The Assistant Rector's Pen

Dear People of Trinity Church,

Summer is nearly here! I remember writing my first Genesis newsletter last summer, and I am now coming up on my one-year anniversary at Trinity. How time flies when you’re having fun in the presence of Christian community!

As most of you know, Father Rob will be on Sabbatical this summer, a time for him of both recharging and continued study and learning. This will be an opportunity for me to step into a different leadership role for a time, though certainly not without the help of other clergy (thank you to Jim in advance!), wonderful staff, and all of you. Yes, while this summer may certainly show things slowing down a bit, the Church will be open and active!

In just a few weeks time, Trinity will welcome 30+ kids onto our church campus for a week of fun, upbeat, and creative activities. From June 12th-16th (9am-12pm each day), volunteers of all ages will help put on Vacation Bible School, an opportunity for kids to experience the love of Christ through words and actions, games, interactive Bible storytelling, crafts, snacks, and music! If you have not yet had a chance to volunteer and can make some time that week, please let me know. We can use many hands and hearts on board, and thank you to those who have already volunteered! The volunteers have been planning and working months in advance. That week, you will see the church transformed into the Maker Fun Factory, a creative workshop where God creates each of us for a purpose and inspires us to be creative. If you are free anytime during the week, please stop by and see the incredible work that God is doing at Trinity during VBS.

I am looking forward to these coming months, and I hope you will not hesitate to reach out to me with questions, concerns, and prayers. Please keep Father Rob in prayer during his Sabbatical, and please keep me in prayer, as well. We always benefit from your prayers. (As a side note, my husband James’ rector will also be on Sabbatical this summer, so it will be a busy summer in the Rickenbaker household). I am anticipating the ways that God will work through each of us at Trinity in these next few months and beyond. How might you be open to the possibilities God has in store?

In Christ,
Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker

From the Assistant Rector

Dear People of Trinity Church,

Alleluia! He is Risen! Let us keep spreading the good news during these 50 days and after!

This month, on May 7, we look forward to Bishop Ted’s visit, at both the 8:00 and 10:30 AM services. We will have Confirmations taking place at the 10:30 AM service that morning and ask you to be there to support your fellow members in the Body of Christ, as they make their public affirmations of faith.

For the past three months, Father Banse and I have been rotating teaching our Confirmation class. “What is Confirmation?” some may ask. Confirmation, according to our prayer book, is “the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop” (p. 860). In other words, because we practice infant baptism in the Episcopal Church, it is expected that when one reaches an age of maturity, he or she should make their own public commitment of faith in the presence of the bishop. When the bishop lays hands on the Confirmand, we believe that the Holy Spirit gives guidance and strength to the individual to continue forth as a disciple of Jesus and a minister in the church (indeed as baptized Christians, we are all ministers).

During the preparation and class time these past months, we spent time focusing on our Christian narrative, reflected in both the Old and New Testaments. We explored Jesus’ earthly ministry and Paul’s letters. On a morning-long retreat during Lent, we began exploring discipleship by discussing what it means to follow Jesus, experiencing a sensory Stations of the Cross, watching portions of the movie Jesus of Nazareth, and beginning a conversation on spiritual gifts. The Confirmands each took a spiritual gifts inventory and explored ways they can put their gifts to practice as members of the Body of Christ.

Each experience I have had with a Confirmation class, this one certainly included, has helped me to further understand where we are as a Church and how we teach the faith to our young people. Father Banse and I will pray about ways to continue improving the process of equipping disciples of Jesus through Confirmation preparation, and I hope that is a discussion that we take on as a congregation.

You are never too old to be baptized or confirmed. If you are interested in the process for either Baptism or Confirmation, please talk with either Father Banse or me.

Let us welcome Bishop Ted on May 7, and be present to support our Confirmands. Most importantly, during this Easter season, we are called to worship our Risen Lord, who seeks us constantly and daily. May we choose to seek and grow in relationship with Him, always and everywhere.

