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.
“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.