The World Is How We View It

By James C. Sprouse, Senior Pastor

In today’s world it isn’t always easy to talk about spiritual things. Our world is sort of how we think of it. When we think the world is godless and soulless, it tends to become that. And so, if you and I want to live in a world made in God’s image, then you and I need to purge ourselves of all the ways we view this world that stop us from realizing the life and world God wants us to have. Understanding all the various worldviews is the key to breaking free of the power they have over the human mind and soul.

There have only been a handful of worldviews in modern history and normally they function on a subconscious level. We tend to be unaware of their existence. Here is a simple typology of the different worldviews that have shaped human history ‘til now.

The Ancient Worldview– This is often reflected in the Bible. Everything on earth has a heavenly counterpart. If war begins on earth, then God must be warring with some cosmic deity or force. Likewise events initiated in heaven are mirrored on earth. This is a way of saying that every material reality also has a spiritual dimension, and every spiritual reality has physical dimensions.

The Spiritualist Worldview– In this view, creation was followed by the “fall.” Spirit is good, material is bad. Our world is an asylum into which spirits have fallen from a good heaven. The religious task is to rescue one’s spirit from the wiles of the flesh and regain the spiritual realm from which we have fallen. This worldview is still a powerful factor in sexual hang-ups, eating disorders, negative self-images and the rejection of one’s body. This spiritual worldview is also reflected in those forms of the Christian faith that overemphasize the goal of getting to heaven and escaping this present vale of tears.

The Materialist Worldview– is the dominant worldview in the US today. This view claims there is no heaven, no spiritual world, no God, no soul; nothing but what can be known through our senses and reason. The spiritual realm is illusion. There is no higher self, just complexes of matter, and when we die we cease to exist except as chemicals and atoms. People have to create values, purposes, and meaning for themselves. The only right and wrong are what societies agree upon for the purposes of survival and tranquility.

The Theological Worldview– This view concedes earthly reality to science but claims special privilege to the spiritual realm. Many seminaries once taught that science tells us how the world was created, religion tells us why. The price paid for this schizoid worldview is the loss of a sense of the whole and the unity of heaven and earth.

The Integral Worldview– This view sees everything as having both an outer and inner aspect. Heaven and earth are seen as the inner and outer aspects of a single reality. In this view, soul permeates the universe. The universe is suffused with the divine. Spirit is at the heart of everything, all creatures, all living things are potential revealers of God. This worldview makes biblical information more intelligible for people of today than any other worldview, the ancient one included.

Worldviews determine what we are allowed to believe about the world. And, we may be the first generation in the history of the world that can make a “conscious” choice between these worldviews. You and I can, must, decide which worldview best describes the world we encounter, and whether or not we want to take personal responsibility for our own worldview’s relationship to what happens in our church, our country, and the world. And, what its future will look like.

Shalom, Jim

When the Church Finds Itself at a Crossroads

By Eileen Gilmer, Associate Pastor

If you have been around United Methodists for any length of time, you know that we like committees, gatherings of people and food—maybe not in that order. Our polity (the way we’re organized as a church) is structured in a way that encourages this (the committees and gatherings, not the food).

Trinity is a member of the Virginia Conference. Each conference across the globe meets annually to discuss the business of their area. Once every four years, representatives from each conference come together for General Conference. It’s there that items are voted on that can change our Book of Discipline (BoD)—the scary-sounding name of what is, for all intents and purposes, the rule book of the worldwide Methodist Church.

What does the BoD say? First, all people are welcome here.

¶ 4. Article IV. Inclusiveness of the Church: The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth.

¶ 214. Eligibility: All people may attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments and become members in any local church in the connection.

During at least the last two General Conferences (2012 and 2016), attempts were made to have discussions about what the church should do regarding two topics: ordaining gay clergy and allowing clergy to perform weddings of same-sex couples. Here’s what the BoD states about the ministry of the ordained:

¶ 304.3: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.

¶ 341.6: Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.

A special committee (the Commission on a Way Forward) made up of clergy and laity has worked for the last two years on a plan for the church. Here are the commission’s three suggestions.

One Church Plan (recommended by the Council of Bishops of the UMC): Allows conferences to make decisions regarding ministry with or by LGBTQ persons rather than having a single standard throughout the worldwide church. It removes certain language (mentioned above) from the BoD. It gives conferences, churches and pastors the flexibility to decide whether to ordain gay clergy or allow same-sex marriages. This plan would also protect the rights of United Methodists whose theological convictions will not allow them to perform same-sex weddings or ordain LGBTQ people.

