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!Read More
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!!
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:
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!
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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!
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!
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…
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
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?
What a week it’s been. Last Friday, many of us cried tears of joy (as a friend of mine said, “I UGLY cried”) when the Supreme Court told the world that the United States would defend the 14th Amendment rights of LGBT people to be “equal under the law” by allowing same-sex marriage across each of our 50 states. We cheered when we heard President Obama say “When all people are treated as equals, we are ALL more free." We pinched ourselves to make sure that the history revealing itself was really real.
And then Monday morning brought a whole new set of challenges. Our Facebook feeds filled with hateful, ill-informed comments by family and friends. Articles were posted by angry bloggers who said marriage between pedophiles and children would be the “next stop on America’s road to moral decline.” Some counties in Tennessee have even refused to perform same-sex weddings, essentially saying that if “they” can get married, then nobody can get married.
As the week as progressed, many of us have found our joy quickly curdling into frustration, anger, and sadness. Many of us have found ourselves shaking our fists at the sky and yelling “JUST STOP!!”
My friends, I won’t tell you not to be angry. Many of the things you’ve experienced this week really should make you angry. But, in the midst of our anger, sadness, fear, and frustration, we have to decide how we will be people of healing, hope, reconciliation, and love. How will we be people who not only HEAR Christ’s red-lettered words, but also live them… especially when they say really difficult things like “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you”?
This week is one of those faith-testing times when we’re asked to not only embrace the easy, feel-good parts of the gospel (God is love! Jesus accepts you! You are accepted!), but to also follow the more difficult parts – the parts that ask us to follow Christ’s example and rise above hate to show grace.
But how will we do that?
John Pavlovitz offers a few helpful suggestions as we wade into “the dangerous, chaotic fray of public religious dialogue.” In this blog post on “Stuff That Needs To Be Said,” he wisely encourages us to remember:
1) People are a product of their stories.
Whether someone is an Atheist, Agnostic, or Believer (or all of the above), they don’t pop out of the womb that way. Our faith perspective isn’t an instant download that comes with the operating system. Every single person you encounter is the sum total of their individual journey; the home where they were raised, the friends they have, the church they grew up in, the books they read, the teachers who inspired them, the stuff they’ve seen, the wounds they’ve sustained, the way they are wired. It all slowly shapes them, and that very specific renovation of people results in the exact version of them standing in front of you at a given moment. Regardless of whether or not you can see it, everyone has a deep back story that looms largely, both in their theology and in the way it gets expressed.
Likewise, you too are a product of your story. You have been crafted by time and experience, education and relationships, by your heroes and your enemies, and these have all formed the uniquely original biases and the blind spots in your own belief system. You know what it’s like to be discounted and dismissed from a distance, so remember that as you are tempted to see people as caricatures and cartoons; just two-dimensional representations of a religious argument.
As you confront people’s ideas and argue with their religion, seek to learn their stories.
2) Theology is a place.
What we believe about faith and God and the afterlife is not as fixed as we often like to think. It is rather, an ever-shifting spot in space and time. Very likely, you believe quite differently than you did ten years ago in both subtle and substantial ways, and ten years from now the same will almost certainly be true. In this way I like to think of theology as a place; as the specific location where you are right this moment.
This is important as you interact with others, because it helps you clarify your limitations and remember your place. When it comes to matters of faith, you cannot make someone be where you are. It’s not your job or your right to forcibly pull someone to your faith perspective; to make them see as you see or agree to the givens you’ve established in your mind. Your responsibility is to openly describe the view from where you stand and hope that something in that is helpful or encouraging or challenging to people. I never feel I need to convince someone to believe what I believe, I only need to let them know where I am, and ask them to meet me there in relationship.
As you talk about God and faith, resist the temptation to try and move people anywhere. If God is real, God will do that.
3) Being right is dangerous.
Whether we claim a deep faith or we are certain that faith is a useless mirage, most of us operate under the general (if well-hidden) assumption that we have it right; that we alone have solved the great puzzle that no other living soul has, holding pearls of wisdom that elude everyone else. Though we may have brief flashes of humility, most of us spend our days fully enamored with our own thinking. This certainty of self wants to be seen as deeply held conviction, but it’s more often used as license to be a jackass. It’s our absolute sense of rightness that usually justifies us to treat people terribly. It’s the paper-thin line we so easily cross, from righteous to self-righteous.