In Christ,
Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker

10th Anniversary

Dear Friends,

I am rapidly approaching my tenth anniversary as Rector of Trinity Church. Time does indeed fly when you are having fun! My letter of Agreement with the congregation calls for a three month sabbatical every five years. Thus, this is the summer to exercise that part of our agreement.

While sabbatical time includes opportunity for rest and renewal, it is not an extended vacation. Sabbaticals, as I understand them, are primarily about study, discernment, and developing expertise in areas that will be of benefit to the community once the person returns to the usual full-time role and responsibilities. It is just as much about “sharpening the axe” as it is about “recharging the battery”. That is my plan.

I have shared with you my belief that congregations today need to see themselves as communities rather than institutions. The life of that community is focused on the process of bringing people into closer relationship with Jesus Christ rather than churning out programs intended to satisfy the needs of the communities that that congregation is called to serve. This process will be the focus of my sabbatical.

In the first month, I plan on reading deeply and praying carefully about the true nature and process of discipleship. In particular, I want to re-examine what we in seminary somewhat irreverently referred to as “Hatch, Match, and Dispatch”. How do we go about in the present age of genuinely preparing people for Baptism and Confirmation, Marriage, and the great transition that the Burial Office represents? These moments are not “products” that we come to purchase from the church. They are milestones to be celebrated on our journey toward God. How do we renew that understanding here at Trinity?

“Telling the Story” will be the topic of the second month. We can no longer assume that most people know even the most important stories of the Bible. And yet, these stories comprise the foundation on which the Christian faith and life is built! What can we do to ensure that every member of our congregation, from youngest to most senior, has the opportunity to read, study, discuss, and thus learn from these Holy Scriptures in order to build our lives accordingly?

Finally, in the third month, I want to explore a topic that I believe is of critical importance presently: the stewardship of God’s creation. The planet that God has entrusted to our care is now threatened in any number of ways and the wellbeing of future generations is at great risk. What can do, here at Trinity, to become more faithful caretakers of this world that, for the moment, is our responsibility?

The sabbatical will also include some travel and time with family and friends. Please keep me in your daily prayers and know that I will be praying for each of you while away. In the meantime, Rachel, Jim Hammond, and our excellent staff will take great care of our congregation’s daily life! I rejoice in knowing that you are in great hands.

Faithfully in Christ,
The Rev. Rob Banse

From the Assistant Rector

This Lenten season has provided some great time for prayer and reflection for me, and I hope has been fruitful and refreshing in many ways for you, too.

Priorities. This word has been on my mind recently.

There are certain times of the year when people generally seem busier than others, and I believe Lent, like Advent, is often one of those seasons. Perhaps it is because Spring Break takes place during this season for many , and often that break includes some sort of vacation or travel time. For others, it’s the start of sports and games for the spring season. If we’re not involved in any of those, we manage to get caught up in the nice weather and somehow always find plenty to keep us busy!

As I talked with a good friend on the phone the other day, she said that it seemed like my schedule was busier than normal this Lenten season. I realized that I had listed off all the things on my plate to her, as if none of them were things I had decided to add to the plate. I made it seem like they were things that were happening to me, not things that I had chosen to prioritize.

For us as human beings, we always find plenty of things to do, though we don’t always want to take credit for accumulating our To-Do list. Certainly, there are times when we cannot help certain circumstances in our lives, and we must rely on God and our loved ones to support us and help us through those times. But for other times, when life is going on as usual, we (myself included!) often make excuses for why we don’t have time to do certain things. As Christians, the most important thing on our daily list is to spend time on our relationship with God; yet, how hard it is for us to make the time!

Priorities. Being a Christian is about prioritizing our relationship with God, placing worship of God and living out the Gospel above all else. Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,” telling us to put our relationship with God first and foremost.

When Christians live this way, with God at the front and center of our lives, people will take notice. In our families, kids will observe how faith is being modeled and prayerfully will follow suit. One of the best ways to share the good news of Jesus with others is by modeling, which includes prioritizing. This may mean making small schedule adjustments, and it may mean making life changes (sometimes both!). These are often not comfortable or easy decisions.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ words are clear, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” When we put God first, He will work through and in us in incredible ways we cannot begin to imagine!

