This Week – 02/17/2020

This week.

“My mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.”  To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers—so many caring people in this world.”
–Fred Rogers

I remember when I was in high school I watched my dad put together a storage shed in the backyard.  It was one of those sheds you pretty much had to put together everything yourself and the booklet of instructions seemed to rival a Russian novel in length.  My dad was struggling, finding it difficult to find the right part, the right bolt, not drop the tool, to find the right page in the manual.  Seeing him struggle I helped to get us on the right page in the directions and hold things while he put it together; together, we were able to get it done.  Even with just a small bit of help from me it was a job that was a whole lot easier with two people than just one person trying to do it all by themselves.

Thank you to those of you who were there to help us provide support and refreshments to the runners of the marathon on Sunday.  I am grateful for your help and the runners certainly were.  Helping people is good for everyone, for the person needing our help and in allowing us to feel good for seeing someone else succeed.  For those of you who weren’t able to join us there’s another opportunity this week to provide help for those who’re looking to you for your expertise.

On Tuesday, we’ll meet and leave from Trinity Commons at 4 pm and carpool over to Episcopal Place; Episcopal Place provides safe and affordable housing to low income and disabled seniors. Once there, we’ll help the residents with learning how to use their phones and tablets.  While these devices are second nature to us, learning how to use them and set them up can be frustrating for them.  Your expertise will not only make life easier for someone else, but you’ll be surprised by what you can learn from each other as you talk about something as simple as a phone.

If you need to meet us at Episcopal Place that’s fine, and you’re welcome to leave whenever you need to.  Episcopal Place isn’t too far from Trinity Commons (it’s located at 112 26th Street South 35205).

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 4 pm, Technology Help at Episcopal Place!
We will meet and leave from Trinity Commons at 4 pm and carpool to Episcopal Place. While there we will help the residents with learning how to use their phones and tablets. If you need to meet us at Episcopal Place, that’s fine. The address is 112 26th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35205.

Vocare 20 @ Camp McDowell, March 6-8
Join college students and young adults for a free weekend at Camp McDowell to explore faith and where God is calling you. If you have questions, ask Thomas or Kelley. Sign up here!

This Week – 02/10/2020

This week.

Yet day after day they seek me
and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness
and did not forsake the ordinance of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments,
they delight to draw near to God.
“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
–Isaiah 58.2-3

‘How do you know?’  Is that a question that constantly goes through your mind when someone tells you something; is your first thought ‘how do you know?’  Taking the time to wonder why things are the way they are, and do they have to be that way, can be helpful as we assess where we are and where we want to go.  Don’t just take my word for it, test it for yourself by listening to what others think, then spend some time asking questions and reflecting; thinking and asking questions is how we learn.

‘What do you believe?’  Asking questions of God, even challenging God, is something the Old Testament takes seriously.  The prophet Isaiah questions why the predictions of the restoration of Israel haven’t come true?  For Isaiah, the exiles have returned but where is God?  Isaiah wonders if the problem is we’re doing what we’re doing for us, not for God?  Asking where is God and what does our life in God mean, is central to our faith. Faith is a dialogue with God and we engage one another in that dialogue too.

This week, as we continue to explore different ways of gathering for Trinity Commons Tuesdays, and this Tuesday at 4:30 pm we’ll start ‘Good People, Good Book,’ an informal Bible study at Good People Brewing Company. You don’t have to be 21 to come but you do have to be 21 to buy yourself a beer, but everyone is welcome whether you drink beer or not. The point of this time together is to hear what God has to say, ask each other what we believe about God and discuss the question: How can we determine what is or isn’t part of the Christian faith?

If you’ve wanted to ask some questions, hear what others think, and try and figure out what you believe then come join us and feel free to bring a friend.

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 4:30 pm, “Good People, Good Book”!
Join us for an informal Bible study at Good People Brewing Company. You don’t have to be 21 to come but you do have to be 21 to buy yourself a beer, but everyone is welcome whether you drink beer or not. The point of this time together is to hear what God has to say, ask each other what we believe about God and discuss the question: How can we determine what is or isn’t part of the Christian faith?
Sunday, 7 am, Mercedes Marathon!
Yes we know it’s early, but come help us support the runners in the Mercedes Marathon by passing out water and Gummi bears. We will provide breakfast and coffee.