One of the things people ask me about most often, is how I deal with hateful religious people who so freely condemn and so easily cast judgment, and the answer is simple: I remember that they think they’re correct. Even if someone standing across from me (or through a smart phone screen a few thousand miles away) delivers their religion in what feels like the most offensive, vile, bigoted fashion, at the core of all of it they genuinely believe it. If they are people of faith, they do want to please God, they don’t want to go to Hell, and they want me to know when they think I’m headed there. Jesus showed this kind of mercy and kindness when we said of his misguided executioners, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do”. Remembering that even destructive faith begins at a beautifully, sincere place doesn’t excuse anyone’s horrible behavior in the name of God, but it goes a long way in us receiving their words with some measure of understanding.
Holy Trinity, even when our Christian brothers and sisters aren’t showing us the love they should, let’s continue to be people of love, ok? After all, love will only win if we continue to use it.
Here are all of the items that will be available to bid on at tomorrow nights PRIDE writers round!
- Sara Evans Merch basket, value: $150
Voice Lessons Package w/ Randy Craft, value: $375
Guitar Lessons Package w/ Cameron Cleland, value: $100
Drum Lessons Package w/ Chris Schaub, value $100
Dinner for 2 at Cafe Cleland, value: priceless
Coach Boots (barely worn), value: $100
Paris Art Print, value: $50
Custom Logo Design by Jes Cleland, value: $120
HVAC cleaning by Vic Jennette, value: $89
Chiropractic adjustment by Angie Walk, value: $100
Handmade jewelry, value: $60
Gift card for painting class, value: $35
Green Hill Productions CD bundle, value: $120
Roland EM-10 keyboard, value: $100
YMCA Membership and Joining Fee, value: $199
Various Furniture and Home decor pieces from ReCreations Furniture!
If you attended our 9:00 worship service a couple of weeks ago, you might have noticed a large group of teenagers sitting near the front of the sanctuary. Or, you might have seen them in the hall after the service eating cupcakes and giggling with their friends. These delightful kids were from Evangelical United Church of Christ, a UCC church who brought a group of teenagers from St. Louis to Nashville to do mission work in our city. While they were in Nashville serving our city’s poor, the kids from Evangelical UCC spread their sleeping bags in Holy Trinity’s chapel and slept on our floor. It was our pleasure to serve them by giving them a place to stay!
I tell you that to tell you this…
If you spoke with any of these youth, you know that they were spellbound by their Sunday morning experience at Holy Trinity. In fact, this morning I got an email from their youth minister. He said:
“...I wanted to thank you again so much for your hospitality and welcome during our stay at HTCC. Our youth shared on Sunday about your church AS MUCH as about all the service work we did. Your efforts of welcome made THAT much of an impact. Acceptance was evident!”
I’ve always believed that it’s important for people to know what’s said about them behind their backs, and this lovely email demonstrates why. When people attend Holy Trinity, this is what they’re saying about you after they leave our parking lot: “acceptance was evident.”
Holy Trinity friends, thank you for making our church a place of extravagant welcome. Thank you for making it a place of welcome to all who have no church home, need strength, want to follow Christ, have doubts, or do not believe… to new visitors and to old friends… to grandparents, grandchildren, mothers, fathers, and single people… to people of all colors, cultures, and abilities… to people of all genders, sexual orientations, and political opinions… to both the old and the young… to believers and questioners, and also to questioning believers.
It’s because of you that people walk through our doors and realize that no matter who they are or where they are on their journey, our God welcomes them with open arms. Because you’re willing to sing in our choir, hold our doors open, chat with our guests, bring your kids, love each other openly, and create a place where ALL people are welcome to worship God, our community is able to experience the God who loves us ALL extravagantly.
And because of you, a group of teenagers in a suburb of St. Louis are now actively talking about what they can do to make their church a place where EVERYBODY feels welcomed.
So… bravo, Holy Trinity. Bravo.
It’s a beautiful spring day. It’s about to be a beautiful spring weekend. A family of doves is nesting in my gutters. Pollen is wreaking havoc on my nose. But as much as I want to write, think, and talk about the beautiful new-beginnings of spring, my Facebook feed won’t allow it. Google news won’t allow it. Baltimore won’t allow it. The Supreme Court won’t allow it. Nepal won’t allow it.
