This Week – 09/14/2020

This Week.

Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Cross. Unlike Good Friday which focuses on Christ’s Passion, this feast is a remembrance of the Cross itself. The date is tied to the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher 335. This church was built by Constantine on the believed site of Golgotha and where his mother, Helena, found a relic of the true cross.

I was fortunate to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land a few years ago and to go to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The steps leading up to where you can touch the stone of Golgotha are worn down by the thousands of pilgrims’ footsteps. The church may not mark the actual Golgotha (there is an alternative site outside the old city), but I found that didn’t really matter. The place was made holy by the faith of the pilgrims that came there seeking the grace to take up their cross and follow Jesus.

Holy Cross Day also marks the beginning of the Ember Days. This is a period that invites special discernment and prayers for Christian ministry. All of us as Christians are invited to take up our cross and follow Jesus.

Where is God calling you?

-Kelley

SCHEDULE

Tuesday
  • 11:45 am Worship at BSC
    I will be on in front of Norton around 10 a.m., come by and say hello. Then join us in Norton 121 for a short service of prayers and scripture.

    I won’t be at Trinity Commons this Tuesday afternoon but come by next week.

Sunday
  • 6 pm Worship at Trinity Commons & Zoom
    Join us for Church in the chapel. Wear a mask and invite a friend. You can also join us via Zoom.

This Week – 09/07/2020

This Week.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.  –Romans 13:8

Paul’s simple challenge to owe no one anything except love actually puts us on the hook for a lot. It means that we owe each other a lot. We owe each other care and respect.

These past six months we have really had to practice the love we owe each other. We have all been called upon to change our plans and give things up. We wear our uncomfortable masks and stay six feet apart. We do all this to protect ourselves, but also to protect each other.

We have a ways to go yet with all this. We still have to watch the numbers and be careful. But I am thankful that we are able to carefully gather again.

I hope to see you this week, either on campus at BSC, at Trinity Commons, or on Zoom. We still owe each other love and the care that requires, but I have found that all this is a bit easier when we get to spend time together.

-Kelley

SCHEDULE

  • Monday, 6 pm at BSC
    BSC students come out to the Residence Hall Quad for Smooshie Pie and hang out with me and the other campus ministers
  • Tuesday, 11:45 am Worship at BSC
    Join us for worship in Yielding Chapel.
  • Tuesday, 4-6 pm at Trinity Commons & Zoom
    Take a break and drop by Trinity Commons, and cool off with a popsicle. Kelley will be hanging out from 4-6 pm, and ready to hear about your day. You can also join via Zoom.
  • Sunday, 6 pm Worship at Trinity Commons & Zoom
    Join us for Church Outside. Wear a mask and invite a friend. You can also join us via Zoom.

This Week – 08/31/2020

This week.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  – Mt. 16:24

Pre-COVID-19 I loved going to the movies to watch comic book movies. In 2018 I was really excited to go to the opening weekend release of Black Panther. The audience was diverse in age, race, and experience level with comic book movies. I laughed afterward as I watched a young White comic book kid explaining to an older Black man about how Black Panther fit into the MCU.

I was really ready to send 2020 packing when I heard that Chadwick Boseman, a.k.a. King T’Challa in Black Panther, died. It was made even more heart wrenching when I learned that for much of Boseman’s time in the spotlight he was fighting cancer. In spite of his illness, he continued acting and serving the community.

Representation matters. We need our superheroes to represent the full diversity of our community. We need a world where White kids and Black kids want to be Black Panther on Halloween. In the church, we need saints that represent the full diversity and experience of the people of God.

This week The Episcopal Church celebrates the life and ministry of a Deacon David Pendleton Oakerhater (originally Okuhhatuh), a Cheyenne spiritual leader and warrior who fought against the United States to protect Indigenous peoples’ land rights, for which he was imprisoned. He was ordained a deacon in 1881 and returned to Oklahoma where he was instrumental in founding schools and missions, through great personal sacrifice and often in the face of apathy from the church hierarchy and resistance from the government. He continued his ministry of service, education, and pastoral care among his people until his death on August 31, 1931. He was the first Native American to be added to the calendar of saints in The Episcopal Church.

So this week I am thankful for the example of David Oakerhater, and his commitment in the face of apathy and resistance to serve Christ and his people. I am also thankful for Chadwick Boseman, who invited us to see the world differently.

Do you have a favorite saint? Are you Marvel or DC? Come by Trinity Commons tomorrow from 4-6 pm and tell me about it.

-Kelley

SCHEDULE

  • Tuesday, 4-6 pm at Trinity Commons & Zoom
    Take a break and drop by Trinity Commons, and cool off with a popsicle. Kelley will be hanging out from 4-6 pm, and ready to hear about your day. You can also join via Zoom.
  • Sunday, 6 pm Worship at Trinity Commons & Zoom
    Join us for Church Outside. Wear a mask and invite a friend. You can also join us via Zoom.