Sunday, 6 pm, Joint service with St. Andrew’s
We will have a joint service with our neighbors at St. Andrew’s. So join us next door for Eucharist.

Vocare 20 @ Camp McDowell, March 6-8
Join college students and young adults for a free weekend at Camp McDowell to explore faith and where God is calling you. If you have questions, ask Thomas or Kelley. Sign up here!

This Week – 02/02/2020

This week.

One who sings prays twice.
–St. Augustine

Do you like to sing?  Do you sing when no one else is around, in the shower, in the car, in your room with the music loud enough so no one else can hear and you can’t hear yourself?  Or is singing out loud, anywhere, just natural; you feel like breaking into song when you’re happy and feeling good, or find yourself attached to a slow and moving song when you’re down?

What about prayer?  Do you pray when you’re along and by yourself, when you can remember to do it?  Or is prayer a regular part of your day; is it something that begins your day, something said on the way to class or at a meal, or do you finish the day taking stock over what happened and what it means as you say a few prayers?

The church, long, long ago established an order to the day which included set times for praying.  From our earliest Jewish roots, prayer and music went together and prayers were sung, or chanted, rather than said.  In the middle ages when monasticism was at its height, those set hours of the day marked the passage of time by prayer.  Today we mostly are just familiar with compline, which ends the day, but our Prayer Book includes Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer.

This week we begin an opportunity to see, do, and experience new ways of relating to God and one another by sung prayer.  We’re going to offer Evensong (sung Evening Prayer) for anyone who’d like to come join us; it’ll take place in the chapel on the second floor of Trinity Commons at 5:30 pm on Tuesday (and every first Tuesday of each month).

Maybe you’ve been looking forward to this, a chance to sing and connect your prayers to the ancient practice of chanting. Maybe you’re a little unsure, intimidated by singing in public.  Maybe you’re curious about it, and you’re not sure that you want to sing but you’d like to come be a part of it. All of those are invitations for you to join us, give it a try, let your prayer be matched to other prayers for the good of the world and for the good of us all.

No matter if you’re good at singing or reluctant to lift up your voice, I bet you’re willing to say some prayers, and I bet you have some prayers you’d like to say. Come match your song to prayer, experience God in a new way (actually, in quite an old way) and find your voice in unison with others willing to help you find that voice so that you hear the voice of God.

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
Diocesan Convention is this week, so we won’t be in the Hill Center.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 5:30 pm, is Evensong!
Join us for an evening of prayers, scripture, and singing!

Vocare 20 @ Camp McDowell, March 6-8
Join college students and young adults for a free weekend at Camp McDowell to explore faith and where God is calling you. If you have questions, ask Thomas or Kelley. Sign up here!

This Week – 01/27/2020

This week.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness–
on them light has shined.
–Isaiah 9.1

Adversity, we all go through it.  For each of us there comes a day or a period where we just struggle, and no matter how hard you try or how good you are, you just have a hard time.  What helps us in times of adversity is our willingness to invite or accept help.  None of us get where we want to go in life on our own efforts only; we need others to help us see what we can’t see or be companions along the way, because companionship is good.  This new year at Trinity Commons we’re going to use our Tuesday afternoons and evenings a little differently this year as we engage with our community. and engage differently with God and one another.

Starting this week, Pasta Night will return at 6 pm.  Each month, the last Tuesday of the month, will be our community meal, Pasta Night, followed by Compline in the chapel upstairs.  Come and join us for what you can; if you come late that’s fine, if you need to leave early that’s fine too.  The first Tuesday of each month will be Evensong at 5:30 pm in the chapel at Trinity Commons.  Evensong is a chanted version of Evening Prayer designed to give thanks to God by nurturing our own faith in an ancient way.  I imagine many of you aren’t used to chanting but like all things you’re unfamiliar with, come give it a try, you’ll soon get the hang of it.

The second and third Tuesdays of the month will involve a Bible study or an opportunity to engage with an organization helping people in our community.  The idea is that we open ourselves up to God to learn more about what our faith is, what it means, and talk about how we can best live it out.  Then we go out into the world to live it out by helping people who need help, listening to their story, and sharing our life as Jesus models it.  The faith we learn becomes the faith we put into action.

