The Mind of Christ in Lent

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

Trinity’s annual Pancake Supper is Tuesday, February 13. Join us for a celebration of Fat Tuesday, the day that precedes Ash Wednesday, the first of the 40 days of Lent. Lent is probably the most widely observed season in the Christian year. Remember that Easter Day was originally the focus of the Christian year! The early Christians met weekly on the first day of the week to pray, break bread, and share in the apostles’ reminiscences of Jesus’ earthly ministry (Acts 2:42). Their meetings were characterized by an expectation of their Lord’s immediate, sudden return. In this ecstatic atmosphere, one did not do long-range planning and goal setting. Within the pages of the New Testament, we have indications that time is fast becoming a threat to Christian faith. Time, if it were not to be an enemy, had to be made a friend. It was through this domestication of time that the Christian year evolved.

Although the precise details of the evolution are impossible to know, the general outline is rather easy to discern. First, there was the weekly celebration of the Resurrection. This celebration was of the entire Paschal mystery: the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and Ascension, the gift of the Spirit, and the promise of the Lord’s return. There next emerged a special emphasis in the spring on the celebration of the Paschal feast in relation to the actual time of the historical event. This celebration extended itself back through the Crucifixion on Friday and the Last Supper on Thursday, thus creating the Paschal Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. We know that in Jerusalem the custom began having the bishop ride a donkey into the city on the Sunday before the Passion and so inaugurate that period of observance that we call Holy Week.

Penitential discipline came to be attached to Lent as the Church increasingly understood itself as the field where the wheat and the weeds grew together. A major disagreement in the second century had to do with how to deal with those who denied or betrayed the faith. Those who had sinned were expected to perform appropriate penance. It soon became customary for all Christians to use the Lenten period as a time for repentance of past sins and self-denial (hence, “giving things up” for Lent), even if their sins had not been of a major or notorious kind.

Lent, then, is not a prolonged meditation upon the Passion and death of Christ, a pre-extended Good Friday. The clue to the meaning of Lent can be found by looking at the two days that frame it, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On Ash Wednesday, it is customary in many congregations for persons to have ashes placed upon their heads while they are being told, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” In other words, we are confronted by the fact of our mortality in a vivid physical encounter. On Good Friday, we witness the death of another human being, and we are told that in this death we all have died. Lent is intended to end at the cross, but it begins with the human condition that we all share, and it takes on the character of a pilgrimage. We’re on a pilgrimage. Keep an account of what you observe along the way.


Discover Trinity

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If you are like most Americans, the most common resolutions are to eat more healthfully, exercise more or save more money. (I looked up the most popular resolutions and these are, year after year, usually the top three.) Those are all noble ideals. But, what about making a commitment to church? Not surprisingly, this didn’t make the list!

I’d like to invite you to consider making this a focus for you in 2018. How? I’m so glad you asked! There are many ways to get involved at Trinity. Some are long-term and others are one-time events.

Do you like to speak in public? We would love to have you be a reader during worship. Do you have a passion for feeding the hungry? Help us with Martha’s Table Sunday by buying the bread, making sandwiches and snack bags, or delivering them. Do you have an interest in finance, administration, children or adult education, worship, or social justice? We have a place for you! God has placed a call on your heart. Trinity would love to have you live out that call with your church family.

Where do you get started? If you are thinking about joining Trinity or are interested in finding ways to get involved with the church, we invite you to join us for our Discover Trinity classes. See graphic for details:

Childcare is available during this time. The nursery (also located in the Fellowship Building) is open for infants and toddlers. We also have Sunday School available for children Pre-Kindergarten through fifth grade.

During our Discover Trinity classes you will have a chance to meet with church leaders, as well as find out about what it means to be a United Methodist and member of Trinity Church. Plus, you’ll have a chance to ask questions about Trinity or the greater United Methodist Church. We would love to have you join us for both classes but welcome you, even if only for one.

Please let me know if you have any questions. You can always reach me at the church or through my email:

I’ll see you at church!


As Living Bibles

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

On Jan 14, eight students and their parents visited the Museum of the Bible. The museum measures 430,000 square feet over eight stories with four major exhibits trying to convey the impact of the Bible on society and history. We planned to cover it in three hours but needless to say, we only saw a fraction of its contents. Hopefully, we can revisit and explore in-depth this $500 million project to promote the Bible’s importance in our society. During the trip, I could not help thinking, “Does the Bible have a similar influence today?” And the follow-up question is “If not, then how can it become relevant again?”

One of the main reasons why the Bible might have lost its importance in society (and in some cases in the church) is that the approach to interpreting it has changed dramatically. Ancient interpreters for the first 1,500 years held these four assumptions about the Bible:

  1. They assumed that the Bible was fundamentally a cryptic text: that is, when it said A, often it might have meant B. They didn’t read it literally, but tried to discern deeper spiritual interpretations.
  2. Interpreters also assumed that it was a book of lessons directed to readers in their own day. The book is not about the past, but an instruction book to tell us how to live today.
  3. They assumed that the Bible contained no contradictions or mistakes. It is perfectly harmonious to the interpreters’ own religious beliefs and practices.
  4. They believed that it is essentially a divinely given text in which God spoke directly to the authors and prophets.

These assumptions still hold true for some Christian traditions today!

However, due to enlightenment and academic approach to biblical interpretation another set of assumptions developed.

  1. Scripture is to be understood by Scripture alone. Absurd and allegorical interpretations that early church interpreters and rabbinic midrash madewere rejected.
  2. In order to understand Scripture, we must understand the original languages used.
  3. Even though the Scripture disagrees with our conceptions, it means what is written.
  4. Someone who wishes to inquire into Scripture’s meaning must likewise investigate how the books themselves were put together and the process of transmission.
  5. Finally, there are parts of the Bible that contradict each other.

