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 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 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 Sunday – Responding to COVID-19

This Sunday

Friends,

One of the reasons we return again and again to scripture for guidance, solace, and instruction are the many stories which help remind us that God is present, understands our fears and hopes, as well as responds to our cries for help or mercy. It’s easy to forget when we’re anxious, confused, and uncertain about where our life may lead. Scripture points us back to God as someone who understands us and is alongside us when we’re prone thinking we’ve been abandoned and are alone.

As your schools wrestle with the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe while still offering you instruction to finish the semester, I invite you to trust that God continues with you on your journey, wherever it may be and wherever it may take you.  There is an abundance of caution being practiced, as well as an effort to minimize and contain the spread of COVID-19; we are on a new journey, but it’s still a journey best done together.

At Trinity Commons, and for Episcopal Campus Ministry in Birmingham, we are following the directions of your school administration and the Diocese of Alabama.  This Sunday, March 15, we will not gather at Trinity Commons for our 6 pm Eucharist and supper; we will offer Evening Prayer at 6 pm via Zoom and continue to do so until further notice.  I hope you join us on this platform for prayer, conversation, and an opportunity to stay connected.  On Tuesdays at 6 pm we will offer TC Tuesday via Zoom; this will be a chance to just connect, share, hangout for a while if there’s anything on your mind and you’d like a chance to connect with the group.  Our Thursday Lenten series will continue at 5 pm, also via Zoom.

Here is the link to join us this Sunday at 6 pm for worship: https://zoom.us/j/554598167.

We will send out the links for the other meetings on Monday.

While prayer and worship are important, it’s equally important for you to get the help you need in a difficult time.  We are working to arrange some assistance for students who need help, so if there is food you need, help with some financial hardship, dealing with medical concerns or issues, we will work to meet that need; please let us know how we can help you should you find yourself in a time of need.  As always we continue to be available for conversation and pastoral care, either in person, by text, email, phone, or video chat.  We urge you to stay up to date on information about this virus, take COVID-19 seriously, and to monitor and report any symptoms to your doctor.

In our own journey into uncertain times we’re still here to support you, to listen to you, and to guide you. In this wilderness time of Lent we find uncertainty, just as Israel did both in exodus from Egypt and in exile in Babylon, and the relief of connection with God as the Samaritan woman at the well in the noonday heat found with Jesus. Wilderness experiences are rarely easy but they usually offer important lessons worth remembering; in this wilderness season remember you are not alone and do not be afraid.

–Thomas & Kelley

This Sunday – 2nd Sunday in Lent

This Sunday

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.”
–John 3.1

  • Can you name a teacher who made a deep impact on you, or helped open your eyes to something you hadn’t seen?
  • How do you learn best: by doing, by seeing, by figuring it out on your own?
  • I wonder what Jesus might have to teach you?
  • What might God be trying to help you understand about yourself and your life with God today?

Learning new things can be tricky for some people.  But learning something new can open us to something we might be missing.  God wants us to learn that we’re valuable, included, an important part of what God is doing in and through us.  If you’ve been looking for a new start, a chance to learn something new, then join us at Trinity Commons for Eucharist and supper this Sunday at 6 pm.  We’ll welcome our friend from St. Mary’s-on-the Highlands, the Rev. Danielle Thompson, and enjoy supper thanks to the youth group from St. Mary’s.

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy: Be gracious to all who have gone astray from your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, Jesus Christ your Son; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

–Thomas

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 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 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 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 Sunday – Third Sunday after the Epiphany

This Sunday

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
–Matthew 4.18-22

  • What job are you hoping to have when you’re done with college?
  • What are the communities (clubs, organizations) that are important to you?  What draws you to them and what keeps you there?
  • Do you consider yourself a follower or an admirer of Jesus?  Is there a difference between the two?
  • Why do you think Simon, Andrew, James, and John immediately followed Jesus?

Are you a follower?  This week we hear another story of the calling of the disciples.  Each day we make choices to follow certain people, follow specific dreams, and follow our inner voice.  At Trinity Commons this Sunday at 6 pm we’ll reflect on what it means to be a follower, how to know what to follow, and who’re the voices we should be listening to as we try and find a path.  As always we’ll have a delicious free supper thanks to our friend Barbara Sloan and the folks at St. Andrew’s. I hope you’ll join us on Sunday.

–Thomas