“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.” Mark 13:32-37
Advent is a season full of prophets: Isaiah, John the Baptist, Mary, Jesus to name a few.
The reading from Mark gives us the apocalyptic vision of the return of the Son of Man. It points to the anxiety of waiting when the day and hour is unknown. The year 2020 has taught us a lot about waiting. We have waited for 10 months for our lives to return to normal, and we continue to wait. Jesus instructs us that while we are waiting we should keep alert and keep awake.
This Advent, we need to hear the words of the prophets so that we can be alert and awake. Frank A. Thomas describes the work of the prophet as “calling all people to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. Prophetic imagination introduces something beyond the available options…A way out of no way.” It is the prophets that challenge us to look at the world through the lens of hope.
As we begin our year again, as we keep alert and keep awake for the signs of hope around us, join us this Sunday for Holy Eucharist at 6 pm. Remember to wear a mask. You can join us at Trinity Commons or on Zoom (bulletin).
Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. -Matthew 25:31-33
As the liturgical year comes to an end, our readings point us to the power and authority of Christ. Typically this day is referred to as Christ the King Sunday. Before we turn to the expectant waiting of Advent, we are reminded of the power and judgment of Christ.
Most of us would rather not be judged. We would rather not take final exams or have job evaluations. But judgment is an important part of life and relationships. It is in those moments of judgment and evaluation that we receive truth about ourselves and our relationships. We see the truth that we have indeed learned and grown, as well as the truth that there is more for us to do. It is these moments of truth that enable us to shape our future.
When Jesus, as King, judges the nations, his judgment is based on their capacity for mercy. Those that looked at the world and offered kindness are judged as righteous, and those that failed to offer kindness are doomed to eternal life. This is a parable that is meant to make us uncomfortable. It comes as a judgment to us while we still have time to change. And perhaps that is the good news of this parable, we can still choose to be kind.
Join us this Sunday as we are reminded that we will be judged by our acts of kindness. We will welcome back the Rev. Emily Collette as our preacher. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 6 pm and supper following. Remember to wear a mask. You can join us at Trinity Commons or on Zoom (bulletin).
1 To you I lift up my eyes, *
to you enthroned in the heavens.
2 As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, *
and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
3 So our eyes look to the Lord our God, *
until he show us his mercy.
4 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy, *
for we have had more than enough of contempt,
5 Too much of the scorn of the indolent rich, *
and of the derision of the proud.
Psalm 123 is one of the fifteen Songs of Ascent. These songs are thought to have been sung by pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem for worship. They tend to be short and therefore easy to memorize. While verses 1-3 of Psalm 123 look to God as the source of mercy, verses 4-5 express the frustration and suffering of the people. This is a people that have had enough. The people have returned from exile, but yet they are still suffering. The complaint of contempt and scorn is so general that we cannot determine the precise historical context, but this ambiguity allows this psalm to be the prayer of the people of God in every generation.
We have made it through the election, but our news and social media are still filled with scorn and contempt. We have gotten good news about a possible COVID vaccine, as the COVID numbers increase dramatically. It feels a bit like we have done what we were supposed to do–vote, wear masks, physically distance–but yet the suffering continues. I find comfort in the words “So our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he show us his mercy.” There is comfort in that I am not alone. There is comfort in saying the words that generations of the people of God have said in times of suffering.
Join us this Sunday as we gather so our eyes look to the Lord. We will welcome Bishop Kee Sloan and the Venerable Lou Thibodaux. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 6 pm and supper following. Remember to wear a mask. You can join us at Trinity Commons or on Zoom (bulletin).
Jesus said, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.” Matthew 25:1-5
We’ve talked a lot about waiting this year. Waiting for an end to the pandemic. Waiting for an election. For at least the election, the long period of waiting seems to be at an end.
All of our readings for this Sunday point to the importance of being ready. We are called to not just avoid being caught up in the anxiety of the waiting, but to make provisions, and be ready to take action with the day of the Lord arrives.
Our worship together is part of our preparation so that we can be ready. Through scripture, sacrament, and community, we keep our lamps trimmed and ready to greet Jesus. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 6 pm and supper following. Remember to wear a mask. You can join us at Trinity Commons or on Zoom (bulletin).
Photo of Vulcan: Photo by Jessamyn West, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:21-23
If you have spent any time in Birmingham, then you have probably paid a visit to Vulcan on Red Mountain. Vulcan was created for the 1904 World’s Fair, and was made from iron mined at Red Mountain and cast at Sloss Furnace. Vulcan is the Roman god of fire and blacksmithing and was chose to represent Birmingham’s iron and steel industry. After the World’s Fair, the statue was eventually installed at its present location in the 1930s.
