From Pastor Neil’s Study

The Christian season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday (February 17, 2021), is a 40-day season of spiritual preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection at Easter (April 4, 2021). (Sundays are always feast days and are not included in the 40 days of Lent.) For centuries, Christians have been using Lent to reflect on their need for God’s saving grace and to intentionally practice Spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible reading and study, fasting, worship, sacrificial giving, and service.

As you embark on your Lenten journey, I hope you will make time to observe Lent by setting aside time to nurture your relationship with God. At Trinity, you will have weekly opportunities to reflect on the gift of God’s grace offered through Jesus Christ and deepen your relationship with God. We’ll be preaching a series of sermons and I’ll be offering a companion discipleship study called, Teach Us To Pray.  In the sermons and the study, we will use the example and teaching of Jesus in The Gospel According to Luke to learn how to pray – or to grow in our ability to pray. One of the things we’ll discover is that there are more examples of Jesus praying in Luke’s Gospel than the other three combined. Jesus set an example for his disciples to follow. There are important lessons to learn. That’s why I’m going to challenge the entire Trinity Church family to read the whole of the Gospel as we worship and study together.

In the coming weeks, our online worship will continue, including an online Ash Wednesday service, as we look forward to gathering in-person. Look for details about Ash Wednesday and other services, programs, and events in upcoming bulletins and weekly announcements. I hope that you will join us for worship and for the study, but even if you are not able to attend a single activity, I hope you will make your relationship with God a priority in your life. Make time every day to connect with God in silence, solitude, and stillness. Read the Gospel. Think about the people in need—in our church, community, and around the world—and prayerfully offer some of your time and resources to help them. The five (5) commitments we make as members of the Body of Christ will change your life if you let them: worship, grow, service, share, and give. Keeping those commitments is a wonderful way to observe a Holy Lent.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

In Christ,

Pastor Neil

Why Lent Matters

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

It will soon be time for a new season to begin. But don’t go looking for a greeting card or suggested Amazon gift list. There are no movies on the Hallmark Channel romanticizing it. No, there is no hype surrounding Lent. However, millions of Christians, in many different denominations all around the world, observe this liturgical season of preparation. Lent begins Ash Wednesday, February 17 this year, lasting forty days (plus Sundays). When Lent has finished, the joy of Easter begins.  

Lent doesn’t have the feel-good decorations or cookies that Advent and Christmas claim. You won’t find a seasonal scent dedicated to it at the Yankee Candle outlet. It doesn’t have the bold sounds of Easter’s Hallelujah Chorus. For many people, the only thing they can tell you about Lent is that it’s the time when you give up something: maybe chocolate, coffee, or shopping online. Those are some of the biggies. But I would argue this is the very reason why we should turn our eyes toward Lent, when what we really want to do is look away. Lent asks much of us.  

For those who observe Lent, it can be a time of fasting. This is a nod to Jesus’ fasting when he spent forty days in the wilderness. Sopping wet from the baptismal waters of the Jordan River —with a divine voice still ringing in his ears, “You are my Son, the Beloved”—Jesus found himself both full of and led by the very Spirit of God. We read in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) of Jesus’ time in the wilderness. He may have self-exiled from family and friends, but he was not alone. We read where he was tempted by evil; a scripture-quoting Satan tries three different times to tempt Jesus. It is after the final test that Matthew says the devil departed from Jesus “until an opportune time.” Very ominous. All of this took place just prior to the start of his ministry; it was a ministry that would not only change the world but also lead him to the cross.  

It’s becoming more clear why Lent isn’t marketed as the feel-good season of the year, isn’t it? But before you are ready to spiritually sit out this time and set your eyes toward Easter, please let me ask a few questions. Have you ever found yourself in a wilderness? Was there ever a time you felt exhausted, alone, and even tempted? Sometimes our temptations come in the form of money, food, power, alcohol, drugs; the list is endless. There is good news, beloved. Jesus, our God-come-to-earth, has willingly walked into the wilderness, done battle with what is not of God, and can truly feel your pain. Jesus is now willing to walk into your wilderness today, in order to relieve whatever pain plagues you.  

We walk through Lent, knowing what is on the other side: an empty tomb, a resurrected Lord, and the promise of a new life through Christ. Lent helps us get there. Our self-reflection of this season is not always easy, but as Christians we know who we are and whose we are. We are Easter people.
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Children & Youth at Trinity (Jan. 2021)

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

Greetings,

It’s a new year and I pray all things are well with you. Even though we have experienced difficulties in 2020, I am grateful for all the ways God comforted and guided us through it. Furthermore, I pray God continues to be merciful in guiding and helping us through 2021!