Traditionalist Plan: Affirms the current language about homosexuality in the BoD and seeks to strengthen enforcement (against clergy) for violations of church law.

Connectional-Conference Plan: Creates three connectional conferences based on theology or perspective, each having clearly defined values. Annual conferences would determine their affiliation with one of the connectional conferences. Local churches who choose a branch other than the one chosen by their annual conference could vote to join another conference.

A special session of the General Conference has been called to hash out a plan. These three plans, plus any others that may be brought forth, will be voted on at the meeting on February 23-26 in St. Louis. This is not the final step. The regular General Conference and each annual conference must also approve the final plan. You’ll find more details at umc.org.

We’ll have a town hall meeting following worship in March to discuss which plan was selected and what happens next. Please be in prayer for all those in attendance and for our United Methodist Church.

 

Three Thoughts from 2019’s First Snow Day

By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor

It has been awhile since we had a snow storm in our area so when it descended on Jan 12, I was caught off guard. But after struggling through it while being stuck in my house for almost three days I came to realize it was quite a spiritual experience.

Life is Unpredictable

Weather forecasters were not helpful in preparing for the storm. Some said it was going to be heavy while others thought it might just pass over. Even the ones who called for snow hedged, saying it could be a couple to eight inches. I’m reading this and thinking “You guys are NOT helpful at all!”

Moreover, the snow came on the weekend. As a pastor, anything that interferes with Sunday worship stirs anxiety and frustration. Therefore, Saturday night was an uneasy restless affair. Early Sunday morning the staff exchanged a flurry of texts and decided the storm was not heavy enough to cancel services but warranted for us to urge caution to parishioners. We had about fifty in attendance for both services. The sense of uncertainty made me anxious the whole morning before church.

However, during the first service a sense of peace came over me because I became aware of my annoyance at unpredictability. I chuckled a bit thinking this is really nothing. Life seems capricious and thus inconveniently annoying. That’s what makes it so interesting.

 Snow is Beautiful Yet Dangerous

The moment I opened my front door the wintery neighborhood took me back a bit; so beautiful! As I was driving to church on I-66, Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons played in my head. My eyes intermittently wandered onto tall snow-covered trees on the sides, reminding me of those in Ansel Adams’ photos. Then my car slipped a bit because the pavement was still covered with slush. It was a beautiful slow trek slipping and sliding through I-66, on through Chain Bridge Road and into the Trinity lot. I was thankful to arrive safely with a heavy dose of respect for beauty all around me.

Resting is Difficult Work

Snow covered everything, life came to a standstill. Schools were closed and it was an unexpected day off. So why couldn’t I enjoy it? Because the amount of work does not diminish. Even though it seems like a day off, I will have less time to tackle all the tasks before me. Thoughts like these swarmed my head the whole Monday morning and afternoon. Then finally around 5 p.m., I relented. I am just going to relax and enjoy this time with my family. Relaxing is really difficult.

With this past storm as a reflection point, I’m ready for the next one. Bring on the snow!

 

February 2019 Happenings

Feb. 4 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

Read the latest update:
https://wp.me/p3ZFFv-tp
Feb. 6 Widows’ Support Group

6:30 p.m.

Meets in the Fellowship Building.
Feb. 10 Martha’s Table Sandwich Making Sunday
Feb. 12 Book Chat

6:30 p.m.

West with the Night, by Beryl Markham

Feb. 16 Christ House
Feb. 18 Office Closed
Feb. 18 Crafts for a Cause

7 p.m.

https://wp.me/p3ZFFv-tp
Feb. 19 Trustees Meeting

6:30 p.m.

Meeting by telephone
Feb. 24 Third Grade Bible Presentation

10:30 a.m.

March 5

March 6

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper

Ash Wednesday

 

 

 

Crafts for a Cause: Feb. 2019

There is another mountain of fleece, flannel and cotton stacking up in the Crafts for a Cause room, waiting for volunteers to turn them into blankets for needy children, pillows and dolls for hospital patients, baby beds for the NICU unit, and dresses for girls around the world.

We meet on alternating Monday nights from 7 to 8:30 in Room 124. No crafty skills required (although that’s always welcome!) for cutting fabric, stuffing pillows and sewing. Our next few sessions are: Feb. 4, and Feb. 18.