Any visitor to Vulcan is familiar with the view from the open-air observation platform. Once you step out of the elevator, you are greeted by the “back” of the Roman god. For first time visitors, this view usually leads to a chuckle from both kids and adults.
When I read this story from Exodus, of God’s plan to pass by Moses and show him his back, but not his face, I confess that this posterior view of Vulcan comes to mind. Moses has been in intense conversation with God. Moses has been pleading with God to be with the people. It is God’s presence that is necessary. It is the presence of the true God that the people were desperate for when they created the golden calf.
Again Moses negotiates with God and God’s mind changes in a way that creates a deeper relationship. The God of their ancestors, the “I AM,” The God that brought them out of Egypt, now reveals a new aspect — the God who is gracious and merciful. Godself cannot be fully revealed to Moses or the people, but God will go with them because they carry God’s name.
Join us on Sunday as we seek a deeper relationship with God and each other. This Sunday we will welcome the Rev. Emily Collette as our preacher. Worship is at 6 pm and supper follows. Remember to wear a mask. You can join us at Trinity Commons or on Zoom (bulletin).
When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Exodus 32:1
Waiting is always the hardest part. Whether it is waiting for Christmas or birthday celebration, or waiting for the arrival of a loved one, the time spent waiting can be both a source of excitement and anxiety. Waiting is often a bit easier when we know the day and the hour we are waiting for. We can mark days off on a calendar, count down the minutes.
It is when we don’t know how long we will have to wait, that the anxiety can really set in. When we are stuck in an airport waiting for a delayed flight. When we are waiting on a grade on midterms. When we are waiting on a diagnosis. These are times when anxiety can get the best of us.
The people of Israel had waited for 40 days and 40 nights for Moses to come back down the mountain. In the end, they give in to their anxiety and need for feeling like they are in control and build a golden calf. And as God will make clear, this was not the right way to handle themselves in the waiting.
Since March, the whole world has been waiting. We have been waiting for a vaccine, waiting for a return to normal, waiting for justice and equity. How are you handling the waiting? What have you been doing to hold back the anxiety? What have you been doing to prepare for the time when the waiting is over?
I hope to see you this tonight at 6 pm for worship with supper following. Remember to wear a mask. You can join us at Trinity Commons or on Zoom (bulletin).
On this date 70 years ago the first Peanuts comic strip was published. Charles Schulz would go on to draw nearly 18,000 Peanuts strips before his death in February 2000. I have loved the Peanuts since I was a kid. Perhaps predictably, Snoopy is my favorite character, with Linus coming in a close second. I never really grew out of it. Schulz’s simple images have continued to speak to me throughout my life.
In a way, the Peanuts is a series of parables. Schulz’s simple stories carry with them a twist that speaks to more complex issues of adulthood. In his lifetime Schulz identified as a fundamentalist Christian and a secular humanist. Through the voices of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and the thoughts of Snoopy, Schulz explored unrequited love, depression, anxiety, faith, and sometimes the meaning of life.
Snoopy reminds us that sometimes when we feel like things are meaningless, we have to get back to the basics. For Snoopy, the basics include Charlie Brown showing up with supper.
Supper doesn’t fix everything, but it can be a good start. We have slogged through isolations, online classes, and the weirdness of COVID-19. The last time we were able to share a meal at Trinity Commons was in March. So I am really excited that this Sunday we will offer supper following the service. It won’t be the way we usually do it, we will have to be physically distant, the meals will be to-go style and with disposable utensils, but we can gather together to find meaning in worship and through sharing a meal.
I hope to see you this Sunday at 6 pm for worship with supper following. Remember to wear a mask. You can join us at Trinity Commons or on Zoom (bulletin).
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:3-5
I am happy to announce that we are able to have a one-day Fall College Retreat at Camp McDowell on Saturday, October 10. This will offer time to relax at Camp and see friends from across the diocese. We will be following COVID-19 safety protocols, and as much as possible our activities will be outside. The cost is $10 (with scholarship funds available). There will be kickball, hiking, a BBQ lunch, and we close the day with worship.
Please register by Noon on October 1st. You can learn more and register by clicking here.
I hope to see you this Sunday at 6 pm for worship, either at Trinity Commons or on Zoom. Remember to wear a mask and use the online bulletin or bring your prayer book.