This Week – 08/24/2020

This week.

Hello folks.

Well, the first day of classes of the Fall 2020 semester for UAB, BSC, and Samford is nearly in the books. My guess is that it was not exactly the first day that you had in mind. Between social distancing, masks, and hybrid or online classes, it is all pretty strange. I am hoping that you survived the momentary Zoom outage this morning and that classes went well.

Yesterday we gathered in person for worship for the first time since March 8th. We were outside, and the temperature wasn’t too bad. We did encounter mosquitos, and next week we will be better prepared to limit their annoying attendance. It was great to be with those of you that attended in person, and also wonderful to have the lively presence of those attending via Zoom. You can watch the sermon here.

Each university has its own return to campus plan and has a slightly different timetable for resuming activities. As we are able to return tp campus, we will let you know through email, our social media, and website.

If you need a break from school or work, starting tomorrow, August 24, I will be hanging out at Trinity Commons from 4-6 pm. The Zoom room will also be open if you want to drop in online. So, take a break, and come hang out a bit. And since it is still so hot outside, we will have an assortment of popsicles to help you cool off while you take a break.

Back in March, as everything closed a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer got passed around. It has been a helpful prayer for me, and I wrote about it here. While we are venturing out more, there is still a lot of uncertainty, and plans change quickly.  So, I offer it to you.

This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.  And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus.  Amen.

-Kelley

SCHEDULE

  • Tuesday, 4-6 pm at Trinity Commons & Zoom
    Take a break and drop by Trinity Commons, and cool off with a popsicle. Kelley will be hanging out from 4-6 pm, and ready to hear about your day. You can also join via Zoom.
  • Sunday, 6 pm Worship at Trinity Commons & Zoom
    Join us for Church Outside. Wear a mask and invite a friend. You can also join us via Zoom.

This Week – 08/17/2020

This week.

Hello folks.

I am writing this from my home office, which is where I typically am for our Zoom worship and gatherings. Zoom has been a great way for us to stay connected during this time of COVID-19. UAB, Samford, and BSC will all begin their Fall semester on August 24. Given that, and the return of many folks in Birmingham, Trinity Commons is planning to return to in-person worship on Sunday, August 23, at 6 p.m.

We are going to gather for worship outside in front of the student center. Our service time of 6 p.m. means that there will be shade. We have folding chairs available, but you can also bring your own. There is plenty of space for us to physically distance.

We are going to continue using the Liturgy of the Word, which includes prayers, music, scripture, and a sermon, but not Holy Eucharist. Starting off, we won’t offer Sunday supper, but we are working on a plan for Sunday suppers in the near future. I think this is the safer way for us to be together right now.

So, here are the important things to know and remember:

  1. Sunday, August 23, at 6 p.m. we will meet outside at Trinity Commons for worship.
  2. You need to wear a mask. It can be a cloth mask or a disposable mask, but it needs to cover your nose and mouth. You will need to wear your mask the whole time, especially if you are within 6 feet of someone or inside. We will have the student center open so that folks can use the restrooms if needed.
  3. Stay home if you are sick, or if someone in your household is sick. Don’t come if you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are waiting for your test results, or if someone in your household has. We will continue to offer a Zoom option, so if you are not feeling well, please join via Zoom.
  4. Use the online bulletin. To limit contact and to not use a lot of paper, we ask that you download the service bulletin to your phone or iPad and use that. We will have a few paper bulletins available, but if at all possible, please use the web version.
  5. Dress comfortably. While we will be in the shade, it is still August in Alabama, so it will be hot.

This will all be strange at first. And we are beginning the strangest fall semester ever. But I am looking forward to seeing everyone again. And for folks that need to or prefer to connect online, we will continue Zoom as an option to join us.

Take care of yourselves, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

–Kelley

Schedule: 

  • Tuesday, 6 pm on Zoom
    Drop by to hang out or have a chat on Zoom (http://bit.ly/TCZoom).
  • Sunday, 6 pm at Trinity Commons
    Join us for worship on Sunday, August 23, at 6 pm at Trinity Commons. If you need to or prefer to gather online, join by Zoom (http://bit.ly/TCZoom).

This Week – 08/10/2020

This week.

But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)… Romans 10:6-8

This summer we have spent our Sundays hearing the stories of Genesis. An ongoing theme is that no matter how unfaithful the people are, no matter how much the people get wrapped up in their own plots and power, God remains faithful. In the reading from Romans yesterday, Paul reminds us that we don’t have to go up to heaven or into the abyss to find God, we just need to realize that God is already near to us.

