This Week – 10/14

 

This week.

Last week, while eating lunch with some of you at UAB, I mentioned how often I wished I could just cut my phone off.  We all get tired of what feels like constant demands to perform or accomplish something to show we matter and that we’re capable and successful.  Our world is filled with demands, people wanting something and wanting it now.  We’re all stressed by the feeling that we have to be our best self, correct, right, and confident in each and every moment.  We’re afraid one false step, one mistake, will ruin everything…forever.  The prophet Jeremiah writes a letter to reassure Israel that God cares for them, even though the demands of a new life far away from the familiar seem overwhelming.  Not all messages, it seems, just ask more from us; the right ones, from the right people, invite us to find meaning and purpose in our lives where we are, with new eyes.

Some students I meet feel that leaving campus to come to Trinity Commons is hard if they don’t know anyone, or don’t know what to wear, or are afraid of saying something, anything, wrong.  We encourage you to come join us, especially if you don’t know anyone, because you’ll be encouraged by the people you meet, and the conversations you end up having.  You don’t have to wear anything specific, just be who you are and trust God.

God doesn’t demand you be perfect, and no one at Trinity Commons does either.  But we do want to see you, when you can make it, when you decide you’re tired of having so many demands or feel the need to prove something.  May this week be an opportunity for you to hear the voice of God reassuring you to take some risks by seeing your life differently, to let go of the demands you face, and to embrace abundant life where you are.

–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
Because of unavoidable meetings, we will not be at the Hill Center this Thursday.

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 Sausage, Potatoes, and Spinach.

Oct 27: Boocharist and Trunk or Treat
Trunk or Treat with St. Mary’s on the Highlands for kids of Glen Iris at Trinity Commons 4-6 pm. Boocharist and supper starts at 6 pm (costumes encouraged).

This Sunday – Pentecost 18

This Sunday

As Jesus entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean.
–Luke 17.12-14

  • Can you name a time when someone you thought you knew surprised you by showing you a good quality of their character you weren’t aware they had?
  • Have you ever been ill for an extended period?
  • What or who was helpful to you as you recovered your health?
  • God can often lead us to growth when we’re willing to leave our familiar and safe path.  What keeps you from going in a new direction or exploring unfamiliar territory?
  • Why do you think Jesus sends the ten men to the Temple, to show themselves to the priests?

Recovery of sight, healing in body, a spirit removed from someone in bondage; these are the things Jesus does with those he meets along the way.  For healing to happen we have to be able to name the part of us that is in need of mercy, healing, and love.  We can’t promise miracles, but we can promise a community where all of us know we need mercy, healing, and love; and we’re willing to name that as we look to Jesus to hear our prayers.

Come add your voice to ours this tonight at 6 pm at Trinity Commons, then stay to be fed thanks to our friends Steven and Laura Baker.

–Thomas

This Week – 10/7

 

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Schools from the South (UA Tuscaloosa, Auburn, UAB, and Montevallo) won the Episcocup at Fall College Conference!

This week.

When I was in seminary we used to have long discussions about whether the greatest thing or worst thing for the Church was the “conversion” of the Emperor Constantine (though he wasn’t actually baptized until he lay on his deathbed, around 337).  His recognition of Christianity largely paved the way for a unified Christendom; it also allowed the Church to be a player in the political arena and a wielder of social capital.  The long story of the history of the Church throughout the Middle Ages was one where the Church found that power intoxicating, and the union of Church and State didn’t always get us closer to the kingdom of God.

Power, as we know from the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, can be an engine for living of the vision for a just society.  Many of the leaders of the Civil Rights movement were fed by the stories in the Bible of the power of God given to Moses as he confronted Pharaoh to release Israel from slavery, as well as the many prophets who reminded the freed Israel of their obligation as a society.  Power, used by the community, guided by principles, and fed by the story of God who calls us to be a people with a vision, can cast down the mighty from their thrones and lift up the lowly.

536fe075-d9e9-4a19-8097-a8103256959e
Staff Applications for Vocare 20
Vocare 20 will be held on March 6-8, 2020 at Camp McDowell. If you have previously attended a Vocare as a pilgrim you are invited to apply to serve on staff. Click here for more info.

We all have power, some more political, social, and economic than others; but the power we all possess comes when we acknowledge the pain and suffering of others, and then we respond from our awareness and willingness to participate.  Those who desire power think power will bring happiness; what we seek isn’t happiness, it’s joy.  Joy comes from the many ways we engage one another in community and not turn away from the discomfort of the emotional struggles we all endure.  Joy comes when we can listen and share with the person we may not fully know. We may not have the power to cure, but we always have the power to heal.  May you find an unexpected power within yourself which comes from remembering that you are a part of the liberating story of God, and you use that power to engage with God’s people.

–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 Linguine with Garlic, Oil, and Crushed Red Pepper. Hooray!

This Sunday – Pentecost 17

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This Sunday

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” The Lord replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, `Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
–Luke 17.5

  • What does it mean to have power?
  • How do you use your power over others?
  • What are the ways Jesus uses his power?  Can we do the same?
  • What do we mean when we pray, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever”?

