Let Us Build a House Where All Are Named

Let Us Build a House Where All Are Named

I began my sermon on Sunday by quoting an interesting factoid I discovered on the internet while researching my sermon. In a study of 200,000 ostriches over a period of 80 years, no one reported a single case where an ostrich buried its head in the sand or attempted to do so.I give you this pretty useless fact to frame our discussion of a pretty controversial story in Sunday's gospel text; just because someone says something doesn’t make it real. Perhaps that why I love preaching on the parables of Jesus. Let’s face it, Jesus told some really outlandish stories that don’t seem to make much sense in our contemporary society. And when we encounter such a story like this one, it is a great opportunity to again take pause and consider the reasons why such parables were told, and then written down and eventually published in the collection of letters and writings that we called the Bible.

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Let Us Build a House Where People Feast

Let Us Build a House Where People Feast

Many of you know about my flair for the dramatic. One of my life goals in high school was to become a professional actor. I loved the theatre…and still do for that matter. One of my favorite musicals is “My Fair Lady.” And one of my favorite musical numbers in that show is “Get Me to the Church on Time." Of course, leave it up to me to confuse my musicals! While preaching in worship I introduced this video clip as being from "Fiddler on the Roof." Wow! Really, I do know my musicals. Please don't take away my gay card! LOL!

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Let Us Build a House Where Prophets Speak

Let Us Build a House Where Prophets Speak

It was truly an amazing worship on Sunday, as I was officially installed as Holy Trinity's pastor. There was a moment in the installation service when my heart felt so full I thought it was going to burst. I felt like the balloon that burst at the beginning of my sermon as I illustrated how getting "puffed up" when our egos get too big leads to the same experience. You and I are sometimes like a balloon. We sometimes get all puffed up with our own importance. We think we are great and we expect everyone else to think so too. Sooner or later, if we keep getting puffed up with our own importance, something will happen to burst our balloon. 

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Mi Casa Su Casa

Mi Casa Su Casa

Last Friday I participated in a press conference at the state capitol calling the Governor to denounce the White Lives Matter protests scheduled this past weekend in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro. I was joined by Interfaith leaders, University students and refugee advocates, as part of the "Moral Movement Tennessee," who believe that the recent political climate in TN has created a "welcoming environment" for these white nationalist rally to take place. We also called for the removal of the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate Army general during the American Civil War and an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Home Economics

Home Economics

I don’t think anybody really wants to hear about politics anymore. I don’t either. I have been disgusted by the political discourse in our country for the past two years. I learned early on that posting my thoughts about our politics last year was an exercise in futility. No one ever changes their mind based on someone’s rant or rave about their political opinion. However, politics are hard to avoid, especially in our own lives. When it comes to volunteering for leadership on church councils and committees, or facing disruptions and disputes in the congregation, politics are always given the reason for leaving. But something that really helped me understand and even face these kinds of challenges throughout my past 20 years in the church is this mantra: wherever there are people, there are politics. More simply, people = politics.

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Homecoming

Homecoming

What a day!!! If you attended Holy Trinity Community Church's annual Homecoming service this past Sunday I hope you felt as excited and satisfied as I was! Over 140 folks attended the spirit-filled worship service; the potluck food multiplied like loaves and fishes; the ministry fair was exciting and engaging; and the talent that performed during our cabaret was exceptional! It was a fantastic day. My heart was full, and all of the hard work by so many folks to pull our homecoming events together paid off in a HUGE way. I specifically want to thank...

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Home Ownership

Home Ownership

It seems these days that renting is just not a very good idea. Whether you are a renter or a landlord, lots of things can happen to sour your rental experience. Renting just doesn’t make sense. So why on earth doesn’t everyone own a home? I mean, I must be crazy to read into today’s gospel story that Jesus is advocating living life with a renter’s mentality. If the truth be told, living this way just opens yourself up to all kinds of problems. Living with a renter’s mentality means being vulnerable to people who might have some kind of control over you. Living like this puts yourself at the mercy of the landlord, not to mention all of the unscrupulous employees working for him or her. Having a renter’s mentality just isn’t safe.

