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.

This Week – 11/4

 

This week.

When I got to seminary and needed to find a church to do my field-placement work I was a little overwhelmed.  There are a lot of churches in New York City, enough to visit a new one pretty much every Sunday.  I chose the Church of the Heavenly Rest, located a few blocks north of the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The church was founded in 1868 by veterans and widows of the Union Army who wanted to remember those Union soldiers who fought in the Civil War and had gone on to their ‘heavenly rest.’

I didn’t choose to do my work there because of that unique history, or because of its location near Museum Mile.  I didn’t choose it because of its art deco style (the current church was dedicated in 1929, only a few weeks before the famous stock market crash).  I chose it because it was full of people, people of all ages, people from many backgrounds, and people who weren’t afraid to come up to me, a visitor they didn’t know, and invite me to join them for breakfast.

The Church isn’t a building, it’s not even just a story about the past, or a place to be seen now; the Church is people who either draw us in or make us want to head for the exit.  No church is perfect and we shouldn’t expect perfection, being a Christian in community is hard work; but we should expect to find a place where people practice joy and hospitality, look to Jesus for hope and guidance, and rely on one another for support and encouragement.  That’s the ultimate story of all the saints we name our churches after, remember in story and song, and strive to imitate.  But whoever the saints of the past were, today is our day and the work of being the hands and feet of Christ today is our work.  May this week be a time for you to find your story enriched by the story of the saints from yesterday which gives you the strength and will to invite, encourage, and participate in the healing of the world today with others looking for that same life.

–Thomas

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Social Media week!
Get ready for lots of pictures and videos as we share what we do with those who follow our work on social media and support our ministry.

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 White Pesto.

This Sunday – All Saints’

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This Sunday

This Sunday we will celebrate the feast of All Saints’. This is one of the Principal Feasts of the Church and one that can take precedence over regular Sunday readings. All that fancy church talk means that All Saints’ Day is a pretty big deal in The Episcopal Church.

Given the importance of this day in the life of our church, you might expect that we Episcopalians would have a clear understanding of what we mean by “saint.” We use the term to refer to the “whole family of God…bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise”; but we also use it to refer to individuals who have been identified as “chosen vessels of [God’s] grace and the lights of the world in their generations.”

Unlike our brothers and sisters in the Roman Catholic church, we do not have a precise process to “make someone a saint.” We only call a very small number of folks “saint,” and that list is in the prayer book and confined to people from the Bible or the early period of the Church. We do have some guidelines on who should be remembered in our calendar of Lesser Feasts and Fasts, some of which are being a real person; being a baptized Christian; and being deserving of remembrance.

One of my favorite “almost saints” is Dorothy Day. She is on track to canonization in the Roman Catholic Church and has a devoted following with The Episcopal Church. I think Day is a particularly relevant saint for the 21st century. She dropped out of college, was a journalist, was an activist for women’s voting rights; she partied and drank; she rejected Christianity; and had a child outside of traditional marriage. But she found her way back to God and to the importance of the Church and brought her activism and gifts to her ministry in the world.

Day is often quoted as saying: “Don’t call me a saint, I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.” I do hope that has the process of making Day a saint, we don’t polish off all those rough edges of her life that are so important to understanding the work she would do in service to Christ. We have a tendency viewing those that we call saints as doing impossible things, and that keeps them at a safe distance from us.

As we celebrate All Saints’ Day, I am glad that The Episcopal Church has left some ambiguity in the definition. I am glad that I can remember and be inspired by the saints that did the impossible, like St. Mary the mother of Jesus or St. Francis of Assisi. But I am also glad that I am able to remember those saints that lived lives that seem more possible, like my grandmother Christine, who taught me to love the prayerbook, my grandfather Charles, who taught me to love history and family, or Dorothy Day, who taught me that being a “saint” is not about perfection but is about being fully human and being fully open to the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Who is a “saint” in your life that you want to remember? Join us this Sunday at 6 pm to celebrate all the saints and stay for supper following the service.

–Kelley

 

This Week – 10/28

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This week.

Those of you who joined us at our Boocharist Sunday night remember that really touching moment when the very young girl in the family who joined us said the Lord’s Prayer at a volume that was definitely turned up.  We all smiled, not just because it was cute to hear her say the Lord’s Prayer with such confidence and intensity, but because it was with confidence and intensity.  She knew the words and she knew that was a moment and a prayer that she should join in with us to say…loudly.

Our faith can be like that, but our faith is an invitation, and invitations can be accepted or rejected.  If we have faith, if we persist in faith, if we take whatever great or little faith we have today, whatever it will be will be because it matters to us, and we get out of it what we put into it.  Like that little girl, some days our need for faith is strong and certain; others days may be different when our faith takes a back seat to homework, a paper that needs writing, friends who wish to hang out, or taking some time to be alone.  Faith, though, isn’t a solitary practice; we need other people who can share with us in an intentional time to remember whom and whose we are, when we’re prone to forgetting or obsessing over the homework, papers, or trapped in our own thoughts.

That young girls’ faith made us all smile, and I suspect it helped each of us say the Lords’ Prayer in a different way Sunday night.  As you begin this week that leads to All Saints Day on Friday, remember the faith you have been taught, the faith that you practice in whatever great or little way you do, and give yourself permission to come join an opportunity with others who seek to remember and practice our faith.  May this week be an invitation for you to experience a time, a life, that’s more than a set of obligations or demands.  We smile when you’re with us too because it’s always more joyful when we’re together.

–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 Cincinnati Chili. (Trust us, it’s good.)