As we continue on this Lenten journey, soon entering into Holy Week and into the season of Easter, I ask you to reflect on and pray about your priorities. This season is one of the best to rethink the ways our lives are headed and to redirect our focus and priority on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who did indeed make His way to the cross on our behalf, out of His great love for us all.

In Christ,

Rev Rachel Rickenbaker

Alleluia! He is risen!

Dear Friends,

Alleluia! He is risen!

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, Easter is “an annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, held on the first Sunday after the date of the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21.”

The Catechism of our Book of Common Prayer asks the question, “What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection?” The answer given is “By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life.”

On the day itself, we pray, “O God, who for our redemption gave your only begotten son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”

All of this is well and good, theologically and liturgically correct. But, of course, the above does not come even close to expressing the ineffable joy offered to us by God in this holy season. From the kindling of the paschal fire in the predawn hours to the first blast of the Easter brass and initial shouts of “Alleluia!”, we are embraced by the realization, given through faith, that the door has been opened, the stone has been rolled away. No longer is death our final destiny. Yes, we are mortal. But by Christ, and in Christ, and through Christ, we too will experience death, not as the end, but as the gate that opens into larger life.

In the meantime, we live as an Easter people. Even in the midst of all that is warped and wrong in this present age, we live according to God’s promises revealed on that first Easter Day. Even as the world obsesses over all the bad news, we proclaim the Gospel: In the darkness, there is light. In the despair, there is hope. In the anger, discrimination, and hatred, there is love. Why? Christ lives. Christ lives here in our world. Christ lives within each one of us. His kingdom has already come.

Eternal life bursts out of the tomb in the resurrected life of Jesus Christ on Easter day. Every day now holds the Gospel’s resurrection promise while we await eternal life. That, my friends, is a hope and a promise well worth celebrating.

Welcome, Easter!

Faithfully in Christ,

Rev Rob Banse

 

 

From the Assistant Rector

Dear People of Trinity Church,

Grace and peace to you at the start of this Lenten season. This is one of my favorite seasons of the church year because it’s a time set apart specifically for penitence and reflection, and the readings, the music, and the liturgy help with that penitence. I have always found, ever since I was a little girl, that living into this season, specifically through spiritual disciplines, draws me closer to God and to my fellow members of the Body of Christ, the Church. Being reminded of my mortality helps me, in turn, feel more connected to God and all of God’s creation.

This Lenten season, there is an opportunity for you, on Sunday mornings at 9:30am, to learn more about spiritual disciplines, those actions that Jesus practiced in his own earthly life. I’ve titled the Adult study, “Becoming Like Jesus: Practicing the Christian Disciplines,” because my hope is that in learning more about those things Jesus practiced, including fasting, prayer, and solitude, we can in turn practice and be enriched by them in our own lives. I have come to believe that going to church on Sundays and feeling “good to go” for the week is not enough for this life of following Jesus. Our own practices of faith, whether in the solitude of our homes or amongst a community of believers, must be deepened, as well.

We heard in the Gospel of Matthew a few Sundays back that we are to “Be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect.” Spiritual disciplines will not make us perfect Christians. Indeed, I believe none of us will be perfect in this lifetime. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23); however, we can and should seek to grow into a deeper understanding of and a closer relationship with our Lord. The hope is that the closer we are to God, the more we will be drawn into His love for us and for all creation. The more we are enveloped in His love, the more we will live it out in our very lives.

As Quaker theologian and author David Elton Trueblood wrote, “The great problems of our time are not technological, for these we handle fairly well. They are not even political or economic because the difficulties in these areas, glaring as they may be, are largely derivative. The greatest problems are moral and spiritual, and unless we can make some progress in these realms, we may not even survive.”

Come join us, during this Lenten season, to learn, to study, to practice, and to grow into the Christian disciplines. I pray that this season for you is one of meaningful worship and strengthening discipline, as we all seek to grow more fully into our relationship with God and with one another.

