Lent 3 – Parable of the Fig Tree

Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

–Luke 13.6-9

  • Have you ever been told you have trouble paying attention?
  • How attentive are you to your closest friends? Your family?
  • Do you ever feel like God demands perfection from you?
  • Do you think God gives you permission to share your doubts, confusion, and fears with God and others? Do you?

I don’t think we’re called to be perfect, only faithful; and being faithful is harder than trying to be perfect.  But being faithful can always start right where you are today; it can always be begun again.  We gather on Sundays to be reminded of what faithfulness looks like and why it matters; if you’ve been looking to be more faithful to God, and looking for God to be more faithful to you, I hope you’ll join us at Trinity Commons on Sunday at 6pm to hear just how attentive God is to you.  We’ll enjoy a delicious, free supper thanks to our friends Dawn Pilleteri and Melissa Hooker.  I hope to see you Sunday.

–Thomas

Lent 2 – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

Jesus said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’”

Luke 13:32-33

I sometimes joke that I wish God spoke a bit louder or maybe used bright neon signs. There are days that I just want the path forward to be clear, and to have some certainty on what I am supposed to be doing. So, when I read this curious scene from Luke, I am a bit envious of Jesus’ certainty and determination. Even though the Pharisees warn him about Herod, and it is clear that Jesus appreciates the danger, he knows what he is to do and where he is to go. We might be tempted to dismiss Jesus’ certainty by saying, “Well he is the Son of God, so of course, he knew what to do.” But if we do that, we ignore that Jesus was fully human, fully one of us. Remember that Jesus would have his time of uncertainty and doubt.

  • In this season of Lent, where do you find yourself in your journey of faith? Are you on a clear path and know what you should do? Or is the way forward uncertain?
  • Are there things in your life that are distracting you or are making it hard to see what God is calling you to?

Join us this Sunday for Holy Eucharist at 6 pm, and we can ponder with these questions together. Following the service, we will have a wonderful supper provided by the EYC from All Saints. We hope to see you Sunday!

–Kelley

Lent 1 – Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness

After his baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.

–Luke 4.1-2

  • Do you get anxious when it comes time to take a test?Is the anxiety about just having to take the test itself or a fear you don’t have the knowledge you need to pass the test?
  • There are many times in life where we feel tested by circumstances we can’t control; when was the last time you had to navigate circumstances that were out of your control? How did you handle it?  What might you do differently next time?
  • Why do you think the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into a time of temptation?Is it helpful to think that we’re told Jesus was ‘led’ by the Spirit?
  • Do you ever think God ‘does’ things to test you? What might your image of God look like if God was less the giver of a test and more someone with you in the midst of times of testing?

So, it’s Lent.  I invite you this year to think of Lent not as much a season for misery and giving up anything you enjoy but as a time to be aware of the ways in which God hasn’t been a part of your life, as well as the ways we generally aren’t attentive to the needs of other people.  Lent, at its best, asks us to see differently and we’re going to see our time in worship and prayer differently this Lent.  Join us Sunday at 6pm for Holy Eucharist and supper, to hear about Jesus’ temptation and find your own opportunity to understand your relationship with God again.  As always, we’ll enjoy a delicious, free supper after the service thanks to our good BSC friend Catherine Cook and her husband Jackson.  I hope to see you on Sunday night.

Epiphany 7 – Love Your Enemies

Jesus said, “I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

–Luke 6.27-31

  • Do you have a list of people to whom you hold a grudge? What would it take for you to let go of your grudge?
  • Do you ever feel alienated from others? What groups/people give you a sense of belonging?
  • Who was there for you in a time when you needed help understanding yourself and how you felt?
  • When Jesus asks us to “do to others as you would have them do to you,” what do you think he’s asking you to do?

It’s important to have a sense of belonging, to feel like you’re welcome, included, and cared about.  While the church doesn’t do that perfectly it at least tries to do it in a way that when we fail we know what we’re aiming at.  We hope you’ll come to Trinity Commons Sunday night at 6pm to belong, to hear Jesus speak about belonging, and to find yourself transformed by the sacrament of the meal at the altar and in the fellowship of the meal at supper.  It’s always better when you’re with us, so we hope to see you this Sunday at 6pm.

Epiphany 6 – the Sermon on the Plain

“Jesus came down with the twelve apostles and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Then he looked up at his disciples and said….”          

–Luke 6.17-20
  • Where have you found unexpected love and support this week?  Where do you feel challenged to do better than you usually do this week?
  • Do you ever feel like your life is a series of moments where you pretend to be someone you’re not?  What would authenticity and reality look like for you?
  • What does a blessing from Jesus mean to you?
  • Is your life centered on taking care of yourself, or is it grounded in relationships with other people?