These two sets of assumptions quoted from James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible.

The problem with modern interpretative assumptions is that they reduce the authority that earlier assumptions held about the Bible to its readers. However, as believers who also affirm modern scientific worldview, we cannot fully embrace assumptions of ancient interpreters. My suggestion is that as parents, teachers and models of faith to our children, we keep in mind these two sets of assumptions and live out the Bible so that they observe how relevant, reasonable and vibrant its teachings are in our lives.


February 2018 at Trinity

Feb. 5 Crafts for a Cause
7 – 8:30 p.m.
Read how we’re continuing our mission through pillows, blankets, dresses and dolls at
Feb. 11 Martha’s Table Sandwich Making

Discover Trinity Class

9:30 a.m.

Volunteer at
Feb. 13 Book Chat

7 p.m.

Hero of the Empire, by Candice Millard
Feb. 13 Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, 5 – 7 p.m. Details in graphic below.
Feb. 14

Feb. 18

Ash Wednesday worship at noon and 7:30 p.m.

Discover Trinity class, 9:30 a.m.

Feb. 19 Office Closed
Feb. 19 Crafts for a Cause

7—8:30 p.m.

See Feb. 5 listing above.
Feb. 24 Chat n’ Chew with Bishop Lewis See information here
March 7 Easter flower orders due Get the form in the pews or at

Crafts for a Cause Continues Its Mission

Crafts for a Cause has a mountain of fleece, flannel and cotton ready to be transformed into pillows, blankets, dolls and dresses during the coming year. We’ll have work sessions on alternating Monday nights from 7 to 8:30 in Room 124. Upcoming dates: Feb. 5 & 19 and March 5 & 19.

Most of the comfort items go to Fair Oaks Hospital and local family shelters; the dresses and dolls (a fun new project) go to needy girls in Uganda. All adults are welcome to the work sessions, even if you’re not particularly crafty. Many hands make quick work! And if you can’t make the work sessions, ask about our homework projects.

We closed out the Holiday Bazaar in December with more than $4,000 in sales. After putting aside the funds needed to buy our supplies this year, we will be able to support Trinity’s missions in Honduras, the Art for Humanity ministry, and other worthy causes chosen by the Crafters. Thank you for your support!

For more information on Crafts for a Cause, contact Molly Sprouse at

Music Ministry During February

Choral and Handbell Music for February

If you’d like to know how our Adult choirs plan to mark the transition from hope-filled Epiphany to reflective Lent, here are some of the musical offerings we will share with the Trinity community during the Sunday services this February.

EPIPHANY V (February 4): Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me was arranged in 1984 by K. Lee Scott and is based on the lovely Benedictine Communion chant Adoro te devote.

TRANSFIGURATION (February 11): The gospel-tinged Truly Free was written in 2011 by David Lantz and is based on John 8:32; Lantz is a school teacher and music director at a Methodist Church in Stroudsburg, PA and has 400 choral works in print.

ASH WEDNESDAY (February 14): Thou Knowest, Lord, the Secrets of Our Hearts is a Baroque setting of the Funeral Sentences in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer; Henry Purcell’s chromaticism and subtle word-painting match the text’s “bitter pains of eternal death”.

LENT I (February 18): In honor of Black History Month, our handbell choir will present the spiritual Steal Away, arranged in 1985 for bells by Carl Wiltse. The Chancel Choir will sing a setting of the penitential Psalm 51: Turn Thy Face from My Sin by Thomas Attwood, an English pupil of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and organist of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London.

LENT II (February 25): The Old Rugged Cross is Vicki Wright’s 2005 arrangement of the classic hymn by Methodist minister George Bennard.

Our February Offerings

February brings with it two wonderful offerings from the Children’s and Youth Music Ministry at Trinity. The Trinity Trebles will sing the hymn We Are the Church on February 11. It’s a wonderful hymn that teaches us that the church is not simply a building, but a people, not just any people, but all people no matter their age or race. It teaches us that the church can be a place of joy and place of mourning. In addition, the youth will sing the song Greater by MercyMe on February 25, the first Sunday of Lent. The Youth Choir will create their own praise band with percussion instruments and keyboard. The song deals with the struggles of self-doubt, pain, and guilt and reminds us that we are redeemed thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Our music ministry hopes that you enjoy these two music offerings and encourages you to get involved by joining one of our many music groups at Trinity! It’s never too late to praise the Lord with voice and song!

The Sweetest Gift for Valentine’s Day

Duke Rose, Trinity Church mascot

Hi, kids of Trinity! Duke Dog, here. I hope you’re having a great 2018.

Do you know what holiday we celebrate this month? If you guessed Valentine’s Day, you’re right! Do you know that Valentine’s Day is actually named after a priest from Italy who lived more than 1,700 years ago? We don’t know much about him but there are a lot of stories of how he had a kind heart and taught many people about Jesus.

That’s something we can all keep in mind this Valentine’s Day. We like to give cards and candy, and that’s awesome. (Just make sure your pets don’t get into the chocolate!) There’s another gift that can make people happier than any present. It’s the gift of kind words.

Can you think of a time that someone said something really nice to you? It’s so awesome when that happens and it probably made you feel good. Why not take the chance to do the same for someone else? You might want to let somebody know how much you appreciate them, thank them for how they help you, or tell them how important they are in your life. Parents, grandparents and teachers really like to hear from you. You can either tell them in person or make a Valentine’s Day card for them. Think about all the super people you have in your life and let them know what they mean to you.

Words are important. Harsh words can hurt but kind words can do great things. Let’s work to make 2018 the year of kindness!

Do you have a question for me? Send me a note at

Remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!