The Dawn of God’s New Day

James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor
James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

By James C. Sprouse

Biblical scholars often note that the Gospel of Mark actually had two endings. One is found in Chapters 14-16 (the story of Jesus’ rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection. The other is Chapter 13, which talks about a period beyond Jesus’ resurrection—about the destruction of the Temple and the coming of the Son of Man.

It will be helpful for you and me to not read this scripture as a predictive message for the future, but as a word addressing the issues squeezing Mark’s community of faith at the time of the Gospel’s writing. The events in today’s lesson don’t come from some crystal ball of a divine soothsayer, but are the fabric of the community’s everyday life. The violence of war, the Roman impending destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the perilous existence of the church under persecution, the enticing voices of false prophets and false messiahs were all urgent concerns for the Christian church about 30 years after Jesus’ earthly ministry.

The initial words of Jesus’ announcing the destruction of the Temple are prompted by a comment from one of his disciples about the beauty of the buildings. Jesus knows how Jerusalem will suffer in the near future, and also how much he will have to personally suffer to accomplish God’s purpose for all the world’s peoples and all of creation.

The modern church knows plenty about voices that talk a good game, use many of the right formulas, but at heart they worship at a different altar. There are many churches who offer a crossless religion, a Christianity without tears; others wed faith to nation and demand patriotic ideology; still others advocate the usefulness of religion arguing for the importance of prayer as an effective means of self-enhancement.

In spite of all that transpires within the world and the church, we are still invited to be hopeful. Wars, threats of wars, earthquakes, world-wide diseases and famines all represent the worldly chaos in which Mark’s church and ours finds itself. The woes may have changed a little or travel under different names, but any church that remains faithful to Christ will always find itself beleaguered and vulnerable. There will be little objective data to warrant optimism about the future.

And yet, all this chaos is understood to be the beginning of the birth pangs. The image is striking. It takes seriously the reality of human sin and the suffering it causes. There is no denial of life’s pain from Jesus. But in the economy of God all our sufferings serve a purpose. They signal the end of a long time of waiting and the coming birth of new life. Our sufferings need not lead to despair, but to hope, to the anticipated dawn of God’s new day.

Just as Christmas is a twelve day season, Easter is a fifty day season. We tend to focus our church attendance and feelings of well-meaning only on the two high, holy days in the Christian church. This year I invite you to celebrate the full season of Easter with the remembrance that every Sunday is a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. A new day God blesses with renewed opportunities for faithful discipleship every sabbath.   Shalom, Jim

 

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Where Have All the Women Gone?

Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor
Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

By Eileen Gilmer

There’s a phrase that’s been big in the church world for the last couple of years: unchurched. In short, it’s someone who does not belong to (or is not connected to) a church. This number is growing. Fast. And, in the last decade the trend has picked up its pace.

Barna Group researches cultural and religious trends. Their works shows that 45% of adults are unchurched in the United States. One of the more surprising trends is the growing number of women who are part of the cultural shift away from church-going, as well as away from the Christian faith.

Researchers found about 38% of the women polled had not been to church in the last six months. They are the unchurched. But the trend runs much deeper than that. The majority of unchurched women (85%) were actually dechurched. According to Barna, it’s not just that they are unfamiliar to church. The sad fact is that they’ve decided church is not for them.

The five trends that have contributed to this move away from church:

Competing priorities: Only a third of women feel that attending their local church is very important to them.

Busyness: This one is no shocker. Barna found 72% of women are stressed out; 58% are tired; 48% feel overcommitted.

Lack of emotional engagement and support: Nearly half (43%) say they feel no emotional support from churches.

Changing family structure: Many women are waiting longer to have children and don’t fit in at churches that prioritize family ministries.

Changes in belief: The majority of unchurched women (62%) still say they are Christians. Just 46% of Millennial women self-identify as Christian.

What does this mean? That we, the church, have much work to do. Jim, Keith and I always have open doors and would love to help you find a place at Trinity. If you have an idea for a mission, ministry or program, please don’t hesitate to share it. Our goal is for everyone to feel loved, connected and welcomed children of God.

Research courtesy of Barna Group    barnagroup.org

 

Is it April Already?

Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

By Keith Lee

It seems like we just celebrated New Year’s. It’s April already, and you might be wondering, where did all the time go? I’ve noticed during some seasons of life I tend to drift without direction. This in turn makes me tentative and doubt-ridden. That tendency then colors all my experiences, so I don’t enjoy life and am sapped of enthusiasm. If I am not careful, then I find myself drifting for years and sometimes for even a decade.