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There's No Place Like Home

There's No Place Like Home

Before beginning my ministry at Holy Trinity my prayer has always been, “God, I do not want to be the pastor of a church that is only interested in taking care of itself. I don’t want to believe in the gospel of Christ, but never do anything about it.” And the truth of the gospel of Jesus presented in our sacred story this past Sunday (Matthew 21:23-32) was loud and clear. The question Jesus raised was this: Who are you like—the religious hypocrite or the irreligious righteous?

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Home Equity

Home Equity

Last Friday afternoon I heard a knock on the church office door. I was alone, and thought it might be a church partner coming by to check in on me. I opened the door and saw a very thin man standing on the porch. I cracked open the screen and said hello. He immediately jumped right into his sob story. He was homeless and hungry and just wanted a few dollars to get something to eat. He said he needed a shower and shave and a dry place to sleep, but he knew that was a bit much to ask for. He would settle for whatever I could give him.

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Happiness is Homemade!

Happiness is Homemade!

As I mentioned in my sermon this past Sunday, sometimes families will have conflict. And we are no different. Conflict is a part of life. It’s a part of being human. But conflict is only destructive if we don’t know how to handle it. And how do we handle it? We handle it by addressing the multi-level layers of conflict; the situation, the behavior and the attitude or perception behind it. If we want to be a truly welcoming and healthy church, then we have to face conflict head on. Happiness is Homemade within each one of us!

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Friday - Pastor's Corner w/ Pastor Bryan

Holy Trinity Family –

This weekend marks Memorial Day – a time when we remember and celebrate the brave men and women who have died while serving in our country’s armed forces. This Memorial Day I will be remembering my Grandfather – whom we affectionally called Gran – who died 19 years ago this month. Although Gran didn’t die while serving in the military, he proudly defended against the Nazi threat by flying an Air Force bomber over Germany. Many years after those harrowing flights, the fight Gran would eventually lose would be to cancer. Gran taught me to put tobacco on my eggs and lemon in my water. He was funny and generous, kind and quiet. This weekend I remember him and thank him for the way he served my family and our country.  

I hope that in the midst of hotdogs and cold drinks you will take a few minutes this weekend to say thank you to the families that have been left behind – who have been broken and separated by the violence of war. Thank them for the sacrifice they’ve endured. Love that lays down its life is true love, indeed.

Some of you may also already know that this Monday, Aaron and I will be leaving for our honeymoon! We are calling this our Graduoneymoon trip since we’re celebration both his graduation from Vanderbilt Divinity School AND our Honeymoon. We are VERY excited about marking this exciting time in our lives with both some relaxation and adventure! Thank you for giving us the ability to take a bit of time this summer to take a breath and refresh. I will certainly miss you while we’re gone!!

I will be preaching THIS SUNDAY, so do your homework and be prepared to think about James 2:14-18! Next Sunday (June 5) our former Pastoral Intern – Jeani Rice- Cranford – will be preaching in my absence. Please be praying for Jeani as she prepares to encourage and challenge our congregation! Then, the next week (June 12), Chaplain Jennifer Lane will serve our church through delivering the sermon. Both Jennifer and Jeani are such wonderful resources for our church. I know you’ll enjoy their wisdom, insight, and compassion!! Please be praying for them as they prepare!

Much love to you all and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!!

Pastor Bryan

Volunteer Appreciation Sunday!

Did you know that every Sunday there are literally DOZENS of amazing volunteers who make it possible for us to worship together? Some of the volunteers are visible. Our choir and band lead us in beautiful worship. Our greeters, ushers, and hosts make us feel welcomed as soon as we walk in the door. Our Sunday School teachers and Small Group leaders give us all an opportunity to grow in our faith. 

