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Lent 3 – Parable of the Fig Tree

Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'”

–Luke 13.6-9

  • Have you ever been told you have trouble paying attention?
  • How attentive are you to your closest friends? Your family?
  • Do you ever feel like God demands perfection from you?
  • Do you think God gives you permission to share your doubts, confusion, and fears with God and others? Do you?

I don’t think we’re called to be perfect, only faithful; and being faithful is harder than trying to be perfect.  But being faithful can always start right where you are today; it can always be begun again.  We gather on Sundays to be reminded of what faithfulness looks like and why it matters; if you’ve been looking to be more faithful to God, and looking for God to be more faithful to you, I hope you’ll join us at Trinity Commons on Sunday at 6pm to hear just how attentive God is to you.  We’ll enjoy a delicious, free supper thanks to our friends Dawn Pilleteri and Melissa Hooker.  I hope to see you Sunday.

–Thomas

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. 

Lent 2 – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

Jesus said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’”

Luke 13:32-33

I sometimes joke that I wish God spoke a bit louder or maybe used bright neon signs. There are days that I just want the path forward to be clear, and to have some certainty on what I am supposed to be doing. So, when I read this curious scene from Luke, I am a bit envious of Jesus’ certainty and determination. Even though the Pharisees warn him about Herod, and it is clear that Jesus appreciates the danger, he knows what he is to do and where he is to go. We might be tempted to dismiss Jesus’ certainty by saying, “Well he is the Son of God, so of course, he knew what to do.” But if we do that, we ignore that Jesus was fully human, fully one of us. Remember that Jesus would have his time of uncertainty and doubt.

  • In this season of Lent, where do you find yourself in your journey of faith? Are you on a clear path and know what you should do? Or is the way forward uncertain?
  • Are there things in your life that are distracting you or are making it hard to see what God is calling you to?

Join us this Sunday for Holy Eucharist at 6 pm, and we can ponder with these questions together. Following the service, we will have a wonderful supper provided by the EYC from All Saints. We hope to see you Sunday!

–Kelley

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.

 

 

 

 

Lent 1 – Jesus was led by the Spirit in the wilderness

After his baptism, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished.

–Luke 4.1-2

  • Do you get anxious when it comes time to take a test?Is the anxiety about just having to take the test itself or a fear you don’t have the knowledge you need to pass the test?
  • There are many times in life where we feel tested by circumstances we can’t control; when was the last time you had to navigate circumstances that were out of your control? How did you handle it?  What might you do differently next time?
  • Why do you think the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into a time of temptation?Is it helpful to think that we’re told Jesus was ‘led’ by the Spirit?
  • Do you ever think God ‘does’ things to test you? What might your image of God look like if God was less the giver of a test and more someone with you in the midst of times of testing?

So, it’s Lent.  I invite you this year to think of Lent not as much a season for misery and giving up anything you enjoy but as a time to be aware of the ways in which God hasn’t been a part of your life, as well as the ways we generally aren’t attentive to the needs of other people.  Lent, at its best, asks us to see differently and we’re going to see our time in worship and prayer differently this Lent.  Join us Sunday at 6pm for Holy Eucharist and supper, to hear about Jesus’ temptation and find your own opportunity to understand your relationship with God again.  As always, we’ll enjoy a delicious, free supper after the service thanks to our good BSC friend Catherine Cook and her husband Jackson.  I hope to see you on Sunday night.

3/4 – This Week

“What are you giving up for Lent?”  That’s a question I often get around this time of year as we begin another forty days of Lent on Wednesday.  As I find myself confronting my life, my choices, my desires, I sift the reality of who I often am with the self I desire to be.  Giving something up can certainly help me in that process of sifting as I translate the self I am to the self I hope to become.  But moving myself closer to God isn’t as easy as going without chocolate or giving up meat for forty days; the point is self-examination so that we’re more aware of whom and whose we are, that we remember to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.  If giving something up helps you towards that end then, by all means, I’ll ask you what you are giving up for Lent.  But if you’re plan is simply to deny yourself something that you enjoy merely for the sake of going without it then I’m not sure how that connects your life closer to God; while there is a place in the history of Christian spirituality for the denial of the wants of the self it must be practiced carefully to have a desired effect.  Often you’ll hear folks begin to talk about what they’re taking on for Lent, as a way to gloss over the focus on giving up and look hopefully to what they can improve.  I used to be a person in this camp, someone who would rather build than tear down.  But the truth is there are some things that need to go, some practices, attitudes, and ideas that it’s time to let go of; and there is a place for us to take a step in a new direction, listen with our ears and see with our eyes what we’ve been ignoring or forgetting or have lost.  The invitation to a holy Lent that we’ll hear on Ash Wednesday is something that invites us to both give up and take on, and I think there’s good wisdom in that if we choose wisely.  If you haven’t joined us at Trinity Commons or on campus and you’ve been meaning to then I think this is a really good time to do it.  If you’re worried about being with a group of people you don’t know or if you’ve been away for a while and you think we won’t be glad to see you then I invite you to let go of that fear: you are welcome with us no matter if it’s your first time or your first time in quite a while.  May this week be a new start for a new direction in your life, and may you have the courage, wisdom, and strength to let go of what holds you back and find, in new ways, the presence of Jesus with you.