But praying consistently helps me to break out of this season of spiritual malaise. Praying gives me a sense of purpose that says I am part of something bigger, even though I cannot clearly articulate it. Praying puts vigor in my footsteps and activities. Even though from my perspective things are not working out according to my plans, praying assures me at the end of the day that God’s will is being done through me.

A while back, one of my friends confided that he had a disconcerting dream. In it he found himself on a bridge. There was thick dark fog all around, so he could not see past his nose. The troubling thing was that he did not know where to go. He did not know which way was forward or backward. He felt so helpless that he wanted to give up.

Nevertheless, in this bleakness, he was inclined to go forward. Even though he could not discern his direction, he kept inching forward little by little. Finally he reached the end of the bridge. Then a clear voice spoke to him saying: “Now you have to go back to the other side. Help others to go on this journey. There are many who will need your help.”

My friend’s dream was so relevant that I listened with rapt attention. But the next thing he said rattled me even more: “I think this dream applies to you also.” It has been over ten years, and I’m reminded again of its relevance in my life. Without prayer, we tend to drift, not knowing if we are progressing or dead in the water. St. Paul reminds us to pray through uncertainties without knowing what words to pray. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). Let’s keep praying, so that life does not pass us by and time no longer becomes a blur. Let’s pray to recover the passion, joy, and purpose in our souls.

 

Music at Trinity

In Christ Alone

By Jerry Rich

Jerry Rich, Director of Music
Jerry Rich, Director of Music

Although it is only 15 years old, this musical credo has quickly become a favorite of many. In 2005, the BBC’s Songs of Praise survey ranked it the ninth best-loved hymn of all time in Great Britain. The next year, it topped the UK charts of Christian Copyright Licensing International. After spreading to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, it rose to the top 25 on the USA’s 2008 CCLI report. IN 2010, Owl City’s Adam Young recorded a version of In Christ Alone. It is #3105 in the United Methodist Church’s hymnal Worship and Song. The hymn was written by composer Keith Getty (Northern Ireland) and lyricist Stuart Townend (England), who sought to tell “the whole gospel story in one song.” Conveying the life, death and resurrection of Christ, the hymn has been frequently recorded and translated into many languages. Trinity’s Chancel Choir is currently learning this song and will sing it for the congregation on April 17; if you’d like to learn it with us, please come to our 7:30 pm Thursday night rehearsals!

In Christ alone my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song;

This cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.

What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!

My comforter, my all in all— Here in the love of Christ I stand.

 

In Christ alone, who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe!

This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save.

Till on that cross as Jesus died, The love of God was magnified;

For ev’ry sin on Him was laid— Here in the death of Christ I live.

 

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain;

Then bursting forth in glorious day, Up from the grave He rose again!

And as He stands in victory, Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;

For I am His and He is mine— Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

 

No guilt in life, no fear in death— This is the power of Christ in me;

From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.

No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand;

Till He returns or calls me home— Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.


Hallelujah, What a Savior!

by Ellen Fillette

Ellen Fillette, Director of Children's & Youth Choirs
Ellen Fillette, Director of Children’s & Youth Choirs

This year the children’s choir has explored the United Methodist Church’s mission statement, “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” We have spent a full year unpacking this statement and asking questions like: What is our mission as Christians? What is a disciple? How do we follow? What does it mean to transform? How do we change the world with God? As the year comes to a close we are finally looking at the big question. Who is this Jesus that we are following? At first, this is a seemingly simple question. Jesus is the son of God who died to return humanity to right relationship with God. But the more you think on it, the more difficult it becomes to explain. It can be tricky to understand that Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are three persons but just one God. And how is it possible that Jesus was both fully Divine and fully human? The math just doesn’t seem to add up. The more I look at who Christ is and what Christ does I am convinced that it warrants a deeper look from all of us.

This year’s spring musical, “Hallelujah, What a Savior!” addresses the very heart of this question. This powerful musical incorporates beloved traditional hymns with contemporary praise music to tell the incredible story of who Christ is and what he does. You will not want to miss it! I invite you to join us in church on Sunday, April 24 at the 10:30 a.m. worship service for the children’s choir spring musical.

 

What’s Happening in April and beyond?

Book Chat | Crafts for a Cause | Church & Society | Photo Directory | VBS

Calendar

cal0416April 6: Crafts for a Cause

April 10: Martha’s Table Sandwich Making

April 11: Crafts for a Cause

April 12: Book Chat

April 15: Spire Deadline

April 16: Christ House

April 20: Crafts for a Cause

April 24: Children’s Musical

April 25: Crafts for a Cause

April 26: Church Council & Committees

April 28: Spire assembly

April 30: Good Works Day


Book Chat

Trinity’s book club will meet on Tuesday, April 12, at 6:30 p.m. in the Trinity Library to discuss The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown. We’ll close the season on May 10 with a classic: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. If you’re interested in joining Book Chat when we resume in the Fall, please contact Kathy Maher.