Power is a term we often find troubling today.  After centuries of misuse and abuse, we rightly bristle at those in authority who use power to remain in control by refusing to share or cooperate with others; and then there are those who use power to maintain a status quo which restricts and neglects others.  Jesus invites us to reflect on the idea of having power, and using the power we have for the good of the community.  But it’s not power as a tool of an individual for control and manipulation.  Power can also confront and fuel a community for change, justice, and liberation.

Come join us this Sunday at Trinity Commons at 6 pm as we gather together to hear more about what Jesus has to say about power, as well as how we should use power, and plan to stay after the service for a free supper thanks to our friend Joshua Richman.  Joshua is a great cook, so it’s sure to be a meal we’ll all enjoy.

–Thomas

This Week – 9/30

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What’s it like to be alone for you?  Are you one of those people who’re grateful for any moment of time alone, happy for a break from the demands and habits of others?  Do you relish an opportunity to be by yourself, even if you’re not doing anything particularly important?  Or is being alone torturous?  Do you need the presence and stimulation of others to keep you going so that you find when no one is available you don’t know what to do with yourself or how to think?

I believe Jesus has been telling us a number of parables lately about what it means to lose something of value which makes our lives incomplete, once we’re aware of what we’ve lost.  Sometimes what we lose is a result of a decision we make, or our inattentiveness to someone who looked to us for help or support.  The result is that we find ourselves alone, and it’s not a time alone that is helpful or welcome.  Being alone can happen because we haven’t made room for someone else in our lives, and then we find ourselves heartbroken by their absence and the reality of our situation.

There’s a painting in the Birmingham Museum of Art called “The End of a Misspent Life” by Elihu Veder.  It’s a painting that I seek out whenever I’m in the museum because it captures my imagination.  Why is this figure alone?  What’s he done; what’s been done to him?  Why is he out here, with no one else around, all by himself, in sorrow?  Why is he sitting at the steps of a church?  The painting is a landscape, not a portrait, and by the scale of the painting we feel the isolation of that lone figure in a canvass that seems made for more people.

We come to God quite often when things fall apart, when we’re heartbroken and lost.  We do that because we know deep down that when we’re alone and isolated that God will be there with us.  The long story of Israel is about remembering that when things go disastrously wrong God hasn’t given up on them.  And yet, in our good times, when the party is still in full swing and life is going our way, God is there too, and is a presence for us as much as those moments when we’re all alone. Whether this is a week you feel the joy of some time alone or face another week of what feels like never-ending abandonment, Jesus reminds us that God hasn’t abandoned us and invites us to risk leaving where we are to gather together in fellowship and community.  May you have the bravery to venture out of your isolation and find a community of people seeking the same things you seek: love, acceptance, and completeness.

–Thomas

fall_college_retreat
This Wednesday, October 2, is the final day to register for Fall College Retreat at Camp McDowell. For more info and to register, visit bit.ly/FallCollegeRetreat2019

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 Rigatoni with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella. Hooray!

This Sunday – Pentecost 16

This Sunday

Jesus said, “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.” 
–Luke 16.19-21

  • Can you recall a time when you felt forgotten or ignored?
  • Are you comfortable asking for help?  What keeps you from letting others know what you need?
  • Is there a person who consoles you when you’re in pain?  Do they know how important they are to you?
  • What do you remember as the message of Moses and the prophets of the Bible?

This Sunday we’ll hear another parable from Jesus designed to get our attention, this time by name.  The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is the only parable in which a person is named, and that’s significant.  You have a name and an identity; you have hopes, fears, desires, and expectations.  God meets us in all the complexities of our lives but our life takes shape in relationship and community with other people.  Whether you feel confident in your identity or uncertain and unsure, Trinity Commons welcomes you to bring who you are, however you are, to share life with others who’re interested in knowing your name and your identity.

We hope to see you Sunday for Eucharist at 6 pm in the chapel on the second floor of the student center and plan to stay for a free supper after the service thanks to our friends from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

–Thomas

This Week – 9/23

What does it mean to succeed?  Does it mean getting to a place, a point, where you’ve accomplished all you have to do?  Does it mean achieving a lifestyle, full with possessions, money, admiration, which allows you to feel comfortable?  While we may aspire to these things, success isn’t an individual achievement; it reflects a community because it really is about human flourishing.  I think to consider a life successful means it’s connected in a web of relationships with others which are mutually beneficial and collaborative.  I think it means an approach to life which recognizes the complex nature we all have and is willing to try and understand rather than define. I think it means we approach what we do and how we do it with humility, passion, and thoughtfulness.

