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Epiphany 2 – Water into Wine

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

–John 2.1-5

  • Do you give up something for the month of January?
  • Do you ever feel like you’re struggling to create or keep an identity for yourself?
  • Where do you see God’s generosity in the miracle of love around you?
  • Who can you be, with God’s help?

It’s a holiday weekend but we’ll still be having Eucharist and supper on Sunday at 6pm. If you’re in town come join us to give thanks to God and share in life together; that’s how we’re reminded of our true identity. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

Epiphany 1 – The Baptism of Jesus

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

–Luke 3.21-22

  • Do you sometimes have difficulty in finding an identity for yourself? Do you find yourself struggling to understand who you are and what you want?
  • Can you think of a time when you wanted to change a habit about yourself; how hard was it, were you successful?
  • How do you understand your baptism? What do you think it means to be baptized?
  • Why do you think Jesus gets baptized?

This is another Sunday for us to get together, and it’s when we’re together that we can better practice and understand our identity in Jesus Christ. Whether you’ve got it all together or whether each day feels like a struggle God calls you beloved too. Join us Sunday at 6pm for Holy Eucharist and then stay for supper after the service. We hope to see you on Sunday.

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent – Year C

Congratulations, you made it through exams and to the end of the semester. Now it’s time for some rest and quiet before the excitement of Christmas and New Years. To help you with that rest and quiet, those of you still in Birmingham are invited to come for our last Sunday night Eucharist of 2018. We hope to see you on Sunday at 6pm for Eucharist and supper, and if you can’t make it we look forward to seeing you back in January. Be safe and well this break.

12/10 – This Week

Every year about this time I love to read Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I really enjoy reading the familiar story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the visit by the ghosts who show him who he was, what he is now, and what his future could hold. But it’s not just about the three spirits (in addition to Jacob Marley), it’s pity for Tiny Tim and an awareness of the struggle of the Cratchit family as well as the reality of the estrangement Scrooge has with his nephew. Awareness is what the story is really all about and how much an awareness of the plight of others and the reality of our own callousness can transform our lives. As Christians we live with the awareness that the world is not as it should be; for many there is the struggle for justice, there is the absence of peace, and there is the experience of broken lives and shattered dreams. For some of us, this reality is something that our negligence has caused for ourselves, others endure having it forced upon them. Hope is the expectation of a reality we can’t fully see but trust to be true in time. No matter what today looks like, what you struggle with, what unfulfilled longing you carry, or what mistakes burden you, we hope that God will transform today into a better tomorrow with our perseverance. It doesn’t take the visit of three ghosts to bring this change about; God has already done the work and will fulfill the promise of life in and with God. For us, the challenge is to live as best we can with one another in hope and an awareness of what transformation can happen now. May this week be an occasion for you to find meaning in perseverance with Jesus who is with you in the struggles of the moment, as well as hope for the promise of fulfillment of for life together.

For those of you with exams to take this week, good luck. Let us know if you need help, or a friendly ear to listen to you cry/yell/celebrate.

O Lord, support those taking examinations and help them make the most of the knowledge they possess; grant them confidence, steadiness, honesty, and a quiet mind. Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent – Year C

“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

– Luke 3:4-6

  • Who in your life has prepared you to “see the salvation of God”?
  • Are there things in your life that need to be straightened, filled, or made level to prepare you for a closer relationship with Jesus?
  • This week, how can you point people toward the peace of God offered through Jesus?

This Sunday is the Second Sunday of Advent, and our readings invite us to consider the role that John the Baptist played in Jesus’ story. The story of John the Baptist reminds us that we are invited to join in the work of God’s salvation of the world. As exams finish up, join us this Sunday at Trinity Commons for hymns, prayers, and Eucharist. This Sunday will be our last Sunday Supper for the semester, and we will enjoy a great meal thanks to our friend Caitlin Lollar. We hope you will join us Sunday at 6 pm for a break from the hectic exam and holiday season.

“This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham, to set us free from the hands of our enemies, Free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.”

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.