Crafts for a Cause

By Molly Sprouse

Crafts for a Cause has started a new project making pretty cotton dresses for needy girls ages 2 to teens. We’re sending a big batch to Heart to Heart orphanage in Honduras, and also shipping them to the organization Little Dresses for Africa, which sends clothing through mission teams to Africa. These kind of dresses are often made of pillowcases, but Crafts is buying pretty cotton fabric because it’s a challenge finding kid-friendly pillowcases appropriate for a dress. If you have any gently used or new all-cotton pillowcases in a bright, child-friendly print, please leave them in the marked bin in the Fellowship Building. (NO white or plain colors, please.)

In addition to the dresses, Crafts continues to make comfort pillows, dolls, bears, blankets and baby caps for Fair Oaks Hospital, as well as adult knit caps for Christ House and Carpenter’s Shelter.

During April, we will continue to meet on alternating Wednesday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and Monday evenings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The dates this month will be April 6, April 11, April 20 and April 25. 

Also, mark your calendars for the Good Works Day on Sat., April 30. Crafts will be open for volunteers of all ages to work on our projects from 9 a.m. to noon.

Any questions about crafts? Contact Molly Sprouse.


Church & Society

Good Works Day and Potluck Lunch!

When: Saturday, April 30 — 8:00-noon

Where: Meet in the Fellowship Building

What: We’ll be doing a variety of church work projects as well as volunteer projects for our Trinity ministries. More info and sign ups to come soon!

Why: The church needs minor jobs done, we want to give everyone an opportunity to volunteer together, and many hands make light work!

Who: Everyone! All ages welcome! Bring your friends and family too!

“God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

April Collection

During the month of April we will be collecting the following items for the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center:

  • art supplies (construction paper, tempera paints, laminating paper, masking tape, Popsicle sticks, beads, stickers, etc.)
  • cake mix (no chocolate or nuts)
  • plain Cheerios
  • HE Tide laundry detergent
  • canned fruit

The mission of the Falls Church-McLean Children’s Center is to provide “a comprehensive, high-quality, early-childhood program designed to give all young children, regardless of their family’s economic resources, a strong foundation on which to build the rest of their lives.” This is a great ministry providing daycare for under-privileged families and it’s located close by on Idylwood Rd. in Falls Church! Please place your donations in the bins located just inside the entry doors in the narthex or in the bins located in the fellowship building. For more information about this great ministry go to www.fcmlcc.org.


 

Photo Directory
  • Next printing: June 1
  • Address changes and updated photos can be sent to info@umtrinity.org by May 31
  • Please avoid wearing costumes or sunglasses in photos.
  • Copies of the March edition are available for members to pick-up in the Narthex.

Vacation Bible School

VBS 2016 spire

Celebrating Earth Day

Biscuit roundHello to all the kids of Trinity! I’m so excited that it’s officially spring and we have more daylight to play outside. I also love April because it has a cool holiday in it. It’s Earth Day! Have you ever heard of Earth Day? Let me tell you why I like it so much.

The first Earth Day was April 22, 1970. That’s a really long time ago! It was started by a senator from Wisonsin who wanted to make sure we all remembered the importance of taking good care of our planet. That’s why we have an official day for Earth Day. It’s a chance for us to stop and think about how we treat our land, water and air. What can you do celebrate Earth Day?

Here are some ideas:

Never litter  That means never throw anything down on the ground, unless it came from the earth. You should throw away things like gum or candy wrappers in a trash can.

Recycle  Look for the recycle symbol on things like bottles and cans. Put them in recycle bins, not regular trash. Newspapers and magazines can be recycled, too. You can also recycle your old toys by donating them to charity so another child can use them.

Turn off the tap  Did you know that leaving the water on while you brush your teeth can waste as much as four gallons of water? Save water and turn off the tap while you brush.

Lights out  Whether you’re leaving a room or leaving your house, turn off the lights. This will save electricity and money.

Why should we care about taking care of the earth? It’s because God gave us this earth. It’s a gift of God and it’s up to us to take care of it. In the first book of Genesis, we read that God made the world and made people and animals, and God put the people to be in charge of everything. People may be in charge of taking care of the earth, but we know the world belongs to God. The Bible tells us, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him”  (Psalm 24:1 NLT).

God has given us a big responsibility: to care for the earth that belongs to God. I know we can do that on Earth Day and every other day, too!

Be sure to send me your questions. You can send them to me at bit.do/askbiscuit.

Remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!

paws

Biscuit