Ash Wednesday

As staff, we decided to make Ash Wednesday meaningful for the congregation. One of the ways is to hand out individual ash packets for the congregation. Plus, we will prepare an online service that will be meaningful for all family members. I ask the youth group, confirmation class and families in children’s education to participate in the Ash Wednesday service this year. Because this service is usually in the middle of the week, many families with children or youth could not participate. However, this year we want to utilize this opportunity to introduce the Ash Wednesday service to all ages. Ash Wednesday is on Feb. 17 this year, and we will be distributing the packets on Feb. 14. We will share more info in the future.

Easter

We are in the planning stages, but we hope to offer two outdoor worship services on Easter Sunday. There will be one for the Sunrise Service and another one for the morning. The important thing is that we want to gather to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection. It should be quite a celebration. Look for more announcements as we get closer to Easter, April 4. I would like to ask all families with youth and children to participate if they’re able. Also I would like volunteers from youth to help with setup and break down. This event will serve Trinity members who have been longing to be with one another. Therefore, we would need many volunteers to put this together. Please consider volunteering for this wonderful occasion. The Lord is Risen!

Possible Easter Egg Hunt

Last year due to Covid restrictions we could not hold the annual Easter Egg Hunt. This year I’m thinking about holding one when we have Communion and Palm Leaves drive-thru the week before Holy Week. In order to put that together, we need your help! We definitely need someone to be the Easter Bunny. If you want to be a celebrity for a day, this is it! Most volunteers in the past shared with me the thrill of kids coming up to them and being treated as someone special. Also we need volunteers to plan and execute a safe and memorable Easter Egg Hunt. Please contact me via email (klee@umtrinity.org) or phone (703-356-3312, ext 117).

Worship at Trinity (2021)

With the continued rise in Coronavirus cases, we are continuing to offer worship and other ministries online. See below for those options. As the weather warms and more people are vaccinated, our pastors will consider some outdoor in-person worship opportunities. While we miss worshiping in-person together, we feel it is our calling to ensure the healthy and safety of all persons.

Lent—Holy Week—Easter 2021

On Youtube, Facebook & Zoom

Key:

F       Facebook (facebook.com/TrinityUMCMcLean)

Y       Youtube (youtube.com/UMTrinity)

Z       Zoom, Meeting ID shown (all Zoom passwords are 1205)

DateEventPlatform
SundaysWorshipF, Y
SundaysChildren’s Education Activities : http://umtrinity.org/children
Mondays, 7 p.m.Engage Bible Study on Zoom: Contact Jim Wilson, jaswilson@sloflt.com
Tuesday, 10 a.m.Bible StudyZ: 894 8087 9762
Wednesdays,
7 p.m.
Bible StudyZ: 886 5257 6837
Wednesdays,
10 a.m.
Prayer GroupZ: 875 6105 5580
Wed., Feb. 17 9 a.m.Ash WednesdayF, Y
Sun., Feb. 28 Sun., March 28 5 p.m.Celtic ServiceF, Y
Thurs., April 1 7 p.m.Maundy ThursdayF, Y
Fri., April 2 7 p.m.Good FridayF, Y
Sun., April 4 6 a.m. 10:30 a.m.EasterF, Y
Sunday, Feb. 14
1 – 2 p.m.
We will have individual packs of ashes available for each family.
 

March 21 (tent.) Holy Week Worship Pick-Up

We will distribute palms and communion elements at this drive thru event.

Palm Sunday               March 28                                       worship online

Maundy Thursday      April 1                                       worship online

Good Friday                 April 2                                       worship online

Easter Sunday            April 4                                       worship online

Possible worship services in-person at 7 & 10:30 a.m.

See above table for online worship details.

Pastors and the HCT are exploring other outdoor opportunities as the weather warms up. Look for announcements for more opportunities.

Children and Youth at Trinity

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
 
It’s been a long time since I communicated through The Spire and I am glad to say hello! Due to in-person gathering restrictions, we have not been meeting in-person but the church has been, and is still, going strong with activities and events. I would like to share some of the plans for Advent.
 
Advent Page
Pastor Neil’s wife, Pastor Anne, is also an elder in the United Methodist Church. Although she’s retired, she continues to carry out her call to serve God’s people. One of the ministries on her heart is Children’s Sunday School. For Advent, she will offer videos and crafts related to Advent. These videos and links for crafts will be available at https://umtrinity.org/children
Make sure to view them with your children. I’m grateful for Pastor Anne’s dedication and service to Trinity’s children and their families.
 
