Welcome!

“What do you want me to do for you?” That’s the question a blind man receives from Jesus in chapter ten of Mark’s gospel after this blind man asks for mercy. “Take heart,” say the people around this man, “get up, he is calling you.” Jesus’ question isn’t just for the blind man; it’s for any of us who call out to Jesus for mercy. Whether we call out from curiosity, confusion, or a firm and full confidence, mercy is what we all seek and need.

At Trinity Commons, and in the Episcopal ministry we do on campus, we all seek mercy, acceptance, love, and a community of people who we can support and who will support us. Whether you begin this school year in curiosity, confusion, or a firm and full confidence, the mercy you seek from Jesus is best found together, with people who seek that same mercy in whatever situation or uncertainty we may find ourselves.

We have many ways you can begin that journey towards mercy; join us on campus to just sit, ask questions, and chat. Join us in the chapel on campus for a short Eucharist, to connect the life you lead to the life you seek. Join us for community and fellowship as we work together each Tuesday at Trinity Commons at 6pm to make a pasta dinner together. And join us this Sunday (and each Sunday) at Trinity Commons at 6pm for a meal that takes what we have to give and transforms it, and us, by our participation. Then plan to stay after our Eucharist for supper.

“What do you want me to do for you?” It’s an important question, and each of us can probably answer it in our own unique way with the need we have today, and that’s fine. Jesus meets us just as he met that blind man on the road who asked Jesus, “My teacher, let me see again.” As soon as the words are out of his mouth his sight is restored, all because of a request for mercy and in response to a question about need. What do you need this new school year, Jesus is willing to listen to you; and we are here to find new sight, new life, and new experiences together.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Thomas Joyner, Chaplain
thomas@trinitycommons.org

Kelley Hudlow, Deacon
kelley@trinitycommons.org

4/8 – This Week

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

This week we will conclude our series on relationships and faith. Through our time together we have explored our identity as sexual beings created in the image of God and how our faith can shape our friendships and romantic relationships. We have explored how we can consider our faith in making decisions about these relationships so that we seek and serve Christ in all persons and respect the dignity of every human being. We will finish up our time together discussing the abundant life that Jesus was talking about, and specifically what that abundant life looks like when we talk about being faithful to ourselves, each other, and to God.

So, join us this Thursday, April 11 at 4 p.m. as we take up the topic of Fidelity: God, Self, Others. We hope to see you there.

-Kelley

Tuesday at 6 pm is our Pasta Night. We’ll start the fun at 6pm and enjoy Penne Primavera in a Creamy Tomato Sauce.

On Campus This Week

Tuesday we’ll be at BSC; join us in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45 for our short Eucharist.

Wednesday we’ll be at Samford and around the O. Henry’s around 9am; join us in Reid Chapel at Noon for our short Eucharist.

Thursday we’ll be back in the Hill Center at UAB from 10am until 3pm.  Come join us for coffee, lunch, and conversation.

3/18 – This Week

Occasionally this meme pops up on social media that involves some painting or image of Jesus with the disciples crowded around him. The text usually reads “Nobody talks about Jesus’ miracle of having 12 close friends in his 30s.” It’s a meme with some truth to it. As I have moved from high school to college to working (changing cities along the way) how I meet, make, keep, and lose friends has certainly changed. For a lot of folks, these life transitions can mean transitions in friends and in loneliness.  In a world where we have a myriad of ways to send someone a text, photo, or video, how can we, as people of faith, manage our relationships?

Last week we had a great start to our Lenten program “With Love.” Were you not able to make it last week? Not a problem, you can join us this week! We will gather this Thursday at 4 pm to continue our conversation by taking a look at our relationships with friends, enemies, and strangers. We hope to see you!

–Kelley

Tuesday at 6 pm is Pasta night at Trinity Commons! One of the favorites is back: Sausage and Savoy Cabbage in Marinara with Ziti.  It’s delicious, even if you think you don’t like cabbage we bet you’ll enjoy this.

Thursday, 4-5 pm, at Trinity Commons, is our second session in the With Love Series – “Others: Friends, Enemies, Strangers.” Bring yourself, your questions, and invite a friend! (Hey have you taken the survey yet? Let us know where you are coming from by taking a few minutes to answer some questions.