Life won’t allow it. Not today.
Many of us have been glued to our favorite news sources and Facebook feeds this week, haven’t we? And haven’t we been filled with mixed emotions at the conversations we’ve found there?
On Monday, our grief-stricken brothers and sisters in Baltimore laid to rest the body of Freddie Gray, a young man who died last week as the result of a spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. We've all seen parts of what happened next – including peaceful protests, violent riots, and beautiful acts of bravery and compassion. A family grieves. A community shouts for justice. A government responds.
And we wait.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments regarding their upcoming decision on the gay marriage “issue.” Many of us cheered as Justice Ginsburg passionately defended her LGBT brothers and sisters. Many of us said “amen!” when Justice Roberts declared, “if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t. And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn't that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?” The court will hand down its decision in June.
And we wait.
This week we watched more than eight million men, women, boys, and girls in Nepal struggle to survive after last week’s earthquake. More than 5,000 of our brothers and sisters died in the tragedy. 450,000 are left without homes. And then on Tuesday, massive storms drowned the country and caused a landslide that demolished the villages in its path. Across the country, relief workers continue to dig. They continue to find more wounded survivors. They also find more corpses.
And we wait.
And as maddening as the waiting is, perhaps we can find comfort in knowing that we’re not waiting alone. We’re waiting together. We’re waiting together for the empty spaces between what’s happening now and what will happen next to be filled in. We’re waiting together for the justice, equality, peace, acknowledgement, recognition, safety, and resources that our brothers and sisters so desperately need. We’re waiting together for creation to be redeemed. We’re waiting together for hope, and we’re trying to wait patiently (Romans 8:24-25).
And that means that no matter what happens next, we’ll walk through that together, too.
And maybe that makes the waiting more bearable.
$1 can make a big difference.
Bring in your spare ones this week and we will use that to defray the cost of outreach ministries!
This week we are donating all monies raised to Nashville Cares, a longtime friend to our community.
Below you will find information about this charity.
Feel free to visit http://www.nashvillecares.org/ as well.
Our mission is to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Middle Tennessee. We work to achieve this through education, advocacy and support for those at risk for or living with HIV.
With your help, Nashville CARES offers services annually to 60,000 Middle Tennesseans infected and affected by HIV/AIDS including: HIV prevention education to more than 40,000 youth and adults, almost 17,000 FREE confidential HIV tests, and essential support services to 2,850 men, women and children living with the disease.
Last year, Nashville CARES:
Educated 7,200 teenagers and 8,800 young adults about HIV prevention
Helped 1,860 clients find and keep housing
Provided 111,800 meals to 1,460 people with HIV/AIDS
Provided 1,300 nights of emergency/transitional lodging
Paid $370,000 in mortgage, rent and utility bills for 509 people with HIV/AIDS
Distributed 5,700 bus passes and gas vouchers to 880 people with HIV/AIDS
Educated 16,500 gay, bisexual and other MSM about HIV and other health issues
Offered 2,400 hours of individual and group counseling and addiction therapy
Provided 250 hours of CARE Team help with household chores
Educated 14,850 women to protect their health
Distributed 190,000 direct prevention materials
Paid for dental care for 780 people with HIV/AIDS
Helped pay for medicine and medical care for 2,370 people with HIV/AIDS
Provided 15,700 hours of planning and advocacy to help 2,370 people with HIV/AIDS find needed resources
Tested 16,800 individuals for HIV and linked the 88 people who tested positive to care and support
Provided treatment education and adherence support to 1,500 people with HIV/AIDS
Answered 4,560 calls to our HEARTLine for assistance
Thanks so much for your generosity!
What happens when the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, full of grace and truth?
What happens when that flesh-covered truth preaches from a mountainside and says “blessed are you when people say all manner of vile things against you…”?
What happens when people touch the hem of his garment and are healed, or when he touches the untouchable, loves the unlovable, or tells the supposed-sinner “come down from that tree, I want to eat at your house today”?
What happens when he says “Lazarus, come forth!” or causes a ruckus by overturning tables in the Temple?
What happens when he rides a donkey into Jerusalem during Passover to become our most perfect sacrifice and most perfect priest, the one who makes a way for us to confidentially approach God?
What happens when we, in return, hear the story of his cross, his grave, and his triumph over death, and fall to our knees in gratitude?
