“Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?” -Matthew 20:10-15
Apparently, capuchin monkeys prefer grapes to cucumbers. If there are two capuchin monkeys both are happy to eat cucumbers. But if you give one a grape and the other a cucumber slice, the non-grape getting monkey will flip out at the unfairness. Studies in children point to an innate sense of fairness, and so at a very young age children will insist on getting their fair share.
Our reading from Matthew for this Sunday challenges us to learn what the Kingdom of Heaven has to say about fairness. The parable of the laborers in the vineyard raises all sorts of questions. It seems natural to sympathize with the workers hired earlier in the day. Their outcry of “it’s not fair” seems reasonable, after all, they did more work. But their complaint is rebuffed by the landowner.
If fairness isn’t what we are supposed to seek, what is Jesus offering us? What does this parable teach us about the Kingdom of Heaven?
Join us this Sunday at 6 pm in the chapel at Trinity Commons as we gather for worship and together we can wrestle with this parable. Remember to wear a mask and use the online bulletin or bring your prayer book. You can also join us online via Zoom.
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided.” -Exodus 14:21
When Cecil B. DeMille released The Ten Commandments in 1956, it was the most expensive movie made at that time, costing $13 million. The parting of the Red Sea was considered the most difficult special effect created, and the movie won an Oscar for its special effects. In 2014, Ridley Scott released his film Exodus: Gods and Kings. With a budget approaching $200 million, Scott and the special effects crew used CGI to create the parting of the Red Sea. You can’t have a movie about Moses and the Exodus without the parting of the Red Sea.
Our reading of Exodus now brings us to the pivotal moment. There is a lot to catch our attention in this story –walls of water, winds, the Egyptian army, Moses with his arms raised– the real focus of this story is God. This is God’s power at work in the world. This is God’s story.
Join us this Sunday at 6 pm in the chapel at Trinity Commons as we gather for worship and to hear the story of God’s saving acts. Remember to wear a mask and use the online bulletin or bring your prayer book. You can also join us online via Zoom.
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” -Matthew 15:20
This Sunday will mark 183 days since we gathered for worship in the chapel at Trinity Commons. During this time we have used technology to continue to meet and to worship. In the past two weeks, we have moved our worship outside or downstairs–braving the heat, bugs, and rain. Throughout this season of COVID-19 we have continued to gather in the confidence that where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ, he is present.
I am excited to announce that this Sunday we will gather in the chapel for worship. Furniture has been moved to maximize space and allow physical distancing. The lectern and altar have been moved to allow 8 feet between them and the congregation. The chairs have been spaced out and marked off to allow 6 feet between people. We will have hand sanitizer available. Remember if you are not feeling well or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, we ask that you stay home and join us online.
Join us this Sunday at 6 pm in the chapel at Trinity Commons as we gather in the name of Christ. Remember to wear a mask and use the online bulletin or bring your prayer book. You can also join us online via Zoom.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
Well, you made it through the first week of classes, whether in person or online. Well done! There are a lot of changes this semester. Classes moved online. Wearing masks. Big changes to how we get to gather and hangout. But I hope you found some happy moments in all the strangeness–seeing friends, starting a class that you are excited about.
Since March, we have all had to practice patience, and we have done our best to persevere in prayer. But I think it has been a lot harder to rejoice in hope. It is easy to lose hope, particularly if you read the news. Sickness. Racism. Violence. Unrest.
There is a difference between being optimistic and hopeful. To be optimistic is to see things in the most favorable light or to expect the best possible outcome. Optimism can be a good thing, but it is not the same as hope. For Christians, our hope means that we live with confidence in the newness and fullness of life and the completion of God’s purpose for the world. While we experience the uncertainty of this time and the pain in the world, we are still called rejoice in our hope in God.
Join us this Sunday at 6 pm at Trinity Commons for Church Outside. Remember to wear a mask, use the online bulletin, and dress comfortably. You can also join us online via Zoom.
When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.” Exodus 2:10
Do you know the story of how you got your name? In movies and comic books the “origin story” gives the backstory of a character, typically explaining how they became a hero or a villian; how they got their powers; and how they got their name.
This Sunday we get the origin story of Moses. We learn about the circumstances of his birth, the strong, brave women that protected him, and how he gets his name. As is usually the case, there are important seemingly minor characters that play a vital role in the shaping of the hero to come.
I hope you will join us this Sunday at 6 pm at Trinity Commons for Church Outside. Remember to wear a mask, use the online bulletin, and dress comfortably. You can also join us online via Zoom.
Oh, how good and pleasant it is,
when brethren live together in unity!