Tuesday at 6pm is pasta night and it’s Shrove Tuesday.  Traditionally it’s a day when, as you begin Lent the next day, you use up all the sugar, butter, and cream in the house so that you’re not tempted to eat them during Lent; and it usually comes in the form of pancakes.  While I love pancakes I love pasta more, so we’ll ‘use up’ our cream and butter in making Fettuccine with Asparagus and Asiago Cream Sauce.  Asiago is a cheese (and who doesn’t love cheese?), cream is, well, cream, and asparagus is what you add for color and to pretend that the large amounts of pasta, cream, and cheese you’re about to eat is actually healthy.  So if you’d rather enjoy pasta instead of pancakes then come join us at 6pm as we indulge in such deliciousness.

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, we’ll have Ash Wednesday at Trinity Commons at 6pm.  You’re welcome to begin your Lent with us.

And next Thursday (3/14) from 4-5pm we’ll begin our Lenten series ‘With Love’ all about how we navigate the complex world of love, sex, and relationships.  It’ll be an honest and open exploration of our identity and faith, and how we make sense of all of it.  I hope to see you there.

On Campus This Week

Tuesday I’ll be at the usual spot in the front of the Caf at BSC around 9am.  Come by and visit to say hey, let me know how it’s going, and share whatever you want to share.  Then you can join us for our last pre-Lent Eucharist in Yeilding Chapel at 11:45.

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday.  As usual, I’ll be hanging out in the University Center by the O Henry’s around 9am if you’d like to come by and sit and join me.  Then, at Noon we’ll gather in Reid Chapel for a shortened Ash Wednesday Eucharist.

Thursday is our usual Hill hangout, and the last one before your spring break.  Come by and join me anytime between 10am and 3pm for coffee, conversation, and lunch.  I’m there at a table near the exit to Univ. Blvd, so you’re invited to stop by whenever you’d like.

-Thomas

 

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.  

Epiphany 7 – Love Your Enemies

Jesus said, “I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

–Luke 6.27-31

  • Do you have a list of people to whom you hold a grudge? What would it take for you to let go of your grudge?
  • Do you ever feel alienated from others? What groups/people give you a sense of belonging?
  • Who was there for you in a time when you needed help understanding yourself and how you felt?
  • When Jesus asks us to “do to others as you would have them do to you,” what do you think he’s asking you to do?

It’s important to have a sense of belonging, to feel like you’re welcome, included, and cared about.  While the church doesn’t do that perfectly it at least tries to do it in a way that when we fail we know what we’re aiming at.  We hope you’ll come to Trinity Commons Sunday night at 6pm to belong, to hear Jesus speak about belonging, and to find yourself transformed by the sacrament of the meal at the altar and in the fellowship of the meal at supper.  It’s always better when you’re with us, so we hope to see you this Sunday at 6pm.

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.

Epiphany 6 – the Sermon on the Plain

“Jesus came down with the twelve apostles and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them. Then he looked up at his disciples and said….”          

–Luke 6.17-20
  • Where have you found unexpected love and support this week?  Where do you feel challenged to do better than you usually do this week?
  • Do you ever feel like your life is a series of moments where you pretend to be someone you’re not?  What would authenticity and reality look like for you?
  • What does a blessing from Jesus mean to you?
  • Is your life centered on taking care of yourself, or is it grounded in relationships with other people?

This Sunday at 6pm at Trinity Commons we hear Luke’s version of the beatitudes, and frankly, I find it a difficult set of beatitudes to think about.  Jesus comes and stands with us, eye to eye and face to face; and in that directness we find ourselves caught in the love of “blessed are you,” but do we hear the same amount of love when he follows it with “woe to you?”  It’s challenging to hear but not all challenging words and emotions should be avoided simply because their challenging.  Come join us Sunday night to hear what Jesus says in blessing and woe, challenge yourself to grow beyond your comfort zone, and find yourself with a group of us who recognize that while we’re imperfect we’re still loved.  Plus, our music man Kenny Lewis will be providing supper for us.  It’s sure to be a good night. I hope to see you Sunday night.