I’m excited about this change and I look forward to having you with us as we engage God, engage our knowledge of what we believe and why, and engage our neighbor.  May this new season of change invigorate you too, and may you, in whatever darkness you’re walking in, be courageous enough to come find the light which shines for you so that you may be a light to others.

–Thomas

On Campus

Wednesdays at Samford 
We’re back on campus this Wednesday. We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.

Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 6 pm, is Pasta Night! 
Join us for an evening of cooking, eating, and hanging out. We will provide the recipe and ingredients. Just bring yourself (and a friend). This week’s pasta is penne with four cheese.

Vocare 20 @ Camp McDowell, March 6-8
Join college students and young adults for a free weekend at Camp McDowell to explore faith and where God is calling you. If you have questions, ask Thomas or Kelley. Sign up here!

This Week – 01/20/2020

This week.

I had a recent exchange where I was asked what my experience is of change in the church.  I replied that it was quite a lot; each semester in campus ministry is different from the last.  Some new people come and familiar faces are less familiar.  People go through seasons of engagement, and all of us, over the course of our lives, change as we grow.  That’s how it should be; change isn’t easy but when we engage and not resist we can find transformation for ourselves and our society.  But engagement means something for the long haul.  Engagement asks us to see ourselves as a part of something more, something greater, something with purpose and character, than just our needs in one given moment.

We remember Martin Luther King Jr. not just because he was a civil rights leader in an era when we needed civil rights leaders.  We remember Martin Luther King Jr. because he articulated a vision: a biblical vision of the goodness of creation, the power of being called to live as God’s people, and the strength necessary to challenge ourselves and others to live as the people of God.  Rather than rage against the world he reminded us of the power of peace, rather than assault those who opposed him he invited them to see the abundance around them, rather than tear down institutions build around the status quo he led us to imagine institutions living fully into what they could be for the benefit of our society.  That’s how it should be for us as we continue to engage reluctant institutions, those who don’t agree with us, and those who prefer conflict as they focus on fear, resentment, and self-interest.

This is a season of change, and at Trinity Commons we’re going to start this new year embracing some change by engaging with the world which God calls ‘good’ in its forming, which Jesus is born into to live and work, and which the Holy Spirit continues to be a guide as we live into new challenges.  I know not everything is for everyone, but I encourage you to join us, to get out of your comfort zone, and to allow yourself to try and experience the transformative power of change.

–Thomas

On Campus

Wednesdays at Samford 
We’re back on campus this Wednesday. We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.

Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Pasta Night returns on January 28, at 6 pm!

This Week – 01/13/2020

This week.

Did you make a new year’s resolution? Despite what you did last year, was this the year you resolved to try to exercise more, study more, spend more time with friends or less time on your phone?  Did you resolve to be more patient with your parents, more thoughtful to the person you date or take a risk and put yourself out there to begin to date?  Those resolutions, the triumph of hope over experience, are about our recognition that we can be better than we are, that there’s a way to live life with others which we’re not quite getting the most out of now.  Resolutions are ultimately about saying we see things differently now and, however imperfect we may actually live it out, we’re going to try and be that better self.

Jesus isn’t just born and baptized just to help us be better people; he’s born and baptized to show us who he is, and who God is.  I’m not sure if it caught your attention from Sunday’s gospel, but Jesus tells John that his baptism must happen to fulfill all ‘righteousness.’ That’s a word we’re not familiar with, though Matthew’s gospel will make much use of it; often, for us, it means ‘holy,’ ‘pious,’ or ‘perfect,’ but for Matthew it means Jesus understands himself as someone to live into a way of life. That life is as the Messiah, the one come to inaugurate the kingdom of God. That’s why we are baptized too, to engage in our own way into that way of life and to do our part for the kingdom of God.

It’s a new year and a new semester; you begin with a new schedule, new classes with new professors and classmates, and new eyes in which to see yourself on campus. Whether you’ve resolved to begin this new year and new semester trying to do some things differently or you’re hoping for more of the same from last year, may you see yourself in a new way as a part of the mission of the Messiah who came to earth, who was baptized, and who calls us to follow to be agents of change for ourselves and for those around us. New ways of living and loving are possible, and we’re capable of change, but only if we, like John, recognize that what we’re invited to see and live isn’t just a life centered around ourselves but a life lived in recognition of God who lives with us and invites us to live a new way of life together.