If you can’t make the work sessions, we have homework projects. We also have a Loom Hat project for those interested in making adult hats for Christ House and baby caps for Fair Oaks Hospital.

Crafts for a Cause had a fantastic response to our Holiday Bazaar in 2018, earning more than $5,000 in sales. The bazaar is our sole source of funding for the next year, so thanks to all who shopped! During 2018, we distributed 250 neck pillows, 83 dresses, 20 blankets, 118 heart pillows, 212 adult hats, 79 surgery dolls and an amazing 1,200 knitted and crocheted baby caps. We also donated 52 Christmas stockings and 86 Santa hats for newborns at Fair Oaks Hospital, donated to area charities and shelters, and supported Trinity’s Honduras missions. We have big plans for 2019, and hope you’ll be a part of our fun and rewarding ministry. For more information, contact Molly Sprouse at mollysprouse@gmail.com.

Choral and Handbell Music for February 2019

If you’d like to know how Trinity’s music ensembles will celebrate the season of hope-filled Epiphany, here are some musical offerings we will share at this month’s Sunday services.

February 3: In the Sweet By and By was composed in 1868 by Joseph Webster; it has been sung by artists as diverse as Louis Armstrong, Willie Nelson and Anonymous 4. The Chancel Choir will present it in a 1993 choral arrangement by Howard Helvey. In honor of Black History Month, instrumental music will include Nkeiru Okoye’s 2006 Dusk and Mark Fax’s 1963 Fanfare in E Minor. Dr. Okoye’s music has been performed on four continents, and she currently teaches at Hofstra University; Mark Fax was Professor of Composition at Howard University and organist at Washington DC’s Asbury United Methodist Church for many years.

February 10: In Christ Alone was written in 2001 by the popular Christian hymn-writing team of Keith Getty and Stuart Townend and was the first of their many successful collaborations. Instrumental music will include Charles Callahan’s 1993 setting of the spiritual Steal Away; its original lyrics featured a coded double text for African-American slaves seeking their freedom, openly expressing a desire to ‘steal away’ and be with Jesus in eternity while secretly advertising a forbidden religious meeting.

February 17: The Chancel Choir will sing an English setting of Psalm 98 (Cantate Domino) by African-American organ virtuoso and composer David Hurd, who taught organ for 28 years at General Theological Seminary and is currently Director of Music at New York City’s Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. The Trinity Ringers will present the stately Theme from Brahms’ Haydn Variations.

February 24: O Jesus, I Have Promised matches Timothy Shaw’s 2015 soaring melody to an 1868 text by John Bode: “O Jesus, I have promised to serve you to the end; be now and always near me, my master and my friend.” Instrumental music will include Charles Callahan’s version of In Christ There Is No East or West (see #548 in our Hymnal); the tune was composed in 1939 by Henry T. Burleigh, a distinguished African-American singer who is credited with giving Antonín Dvořák several themes for the latter’s New World Symphony.

Love Your Pet

Hi, kids of Trinity Church! I hope your year is off to a great start. Do you know what day we celebrate this month? If you guessed Valentine’s Day, you’re right! But, there’s another day that I also like to remember. It’s National Love Your Pet Day on February 20. That’s so cool.

Do you have a pet? A lot of people do. Some people have hamsters, others have fish. Some even have snakes! But the most popular pets are dogs and cats. As many as 80 million dogs and 96 million cats are pets in the United States. That’s a lot of critters!

Some families can’t have pets. Maybe there are rules against having pets where they live. Sometimes family members are allergic to them. If that’s the case in your house, you can still celebrate National Love Your Pet Day. You can earn money or use part of your allowance to make a donation to a pet shelter—that’s where they take care of pets that are waiting to get adopted. My family adopted me from the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation last year! Here’s a picture from the day they brought me home.

You can ask your parents to help you print out a picture of your favorite pet, then help you put it on your wall or desk. You could also color or paint a picture of your favorite animal. There are a lot of ways to celebrate pets!

Pets are beautiful creations of God, just like we are! Here’s what the Bible says in Genesis 1:24-25: Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind—livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. And God saw that it was good. (NLT)

Whether your pet is a photo; a toy; or a living, breathing animal, let’s all celebrate Pet Day!

Remember my motto: Paws for Jesus!

Henny