What happens when his church (maybe even ours on Charlotte Pike where no matter who you are or where you are on your journey you are welcome) gathers on Sunday morning to hear his story and realize that they are valued by God?
What happens when those same people are challenged to live holy lives and respond to that call in the way they live and love at work, at home, on the internet, with their friends, and in their social lives?
What happens when those people gather together in meetings to make their voices prayerfully heard so that Christ’s church can remain a strong voice of hope to our community?
The answer to each question is “resurrection.”
Resurrection, my friends, is what happens when life and love are shown to be stronger than death, darkness, fear, and shame. Resurrection sits at the heart of the wonder of the empty tomb and the joy we feel when we hear “he isn't here, he is risen, just like he said he would!” Resurrection is what makes us sing “Christ the Lord is risen today!” on Easter morning, and it’s what makes us sigh with relief when we read:
"Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world… All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1-6)
And so, Holy Trinity family, I pray that as Easter finds its way into our hearts, our church, and our chocolate-filled baskets, that you will know the joy of resurrection. I pray that our church will see the hope of resurrection. And I pray today – in the midst of so much tragedy, violence, fear, prejudice, and pain – that our world will find the peace that comes with resurrection.
Today, let’s ALL begin to celebrate Easter by being agents of resurrection and life with every word we say, with every word we type, and in every relationship (even the difficult ones) that crosses our paths. After all, we are Easter people… children of God who once were dead, but are now raised with Christ and living a life of resurrection!
Read an update on our upcoming mission trip written by Jes Cleland, our Holy Trinity Missions coordinator.
While going through a study on Lent this past week, I came across an insightful reflection on the term Eucharist, which we understand, as modern day believers, to be Holy Communion. I learned that the word is made up of two words that actually, in one interpretation, mean “good gift”. How beautiful and accurate. Christ’s body broken, and his blood poured out for us, is indeed, the best gift! This idea that the healing of humanity, the healing of the world had to begin with sacrifice: the body broken, and blood poured out is an ongoing process. Today we, as the church, are the body of Christ. We are the tangible, living, breathing “good gift” that brings healing to the world. Each of us has something good to bring to the table and yes, it requires sacrifice. As we share ourselves with the world, at work, at home, at church, we may get tired even weary at times. Our bodies may feel broken, but the sacrifices we make bring healing to the world. Have you ever thought about your day like that? That your smile, your hard work, your stress level, your diligence to do a job and do it well, while it may feel burdensome, is a sacrifice made for the healing of the world and is a “good gift”?
While I pondered that, my mind, as it often does, wandered to mission work. I, as many of you do, have a passion for taking the love of Christ beyond the walls of our church building. Sometimes that looks like loving on your neighbor with a batch of cookies, but sometimes it looks like taking a trip across the country, or across the world to love on people who might be less fortunate than you. Sometimes it looks like raising money so that a team of people can go be the hands and feet of Jesus to an area of the world that might otherwise feel forgotten. To me, mission work is another great example of Eucharist. Such an amazing gift! That’s why I am so excited to share with you about Holy Trinity’s Summer Mission Trip! I will be leading a team of 12 people to Eastern Navajo, New Mexico this July. Because of lack of economic development, unemployment on the reservation is very high. The Navajo struggle to keep up with caring for the elderly, and addiction is a reality for many. Our team will be providing support for the local church in practical ways including building maintenance and remodeling, as well as helping the locals care for their elderly. We will help restore homes to adequate living conditions and facilitate programs for children. I am so excited to be heading to New Mexico with such an extraordinary group of servants. I can’t wait to see the relationships that are built between team members as well as with those we will be serving and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in Eastern Navajo, New Mexico!
This team will sacrifice their time, their talents, their energy, and their finances to bring a “good gift” and to meet some very real needs of the Navajo in New Mexico. You can help support this team in 3 ways:
- Pray for the team members, for traveling mercies, and for Christ’s love to be experienced by all we come in contact with.
- There will be several fundraisers between now and our trip. Your attendance and contributions will mean more than you may ever know!
- You don’t have to wait for a fundraiser to contribute financially! By contributing to the Mission Team, you make it possible for us to go and be a “good gift” to those in need. This is a very practical way that you can be a part of the great work that will be done! Click on the link below to make a designated offering for the upcoming mission trip! To label funds towards the trip simply make a payment using the "Mission Trip 2015" fund and if you would like to designate the fund for a specific person Include there name in the text box next to the fund!