On Campus This Week

Tuesday at BSC: Thomas will be in the front of the Caf around 9 am if you’d like to come by and talk, share what’s on your mind, or just say hey.  Our short Eucharist takes place in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45 and it’s never too late to come say some prayers, hear what Jesus has to say, and find his presence in sacrament and friend. 

Wednesday at Samford: Thomas will be in the University Center (near the O Henry’s) around 9 am if you’d like to come by and talk, share what’s on your mind, or just say hey.  Our short Eucharist takes place in Reid Chapel at Noon and it’s never too late to come say some prayers, hear what Jesus has to say, and find his presence in sacrament and friend. 

Thursday at UAB: Thomas will be at a table near the exit to Univ. Blvd in the Hill Center around 10 am if you’d like to come by and talk, share what’s on your mind, or just say hey.  Join me for lunch or coffee; I’ll be there until around 3 pm and I hope to see you this week. 

3/11 – This Week

This week we will begin our Lenten Series “With Love.” We will spend time together over the next several weeks exploring what our faith tells us about ourselves and our relationships. Before we get to the sex talk, we need to explore our identity. For Christians, the book of Genesis is our origin story. Genesis gives us not one, but two powerful stories of our creation. Genesis is also the source of a lot of our shame and religious baggage when it comes to relationships and sex. But I think we can begin to let go of that baggage if we read our stories of creation with love and not shame. What does it mean to be created in the image of God? What does it mean to be beloved? To live in community? And what does God really think about sex?

Helps us know where you are coming from by taking a few minutes to complete this survey:https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KFBMJH8. Your answers are anonymous. And even if you can’t attend this session, your perspective would be helpful to our discussions.

Tuesday at 6 pm is Pasta night at Trinity Commons! We’re going to enjoy one of my favorites: Rigatoni with Eggplant, Tomato, and Mozzarella.  For those of you suspicious about eggplant I promise this will change your mind.

Thursday, 4-5 pm, at Trinity Commons is our first session in the With Love Series – “Identity: Belovedness, Community, Sexuality.” Bring yourself, your questions, and invite a friend!

 

On Campus This Week

Tuesday will be our usual time at BSC.  I’ll be around the front of the Caf around 9am so feel free to come by and join me.  Then plan to come say some Lenten prayers in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45; it’s a good opportunity to create some intentional time to communicate with God and make a helpful change in yourself.

Samford and UAB are on Spring Break so there will be no on campus activities or services this week.

 

 

 

 

2/25 – This Week

There was a moment on campus this week where I realized I lost my glasses.  I’m not sure if you rely on glasses or contacts to see or read but I know that I have a hard time reading much of anything without them. After initial frustration with myself that I’d put them down somewhere (I’m still not sure where) and walked away from them I had to confront going forward without them.  Fortunately I have another pair so I’m not completely helpless but it reminds me of what I’m likely to often forget, I have a hard time seeing clearly.  What I mean is that when I’m trying to fend for myself, rely solely on myself, and do everything for myself then I have trouble seeing what I need to see because what I see is only the parts I can see and make out.  We all need others in our lives who can help reframe us and our lives, to show us what we can’t see clearly, and help us navigate a messy and confusing world.  The story of Joseph and his brothers is a good example from the book of Genesis; Joseph needs his life to be reconnected to his father and his brothers but it takes some forgiveness and reconciliation on Joseph’s part. Joseph’s brothers need help to put their lives back together but it means some humility and an ability to speak openly about the reality of loss and suffering. What helps Joseph and his brothers, and you and I, see clearly is an understanding of our lives guided by God which is why we ask for God’s help.  It’s frustrating to want to see and admit you can’t do it on your own; and it takes courage and trust to rely on someone else to help you see what you can’t see as well as listen to what they have to say.  But in the moments of our lives when things seem out of focus it’s important to remember that we don’t need to panic, do not be distressed as Joseph tells his brothers; when our lives are grounded in and with others, and in and with the God who goes before us to preserve, then we’ll be able to make our way a whole lot clearer.  May this week be a time for you to invite someone who love and trust to help you see, and for you to see Jesus who walks with you as a part of your circle.

-Thomas

Tuesday at 6pm is Pasta Night, and on the menu will be Ziti with Cherry Peppers, Pepperoni and Tomato Sauce.  It’s always a fun and delicious time so I hope you’re able to join us.