Five months into a world reordered due to COVID-19 and facing the uncertainty of returning to campus and class, a lot of us feel powerless and isolated. It is good to be reminded that even in our anxiety and isolation, God is with us.

  • In this uncertain time, have there been times when you found the word you needed nearby?
  • What word is on your lips and in your heart now?

I hope you take some time this week to feel the nearness of God. If you want some ways to connect, check out the schedule below for the Zoom gatherings and online offerings.

–Kelley

Gathering Online: https://bit.ly/TCZoom

  • Tuesday, 6 pm on Zoom
    Drop by to hang out or have a chat on Zoom.
  • Saturday, 11 am Jonathan Daniels Pilgrimage Online
    You can watch the virtual pilgrimage at www.dioala.org/jonathandaniels or on Facebook.
  • Sunday, 6 pm on Zoom
    Join us for worship on Sunday, August 16, at 6 pm on Zoom

This Week – 08/03/2020

This week.

I spent part of this evening watching a pair of hummingbirds zoom around a feeder on my front porch. I always think of hummingbirds as being in constant motion. But tonight I got to watch them at rest. They would each take a turn drinking from the feeder, but then retire to a tree branch nearby.

Since early March, I have worked primarily at home. I have only been present for a handful or worship services, and I have not received Holy Eucharist. While I am tired of working from home, am sick endless Zoom meetings, and miss gathering in person for worship, I have grown thankful for the time that I have been given to simply sit and watch the world around me–especially the hummingbirds.

This Thursday is the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This curious scene is found in all three synoptic Gospels. Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to a mountain to pray. There they witness Jesus transfigured and see Moses and Elijah with him. As part of the prayer for the day, we ask that “being delivered from the disquietude of this world, [we[ may by faith behold the King in his beauty.”

I Googled the definition of “disquietude” and found that its dictionary definition is “a state of uneasiness or anxiety.” I have certainly been living in disquietude these past few months. I am thankful for the moments like this evening, where I could leave the disquietude of the world behind and see the beauty and glory of God’s creation, and be reminded that evening hummingbirds need a place to rest.

We are back to our usual schedule this week: Zoom hangout on Tuesday at 6 pm and worship on Sunday at 6 pm. I hope you join us.

–Kelley

Gathering Online: https://bit.ly/TCZoom

Tuesday, 6 pm on Zoom
Drop by to hang out or have a chat on Zoom.

Sunday, 6 pm on Zoom
Join us for worship on Sunday, August 9, at 6 pm on Zoom.

This Week – A Blessing from Thomas, 7/27/20

A Blessing from Thomas.

Those of you familiar with Nadia Bolz-Weber’s podcast ‘The Confessional’ know she ends each episode with a blessing for the person who’s stepped into the confessional to share their story of transformation and redemption with her (and us).  While this isn’t about to turn into her segment ‘shit I’m not proud of’, I am going to offer Trinity Commons and the students who make up this wonderful space a blessing of my own.

May you continue to be a community which allows you to be your authentic self without pretending or faking it just to please someone else.  May you continue to embrace the questions you have and let your uncertainty about the institutional church and religion not hinder you from letting those questions and misgivings out for all to hear.  I hope you all can remember that moment when you first walked into the chapel with me or into the student center, and you weren’t quite sure what was going to happen; and then remember how we laughed and you realized this wasn’t going to be as difficult as you thought.

May you continue to share, whatever is on your mind and find a non-judgmental ear who won’t freak out at whatever you have to say.  May you remember those pasta nights when we found what real community means when you’re on a new version of team salad, or hear someone answer your question with the phrase “well, what does the recipe say.”  And may you not be restricted by any recipe but willing to experiment and try adding something you think will bring joy to everyone.  Let yourself tolerate having a group picture so others can see what you do and how much fun we really have.

May you look for opportunities to be together, willing to tolerate each other in moments when you want to roll your eyes when someone asks one of those Sunday night ‘what if’ questions.  May you seek each other and add more chairs to the table on campus when someone shows up, no matter how long or how often they continue to show up.  May you sing with confidence and be willing to laugh when the music of life brings the laughter out of you.  Church, worship, is meant to be joyful and I hope you create joy together in a space designed for you to remember that joy is possible.

And most of all, may you find a home and a place to stay.  At its best, the church is a place we can return to when we’re tired or frustrated or empty to find a place to belong which lets us cuss out loud and say we’re tired or frustrated or empty.  That doesn’t just happen because of one chaplain or clergy person; you help create that during the day, in the evening, and in whatever (and I still don’t want to know) happens at ‘Trinity After Dark.’  Don’t let perfection keep you away, and look for those students who haven’t found that home and invite them.  And finally, be willing to give what you have, which is your vulnerable self and willingness to show up, whether in the way early morning of marathon Sunday, a Thursday afternoon discussion, or in a restaurant around town after a get-together.  Trinity Commons is what you make it and, I feel sure, you will continue to make it with God’s help. 