But some of our volunteers are almost invisible, standing behind the scenes making sure our church runs smoothly. Our vestry… our building and grounds committee… our pastoral search and personnel committees… our janitorial volunteers. There are literally dozens of people whose selfless work makes it possible for Holy Trinity to minister to our community!

On Sunday, June 19, we will have a special Volunteer Appreciation Sunday!!  During this special service, we will recognize and show appreciation to all the folks who make Holy Trinity possible… and YOU can help!!

Over the next several weeks, we will ask you to send us some quotes we can use during our volunteer celebration Sunday. You will be able to find the questions both on our Facebook feed and in the newsletter.

Fill out the form below to send us your response to this weeks questions:

Name *
Name

More change?? Good grief!! - From Pastoral Intern Jeani Rice-Cranford

February is here! Where is our class? 

Remember this announcement? 

"A change is coming." When you see this sentence, what's the first thing that runs through your mind? Does change make you anxious? Cause you worry? Bring excitement? Does it depend? In my life, I've responded to change in a variety of ways and, as many of us know, our responses to things can be healthy responses--and sometimes we simply react. 

We may find ourselves in an already overwhelmed state where even a small change to our routine seems like an intolerable, crushing blow. What if I told you there are some ways to better know our current state; some tools we can use for knowing when we need to hit the pause button--and how to do that in healthy ways; as well as tools for learning how to walk in community with one another allowing each other to "be" where we are on life's journey--yet not be alone? 

We are not alone!! We are not left to figure things out on our own. And beginning March 1st, on Tuesday evenings, at 6:30pm in the Chapel at HTCC, we will begin our conversation regarding change and the ways in which we often respond. Throughout the course, I will introduce you to possible strategies for responding to change as individuals and as a community. We will incorporate examples from biblical text that offer us guidance on how to practice self-care and care for one another. 

The goal is for us to join together as a church family and discover ways to understand how we respond to change today, determine whether or not we have opportunities to improve our responses for healthier options, and to share strategies through conversations with one another so that we can continue growing forward.

One of my favorite statements during a time in my life filled with traumatic, constant change is: the only constant is change.

Join me on Tuesday evenings, beginning March 1st and discover how we can embrace change!

Announcing! Details about our new children and youth programming!

Good news, Holy Trinity parents, kids, and teenagers!

THIS Sunday we begin our new ONE SERVICE schedule! Many of you have been wondering when our children will have Sunday School after we move to this new schedule. We have answers! 

Our Sunday school teachers – led by our wonderful new volunteer Children’s Ministry Coordinator (Kim Richards) – have developed a GREAT plan for our children’s education program. As we planned, we recognized a few challenges and found a great way to overcome them! We saw that…

  1. Visitors were commenting that since our children’s Sunday School wasn’t during the worship hour, they didn’t really have a chance to check it out. We’re afraid that some of these visitors might not have come back to Holy Trinity as a result.
  2. Because some of our families weren’t able to come to church an hour early for children’s Sunday School, their children weren’t able to participate in the amazing program we offered.
  3. Parents were finding it difficult to worship and pay attention to the sermon while trying to wrangle squirming kids.

…and we came up with outstanding solutions!!

If your child is in the 6th grade or under, they will have the opportunity to participate in a new super special worship and education time during the 10:00 service!  We’ve found a way for our kids to worship with their parents for a few minutes – so our moms and dads can model worship for them – and then have a time of worship and learning that is JUST FOR THEM!! Now our visitors can see and experience our children’s program AND all our families have a chance to worship together! 

If your child is grade 7-12, they will have a great time together in Sunday School at 9:00 so they can then worship with their family at 10:00. 