On Campus This Week

Let us know what you’re having trouble seeing clearly, or share with us what’s come into focus for you that you’re excited about.

Tuesday will be our regular day on campus at BSC.  I’ll be hanging around the front of the Caf around 9 am and come tell me what this week looks like for you. Then come hear what Jesus invites you to see at our short Eucharist in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45.

Wednesday will be our regular day on campus at Samford.  I’ll be hanging around the O Henry’s in the University Center around 9am so come tell me what this week looks like for you. Then come hear what Jesus invites you to see at our short Eucharist in Reid Chapel at Noon.

Thursday will be our regular day on campus at UAB.  I’ll be hanging around the dining area of the Hill Center (at a table near the Univ. Blvd exit) from 10am until 3pm.  I invite you to come tell me what this week looks like for you.  

2/18 – This Week

Thursday of last week (if you recall) was Valentine’s day, a complicated day for many of us.  As I sat in the Hill Center at UAB a student I never met came up to my table, handed me a small sparkly red heart about the size of a nickel, and told me “happy St. Valentine’s day.”  I couldn’t help but notice she added the ‘saint’ in the greeting, maybe thinking that because I was a priest she needed to be religious about this. I thanked her but before I could say anything else she quickly moved on.  As I looked at that small heart in my hand I wondered why she decided to give it to me; did I seem lonely? Did she go around campus handing them out to everyone?  As Christians we often find thinking about love just as complicated as observing February 14; one way sees all desire in terms of temptation, spiritual versus physical, and understands desire as something to be overcome.  Another option is more sentimental, focusing on God as having a ‘plan’ for each of us to meet our one true love, get married, and then live happily ever after.  A third way begins to understand love and desire as part of our desire for God, so all the ways we express desire is really but a part of our desire to enjoy God’s presence forever.  The heart can be a mystery sometimes; love and desire involve much more than a simple gesture, a statement of fidelity, and the correct approach to life. Love isn’t one size fits all; it’s lived out in complicated ways. Love sometimes goes wrong; love leads us to love the wrong person for the wrong reasons; love can lead us into arrangements and life which seem unique and challenging to others. As we navigate a complicated world that requires us to address complicated emotions which lead to complicated actions it’s important to remember that God’s love for us isn’t complicated; God loves us. Whatever you may feel about love and however you understand desire God’s greatest desire is for you to love God and love your neighbor as yourself, however, you live that out this February day or any other day of the year.

-Thomas

Tuesday at 6pm is Pasta Night, and on the menu is pasta with Cabbage and Caramelized Onions; it should be interesting to try but it’ll always be fun to work together to make. We hope you’ll join us.

 On Campus This Week

Should this be a week you particularly need to be reminded that God loves you, then drop by for a chat or join us for worship. Here is the on-campus schedule for the week.

Tuesday is our BSC day, and Thomas will be hanging out in the front of the Caf around 9am if you’d like to come by and say hey or sit and join me. Come join us in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45am to hear the story of Jesus in word and at the altar.

Wednesday is our Samford day, and Thomas will be hanging out in the University Center by the O’ Henry’s around 9am if you’d like to come by and say hey or sit and join me. Then come join us in Reid Chapel at Noon to hear the story of Jesus in word and at the altar.

Thursday is our UAB day, and I’ll be hanging out in the Hill Center, at a table near the Univ. Blvd doors, around 10am until 3pm if you’d like to come by and say hey or sit and join me.  And should this be a week you particularly need to be reminded that God loves you then come by and let me know.