Christmas Eve Family Worship Video
Regardless of our in-person worship status, the staff plans to provide a meaningful Christmas Eve Family Worship experience through the internet. One feature of the service is for families to share a precious memory or tradition from Christmas. It should be about one-minute length and describe Christmas memories or traditions. Please let me know if you would like to contribute (klee@umtrinity.org). I would love to hear your story and make this a unique Christmas celebration opportunity.
 
Christmas Tree Sales
Winter’s coming! That means our Annual Christmas Tree Sale is near! The Scouts and Trinity did not want to cancel it because many in the McLean community depend on us for their trees. When I sent out an email to gauge the Trinity youth group’s interest in holding it, thankfully, I received many enthusiastic responses. Thanks so much for your interest and willingness to participate in serving our community. To ensure everyone’s safety, we will provide guidelines such as wearing masks and keeping socially distanced. Also, we ordered 200 trees so that we can end the sale in two weeks. That means if you want a tree you should plan to come by the first weekend.
 
Tree Sales: Opening Weekend
November 27 – 29
Friday: Noon-5 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.
  
To help unload trees on Nov. 23 please sign up at:
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b4da8ad22a57-christmas4
All volunteers must bring a signed copy of the following document HealthAcknowledgementform__Scouting Update – 20201012.docx
To volunteer please go to:
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0D44A5A829A13-christmas3
 
Confirmation & Baptism Class of 2021
Confirmation Class 2020 held a Zoom service on June 7 and the video recording of the service was shared on the following Sunday. This class will have an in-person service when the situation allows. I will send out an announcement when the date is determined.
 
The Confirmation and Baptism Class of 2021 began in September! There are over twelve confirmands actively participating through the online platform. Some of the goals of the confirmands are drawing closer to God as well as becoming full members of Trinity. Please keep them in your prayers. As always, I’m so honored to be part of this journey with them.
 

From Pastor Neil’s Study

I once knew a man who hated receiving presents. It wasn’t that he was a modern-day Scrooge. He just didn’t want his family and friends to waste money getting him stuff. He had what he needed and didn’t want or need anything else. I never saw him do it, but I heard that if someone brought him a wrapped gift, he would refuse to open it. He was a faithful, generous Christian man, but he was stubborn. And I think he took pride in being stubborn.

What he didn’t realize was that by not accepting gifts, he was hurting the people closest to him. His wife, children, and grandchildren would get upset when he refused their gifts and thought he didn’t care about their feelings. He thought he was helping, but in reality, he was not. I haven’t seen this man in years, but I hope he has learned to appreciate the joy in the eyes of his grandchildren when he receives the gifts they offer him.

Sometimes, in our attempt to de-emphasize the commercial aspects of Christmas, we say that Christmas is not about receiving gifts. We say Christmas is the “season of giving.” But I think Christmas is a season for receiving as well as giving.  The truth is that, even though it’s not our birthday, God gives us gifts at Christmas. And God is pleased when we receive the gifts God gives us. That’s why our Advent and Christmas theme will be The Gifts of Christmas. The season of Advent starts on November 29. I hope you’ll join us for worship online every week and discover what they are; and I also hope you’ll be willing to receive the gifts that God offers you.

Because Christmas is about receiving and giving, and because it’s not our birthday, I want to encourage you to share the blessings you’ve received from God with someone who needs some help right now. You can support Trinity Church financially and help fund Trinity’s Mission and Outreach programs. You can support SHARE of McLean or Christ House or another local helping organization — the needs are great. You can share God’s blessings through the simple act of offering love and kindness to a friend or a stranger. There are many ways to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

Anne and I feel blessed to be part of the Trinity Church family and are looking forward to spending Advent and Christmas with all of you.

Rob, Andrew, and Emily join us in wishing you a safe, healthy, and blessed Advent, Christmas, and New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Neil

Advent – Christmas 2020

On Youtube, Facebook & Zoom

Key:

F       Facebook (facebook.com/TrinityUMCMcLean)

Y       Youtube (youtube.com/UMTrinity)

Z       Zoom, Meeting ID shown

DateEventPlatform
SundaysWorshipF, Y
SundaysChildren’s Education Activities :
http://umtrinity.org/children
Mondays, 7 p.m.Engage Bible Study on Zoom: Contact Jim Wilson, jaswilson@sloflt.com
Tuesday, 10 a.m.Bible StudyZ: 894 8087 9762
Wednesdays,
7 p.m.
Bible StudyZ: 886 5257 6837
Wednesdays,
10 a.m.
Prayer GroupZ: 875 6105 5580
Tues., Dec. 8,
7 p.m.
Honduras Mission InformationZ: link will be included in E-News
Sun., Dec. 13Lessons & CarolsF, Y
Dec. 24Christmas Eve WorshipF, Y
Sun., Dec. 27,
5 p.m.
Celtic ServiceF, Y

A Code-breaker’s Legacy at Trinity

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Have you ever looked at the Trinity Church prayer list? You can find it every week in our bulletin. In the list you will find the names of our church family members, loved ones and neighbors, and even people we’ve never met but know are in need of prayer (think: researchers for a Covid vaccine or front-line workers). If you haven’t, I invite you to include them in prayer. Each one makes the list for a reason. You can also join us on Wednesday morning’s at 10 a.m. for our Zoom prayer group. Check our weekly emails and bulletins on how to join the prayer group as well as Bible studies.