In Christ,

The Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker

 

Holy Season of Lent

Dear Friends,

We will gather here at Trinity on March 1st to offer the Ash Wednesday liturgy and thus enter into the holy season of Lent. Whereas Christmas and Epiphany are about outwardly and joyfully celebrating the infinite love of God born in Bethlehem and made manifest through the course of Jesus’ earthly life, Lent is about introspection. It is about looking deep within. It is about acknowledging that, even as we celebrate the light of Christ always with us, there continues to be a blindness within ourselves that prevents that light from fully entering in. Lent is the season that best represents what St. John of the Cross described as “the dark night of the soul”. Even as we seek to follow Jesus, there is still so much that gets in the way. And as long as those obstacles are there, we will never fully know the depth and breadth of God’s love for us.

This is why the observance of Lent includes both penance and sacrifice. These are not acts of self-punishment. Rather, we give things up in order to experience the reality that so much we think is important really is not. In fact, the things that we have come to desire and covet actually blind us to the simple beauty of living our lives trusting entirely in the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Lent is a season in which we are called to pray more and study more in order to be filled with the real riches that God seeks to share with us in this lifetime. Frankly, the spiritual poverty we know all too well is not God’s fault. The hunger we experience exists because we are too busy stuffing ourselves with all the world tells us is important. The junk food that our world offers will never be an adequate substitute for the bread of life.

Joan Chittister writes “Ash Wednesday is a continuing cry across the centuries that life is transient, that change is urgent. We don’t have time to waste on nothingness. We need to repent of our dillydallying on the road to God. We need to regret the time we’ve spent playing with dangerous distractions and emptying diversions along the way. We need to repent of our senseless excursions into sin, our breaches of justice, our failures of honesty, our estrangement from God. We need to get back in touch with our souls.”

To that end, there will be additional opportunities for study and prayer here at Trinity over the course of the season. Please read carefully the rest of this Genesis in order to learn about them. I will be leading a discussion on Wednesday evenings throughout Lent focusing on “The 5 Marks of Love”. In baptism, each of us has been sealed by the Holy Spirit and “marked as Christ’s own forever.” How do you and I live accordingly? How do we go about incarnating the love of Jesus for the rest of the world to see?  We will begin with a simple supper at 6:30pm. The conversation will last an hour. We will conclude with the prayers we know as Compline. I look forward to our conversation.

I pray that this Lent will be a life-changing season for all of us.

 

From the Assistant Rector

I’ve noticed as of late many new faces in church on Sundays and even on Wednesdays at the Noon Eucharist. That is a great thing! In any church, it is important to look after one another and care for our own; yet, it is also equally important to be reaching out to new people. 

Evangelism. That word perhaps has a negative sound when it hits our ears, especially if we picture the Bible-waving, criticizing, loud person on the street corner. That is certainly not what I mean by evangelism. What I mean by evangelism is the willingness and openness to listen to other stories and to tell others about Jesus. It is about sharing the good news of how Jesus has impacted your life and how the Church family has played a role in your life, so that others may come to the knowledge and love of Christ (Ephesians 3:19). 

I feel a renewed sense of energy towards evangelism because of last month’s
Annual Convention for both clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Virginia.
Our responsibility at that convention is to yearly discuss, ask questions,
make decisions, and report back to you, on behalf of the wider church,
representing each of the parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
Furthermore, the convention offers opportunities to listen, learn, and grow in small groups and workshops. The theme around convention was “walk in love”, as you hear Rob or me say every Sunday before the Offertory: “Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God” (found in Ephesians 5:2 and in our Prayer Book!). As you can imagine, part of that theme of walking in love gave way to many discussions on evangelism. 