Models of success are most commonly driven by two competing perspectives: insecurity and conviction.  Insecurity focuses on something we lack and obsesses over the idea that if we could only obtain what we lack then we can live happily ever after.  Conviction comes from a sense of purpose which claims our strengths and weaknesses, and harnesses them to strive towards a vision.  Conviction is about identity, and Jesus consistently tells us stories, heals our wounds, feeds our body and soul, to provide us with an identity and a conviction that the kingdom of God has come near to you, and to your neighbor.

fall_college_retreat
Join with college students from around Alabama for a weekend at wonderful, wonderful Camp McDowell. For more info and to register, visit bit.ly/FallCollegeRetreat2019

Success isn’t being free of struggle, difficulty, or conflict; success is about a character we form in the midst of struggle, difficulty, and conflict.  Being children of God empowers us to enter the messy world and proclaim a conviction, a vision, a set of values, which comes from knowing whom and whose we are.  Christianity doesn’t remove us from the messy world; it sends us deep within it.

May this week be a time for you to try again with a new perspective, to claim a life of purpose you hear from the stories of scripture, rehearse in the prayers you utter, and claim in the body and blood of Jesus you consume.  Success, whatever it means on any given day, is found in life together and from the strength within us when we remember.

–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 Shells with Cauliflower and Cheese. Hooray!

This Sunday – Pentecost 15

This Sunday

“You cannot serve God and wealth.”

–Luke 16.13

  • Do you ever worry about having friends, money, a future?  What is the source of that worry?
  • Are you a rule follower, or are you always stretching the limits of what’s possible?
  • Do you think you have to earn God’s love or favor?  Do you think God expects you to show ‘success’?
  • What fear, object, attitude, obsession, might God be inviting you to let go of in order to realize you already have what you need?

Jesus gets our attention with a statement like this, but it comes on the heels of a rather complicated parable about being accountable for what’s done, which includes what seems to be some shady dealing.  Life, we know, is complicated and we’re pulled in many different directions toward many different goals.  Sometimes what we want is clear and sometimes our desires are in conflict; but what if the ultimate goal is less about meeting your need than it is connecting you with others and the invitation to move beyond fear.

Join us at Trinity Commons Sunday night at 6pm for Eucharist and supper following the service.  It’s a time to reorient yourself, to serve what brings you life, and to live in community with others who seek the same things you do.

–Thomas

This Week – 9/16

Last week I met a UAB student who was on campus at Samford.  After our initial shock of seeing each other at a place we don’t normally expect to see each other, I asked him how he was doing.  It had been some time since I’d seen him and he replied that he was great because ever since he was saved he has some security in life.  While I’m not sure I would describe my faith as one that brings security, I admire his passion as much as I understand a need we all have to feel secure and at peace.

In this week’s parables, we Jesus tell two stories about people who are so passionate that they drop everything, leave what they’re doing, to go in search of something they realize they lost.  Their life is incomplete until they find it, and they go to great lengths to search for whatever it is: a sheep and a coin.  Finding this lost item, restoring to wholeness, is so important to them you can describe it as a passionate search.

What are you passionate about?  What’s missing in your life right now, and are you searching for it?  A better way to put might be, what drives you, keeps you going, and compels you to invest yourself for the pursuit of something which challenges you, yet also brings you joy in the pursuit of a goal?

fall_college_retreat
Join with college students from around Alabama for a weekend at wonderful, wonderful Camp McDowell. For more info and to register, visit bit.ly/FallCollegeRetreat2019

Passion is an important thing to have in life; we’re at our best when we can dedicate ourselves to some goal.  May this week provide an opportunity for you to find your passion, to invest yourself to search for wholeness that can only come when we’re willing to acknowledge something we’ve lost or something we need to find. Community, life with others, is all about putting us together so that we all find something we lack in the presence of one another.

–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 Bowties with Artichokes and Peas.

This Week – 9/9

“Work smarter, not harder.”  Perhaps you’ve been given that advice by someone. Usually, people say it as a way to say ‘don’t work so hard, find an easier way.’  Many of us push ourselves to do more with our waking hours; we add activities to our already crowded schedules and we amp up the pressure on ourselves to do everything which comes our way.  Usually, it’s because there’s a lot we want to do, but Jesus invites us to question what’s really important to our identity: is it work we do to build up ourselves, or work we do to let go of ourselves?

Working smarter, not harder, as Jesus intends isn’t about taking on more and more to prove our competence or ability; it’s about letting go of more and more to find that what we really need, what really gives our life meaning, purpose, and value, isn’t in what we do, it’s in what we share and give away.  If we can learn how to say ‘no’ to the things we think we want then we’ll find we already have what we need, and we’ll find a freedom and peace which comes from ceasing to push ourselves so much or struggle to achieve and accomplish for our own gratification.

Discipleship, following Jesus, is about priorities, and assessing what’s really important can take honesty and courage.  May this week be a time for you to spend some time asking yourself what’s really important in your life, what’s going to keep you going for the long-haul, and what feeds you, not what exhausts you.  And may you find in your answer the awareness that it takes a community of support, friends who share that same journey, who can remind you when the work gets weary and our attention and energy fail.  Whatever comes your way this week, may you hear the call of God who calls all who are heavy laden to rest in 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
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 spaghetti with Pecorino cheese and black pepper. It promises to be cheesy goodness!