The legacy he leaves us is a place with God too whom we’re invited to know intimately, even if sometimes uncertain. Join us Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom (bit.ly/TCZoom) to be with God and with one another as we hear about the importance of legacies, the legacy Jesus leaves us, and the legacy we can make for others. (Download Bulletin) I hope to see you Sunday night.
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” –John 10.7-10
- What would abundant life look like for you? How would you know when you have it?
- Is what we have now considered abundant life?
- Do you find the image of sheep and shepherds helpful in your understanding of God? What is a helpful image for you?
- What would it mean if Jesus’ invitation is an idea of abundance which doesn’t see pluses and minuses, but cooperation and sharing?
The priest I worked for at Heavenly Rest in New York was fond of quoting from the solemn collects of Good Friday which refers to the church as a “wonderful and sacred mystery.” When he used it, it was usually as a way of saying he has no idea what’s going on; “they don’t call it a wonderful and sacred mystery for nothing,” he would say. Much remains a mystery in life which we struggle to understand sometimes, but I think in our uncertainty and confusion we do better when we’re able to share, whether it’s specific help with something we need or just a friendly and kind person who’s willing to listen.
Join us Sunday at 6 pm on Zoom (bit.ly/TCZoom) to find friendly and kind people who aren’t afraid of the mystery, and are willing to share abundant life whatever it looks like. Download the Sunday bulletin here.