On Wednesday you might have seen people at work, in the grocery store, or at the gas station with a smudge of ashes on their foreheads. Do you know why?
Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent - time when we prepare to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. And so, on Ash Wednesday we put ashes on our foreheads to symbolize that we'll spend the next 40 days remembering Christ's sacrifice and grieving that he needed to die on the cross. But that introduces a good question, doesn't it?
Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
You may feel like you're supposed to know the answer... but do you?
If we're going to celebrate Easter together in a few weeks, it seems that we should spend Lent making sure we know why Easter is so important. And so, during the first three Sundays of Lent, we'll be exploring the important question of "why did Jesus have to die" in a sermon series called "ENOUGH?"
Can you guess why it's called "ENOUGH?" Is it because we hadn't done ENOUGH good deeds for God to forgive our sins? Is it because God was frustrated with our sin and said "I've finally had ENOUGH!!" Or, is it because we could never be good ENOUGH for God to love us without this extraordinary act?
We'll give you a hint... none of those are very good answers. But, you'll have to come to church on Sunday to find out why "ENOUGH" is the perfect word to describe why Jesus died for us!
Easter is coming. It's hard to believe isn't it? It's hard to believe that underneath the candy shell of ice that's covering our trees, shrubs, and gardens that life is preparing to bloom... but it is!
For the next few Sundays we'll be celebrating Lent by asking one of the most important - and one of the most challenging - questions of the Christian faith. Can you guess what it is??
Try reading the 8th, 9th, and 10th chapters of Hebrews this week and see if you can guess what we'll be talking about at Holy Trinity during Lent!
We all crave love. We all desire to be accepted and loved for who we are.
And even though the need for love is a dominant driving force within most--if not all of us--we've somehow learned the steps of the dance that teach us to move this way or that way, to say these things or to say those things, to think, speak and act in ways pleasing to others so that we may be accepted and feel important.
In doing this, we often find strings attached to this acceptance and affection we need. And if we misstep, become tired, or no longer fit someone else's vision of the dance we must perform, we find ourselves experiencing, yet again, that old familiar sting of rejection.
May I be honest and admit that while I've certainly performed the dance, there have been times in my life I've been the instructor? There have been times in my life I've been the one directing the steps so that others may receive from me the acceptance they needed?
And is it okay that we talk about the church and the role it sometimes plays in this choreography? Is it okay to acknowledge that maybe our experiences with church haven't always been positive and encouraging?
When thinking about Pastor Shropshires's sermon series on love, and the power that pours from it--through patience and kindness and the agape love called forth through the work of the Civil Rights movement--I can't help but remember the conflict within my spirit as a teenager - the pull toward God, who I believed resided in the church; the very place I felt rejected.
The reality is we can (and should) experience God in the community of the church not necessarily because people are awesome! Truth? We sometimes get it wrong. We sometimes invert the messages. We sometimes don't apply the teachings well. Why? We are all learning and becoming who God is calling us to be.
We can always do better. And we should strive to do better.
A bigger truth than the church being the place where God resides, we cannot forget God resides within us. It isn't only that we experience God because we have the church. But also that we experience God because God pursues us with reckless abandon. God chases after us much like the father of the prodigal son. God seeks us, looks for us, and searches us.
We are drawn to the church because God calls our names.
We seek God because God loves us.
In 1 John 4:8, I have found powerful words that helped reshape my understanding of God's love. These words didn't resonate within me until several years ago when I found myself surrounded by darkness. This scripture became a beacon of light and hope for a new understanding of who God is. This verse tells us that God is love.
Some of us need a new picture of God in our minds. We need to remember that God is Creator. A creator in love with God's creation. God created and then God said, "It is good."
"For God so loved the world....."
We are God's created. And we are led into who we are called to be. We are led into healing, into the perfection--that wholeness--of our complete selves.
Today, in class, our professor encouraged us with these words, "If God's intention is Love, maybe following God's call is to risk the vulnerability of experiencing wholeness."
To become completely who we are called to be, healing and overcoming, redemption and reconciliation must happen. Those accomplishments are found through patience and kindness; agape love. The strength and endurance, the sustenance of these actions comes from our Source, our Creator, our God.
God is Love.