2/11 – This Week

Thank you.  I wonder what you hear when someone says ‘thank you’ to you?  Sometimes it’s just what we say when we’re grateful that someone did something for us that we wanted them to do, and we’re glad we got what we wanted.  Sometimes it’s what we say when we’re surprised by the kindness of others who did something for us that we didn’t expect.  But occasionally we hear ‘thank you’ and it’s a response to our exhaustion, our confusion, our longing that we couldn’t do whatever it is we do by ourselves.  In this way our ‘thank you’ becomes an acknowledgment of the need we all have to be loved, accepted, and appreciated; thank you becomes the way we draw those close to us or those that help us carry heavy burdens ever closer to us.  Thank you ceases to be something we say and instead becomes something we believe, and something we act out in life with others.  I heard a lot of runners in the marathon tell us ‘thank you’ yesterday, and some meant it because they were grateful we were there.  Some said it because they didn’t expect a comfort station on the route but they found an unexpected delight.  But I suspect most of those who told us thank you did so because they know just how important hospitality, generosity, and love are to those running a race, whether they were the ones who needed our water and gummi bears or not; they said ‘thank you’ because they knew others needed it.  I’m grateful for all of you who helped us on Sunday morning, and I’m grateful for all of you who I meet on campus each week, or that come to the chapel for a service, or come cook pasta with us on Tuesday nights.  I know the gratitude I feel isn’t just for something I get, it’s for something I see you give each other and that I know we all need.  Gratitude is a practice and a way of life; when we practice it we find abundant life, and life from the one who knows our broken places and fragile spirits, and dwells with us to fill us.

–Thomas

Tuesday at 6 pm our Pasta Night menu will be fusilli (those short, corkscrew shaped pasta) with carrots, sausage (or veggie sausage) and rosemary.  Sounds interesting doesn’t it; come give it a try.

On Campus This Week

Tuesday will be a good day to practice our life of thanks and gratitude.  I hope to see you at BSC around the front of the Caf at 9 am.  Come join me to talk about whatever you’d like to talk about. Then join us to say thank you to God in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45 at our short Eucharist.

Wednesday will be a good day to practice our life of thanks and gratitude.  I hope to see you at Samford around by the O’ Henry’s Coffee in the University Center at 9 am.  Come join me to talk about whatever you’d like to talk about. Then join us to say thank you to God in Reid Chapel at Noon at our short Eucharist (plus, convo credit).

Thursday will be a good day to practice our life of thanks and gratitude.  I hope to see you at our usual table in the Hill Center around 10 am.  Come join me to talk about whatever you’d like to talk about; stay for lunch, coffee, or just come by and say hey.

12/3 – This Week

“Religion may involve the creation of illusions. But there is nothing in science that says illusion may not be useful, even indispensable, in life.”

–John Gray, Seven Types of Atheism

I’ve been really enjoying this new book by British philosopher John Gray; he aims to show how most of the atheist thinkers and arguments really just substitute another belief system in place of where God would be. Gray is not a person of faith, and the point of his book isn’t meant to show the hypocrisy of atheists who really are believers and should be; instead, his book is meant to show the hypocrisy of atheists who really are believers as much as people of faith are…and shouldn’t be. What it all hinges on, his book argues, is the idea of hope. Much of antiquity saw the idea of hope as an illusion, misguided, and deceptive. It was Judeo-Christian (but mostly Christian) beliefs that turned hope from a delusion into a virtue. To have hope means you have hope in something, and that hope is founded on a belief system that understands one’s life, one’s community, indeed the whole world, as progressing to a better future from its past. To have hope means that this future is an end, that there is progress towards it, and that the destination is something to be preferred and desired.  A true atheist, Gray seems to suggest, must be a person without hope in the progress of humanity and society as well as someone who sees no advancement towards an end. Advent is a season for remembering hope; it’s when Christians proclaim confidently that there is a better future for all of us and that future is with God. The God who desires to be with us, calls us as a people, leads us and sustains us, loves us, will bring to all of us a fulfillment in and with God. Yes, there is reason to hope and there is a future to be hopeful for but waiting is the hard part, and it’s easy to get disillusioned. Advent invites us into the longing that waiting brings, drawing out our hopes and offering us comfort and reminders of what God does with those who are with God, and with one another. May this week be a time for you to reclaim your hope in a future that may dimly shine, and to hear in the words of scripture and friend a reason for hope, so that you may find yourself no longer alone but with God.

Pasta Night – Tuesday, 12/4 @ 6 pm. This is our last Pasta Night of the semester, and we will meet at Thomas’ house at 6 pm for Baked Ziti. Don’t show up to Trinity Commons because we’ll all be at Thomas’ house; if you need the address you can text or email Thomas.

On Campus this Week

Tuesday – BSC
This is our last BSC day for this semester. Come join me in the Caf around 9 am and tell me what you’re hoping for as exam week approaches. Then come join us in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45 to begin the practice of waiting in anticipation of the presence of God, and to remember that it’s God on which your hope is founded.