Starting THIS Sunday (February 7), this is how our children’s program (grade 6 and under) will work…

  1. CHECK IN: You will check your child in for Sunday school in the Fellowship Hall before church starts. It’ll only take a minute! Then your child will go with you into the sanctuary.
  2. DISMISSAL: Your child will worship with you during the first song. Then, during the announcements, your child will be dismissed to Children’s Worship and Sunday School. Our volunteers will meet them in the back of the sanctuary and will walk with them to the chapel. Don’t worry! If you forgot to check your child in, our volunteers can help you check in during the announcements!
  3. WORSHIP: Your child will have a super special, age appropriate worship experience in the chapel led by a team of our volunteers. In fact, one of the folks leading this time (Brian Best, a.k.a. BB Angelo) is a professional children’s worship leader! Your kids are going to LOOOVE it!
  4. EDUCATION: After your children have 20 minutes of worship (just like their mom and/or dad!), they will be separated into classes where they will learn about Bible stories and how dearly God loves them in exciting, energetic, and age-appropriate ways.
  5. DISMISSAL: Your child will then be brought to the chapel where they will hang out with their friends and our amazing volunteers until you come pick them up! Please come pick your child up as soon as church is dismissed. After you do, you can go chat with your friends and enjoy a cup of coffee!

We’re SO EXCITED about how we’re going to be able to worship with our kids and teach them about Jesus in the months ahead!  If you have any questions about this new children’s ministry structure, feel free to email Pastor Bryan!

Friday - News for Our Children and Youth from Pastor Bryan

Holy Trinity Family,

For the past several years, we have been SO blessed to have Tracey Smith leading our Children and Youth ministry.  Tracy did an amazing job and we were truly fortunate to have her leading this ministry.  Every parent, child, and volunteer who was impacted by Tracy’s work knows what a tremendous asset she has been to our church.  Thank you Tracey for being such a faithful servant!!

Tracey has been generously volunteering her time in this ministry but has VERY understandably decided that it’s time for her to get some rest.  Fortunately, one of our amazing volunteers has stepped up to serve in this role for 2016!  Kim Richards – who is not only a volunteer, but also a mother to two boys in our children’s ministry – will be serving as our volunteer Children/Youth coordinator this year!!  I’m so grateful for Kim’s sweet spirit and love for our kids.  She’s going to do a fantastic job!

If you’re a parent to one of our kids or a volunteer in this ministry, you may have been wondering how we will structure our children’s ministry after the church moves to a single service format in February.  When will we have children’s Sunday School?  What will that time look like?  How can you get involved?

I’m so glad you asked!

Our staff and leadership are already strategizing about how to best structure our Children and Youth Ministry as we move to one service in February, but we want YOU involved!  If you are a parent or a volunteer in this ministry area, I hope you’ll attend a brainstorming session on Jan 17 at 12:30.  During this time we’ll present ideas for how we might structure our children’s Sunday School in the next year AND work together to decide how this ministry can best serve you and your family!

I hope you’ll be there!  In the meantime, be sure to send Tracey a BIG “Thank You!” for all the incredible work she’s done for Holy Trinity!

Much love,

Pastor Bryan

Friday - A Message From Pastor Bryan

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner… which means that Christmas is right around the next corner… which means that New Years is quickly around the next corner, isn’t it?!!

Our vestry and staff are excitedly making plans for the new year and need your help!  Below is a link to a survey that will help us both get to know you better AND build Holy Trinity into a church that can serve you better.  The survey is quick, easy, and won’t sign you up for any mailing lists.  Will you help?

As we think about both the church we ARE and the church we WANT TO BE, it’s vital that we really know and understand our church partners.  When we know about what you like about church, where you think we can grow, and what kinds of church experiences you’ve had in the past, it helps us strategize ways to grow Holy Trinity into the church our community needs.  I hope you’ll take the survey below and help us make Holy Trinity the best we can be in 2016!!

Much love to you all…

Pastor Bryan

Friday - Pastor's Corner w/ Pastor Bryan

Church family, I so enjoyed praying with you last Sunday. I wish you all could have watched our worship service from the stage, where I sat. I wish you could have seen your brothers and sisters raising their hands, kneeling on the ground, reaching out to each other, and covering their eyes and ears as they prayed. I wish you could have heard all the voices raised as people recited scripture and read prayers that have comforted people for hundreds of years. I wish you could have seen our church family as we meditated and spent such precious time listening to God.