So, why is evangelism pertinent to each of us as members of the Body of Christ? For me, the answer is threefold. First, Jesus calls us as His followers to proclaim the Gospel in word and action. As the Rt. Reverend Robert Wright, Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, says, “Jesus never said, ‘Wait and welcome.’ He said, ‘Go and make!’” As the Church, we can’t sit and wait for people to come to us. We must go to them. Secondly, evangelism helps us practice articulating our faith. We don’t always have the opportunity to talk about our faith, stating out loud what we believe, what things we may struggle with, and how we move forward as Christians. Evangelism gives us the space to share our stories of faith. Finally, because Jesus has touched our lives, we have the responsibility and indeed, the joy, to share that good news with others. This is not about bragging or making others uncomfortable. We have experienced Christ, in Holy Scripture, in the Communion bread and wine, in our neighbors, and perhaps in other ways; why should we keep that experience to ourselves? Evangelism is the way for us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with everybody we meet. 

My challenge to each of you in this month ahead is to approach someone, whether a new face in the congregation or a next-door neighbor who doesn’t go to church. Introduce yourself if you haven’t met, listen to them, talk with them, share your story, and ask them their story. And, perhaps if it reaches that moment, invite them to church with you, to a worship service, a Bible study, or to Sunday School. I find this is where kids often do a better job than we as adults; they are often less afraid of asking a friend to come with them to church. I believe that when you practice talking about your faith with others, as well as living it out in the world, you will discover the living God in new and profound ways. And maybe, just maybe, you will help someone else experience Him, too. 

Midpoint of Epiphany

My Sisters and Brothers, 

We have reached the midpoint of the Epiphany season. The Gospel passages we have heard thus far this season have focused on the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. They have included the moment of his baptism, the calling of the first disciples, and a record of his first teaching in what we have come to call the Sermon on the Mount. Clearly, there is a progression here, a progression we must “inwardly digest” if we are to take our faith seriously, for it is God’s desire that it will be the progression of our lives as well. 

First, baptism is the moment of initiation. It is not a family tradition to be honored for the sake of our grandparents. It is not spiritual life insurance just in case all this talk about God happens to be true. It is instead the beginning of a whole new way of life, just as it was for Jesus. In baptism, we are set free from sin and death for a real purpose: to live as God calls us to live. 

Secondly, from the very beginning, Christianity is a faith built upon community. Before all the doctrine and dogma and theological debate, there was and is relationship. Read the Gospels. The first thing Jesus does is call those earliest disciples. Were they perfect? No. Are we perfect? No. Has the Church ever been perfect? No. But to take our faith seriously is to realize, accept, and believe that, for better or for worse, in good times and in difficult times, we are all in this together. When Jesus summarized the Law, he said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment”. He then added, “And the second is like unto it: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’” Community and faith go hand in hand. Indeed, if I understand Jesus correctly, there cannot truly be one without the other. 

Finally, there is the ethical, moral, and spiritual teaching of Jesus as represented in his sermon on that mountainside. When we hear these words, we’re not supposed to think to ourselves, “Well, that was lovely”, and then set them aside. Jesus means what he says. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are the merciful. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Again, these are not pious sentiments. 

Nor are they goals that we struggle to achieve. When we make our faith in Christ the foundation of our lives, the beatitudes become our very way of being. They come to us naturally. 

I close with an invitation to you in this Epiphany season to ponder anew the meaning of God’s mercy. As you are well aware, there is a lively debate going on, both within the Church and in the world, about what mercy is and to whom it is that we are to show mercy, or in other words, who are our neighbors. I think Matthew 25:31-46 is a particularly important passage at this point in time. If you would like to discuss, please let me know. 

Faithfully in Christ,

Rev. Rob Banse

From the Assistant Rector

Happy 2017, and God’s blessings on this new year ahead! It’s that time of year when many of us consider New Year’s resolutions, even if we don’t plan to take one on for the year ahead. I must admit that I am not a big fan of resolutions because they so often are unattainable. We set goals that are so high that the first time we slip up, we feel there’s no getting back on track. Nevertheless, I find that we, as human beings, do like to challenge ourselves.

The blessing of the Christian faith is that we have the reassurance that our mess-ups and our failures do not determine our identity. We have been called daughters and sons of God (John 1:12-13), and in our Baptisms, our identity is recreated through the Holy Spirit. No matter how often we fall short, we are reminded that forgiveness is freely offered when we turn our sights to God. We are offered a clean slate again and again.