–Thomas

SCHEDULE CHANGE

  • On Monday, July 27, at 5 p.m., there will be a small gathering at Trinity Commons to say farewell to Thomas. Weather permitting, we will be outside. Masks are required.
  • We will not meet on Tuesday via Zoom.
  • Join us for worship on Sunday, August 2, at 6 pm on Zoom (https://bit.ly/TCZoom)

This Week – 07/20/2020

This week.

Choices, as we’ve been reflecting on in our Old Testament lessons, aren’t always blindingly obvious.  Sometimes we need help figuring things out and learning what we can’t see clearly, either because we don’t think it’s important or our limited understanding prevents us from seeing the full picture.  It’s in those times when someone else’s vision, insight, perspective, can help us.

Dreams, like the one Jacob has that night at Bethel, are a common biblical way of understanding.  It’s in dreams when we’re not in control, not focused on what we think is important, and is a chief way for God to get the message across to us.  Bethel, a place significant only for the stones that seem to be around, was a place with no name; it’s significance and name come from Jacob’s dream experience there.

That dream opens Jacob open to the profound experience of God that becomes a place of worship and encounter for Jacob.  It’s the moment of his inclusion into the promise of the covenant given to Abraham.  It’s a place of promise and a future.  Jacob is to keep going, not with all of his worries and problems solved, but with the experience of the God of Abraham and Isaac which was absent from his thoughts and actions previously.  Jacob finds his life and his story in the story of God and it changes Jacob.

Where are you open to change in a time of uncertainty and change?  Who helps guide and inform you when you don’t see all angles?  What is your experience of God and is that experience centered around what God can (or should) do for you?  Like Jacob, we all have experience of family conflict and issues.  Like Jacob, we all feel the pressure to perform and achieve.  Like Jacob, we all find ourselves constantly in motion, fearful of the past and uncertain about the future.  But like Jacob, we can find wherever we are, that place significant only by its insignificance, a place of encounter, transformation, and hope.

–Thomas

Gathering Online: https://bit.ly/TCZoom

Tuesday Checkin on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.

Sunday Liturgy of the Word on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us on Zoom for a service of prayers and scripture.

This Week – 07/12/2020

This week.

By now most of you have heard or read about my transition from Trinity Commons to St. Dunstan’s at the end of this month.  I’ve been grateful for nearly six years as the chaplain at Trinity Commons and to be a part of life on campus and at the student center.  It was, as some of you well know, a really hard decision to make; and that’s what I’d like to focus on today.

As we’ve been focusing on the Old Testament lessons this Pentecost, one of the things I find myself noticing in almost every story is the moment of decision Abraham, an unnamed servant, Rebekah, and Jacob faces.  And moments of decision lead to the obvious question: how do we know we’re making the right decision?

I certainly asked myself that question numerous times as I discerned about a call to St. Dunstan’s.  Some of you even know that discernment has been a part of my self-awareness for a long time, and so I think the answer lies there: self-awareness.  In order to make good choices, good decisions, you have to be honest with yourself about your gifts and your challenges.  You can’t be afraid to name where you are in life and have some idea of where you want to go.  You need to listen to trusted friends and be willing to wrestle with the options, trying to take seriously what’s asked of you and what you have to give.

A good friend of mine gave me the helpful advice that when he was deciding on whether to make a change, he wrote a list of reasons to go and a list of reasons to stay; and at the end of it, all he had was two long lists.  What we heard this week from Esau selling his birthright to the opportunistic Jacob was someone who found himself in a moment of decision and, whatever his motives may have been, he acted on the opportunity.  Each of Jacob’s words, “Sell now your birthright to me”, is carefully weighed and positioned, with the ‘me’ held back to the end of the sentence.  Esau is presented as impetuous and frantic; Jacob as calculating and measured. While we may not ignore the moral ambiguity of this unusual story, we can recognize that someone realizes what’s at stake, and someone doesn’t.

There are days ahead for all of us that will requires decisions and choices to be made, and in many (most) of those moments, we’ll focus on worrying about making the right decision.  I think it’s not so much the need to get it right as it is the need to be thoughtful, attentive, and reflective as we do our best to listen to God, to our inner voice, and the friends who may see and recognize what we can’t.  Whatever uncertainty lingers this week and the weeks to come for you, know that God loves you as well as the people you’re with, and when you remember that you won’t get it wrong.

–Thomas

Gathering Online: https://bit.ly/TCZoom

Tuesday Checkin on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join Thomas and Kelley on Zoom. This is a time to check-in or just say hello.

Sunday Liturgy of the Word on Zoom @ 6 pm
Join us on Zoom for a service of prayers and scripture.