Last year, we had the name Dorothy “Dot” Bruce on our prayer list. We prayed for her on her 99th birthday and when she was ill before her death. Then we prayed for her family. If you’ve been a longtime member of Trinity, you probably know her son Jim Bruce and his wife Carol. What you probably don’t know is the remarkable life Dot lived. She was recruited by the U.S. military in World War II. She answered the call to serve in a top-secret group of code-breaking women. Dot and her colleagues were able to discover the locations of Japanese ships in the Pacific, as well as intercept enemy supply movements. There is likely no way to fully know the number of American servicemember lives that were saved, but it has been estimated their work shortened the war by two years.

Dot had been sworn to secrecy and she kept that oath for 70 years. It wasn’t until then that she discovered their work had been declassified. This allowed her to speak to an author about their code breaking and its impact on the war efforts. Liza Mundy wrote the book Code Girls in 2017; Dot is featured prominently as a central character. This amazing women was also an educator, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. I know Jim and the rest of his family miss her greatly.

Now, the U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed legislation to name a Chesterfield, VA, post office after Dorothy Bruce. She resided in an assisted living center near that post office. The legislation was authored by Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who represents many of our Trinity members. If the bill makes it through the Senate, the new name for the post office will be the “Dorothy Braden Bruce Post Office Building.”

I tell you this story of Dot Bruce as we go into the Advent and Christmas seasons. I hope it serves as a reminder that those mentioned on our prayer list comprise more than an alphabetized recording of names. Each one represents a person—often a family—that is in need of, and is worthy of, all of our prayers. As we celebrate the coming birth of the Christ Child, may we honor his birth, life and teachings. After all, at the heart of most of Jesus’ teachings was the message to love and serve one another. Thanks to Dot Bruce, we are also reminded that each name carries a remarkable story of a loved child of God.

2020 Annual Conference Report

The 2020 Virginia Annual Conference met virtually from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 31, 2020. Due to the need for a virtual meeting, the agenda was significantly streamlined and consisted mostly of the essential business of the conference. Bishop Sharma D. Lewis presided over this 238th session. Attendees from Trinity UMC were as follows:

Neil Hough

Eileen Gilmer

Keith Lee

Bruce Luxon

Alesha Luxon

The good news is that despite the pandemic, the VA conference is financially secure. Though apportionment receipts are down 6.8% thus far in 2020, expenses have decreased as well. We have a way to go to make up the difference but our cash reserves and investments are strong and we have $2.2 billion in real estate!

The VA conference is also spiritually strong.  God has blessed us with 314,000 members with an average of 96,000 attendance. Close to 2,000 people were baptized in the past year and more than 2,700 people joined congregations by profession of faith. 82,000 are engaged in small groups. As the pandemic continues and our technology improves, this number will probably increase.

We want to remember in prayer the more than 50 pastors who retired in the past year, including our own Jim Sprouse, and the families of those pastors who went to be with God in 2020. It was a pleasure for Bruce and me to represent Trinity at this, our first VA Annual Conference. Please feel free to contact our pastors or us with any questions. 

Warmly,

Alesha & Bruce Luxon

Church & Society December Collection

As we head into the winter and holiday season, we’re often thinking of ways to reach out to others in our community. SHARE of McLean is a local nonprofit ministry and partner with Trinity that works year-round to meet the emergency needs of McLean and Northern Virginia families.

This winter, SHARE is suggesting the idea of Trinity members participating in a “reverse Advent calendar” (see below) as a way to support area families. Trinity members can assemble bags of listed items as shown on the attached calendar, and drop by Trinity or at SHARE in early January. To assist with this effort, Trinity plans to hold a drive-thru, drop off event at TUMC in early January (details to follow), with donations then transported to SHARE.

If you have any questions regarding SHARE or the winter donation drive, please feel free to contact Lisa Russell.

Many thanks for your ongoing support of the SHARE ministry through the years. We look forward to continuing our outreach through this winter donation drive.