One of the things of which we are reminded in a new year is that there is a clean slate, a new beginning. This past year has been a difficult one in many ways for many people. We are looking for a sign of hope, something or someone to help guide us. No matter what we face, our hope in this year ahead must lie in Jesus.

This does not mean we choose complacency in the new year. Choosing to place our hope in Jesus means we give our attention to the greatest commandment, love the Lord God and love our neighbors. Consider in the year ahead how you might live into this commandment more fully. If you choose to join a Bible study or Adult Sunday School, or choose to increase your worship attendance, you will likely find that you’ll grow in your faith and love of God. I find that every time I read Scripture, it is new and fresh, and there is always something I didn’t catch in my previous reading. I challenge us all to grow in our reading of the Bible. If you choose to add a service component to your week, you could join in the SOME ministry on a Friday morning in Washington, D.C., serving our homeless brothers and sisters. You will likely find they offer more than we could ever offer them. Any of these are good opportunities for growth in faith and love in the new year.

These goals are not mutually exclusive. Often, when we find a way to connect more fully with our neighbors in need or choose to grow in our faith through study, we will find that we grow in love of both God and neighbor. I pray that in this new year, we set our sights on God, knowing that whatever goals we set, as individuals and as a world, our identity is first and foremost in Christ. His love and His mercy are much bigger than the biggest goals we could set for ourselves. May we not forget this in 2017, no matter what comes our way. 

Welcome to 2017

Welcome to 2017. I have great hope, and grace-filled expectations, for our congregation in the coming months. 

One of those expectations has to do with the continued strengthening of our efforts in the areas of the Christian education and spiritual formation. When discussing what signs pointed to the life of a thriving church at our Annual Meeting back in October, I included these: 

  1. When the congregation is growing in it’s understanding of what it means to live as Christians, following Jesus more nearly, day by day. This is the true nature of discipleship. 
  2. When we are faithfully connecting our children, youth, and young adults to the Gospel (Good News) about Jesus Christ. 

These goals will not be achieved by way of osmosis. In order to thrive, we will need to invest our time, talents, and participation. Thus, in addition to Church School at 9:30 AM on Sunday mornings, here are some other opportunities you can look forward to: 

A Confirmation Class for all teenagers in the eighth grade and above will begin with an introductory session on Sunday, January 8 at 9:30 AM. It will culminate with Bishop Ted Gulick’s visit to Trinity on Sunday, May 7. These discussions will help each participant better understand and appreciate what we mean when we call ourselves “Christians”. Rachel and I will take turns leading the class. For further information, please contact The Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker. 

An Inquirer’s Class for adults interested in being confirmed will also be offered. This will take place primarily in the context of a weekend retreat (a Friday evening and then all day on Saturday.) I am presently looking at the weekend of April 7 and 8, with Palm Sunday being April 9. Please contact me if you think you would like to take part. 

The Christian Parenting Class will continue in the New Year. Various topics will be covered. This discussion coincides with our Church School, meeting from 9:30-10:15 AM on Sunday mornings. 

On Sunday mornings during the Epiphany season (January 8-February 26), I plan on offering an Introduction to the Good News about Jesus. Specifically, we will discuss both the background and the major themes found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If ever you wanted to understand what these texts are about, and where they come from, but were too shy to ask, here’s your opportunity. We will also meet on Sunday mornings from 9:30-10:15 AM. 

During Lent, Rachel will lead a class for adults on Sunday mornings at 9:30 AM, while yours truly will lead a program on Wednesday evenings in conjunction with a simple supper. More details will be forthcoming. 

In addition to the above, our Wednesday morning Bible Study continues. We meet from 10:30 AM until 11:45 AM in the living room of Peard House. I also plan on continuing with the Pilgrim Course on Monday evenings. I am certain other opportunities will arise and we will keep you posted! 

Yes, our lives are incredibly busy. Nonetheless, if we believe that our faith in God is important, and our growth in the same is our goal, then spending time together in conversation about the essentials is required. Indeed, our souls, and our lives, depend upon it! I look forward to our time together in the months ahead. 