–Thomas

On Campus

Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Pasta Night returns on January 28, at 6 pm!

This Week – 12/2

This week.

On a recent trip to Camp McDowell I was talking with a guy who was at Camp for the first time.  He mentioned the sign, shortly after you go down DeLong Road, which reads, “Slow Down, it’s the Camp way.’  I confessed I hadn’t noticed the sign before and another friend said he, too, had missed the sign, probably because he’d always been driving too fast.  Life can be like that; too fast as we hurry and stress to get to the next thing, perfectly perform the next item on the list, all to prove that we matter.

I think that’s why so many people go to Camp each summer or whenever they can; the pace of life once we’re there, the people we meet and form friendships with, the stories we create and tell, all make Camp a place that’s so different from our world in the dorm and classroom.  But it doesn’t have to be like that for us; Jesus asks us to imagine a different future for ourselves and others.  It may not involve eating in Eppes Hall every day but those same friendships can be created in the Caf or your room too. Those same stories which define us are a part of what you find around you in the library, not just the lower camp chapel.  The pace of life you feel drives you now is what you create for yourself, and taking time to have a conversation or play is available to you in the Rec hall or campus.

Advent tries to get us to imagine a different future, and Jesus is inviting you to hear, learn, and then respond in the present to make our life and the life of our community different, not perfect yet, but different now.  May this week be a time for you to take what you learn at camp (the importance of friends, of fun, and of sharing) to live today where you are with whom you meet. As God’s people we can begin today to make tomorrow the way the world should be right where we are.

–Thomas

On Campus

This is our last week on campus for this semester!

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 6 pm, is Pasta Night! 
This is our last Pasta Night for the semester. So Join us at Thomas’ house for a special dinner of Baked Ziti. Thomas is doing all the cooking. If you need his address, send him an email or text.

This Week – 11/25

This week.

One of the important beliefs for Episcopalians is that what we pray shapes what we believe.  The idea is that by coming together to say the prayers, listen to the stories, sharing in the exchange of the peace, engage in consuming the bread and wine, we become just a little more closely the people we could be.  Transformation isn’t just about doing the ‘right’ things and amending our way of life to please a God we’re afraid of making mad; transformation is about celebration and forgiveness, for ourselves and for others, allowing us to grow as individuals and as a community into a deeper and richer life.  We do what we do in church because we want to be better people, and sometimes we forget what’s important, get distracted, and get self-absorbed.

That’s why participating in church is important, because together in prayer, story, and meal we learn who we are and what we’re capable of being and doing…and doing together.  As you gather this week with friends and family to enjoy a thanksgiving meal, remember that no family is perfect and without its need for healing and forgiveness.  As you gather at Trinity Commons, or your home parish, for worship remember that no place and community is perfect. We’re all in need of transformation which happens when we’re together to celebrate and forgive, and to remember.

May this Thanksgiving week be a time for you to celebrate life with those you love and those who love you, even if it’s imperfectly; and may you find in word and gesture the ability to forgive the wounds all of us possess and sometimes have trouble managing, so that you no longer feel isolated but can be shaped by remembering and participating in life together.

–Thomas

On Campus

Because of the holiday, we will not be on campus this week. Safe travels and happy Thanksgiving!

At Trinity Commons

No Pasta Night this Tuesday
We will not have Pasta Night this Tuesday.

Sunday, December 1, 6 pm 
Join us for worship as we begin the season of Advent. After the service, join us for supper.

Tuesday, December 3, 6 pm
A very special Pasta Night!

Our last Pasta Night of the semester is a special one. We will gather at Thomas’ house, and he will do the cooking. Message Thomas for the address.

This Week – 11/18

 

This week.

I’ve so much to do.  Perhaps you’ve found yourself saying that to a friend this week, or recently.  No matter who we are, we find ourselves perpetually short on time with so much to do.  In our gospel reading for this past Sunday (Luke 21.5-19) I hear Jesus asking us, ‘so what if it doesn’t get done?’  He’s talking about the temple, a particular place, a location, where one went in order to be in the presence of God.  Imagine, Jesus rhetorically asks us, if the meaning of our life with God is bigger than one location and if that location, that thing, wasn’t there would your life fall apart?  Imagine, if your worth, success, competence, are bigger than one project, one paper, one test.