Today is the feast day of Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal seminarian who was martyred in 1965 while working for Civil Rights in the Black Belt in Alabama. Jonathan was 26 years old when he was killed while protecting 17-year-old Ruby Sales. He had traveled to Selma with his fellow student, Judy Upham (22 years old) to work in and with the local community. Jonathan and Judy took leave from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge to work in Alabama. They continued their studies by extension. Jonathan wrote a paper reflecting on his faith and time in the Black Belt:
As Judy and I said the daily offices day by day, we became more and more aware of the living reality of the invisible “communion of saints” — of the beloved community in Cambridge who were saying the offices… of the one gathered around a near-distant throne in Heaven — who blend with theirs our faltering songs of prayer and praise. With them, with black men and white men, with all of life, in Him Whose Name is above all the names the races and nations shout, whose Name is Itself the Song Which fulfills and “ends” all songs, we are indelibly, unspeakably one.
Due to COVID-19, the annual Jonathan Daniels Pilgrimage will be a virtual event. The Very Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, will be the keynote speaker. You can watch the virtual event here.
Join us on Sunday night at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin), as we hear a final story from the saga of Joseph. What can the story of Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers teach us today? What can we learn from Joseph and Jonathan about living in the reality that “we are indelibly, unspeakably one”?
Joseph and his coat of many colors.
Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him. Gen. 37:3-4
Dolly Parton has had a certain cultural resurgence in the 21st century. The 2018 Netflix film Dumplin, another Netflix show dramatizing her songs, and a 2020 podcast called Dolly Parton’s America that asks if she was the way to bring the country together. In 1971 Dolly Parton released a song called “Coat of Many Colors,” which reached #4 on the U.S. charts. The song tells the story of her mother lovingly sewing a coat for her out of different colored rags, and that while she sewed, she told Dolly the story of Joseph and his special coat. For Dolly, the coat her mother made was a symbol of her mother’s love for her, but the song goes on to say that she was picked on for the hand made garment.
When I read the story of Joseph, it is Dolly’s song about the coat of many colors that comes to mind. The robe that Jacob gave Joseph is never described in detail. It is certainly ornate and serves as a token of Joseph’s status as the favorite. The story of Joseph continues the long narrative of sibling rivalry and parental favorites. Though it is a story that is filled with people with complex motives and reactions, most of us likely remember the simplified version told in Sunday school.
Join us on Sunday night at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin), as we ask once again: What should we learn from this strange story? It seems to be a story about privilege and power, and what we choose to do with them. What can we learn about those choices? And where is God in all of this?
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” Gen. 32:24-26
This Sunday we will hear the curious story of Jacob’s all-night wrestling match with a mysterious being. The text leaves room for interpretation of who Jacob encounters and what the wrestling means. The experience has a profound effect on Jacob. The experience is not just physical but is an encounter with God. Jacob leaves limping and with a new name, and with a transformed faith. God, who had been a background character in the story of Jacob and his family, now takes center stage.
Have you experienced God in the midst of a struggle? How were you able to recognize God in that experience? In what ways were you changed?
Join us on Sunday night at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin) as we grapple with this story, and seek God in worship, scripture, community, and our moments of struggle.
This is Thomas’ last Sunday with us before he heads to Auburn.
On Monday, July 27, at 5 p.m., there will be a small gathering at Trinity Commons to say farewell. You are invited.
Weather permitting, we will be outside.
Masks are required.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed.” So Laban gathered together all the people of the place, and made a feast. But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. (Laban gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her maid.) When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn. Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years.” Jacob did so, and completed her week; then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel as a wife.
- How would you describe your parents’ marriage? What are some traits you admire? What would you do differently
- What’s more important for you in a marriage: security or excitement?
- When people use the phrase ‘biblical marriage,’ do you think this passage represents their idea? If not, why does the Bible give us this story?
- I wonder what Rachel and Leah thought about this situation.
Marriage is a commitment and commitment requires sacrifice; saying yes to someone means you say no to other options, including options you might want for yourself. But the essence of marriage or any commitment isn’t about limitation, it’s about being enlarged and what you can discover with someone. There’s a lot to discover together and one of the things we can discover is exactly what life with God looks like.
Join us Sunday night at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin) to connect and discover life with others.
And the Lord stood beside Jacob and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place!
- Do you often remember your dreams? Can you name a particular dream that changed your behavior?
- Have you ever intentionally sought an experience or feeling of God? Did you find it when you were looking for it? Have you had one when you weren’t looking for it?
- I wonder what part of God’s words to Jacob led him to understand the Lord was in this place.
- Have you ever been fearful for your future only to be reassured by someone you trust? What did they say that made the difference?
Jacob is on the run and worried about his future. His family life is a mess, his birthright and blessing seem of little use to him right now. All he knows is that his life isn’t going back to normal anytime soon; sound familiar? What Jacob finds is something he wasn’t looking for; does that sound familiar to you?
Join us Sunday night at 6 pm on Zoom (Download Bulletin) as we gather to say prayers, listen to the story of God meeting Jacob, and look for God in our midst.
Image: 7.14.20 – Photo of comet NEOWISE by Bill Peters.