This Sunday at 6pm at Trinity Commons we hear Luke’s version of the beatitudes, and frankly, I find it a difficult set of beatitudes to think about.  Jesus comes and stands with us, eye to eye and face to face; and in that directness we find ourselves caught in the love of “blessed are you,” but do we hear the same amount of love when he follows it with “woe to you?”  It’s challenging to hear but not all challenging words and emotions should be avoided simply because their challenging.  Come join us Sunday night to hear what Jesus says in blessing and woe, challenge yourself to grow beyond your comfort zone, and find yourself with a group of us who recognize that while we’re imperfect we’re still loved.  Plus, our music man Kenny Lewis will be providing supper for us.  It’s sure to be a good night. I hope to see you Sunday night.

Epiphany 5 – Catching Fish & Running Marathons

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”

–Luke 5.1-4

It’s the Sunday for the Mercedes Marathon, and if you’re able to come help us provide hospitality to the runners we need you at Trinity Commons at 7AM Sunday morning. I know it’s early but it’s once a year, an excellent way to give back to the community, and it really is a fun time together. We’ll have breakfast and coffee for you; the roads will be tricky (some closed for the marathon) so do your best and thank you for being willing to come serve others.

Sunday night our usual 6pm Eucharist will be across our parking lot and with our friends at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Come join us for this combined service and the recognition that our community includes more than we often are aware. I hope to see you on Sunday.

O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Epiphany 4 – Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

Jesus said: “But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”

–Luke 4.25-30

  • Do you enjoy going back to your hometown? Why do you go back?
  • Have you ever had to tell someone you cared about some news or information you know they’re not going to like to hear? Did you do it or were you too afraid to speak the truth?
  • How does God invite you into positive relationships with others? Are you aware of those invitations?
  • Why do you think Jesus tells his hometown these stories?

Often we come to church expecting to hear nice, sweet, and uplifting messages that warm our hearts and make us feel good.  But sometimes there are things in life we need to hear that aren’t always cupcakes and rainbows; sometimes we need to hear a challenge for us to grow beyond our expectations. Finding our place in the kingdom is good, but finding someone else’s place in the kingdom is even better. I hope to see you at Trinity Commons on Sunday night at 6pm to hear Jesus remind you that the kingdom of God includes other people, and that means you need to let go of some expectations for yourself. It’s a harder message to hear and practice than you might think.  And our good friend Joshua Richman will be bringing supper for us after the service; come for the Eucharist and stay for dinner (Joshua is a great cook) and listen to the story your neighbor has to tell.

Epiphany 3 – Jesus in the Synagogue at Nazereth

When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

–Luke 4.16-19

  •  When was the last time you expected to be welcomed but found people’s reaction to you less than welcoming?
  • Is there a difference between joy and happiness in life? What might it be?
  • Why do you think Jesus chooses this portion of Isaiah to read in his hometown?
  • To whom do you proclaim release, recovery, freedom, and God’s favor?  How do you proclaim it to others by your words and actions?

We all value our freedom; much of our lives is an effort to claim our freedom from others and to create a life on our own terms and for ourselves. But much of our freedom has to do with how we relate and connect with others; at its best, we come to gather together as a church to remember this, to hear the story of God’s love and liberation, and to have the strength to go out and live it. 

Come hear this story of release and favor at Trinity Commons Sunday at 6pm, then stay to enjoy supper with us and find the value of relationships that are formed from the longing to be free, which is the good news.

Epiphany 2 – Water into Wine

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

–John 2.1-5

  • Do you give up something for the month of January?
  • Do you ever feel like you’re struggling to create or keep an identity for yourself?
  • Where do you see God’s generosity in the miracle of love around you?
  • Who can you be, with God’s help?

It’s a holiday weekend but we’ll still be having Eucharist and supper on Sunday at 6pm. If you’re in town come join us to give thanks to God and share in life together; that’s how we’re reminded of our true identity. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Epiphany 1 – The Baptism of Jesus

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

–Luke 3.21-22

  • Do you sometimes have difficulty in finding an identity for yourself? Do you find yourself struggling to understand who you are and what you want?
  • Can you think of a time when you wanted to change a habit about yourself; how hard was it, were you successful?
  • How do you understand your baptism? What do you think it means to be baptized?
  • Why do you think Jesus gets baptized?

This is another Sunday for us to get together, and it’s when we’re together that we can better practice and understand our identity in Jesus Christ. Whether you’ve got it all together or whether each day feels like a struggle God calls you beloved too. Join us Sunday at 6pm for Holy Eucharist and then stay for supper after the service. We hope to see you on Sunday.

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.