Religion, all too often, gets reduced to a set of beliefs that we think we either have or don’t.  And well-intentioned people think those beliefs (all of them, some of them?) are deeply important; without the right beliefs, everything would fall apart.  While I don’t wish to suggest that our beliefs don’t matter, it would be a mistake to define us and our life with God as a set of beliefs any more than it makes sense to reduce the meaning of our lives to one task or assignment.

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Thank you, Perrine Family!
 We had an awesome supper after our worship service yesterday. Thank you for the wonderful food and for hanging out with us!
Join us next Sunday, 11/24, at 6 pm for worship, and supper following!

When Isaiah speaks to the people of Israel, back home after decades of being in exile, they find they can’t quite just pick up where they left off.  Time has moved on, there’s too much that’s changed, and they have to find a way to live and work with the new time they have.  That’s true for all of us who find ourselves burdened with a long list of seemingly crucial things to do.  And yet the question hangs in the air, what if it doesn’t get done?  This is a busy time, but the meaning of your life isn’t defined by what you do, or don’t do; it’s defined by the relationships with God and others that we take the time to nurture.  May this week be an invitation for you to see yourself and others in a way that doesn’t include worrying about time, assignments, and obligations; and may you cultivate joy by time with God and in life together which is faith, hope, and trust.

–Thomas

 

 

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
Thomas will be out of town this week, and will not be in the student center. But join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
Thomas and Kelley will be out of town, so we will not be in the Hill Center. Come see us on Sunday!

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 6 pm, is Pasta Night! 
Join us for an evening of cooking, eating, and hanging out. We will provide the recipe and ingredients. Just bring yourself (and a friend). This week’s pasta is Pasta with Sausage and Cream.

This Week – 11/11

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This week.

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; when I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet…then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
–Herman Melville, Moby Dick

It’s the time of year when we begin to think about endings.  For some of you it’s the end of your first semester, and you’ve just about made it but there’s still so much to do that you can’t bear to think about it.  For others, it’s the end of your college career and you can’t quite believe you’re at this point, but you’re not sure what lies on the other side of the diploma.  Halloween, All Saints, All Souls, point our attention towards endings and we may find ourselves with “a little November in my soul.”

With all these endings it’s tempting to give into fear, uncertainty, and we’re unsure if we can keep going.  Endings, of course, aren’t really endings at all but changes; life goes on in a new direction which requires us to learn new skills or habits.  What Jesus wishes us to know is that God hasn’t abandoned or forgotten us when things, as we’re used to, end or change.  It’s natural for us to want to know how it’s all going to turn out.  But that’s the mystery of life and what appear to be endings happen to take us to new experiences and, if we’re lucky, new insights into ourselves.

Ishmael, in Melville’s novel, wants to get to sea because that’s where he’s comfortable; but it’s also because he’s running from himself.  The comfortable place becomes his undoing.  Whatever is on your mind this week, whatever ending you’re staring at in the distance, life with Jesus isn’t something you have do to alone or perfectly or with the ‘right’ amount of understanding.  May this week be a time for you to embrace the mystery before you and find, in those you love and those you meet, a companion to guide and nurture the best in you, so that you can be the best for someone who needs you as much as you need them.

–Thomas

On Campus

Tuesdays at BSC
We will be on Campus hanging our in front of the Caf beginning about 9 am. Join us for a Holy Eucharist in Yielding Chapel at 11:45 am, and then for lunch in the Caf after.
Wednesdays at Samford 
We’ll be in the University Center near O’Henry’s around 9 am. Join us for Holy Eucharist at 12 noon in Reid Chapel, and then lunch in the Caf after.
Thursdays at UAB
We’ll be in the Hill Center from 10 am to 3 pm. Come by and have a coffee, or lunch, or for a chat or a prayer, or just to say hello.

At Trinity Commons

Tuesday, 6 pm, is Pasta Night! 
Join us for an evening of cooking, eating, and hanging out. We will provide the recipe and ingredients. Just bring yourself (and a friend). This week’s pasta is Pasta with Sausage, Butternut Squash, and Brown Butter Sauce.