 

From the Assistant Rector

Dear People of Trinity Church, God’s peace be with you!

We’ve now entered into Advent, a time where we are called to be alert, watch, prepare, and wait for the Lord. While we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth, with worship, songs, decorations, and a Christmas pageant, we know that the world around us continues to be in turmoil. If you leave the news on even for 5 minutes, it can be overwhelming.

Furthermore, with the results of the election in, I have seen and heard awful things coming from people, things I would never expect. I have seen friends turn against friends and family members cut down other family members, especially on social media. When we are separated from others by a computer screen or by our own barriers, it seems so much easier to condemn and criticize and label, without any sort of listening.

How are we as Christians supposed to be alert, watch, prepare, and wait for the Lord, when our very lives feel so frantic? We can each disconnect from social media and talk with people face-to-face. Invite someone with whom you have not spoken in a while to lunch or coffee. Introduce yourself to someone at coffee hour, especially if you’ve never seen or spoken to them before. Take the time for quiet, as I discussed in last month’s Genesis article. Connect with family members over a new tradition, such as a nightly Advent devotional or serving a meal to a family in need. Create space to listen for God.

As the words of Isaiah and the popular Advent hymn say, “Comfort, comfort, ye my people.” Like the context in which these words were first spoken, as the Israelites were returning home after the Babylonian exile, we, too, may find them helpful now. In the midst of such a busy time of year and so much chaos in the nation and world around us, we need the reassurance that God is in control and is with us all. This season is the perfect time to renew our faith and trust in God, not in human hands.

This does not mean we sit passively as we await the Lord’s return. When we feel that the two greatest commandments from our Lord (love God and love your neighbor) are being tested, we must stand up for God and for our brothers and sisters, including those in generations to come. Yet, everything we do, we are to do in love. Not out of fear or anger or a need to retaliate. No, as Christians, we are to be known by our love.

That love is what we await this Advent season, the love that came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, the love that was poured out for us upon the cross. As we watch for Christ’s return, may we all seek to share the love of Christ now wherever we go and with whoever we meet.

God’s peace,

The Rev. Rachel Rickenbaker

Welcome to the New Year!

Friends,

Welcome to the New Year!

No, I have not forgotten the month of December. According to the Christian calendar, the new year begins with the first Sunday in Advent. This year, that was November 27. 

Furthermore, Advent is a holy season in which we are invited to be still, to pray, and to remember. I realize that this invitation stands in diametric opposition to the excesses in extravagance that the world encourages at this time of year. But please know that Advent came well before “Black Friday” and all that Wall Street and Madison Avenue hold so dear. Advent is about gift-giving, but it is about a gift that you will never find in online catalogues or at the mall.

What we are called to remember and pray for during these four weeks is the threefold promise that God has made to the world. First, it is about preparing our hearts and minds for the birth of a child, who will be called Emmanuel, “God with us”. Secondly, this child, before he dies, declares that when the time comes, he will return in glory to judge and rule the cosmos. Finally, there is the promise that in the meantime, right here and right now, the Holy Spirit is already at work in the world. The reconciliation of God and creation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is already underway. Advent is the season in which we joyfully embrace all of the above.

These promises of God will be our primary focus here at Trinity throughout the season. In worship and in prayer, in preaching, anthems, and hymnody, we will recall the true meaning of Advent, right up until that moment when we gather on Christmas Eve for the great celebration.

We will also add an opportunity for keeping this holy season. On Wednesday evenings, November 30, December 7, and 14, I invite you to a simple supper at 6:30 PM here at the church, followed by an hour-long program and concluding with the brief night office known as Compline. Making use of guidelines offered by a group calling itself “The Advent Conspiracy”, we will discuss the themes of 1) Worshipping Fully, 2) Spending Less/Giving More, and 3) Loving All.

Lest we ever forget, Jesus really is the reason for the season. I hope that we will all keep that truth in heart and mind in the coming weeks and will encourage those around us to embrace this truth as well.

Faithfully in Christ,

Rev Rob Banse