Wednesday – Samford
This is our last Samford day for this semester. Come join me at the tables near Einstein’s around 9 am and tell me what you’re hoping for as exam week approaches. Then come join us in Reid Chapel at Noon to begin the practice of waiting in anticipation of the presence of God, and to remember that it’s God on which your hope is founded.

Thursday – UAB
This is our last regular day in the Hill Center for this semester. Come join me at the Hill Center at the tables near the Univ. Blvd doors around 10 am and tell me what you’re hoping for as exam week approaches. Come by for a brief visit, stay for lunch or coffee, or stay for our whole time there.

Hope to see you this week!

First Sunday of Advent – Year C

Then Jesus told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

–Luke 21.29-33

  • Are you someone who’s constantly looking for a sign? Do you read events and people as omens of good or bad news?
  • Do you look at your future with fear or with hope?
  • What does the kingdom of God look like?
  • What words of Jesus do you need to hear today?

It’s the last week of classes, the first week of Advent, and another opportunity for us to gather together at Trinity Commons to sing some hymns, say some prayers, and join in fellowship and support at the table (both the altar and for dinner). It’s also going to be a night for us to decorate the student center for Christmas, so come ready to hang lights and ornaments on the tree, put up wreaths, and celebrate the life we share with God. We’ll have a very delicious supper thanks to our friend Georganne Perrine, so bring your friends, and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday at 6pm.

O Wisdom, proceeding from the Most High, teaching from one to another, mightly and sweetly ordering all things: come and teach us the way of understanding.

11/26 – This Week

Belonging. It’s something we all look for, whether we call it ‘inclusion’ or ‘participation.’ What’s clear is that we desire a place or group to exist and consider ourselves welcome so much so that we can say we belong. It’s inevitable that at least once in our lives we come face to face with a moment that tests our sense of belonging, that confronts us with an illusion, invites a decision, provokes an assessment of whether we can truly say we belong or not. When Pilate confronts Jesus in the palace and mocks him by asking “Am I a Jew?” the great irony of Pilate’s question is that the answer is yes (at least in the way John’s gospel defines the term). As we enter this last week before the season of Advent the church looks to Christ as a reminder of what it means to belong. Just as Jesus sat before the Roman Imperial government which persecuted him, just as Jesus was betrayed by those closest to him, just as Jesus was abandoned by his frightened friends, we proclaim and acknowledge Jesus, the persecuted, the betrayed, the rejected, as the real ruler and source of authority. It’s our own ironic response to Pilate’s question, we prefer the king who listens to those carrying burdens, welcomes those considered unimportant, teaches those who wish to understand, and suffers just as we suffer. Pilate in his effort to keep the things the way they are, calm and secure, cannot see what type of king Jesus is; the church has sometimes misunderstood the kingdom Jesus inaugurated preferring the comfortable status of Pilate’s kingdom, and we get frightened or disinterested or distracted and forget the king whose kingdom includes us. May this week be an opportunity for you to place your hope in the king of kings who sits not in a palace or on a throne but beside you, offering you the belonging you seek and the love you need.

Pasta Night – Tuesday, 11/27 @ 6 pm. Pasta night is back this week with a simple but delicious favorite: Bucatini with Tomato-Butter Sauce. There aren’t many ingredients so Team Salad will do the heavy lifting this week. But don’t let the simplicity fool you, this is an unexpectedly good pasta.

On Campus this Week

Tuesday – BSC
I’ll be hanging out in the front of the Caf around 9am. You’re invited to come join me, share anything that’s on your mind, or just say hey on your way to class. Our short Eucharist will take place in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45 am and I hope you’re able to make it this week. I’ll be in the Caf after the service for lunch, so you’re welcome to join me then too.

Wednesday – Samford
I’ll be hanging around the tables near Einstein’s around 9 am, ready to talk with you and hear all about your week. Then join us in Reid Chapel at Noon for our short Eucharist. This is a chance to join in prayer and worship, and you even get convo credit. I’ll be in the Caf after the service for lunch, so you’re welcome to join me then too.

Thursday – UAB
Come by and see me at the Hill Center. I’ll be hanging out at a table in the dining area near the doors to Univ. Blvd around 10 am. I’m on campus to listen to you, talk about whatever’s on your mind, and share in time and lunch with you. Feel free to come join me to hang out, eat lunch, have coffee, or just stop by on your way.

Hope to see you this week!