It was an amazing day. Thank you for praying.

Yesterday in I got a beautiful letter in the mail from a church member telling me some of the things s/he’s praying for our church. Even though this person wishes to be kept anonymous, I was so touched by their prayers that I want to share them with you (with this person’s permission, of course). They told me that they pause at least 10 times every day to pray for your church. What an amazing gift this person is giving us!!

Will you read this list and pray along? What would you add? Consider either posting on Facebook or in the comments section below a note that says “I’m praying for Holy Trinity. I’m praying that _________.” Let’s use these platforms as a way to share our prayers for Holy Trinity!

As Oswald Cambers famously said “We tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be our first line of defense. We pray when there's nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all.”

So, let us pray…

(From an anonymous member of Holy Trinity)

  • Let our members be touched deeply
  • Bring together new and old members who have stopped coming
  • Let many people attend Sunday School
  • Let the church have new and excellent classes
  • Let the power of the Holy Spirit come down on our members
  • Bring the congregation to life
  • Build up, edify, and strengthen our members
  • Give spiritual protection to the church and to all its members
  • Let the people sign up for various church ministries
  • Let many new people come to the church, both straight and gay
  • Increase the tithes and offerings so all the bills can be paid
  • Put on the heart of those who are able to give a sizable contribution that will bless this church
  • Heal all aspects of this fellowship 

Friday - Pastor's Corner w/ Pastor Bryan

If you’ve been to Holy Trinity this summer you might have heard us talking about walls. Usually, though, when we talk about “walls” at church, we’re talking about tearing them down.  Maybe we have walls we’ve built between each other – walls built with bricks of gossip, pettiness, and misunderstanding - that we need to tear down.  Maybe we have walls between us and God that we need to demolish. Maybe we don’t feel entirely safe around God or sure about the way he works in the world, so we build up walls with little bricks of fear… little bricks of control… little bricks of distance. 

But this summer, we haven’t been talking about walls Holy Trinity needs to tear down. Nope… we’ve been talking about walls we can build up!  We’ve been talking about how we can strengthen the spiritual walls of our church by really taking care of our community.  

As Bob the Builder would say, “Can we build it?  YES WE CAN!!”

Church, y’all have responded to this rally cry in such a beautiful way!  So many of you have wanted to know what YOU can do to help take care of the community that’s sheltered by Holy Trinity’s walls. You’ve asked, “how can I reach out to folks who need support and encouragement??” You’ve asked “how can I let folks know that I miss them??” You’ve asked “what can I do to make our community stronger??”  

Well… good news!! I have a couple of answers that we can ALL use to take better care of each other! If you were at church last Sunday, you heard us make an announcement about the new “Care and Appreciation Cards” you can use to reach out to Holy Trinity partners you haven’t seen in a while, people who need encouragement, and folks who just need to know how much we appreciate the work they do. (By the way… if you weren’t at church on  Sunday and would like to know more, swing by this Sunday! We’ll talk about them again!!) Check out the blue cards in the seatbacks this Sunday and show some love to your Holy Trinity family!!

Also… save this email address (htccCare@gmail.com) in an important place!  When you have something you’d like a Holy Trinity partner or pastor to be praying about, are going to be in the hospital, or have something happen in your family that we need to know about, send your needs to this email address. Holy Trinity has an amazing team of folks who are passionate about praying for our community and helping provide care. Let us know when you hear of someone that could use a prayer, hospital visit, or encouraging word so our care and pastoral teams can show them some love!

In the book of James (in the Bible), James suggests that “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” We have some widows (and widowers) in our church. We also have some orphans. I think, though, that this verse isn’t encouraging us to ONLY take care of widows and orphans. The spirit of these words tells us, instead, that pure faith drives us to take care of the folks who need it most.  

Friends, we have folks in our church who need to know that they are loved… that they are cared for… that they are not forgotten. Will you help build our walls by showing them that you care?