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!

Last Sunday After Pentecost – Christ the King

Pilate asked Jesus, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

–John18.37

  • Have you found yourself more involved in politics this election year, or is politics something you try to stay away from?
  • What in your life gives you a sense of freedom? Is it in jeopardy?
  • Should Christianity be more about practice and values or more about beliefs and doctrine? Is it possible to separate them?
  • What is the truth that Jesus has come to testify? How would we know it?

It’s the Sunday we know as ‘Christ the King,’ but it’s the Sunday which marks the end of the season after the day of Pentecost. That long season following Pentecost as focused on building us up as a community of faith that hears the story of Jesus and endeavors to follow him here and now. We acknowledge, on this last Sunday, that while we work to build the community of faith we know as the church it’s really Jesus Christ we recognize not just as the center of that community but the one who defines us. If you’re in need of some new definitions come join us at Trinity Commons on Sunday at 6pm and remember what gives our lives purpose and direction. As always we’ll enjoy a delicious free supper thanks to our friends from St. Andrew’s. I hope to see you Sunday at 6pm.

11/19 – This Week

“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you. And my people shall never again be put to shame.”

–Joel 2.26

What are you most looking forward to with Thanksgiving? Is it the chance for a break from the routine and school? Is it a time to gather with family you love and visit? Is it the food, all those delicious things you’ve been looking forward to on your plate? In many ways we approach Thanksgiving like we approach everything else in our lives, as a chance to have things for us to enjoy. While that view isn’t wrong it’s not all Thanksgiving is or can be; Thanksgiving asks us to see and understand what we’re given differently, it asks us to see abundance in our lives, it asks us to rejoice in plenty. When we’re tempted to think life is all about getting what we can get before someone else does, or that it’s a competition to achieve, produce, and fear, Thanksgiving reminds us of the generosity of God who gives freely and continually. There’s plenty to go around, there’s enough for everyone, we don’t need to fear running out because it’s in God’s nature to give. The prophet Joel, who we hear this year on Thanksgiving, reminds the people that the time of plague has ended and that God has heard their prayers. All the fears of God’s people, the fear of running out and the fear of ridicule from neighbors is transformed by the God who hears our cries, knows our fears, and in our need provides abundantly. May this week be a time for you to find yourself refreshed, nourished in love, and fed by the God who leads you from the place of fear into the world to rejoice.

NO Pasta Night on Tuesday. We won’t have pasta night this week, but we’ll be back again next Tuesday. Have a safe and joyful Thanksgiving.

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
No Eucharist this week. Happy Thanksgiving. Hope to see you next week.

Thursday – UAB
I will not be at the Hill Center this week. Happy Thanksgiving. Hope to see you next week.

11/12 – This Week

Bishop Kee Sloan will be at Trinity Commons on Sunday for our 6pm service. While that news is exciting, many of us enjoy a chance to visit with Kee, it’s also really important. When I’m often asked, and I’m often asked, what the Episcopal Church is or is about the answer usually centers back to bishops. We are a church of bishops; the bishop is the leader or head of a diocese, around which you and I make up as members of parishes or, in our case, a student center. All of us, from whatever parish church you grew up or got confirmed as a part, gather together under the guidance and direction of a bishop. It’s what makes the church the community it is, what holds us together, whether we live in Birmingham, Montgomery, or Huntsville, is our worship, ritual, and tradition, all of which is guided by a bishop who unites us. This unity is important in an age where institutions are prone to being fractured when our demands to get our way can leave us divisive when it’s easier to walk away from people we disagree with or don’t like. The church, at its best, exists to remind us that we belong to God, not the other way around. We’re not the center of the universe, we’re not even the center of our own world, so when we gather with the bishop we can be reminded that what holds us together in prayer, ritual, and tradition is the one who comes to remind us of a larger connection, a wider circle, an embrace as large as the world. I hope you’ll come this Sunday to join us in prayer, ritual, and tradition; to hear what Bishop Kee has to say to us, and to find yourself in the long story of scripture that points us to realize that we still seek God and God always loves us.

Pasta Night – Tuesday, 11/13 @ 6 pm. On this cold, wet week we’ll enjoy Gnocchi with a Butter and Sage Sauce. It’s the perfect pasta for comfort on a week like this.

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 inside 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.

As we go through this last week before Thanksgiving we hope to see you on campus and at Trinity Commons.

Pentecost 23 – Year B

When Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stood still and said, “Call him here.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.”

–Mark 10.47-49

  • If you feel like you know who you are? How do you think other people see you?
  • What’s something you want so much that you’re willing to part with what you already have? What would that be?
  • When you think about Jesus what title would you give to him? Does it adequately reflect how you understand him?
  • Do you understand your faith as ‘insurance,’ something to keep you safe in difficult times or do you understand faith as an offering, something you give that benefits others and makes you cheerful in giving? How might Jesus invite you to think of your faith today?

Bartimaeus asks Jesus to change his identity, and Halloween is a time we like to do that if only for a night. Sometimes we pick costumes that reflect who we’d like to imagine we are or could be, sometimes our costumes reflect a part of ourselves that we have trouble showing others, and sometimes our costumes identify a part of ourselves that we try to hide or manage or ignore. Whatever your Halloween costume is this year I invite you to put it on and come join us Sunday night at 6pm. Every year, at this time, we make our Sunday Eucharist and supper a costume Eucharist and supper (aka Boocharist). It’s a way to acknowledge the delight and joy we take in gathering together, and gathering with Jesus who is all about making things new. What better way than to begin a new week of transformation than being together and sharing in the prayers and in a delicious dinner, no matter who we might think ourselves to be.

Welcome to a new school year

This Sunday, August 26, is our kickoff for a new school year. If you’re a college student in Birmingham and you’re looking for a community of friendly, silly, and genuine people looking to learn more about life together and life with Jesus then come check us out. Our Eucharist is each Sunday at 6pm followed by a free dinner. We hope to see you at Trinity Commons

Boocharist Sunday

The Eucharist is a celebration of God’s love for us, and God’s desire to be with us.  Every year we take the Sunday closest to Halloween and turn it into a time for you to come and celebrate wearing a costume.  Of course, you don’t have to wear a costume to come, but this is a good reminder that what we do is meant to be a joyful celebration rooted in our life together; and we’ll continue that at our 6pm Eucharist (or Boocharist) this Sunday.  Come join us, whether in costume or not, and stay for a delicious supper after the service.  The important thing is for you to join us because the celebration is incomplete without you (and your friends) there.